Buddy Movies: Introduction

Posted by on Dec 21, 2011 in Buddy Movies | 10 comments

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“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two
chemical substances: if there is any reaction,
both are transformed.”
– C.G. Jung

The boy-and-his-dog is a popular standard in Hollywood’s career of children’s movies. It’s a simple formula of combining one cute subject, a child, with yet another cute subject, an animal. I much prefer to call them buddy films to avoid over-generalizing, but I digress. It’s a simple formula of combining one cute subject, a child, with yet another cute subject, an animal. We can ogle the child for his/her almost oblivious innocence, not knowing that the cruel world will soon introduce him/her to pimples, hormones, responsibilities, and sex. And as if that’s not enough, some sneaky bigwig (likely a producer looking to exponentially increase profits) suggested throwing an animal in the mix. Thus they have the children’s movie equivalent to The Buddy Movie. And children’s movies have never been the same. Of course, the animal can do tricks or act human or someone can even dress them like a human at some point. I can just picture the person who first thought of this waking up in the morning, in their bed of money, unleashing a diabolical laugh, and thinking, “I’m a genius. And I think today I’ll buy myself a bigger throne from which to watch TV. But first, someone must fetch me a chalice of mimosa.”

Though the formula consistently works (as you’ll see of the classics in this chapter), filmmakers have also significantly exhausted it. That’s not to say a great buddy film cannot or will not surface (Ratatouille did). Every once in a while a talented, creative team of filmmakers creates something fresh and new by simply twisting an exhausted formula. Spielberg did it with 30s matinee serials (the Indiana Jones series); Tarantino did it with 70s samurai flicks and grindhouse (Kill Bill and Death Proof); and De Palma did it with 30s gangster flicks (Scarface and The Untouchables).

So, if we’re lucky, maybe the next decade will bring us a strange reworking of the boy-and-his-dog movie. Maybe an animal could claim a child and the relationship could work from there; or maybe the kid could die at the end instead of the animal. Whatever the case may be, we’re a breed of trained film lovers who just can’t get enough of an imaginary relationship between a cute kid and cute animal.

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