Children’s films for June
How do our children cope with failure? Australian society isn’t well suited to teaching helpful tactics. Success is an idol regularly worshipped on magazine covers and prime-time shows. But when children inevitably do fail, where will they find the means to carry on? At the cinemas this month you’ll see three very different solutions modelled for young minds.
Despicable Me 3
Steve Carell returns as Felonious Gru, the former super-villain who has reformed, but now faces a very personal failure. Gru and wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) are called on to foil the plans of the 80s-obsessed Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). This tracksuit–wearing ‘smooth criminal’ is responsible for the theft of a precious stone to aid his scheme for world domination. However, Gru is unable to recover the valuable rock and is sacked as an agent. Now his family faces a life of poverty. Enter Gru’s unknown twin brother Dru (also Steve Carell). Dru urges Gru to embrace his heritage of scoundrels. In the face of failure, Despicable Me 3 encourages kids to look inward. Concentrating on who they are at heart will somehow help them win through.
Release: 15 June
Cars 3’s approach to failure is denial, pure and simple. Lightning McQueen is back on the racetrack, ably voiced by Owen Wilson. New racers are speedily climbing the ranks, led by Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). Storm is faster, more advanced, and possessed of an ego that’s eerily similar to a younger Lightning. McQueen is involved in a terrible accident that threatens to end his racing days. But instead of seeing this as a point to re-evaluate his life, McQueen is encouraged to focus on a comeback. Thanks to the memories of his mentor Doc Hudson, the fiery red racer does learn a valuable lesson. But his attitude to falling short can still be summarised in one line: ‘I decide when it’s over’.
Release: 22 June
Transformers: The Last Knight
Legendary blockbuster director Michael Bay’s latest story centres on coping with the failure of others. At the end of Transformers: Age of Extinction, Optimus Prime, the leader of the heroic Autobots, headed off into space to confront his creators. In his absence, a world war has begun between humans and Transformers. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and Camero Autobot Bumblebee work to discover why alien robots are so intent on conquering earth. Optimus returns in the midst of conflict, but Yeager and the Autobots are shocked when their hero fails to fulfil their hopes. Instead of abandoning him, though, they mount a rescue mission. The Last Knight suggests salvation can be found in family who stand by us, regardless of how far we fall from grace.
Release: 22 June
What does Hollywood have to offer when it comes to failure? Despicable Me 3 says look inwards for a solution; Cars 3 says look over the problem; Transformers: The Last Knight says look to your friends. All three rely on human resources for success, and these are as limited and susceptible to failure as our own.
The Bible’s response is to encourage us to look up. God provides an inexhaustible supply of grace to lift even the weakest of his children up. ‘Look up’ is not an option that any of this month’s films suggest, but it’s one wise parents will include.