And now for something really importent! GOOFY IS BACK!

I saw the Goofy trailer that showed before NATIONAL TREASURE 2 BOOK OF SECRETS, and I have to tell you, it was a “I’ve seen a ghost” kind of moment for me.

Imagine if you were suddenly transported into a parallel world, one where they still showed short features at the beginning of the main attraction, and one where Walt Disney were still alive and still making funny cartoons with the same sense of humor, the same take on the material, as in the 1940’s. I recall from other Disney comedies, back in my long-vanished youth, the voice of the announcer making patently absurd comments as Goofy (or whoever) goofed through instructions. It was humor without the cynicism and bite of the WB humor icons of Bugs and Daffy, I grant you, but it was also simply funny. That was the parallel world into which I stepped.

I cannot even remember the last time I laughed at  a Disney short. I think it was DAD CAN I BORROW THE CAR starring Kurt RusSell. I must have been nine. Well, I was a nine year old again. Wonderful.

Also, commercials for the next Narnia movie, which looks promising, and for the next Pixar movie, about a robot Wall-E, which looks very promising. Robots and magical lions! We live in the golden age of science fiction movies, my dear friends, never doubt it.

I don’t have time to list all the things I liked about NATIONAL TREASURE 2, but it was just as good as NATIONAL TREASURE, and so I loved it. Imagine an action story where the action hero solves his problems with book learning, where he does not shoot anyone, where he wants his parents to get back together, and where — get this — his primary motivation is the honor of his family name.

There is a crucial scene where the main character has to get help from the President of the United States, and his persuasion consists of an appeal to the man’s sense of the honor of his office. Got that? Not the man’s personal character, but the honor of the office in which he serves, the weight of history that surrounds the Presidency. There is nothing cynical or bitter about it. There were no cheap shots at George Bush or Bill Clinton.

The main motive of the Bad Guy? His family had been keeping a secret since the Civil War. He wanted his family name to be honored also.

A movie about honor! Yes, friends, I was in a parallel world for the space of an afternoon, and I like it better than this one.

Now, before you ask me if I saw any bad movies over vacation, let me just say that I saw Neil Gaiman’s BEOWULF. Unfortunately, I also just encountered the new translation by Seamus Heaney. Let me just say that the original epic poem is not about a lying drunk adulterous power-hungry braggart who sells his soul to an incubus and spends the last act flying around on wires like Spiderman doing Kung-Fu tapdancing acrobatics on the spine of an airborne dragon. In the original poem, Grendel’s motive for attacking Hereot is that the harpists are singing about the creation of the world, and beauties God graced it with, and because Grendel, as a son of Cain, cannot tolerate to see happiness in the sons of Seth. It not because Grendel had sensitive ears, and his mean, drunk neighbors were playing their stereo too loud. The original poem does not have gratuitous and pointless slams against Christianity. The original poem has heroes in it of a very Nordic and Germanic sort, grim and duty-bound, eager for glory, bound by the custom of gifts to give their lives for the lords and ring-givers. The Neil Gaiman version is basically a dark Film Noir set in the bronze age: it owes more to SIN CITY than it does to BEOWULF. The original poem is about honor. The movie version is from a parallel world, and one I like far less than this one.

I suppose you could claim that Neil Gaiman or the film’s director or whoever was trying to film something “darker and grittier” than the Old Norse epic. Unfortunately, I cannot fathom such a thing. Darker? Than the Norse? Grittier? Than an Old Norse Epic? Those guys invented Grim. All they did was remove the heart and the point from the story, and make the heroes more worthy of contempt than admiration.