ScreenTime: Tangled Is Better Than Frozen, You Morons

Frozen is a smash hit. I don’t need to tell you this. It made $1.3 billion at the box office and countless more in merchandise. Tangled? Not so much. It made less than half of Frozen’s haul at the box office and trying to find a Flynn Rider doll at your local Toys ‘R Us is like trying to find a chameleon in an Army Surplus store. No home is free from the scourge of Let It Go, which is heard daily in my house, hourly at the weekends.

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But when it comes to Frozen: The Movie, my daughter couldn’t care less. Cries for Tangled ring out nearly as often as requests for “Padda“, but she hasn’t asked for “Elsa” once since she first saw it a few months ago.

Upon delving into the finer details of my precious offspring’s lack of interest, it became clear that her issue was one of representation. Specifically that Disney‘s 2010 offering did not contain enough characters of the equine persuasion. But this is, frankly, untrue. There are many horses in Frozen. Prince Hans has a horse, as does Anna, and there are several background equestrians in many key scenes. But none of these scenes bring effervescent joy to my daughter’s face like the moment in Tangled where the palace horse Maximus engages in a sword-fight with renowned thief Flynn Rider, who is armed only with a frying pan. 

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One could argue that this scene resonates so strongly merely because of the spectacle of a horse wielding a sword. But while such pageantry is impressive at first blush, it rarely holds up to multiple revisits. No, the power in this scene comes from beyond this cheap thrill. The power comes from the clash not of steel upon cast iron, but of idea upon idea, of dream upon dream. For Flynn desires nothing more than complete freedom, liberty from the hardship of everyday life, from his past, from law of the land, while Maximus’ ideals run directly counter to such libertarianism. The Rule of Law, Order, Peace. These are the things our noble steed desires. So when he crosses swords with the roguish Flynn, they fight not because of some plot contrivance, but because the fight is inevitable, because to fight is encoded in their very nature. 

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In contrast, the big action set-piece in Frozen sees our heroes Anna & Kristoff face off against an abomination of snow & ice, who’s inner life is not even hinted at. Does the frozen creature hate simply because he is created to do so? Does he wish to protect his creator, whom he truly loves? Or does he chase the interlopers halfheartedly, resigned to his lot in life, but without any real passion for his job? We will never know, because Frozen is uninterested in telling us.

This is emblematic of the difference between the two movies, one has depth of theme, character, and motivation, while the other has a lumbering snow-monstrosity whose dead eyes taunt the audience with their emptiness.

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This creature stumbles through scenes, grimacing and screaming, with no purpose or reason for existence. His cruel creation, ripped from black nothingness into a tenuously connected collection of geometric shapes and inexplicable whims is a twisted corruption of Frozen’s own inception, seemingly Frankensteined together from jarringly unrelated song fragments. Every moment he is on screen he taunts us with his own impossibility, mugging and “joking” his way through an existence that must be as painful for him endure as it is for us to witness. And then he starts to sing.

When Tangled’s characters sing of their dreams in the modern classic “I Have A Dream”, those dreams speak to the very core of who they are. Thugs and ruffians with hearts of gold, orphans so scared of being hurt again they can’t stop running, young women who yearn to discover who they are. They dream of lives free of constraint, of freedom from the prisons of expectation and judgement. We sing along with them because their dreams are our dreams, their frustrations our frustrations.

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When Olaf sings of his dreams, those dreams speak only to his emptiness. Olaf’s desire for “Summer” may match up neatly with Anna’s desire to end Elsa’s winter, but it isn’t motivated by real character growth or thematic depth. To empathize with Olaf’s dreams we must accept one of two premises:

1) He doesn’t know what Summer is, and so his desire for it is completely shallow, a wish for the baubles and trappings of a season that has absolutely no meaning to him.

or

2) He is very aware of what Summer is, and is performing ignorance to hide the dark nature of his cravings. He knows full well that the heat of Summer will destroy him, finally releasing him from his meaningless immortality.

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Either option reveals thematic underpinnings to “Summer” (and hence the character of Olaf) that have absolutely nothing to do with the purported themes of Frozen, and in the case of option number 2, directly oppose those themes.

It is here that we reveal the real difference between Frozen and Tangled: Tangled is ABOUT something, Frozen is not. Every scene, every character, every song in Tangled have something to say about its themes. Hope, Dreams, and Freedom. Lost Time and Past Mistakes. Tangled’s approach to these things can be summed up in a single moment.

When King Frederick & Queen Arianna are lighting their lantern in the ceremony to commemorate the lost princess, the King looks at his wife. He suddenly looks old, tired, hurt. The camera lingers, no words are exchanged. In this silent moment we feel all the time that has gone by and all the hopes and dreams that have been dashed by that lost time. It is a moment that subtly but powerfully reinforces not only the motivations of the King, the Queen and Rapunzel, but also the deeper themes of the movie.

Frozen doesn’t have any moments like this. It wouldn’t know how. For a start, Frozen doesn’t have the time to spend on such quiet contemplation, it’s too busy filling its time with gags and songs. More importantly, upon what topic would it meditate? What, at its heart, is Frozen about?

Sure, the final scenes of Frozen are about sisterly love, but what does “Frozen Heart” or “Let It Go” or Summer” have to say about that topic? The romantic arc of the movie deliberately subverts the Disney Prince archetype, but what do Duke of Weasleton or Elsa or Olaf have to do with that idea? Elsa’s story can be read as a coming out metaphor, but what does Anna’s relationship with Kristoff or Olaf’s desire for summer have to say about coming out? Frozen contains all these things, but it is about none of them.

It seems that my daughter, unlike the general public, requires not only more horses, but more depth from her entertainment. This is some thing Frozen cannot deliver.

Father Figures: Nothing Else Matters

“It’s funny how one day you’re you, thinking about what’s best for yourself and partner, moving along in a mostly straight line. Then next day you’re a parent and nothing else matters.

It’s been 5 days since she’s been born and she’s all we can think about. You’re heart moves at a different level. That straight line you’re on now diverts to where can it take her. You want to give her the world while protecting her from it.

We still have work and the same old responsibilities as before but at the end of the day all we want to know is how she’s doing. Nothing else matters.

As for my wife, there has to be a better word than endurance for what she went through. And through it all she smiles and the happiness just flows from her.

Women are truly amazing and we hope to raise an amazing one.”

– Carlos Menendez

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

Dad Reassures Son Monster in Closet Not as Scary as One Under Bed

Dad Reassures Son
(Getty/Siri Stafford)

GREENSBORO, NC – Having ran into his screaming son’s bedroom in a panic, local father Oscar Molina assessed the situation and realized there was nothing for his child to worry about, as he reassured his boy that the monster in the closet wasn’t as scary as the one under the bed.

“When I heard my son, Jonathan, crying, I feared the worst. But when he claimed that he was worried about the monster in his closet I made sure to comfort him and say, ‘Kid, you’ve got bigger problems than that,’” said Oscar, pointing under Jonathan’s bed in the direction of the heinous creature that posed a greater risk to his son and especially any of his friends should they ever sleep on the floor during a sleepover.

To prove to his son that there was nothing to fear, Oscar walked into the closet and emerged unscathed, but then as he approached the bed again, he was bitten pretty badly on the toe and had to run out of the room to grab a bandage.

“Sleep tight, and remember, don’t let your arm dangle off the bed,” said Oscar as he turned off the lights and shut the door, content that he had put his son’s concerns at ease.

While Jonathan continued to cry throughout the night, Oscar knew that his son was still perfectly fine, considering that if the monster under the bed got to him then there would be total silence.

This Just In…is The Dad Faking News. Despite being completely plausible to parents, it’s satire and intended for entertainment purposes only. For more stories like this one click here.

Grandpa Tosses Away Canes and Dances

Larry David’s Reading of “F-ck, Now There Are Two of You” is Perfect

(YouTube/DreamScape)

Exhausted parents, unite!

If you’ve recently welcomed a new addition, chances are someone has already gifted you several books with plenty of advice on raising kids. But what about a little levity? A lighthearted and honest look at what being a new mom or dad is really like. Something with a little fucking truth to it.

Well fear not, as we announced last week, author Adam Mansbach has returned with a brand new story that’s perfect for unwinding after a long day. A follow up to Mansbach’s first adult storybook, the New York Times Bestseller Go the F—- to Sleep, F-ck, Now There Are Two of You shares the author’s honest and curse-filled take on raising not one, but two children.

According to the book’s publisher F—k, Now There Are Two of You is a loving monologue about that new addition to the family, addressed to a big sibling and shot through with Adam’s trademark profane truth-telling.”

Like his first two books, Mansbach has lined up a celebrity to read the audiobook version to be released in conjunction with the new book. His first book was aptly voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, a fitting choice for such material.

Ah yes, there’s something about Jackson laying down an F-Bomb that just hits right.

Mansbach’s follow up, You Have to F-cking Eat, was read with class by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston.

But now everyone’s favorite old curmudgeon takes the reigns for the latest in Mansbach’s foul languaged follies. Seinfeld co-creator and all-around funnyman Larry David has agreed to lend his pipes to the new audiobook, releasing the following clip from the recording set to debut next month.

David, looking comfortable as ever, perfectly encapsulates lines such as “What the fuck did we sign ourselves up for,” and “Soon you won’t be the focus of all our attention, chances are, that will make you a dick.”

The audiobook will be available October 1st on Audible, Apple iTunes and anywhere else audiobooks are sold. The print edition of the book is available now for preorder on Amazon for $14.99.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Deleted ‘Iron Man’ Scene Shows MCU Wants to Incorporate X-Men

Nick Fury in Deleted Iron Man Scene
(Twitter/MCU_Direct)

Say what you want about Marvel’s takeover of the multiplex, and their future plans to continue doing so. Maybe you’re sick of superhero movies, maybe you never enjoyed them in the first place, maybe Bill Bixby is your one true Bruce Banner, it’s all good. But no one can deny that what Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios, and the Avengers pulled off wasn’t impressive.

23 films over the course of eleven years, many of them standalone and all of them at least nominally connected in the service of a large, epic story-line that culminated this year with Avengers: Endgame, which already stands as the most successful movie of all time.

The feat is even more impressive in the face of poor attempts to duplicate the masterful universe-building like whatever is happening with the Warner Bros DC Extended Universe. Warner Brothers attempted to reverse engineer their universe, starting with a premature team-up in the poorly-received Batman vs. Superman, rather than meticulously build it from the ground-up the way Marvel did.

All that said, it’s easy to look back on Marvel’s success and assume it was all the plan from the beginning. But was it?

As a matter of fact, it seems to have been! According to a deleted version of the post-credits stinger in Iron Man, the entry that launched the entire MCU, features Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury making references to both Spider-man and the X-Men.

Fury, speaking to an off-screen Iron Man, says, “As if gamma accidents, radioactive bug bites, and assorted mutants weren’t enough, I have to deal with a spoiled brat who doesn’t play well with others and wants to keep all his toys to himself.”

What’s insane about this is the forethought. Sure, in the comics, both Spider-man and the X-Men have been featured players within the Avengers, but at the time of Iron Man, this didn’t seem possible in the film world. Thanks to rights issues, the webhead didn’t even join the MCU until Homecoming hit theaters some 9 years later, and Professor X’s mutants hadn’t even been whispered as potential additions to the MCU until recently, thanks to Disney’s recent acquisition of Fox.

Feige shared the scene at the Saturn awards, fueling speculation that the rumored mutants will soon be on the scene, and perhaps making Spider-Man’s recent exit that much more disappointing.

Is it outright planning or impressive dreaming? Either way, one can’t help but have faith in Kevin Feige and the MCU’s future.

I just wanna know who’s gonna play Wolverine – will it be Keanu or Danny DeVito?

Photo of Wisconsin Bus Driver’s Small Act of Compassion Goes Viral

Isabel Lane Holds Axel's Hand
(Augusta Police Department)

Back to school season is often a time of excitement for both kids and parents, however, like many of life’s milestones, can often be accompanied by stress and anxiety.

With fresh faces all around and new challenges being presented each day, children can sometimes need a little extra reassurance that things will be alright. School Bus driver, Isabel Lane, is all too familiar with first day jitters, so when kindergartener Axel Johnson’s excitement turned to anxiousness, the Wisconsin native knew just what to do.

Reaching back, Lane took Axel’s hand, a silent reminder that things will be ok. Axel’s mom, Amy, capturing a photo of the exchange. The Augusta Police Department sharing it to their Facebook page, acknowledging Lane and all the staff who work with the community’s children each and every day.

“The compassion we see every day in our teachers, bus drivers, custodians, administration, food service staff, and paraprofessionals is truly admirable,” the post said. “We are so fortunate to be able to partner with these people!”

The photo has since gone viral, with hundreds commenting on the simple, yet powerful gesture. Lane, however, telling news affiliate WEAU it was simply the right thing to do. “I think it kind of goes for anyone—if you see someone maybe struggling, just to do something as simple as reaching out a hand and showing that you are there.”

As for Axel, his anxiety has long since subsided and he now looks forward to the morning bus ride, all thanks to Lane’s small act of compassion. “The day after that he was waiting at the bus stop all by himself, he got on all smiles and talking to me the whole time so he is doing much better now,” Lane added.

The photo and story, a reminder of how small acts can make a huge difference. The bus driver sharing a final piece of advice we should all take to heart: “You don’t have to say anything, but just to show someone you are there makes a big difference in someone’s day.”

Dad and Daughter Catch Record-Sized 14 Ft 700 Lb Gator

Shelby Derrick Snelson Catch Record Gator
(Lethal Guide Service)

Catching an alligator at any age is a serious feat, but taking down a whopping 14-foot-long and 700-pound monster at only 14-years-old is downright astonishing.

Shelby Snelson definitely has bragging rights after she and her dad, Derrick, bagged the biggest gator in Georgia state history on September 1st. The father-daughter duo made the catch on Lake Eufaula, where they were accompanied by a team from Lethal Guide Service, a hunting guide business.

“To be honest with you, we were just happy to see how big it was,” Snelson told CNN. “I ain’t never caught anything like that before, it was just amazing.”

The catch was made during Georgia’s official gator-hunting season, which runs from August 16 to October 7, and was initiated to help manage the reptiles’ flourishing population. Hunters can only bag one gator each, and the Snelson’s clearly wanted to get their money’s worth.

(Lethal Guide Service)

Incredibly, this was Shelby’s first time hunting alligators and only her father’s second outing. She says the hunt was exhilarating but also pretty frightening considering the massive gator almost knocked her into the water.

“[The boat] was rocking back and forth, and a few times [the gator] hit the side of the boat with its tail,” the teen recalled.

But it wasn’t enough to stop her from doing what needed to be done in order to get the grab. In fact, she said she’d “jump in the truck right now” if she had the opportunity to go gator hunting again.

“We’ll have it ‘life-size’ mounted,” Derrick said. “I guess I’ll have to build a house around it. It’s going to be a monster laying on the living room floor for a while!”

From the way he likes to include his daughter, we wouldn’t be surprised if Shelby gets to be an associate contractor on that job, too.

‘Go the F- to Sleep’ Gets a Threequel: ‘F-, Now There Are Two of You’

F, Now There Are Two of You Book
(Amazon)

There’s some big effing news for parents and lovers of literary expletives. Author Adam Mansbach has released another follow up to his New York Times Bestseller “Go the F—- to Sleep,” and parents everywhere will undoubtedly relate and rejoice.

Illustrated once again by the talented Owen Brozman, the author’s new “adult bedtime story” highlights the struggles and headaches of transitioning from one child to two. “So, ‘F–k, Now There Are Two of You,’ is very much my reality,” Mansbach shared in a press release for his new book, adding in that “somehow, two is a million more kids than one,” something any parent will attest is true.

 

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According to the publisher “Fuck, Now There Are Two of You is a loving monologue about the new addition to the family, addressed to a big sibling and shot through with Adam’s trademark profane truth-telling.” An audiobook will also be released with Seinfeld creator Larry David narrating, which honestly seems spot on. David telling Entertainment WeeklyAs the second-born child, I’m sure my parents experienced feelings similar to those of the narrator in this book,” adding “Is it any wonder I’m so fucked up?”

Manbach’s first book, ‘Go the F–k to Sleep,’ was recorded by Samuel L. Jackson.

While Breaking Bad Star Bryan Cranston lent his voice to Mansbach’s 2014 ‘You Have to F—ing Eat.’

Since finishing his new release, the already exhausted author has welcomed a third child. While Mandbach may release another book, the author says there’s currently no plan to further expand his family, joking in a statement “I’ll probably leave a few copies at the doctor’s office when I go in for my vasectomy.”

While it’s likely not suitable reading for your little ones, this title is sure to find it’s way onto slightly-out-of-reach bookshelves in homes across America.

‘F–k, Now There Are Two of You’ will be released on October 1st. It will be in stock on Amazon on September 23 and you can currently pre-order it for $14.36.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

Fatherhood and Fandom: Chatting With The Man Behind The New Robotech RPG

Bryan Young ROBOTECH RPG
(Harmony Gold/Strange Machine Games)

In the 80s, kids had it pretty good when it came to after-school and Saturday morning shows. That’s not to say there isn’t a wealth of quality entertainment for kids to enjoy these days, but I’m just not convinced Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig will have the staying power of GI Joe or She-Ra. Among the giants of the era was an odd little number that went against the grain, and changed America’s relationship to cartoons, storytelling, and giant robots forever.

“I think Robotech has such a cool science fiction story that anyone could still latch on to it. And since it’s available on every platform to stream, more and more people are finding it. It’s still capturing people and still a juggernaut in the fandom.”

I’m talking to Bryan Young, the writer of Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game from Strange Machine Games, which is available this week for preorder. Co-created with Jeff Mechlinski, the game is designed to give players the feeling they are in Robotech, clocking in at 264 pages of reference material, play scenarios and original in-universe stories by Young.

Robotech RPG
(Stranger Machine Games)

Before the Power Rangers made repurposed footage a standard practice, Robotech was famous for splicing together three entirely different Japanese cartoons with new scripts to become one cohesive story. While some purists scoffed at the creative license, there is no arguing that Robotech is largely responsible for introducing young American audiences to long format storytelling, complicated relationships, and giant machines that could turn into different giant machines.

There was more complex storytelling going on than most fare from that era, especially in how it worked in a long-form story. It was the only show I didn’t feel like I could miss an episode because things would just change too quickly. With He-Man or GI Joe, the episodes were just sort of catch-as-catch-can; there was no continuity to them.”

They say you should never meet your heroes, but Young has spent his adult life staunchly defying that old idiom. As a writer, podcaster, filmmaker, and journalist, he has made a career out of his interests and passion, particularly for genre storytelling. In layman’s terms, “genre” in this case means, you know, nerdy shit.

But more than Robotech, more than the Star Wars analysis that made him “twitter famous” (my words, not his) and more than earning camaraderie with the filmmakers and writers that he idolizes, Young is invested in his family.

“Being a father affects my creativity in ways I could never have even imagined. For one, they’re inspiring. My kids are all incredibly inquisitive and curious and I’m able to tap into that a lot easier because it’s something they continually teach me how to do better.”

We all hope our kids will love the same things we do, but Young knows that it’s better not to push it. “Bringing my kids into my fandoms is less important to me than letting them find their own. I’ll share my passions with them and if they happen to latch on like I did, then that’s great, but I want them to find their own. I love when they get to share those passions with me. This should be a two-way street and they should have the freedom to find what works for them.”

Of course, as many dads know, trusting your kids to find their own interests, even in the shared nerdsphere, can be…challenging.

“I spent like a weekend trying to survive in the harsh Minecraftian wilderness. By the end, I’d carved out a nice cave-dwelling, built fire, and was wearing a wolf-pelt. It was pretty primitive. At the end of the same weekend, Scout, my middle child, brought me over to their encampment and they were like, “Dad! Check out this roller coaster I built!”

Bryan and Family
(Twitter.com/swankmotron)

Some dads think they have to choose between a creative career and a family, but the truth is, being a dad can teach you how to succeed in any area. After all, no matter how hard things can be, parents make it happen.

“As far as balancing the family and work, I try to work on my creative endeavors when they’re sleeping. I get up in the mornings before they’re typically awake and get my work done then so that when I get home, we can spend our time together as a family.”

While keeping his schedule tight, and family time special, Young makes sure to include his kids in the personal and professional enthusiasm he has for his work much as possible. Sometimes, it even leads to new ideas and projects that wouldn’t have happened without involving his kids. “In all honesty, the thing I love is that if my kids have a project they want to work on, we will. When Scout was about 8, they got really interested in learning about presidential assassinations and we went out and sought out a book for them on the topic that would be age-appropriate. When we didn’t find one, we worked on one together and that’s how my book “A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” was born. Scout even did illustrations at the back of every chapter in addition to the work of the professional illustrator who did the rest of the book.”

Truth be told though, sometimes dads just like to show off, and Bryan’s hard work has paid off in major dad bragging rights. “The standout moment for me has to be taking my eldest, Anakin, to the red carpet premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was an incredible experience and I think I definitely won dad of the year last year for it.”

Part of what makes Robotech so enduring is the stories were designed for kids, but continue to resonate with adults, which makes for an ideal cultural touchstone for dads and their children to share. “The thing that changed viewing Robotech from an adult perspective for me is that there’s a deeper understanding. There’s a lot more honesty in the storytelling than I realized. Granted, there are more rough things in the storytelling than I realized, too, but it’s still so charming that it makes up for any of those hard edges.”

Follow Bryan on twitter for insightful film analysis and inside scoops on all things nerdy and cool, or at www.swankmotron.com for original stories. Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game is available now for digital download from Strange Machine Games, and preorders are now open for physical copies that will be released this December.

Skull One
(Robotech.fandom.com)

And speaking of inside scoops, I don’t know if this will actually help in your game, but here’s a little tidbit about the writer’s favorite Mecha:  “Has to be Skull One. Roy Fokker’s paint job on that thing is iconic and it’s just a great fighter, full of history and tragedy.” Good luck, pilot.