Peppa Pig : My First Cinema Experience
This brave, boundary-pushing commentary on society's increasing need to demonstrate as publicly as possible how much it's enjoying itself is ultimately disappointing but deserves credit both for tackling such a red-hot topic and for it's genre-mashing, media-munching execution.
The opening act is essentially a 'strawberry float you' to its audience, defying their expectations and playing roughly with their finely-tuned cinema-literacy. You could feel the unease in the air as the films opening gambit played out; a girl, human (just), busies herself in an otherwise empty but idyllic garden, teasing some blooms into another perfect display which no-one will see. It might not be the most subtle admonishment of what we have become, but good Lord, it's devastating. Brutal.
The challenges don't stop there, though. Within seconds, just as one is beginning to settle, to comprehend the visual maze with which one is presented, the girl looks directly onto camera - she knows the audience is there, watching. She stops what she is doing, and skips - skips! - towards the audience. Then, in a piece of cinema likely to be spoken about in the same tones as the finest flourishes of Spielberg, Tarantino, Kubrick, she addresses them directly.
"Hello!" she (almost) sings, and we the audience are immediately guilty. She knows we are there, all of us voyeurs, we who have paid to view, silently, this life unfold before us. It's astonishing, powerful....and compelling. We are what we are, we realise, and we can't stop looking.
Before long, a familiar voice is heard - it's Peppa. "Thank goodness!" we think. "Here is our salvation, our touchstone in this helter-skelter world!". But, shockingly, as our hero is finally seen on screen, it is not what we expect. This Peppa is a puppet - and you don't need me to tell you the significance of that. She is joined quickly by George, and before long the three of them have begun to raise their voices in defiant song, imploring the audience to join in, louder - louder! It is rare, surely, that 'The Wheels On The Bus' has been lent such meaning. Later, we are asked to ROAR as a dinosaur might, and the existential anguish of a generation is spewed forth with the unfettered joy of pure freedom!
To reveal more of the plot would be to diminish its impact; early on, a whirlwind tour of London features a stunning bus chase through the city and an extraordinary stunt at Tower Bridge (and an intelligent tip of the hat to The Italian Job is beautifully apt), but the middle section is flabby and begins to lose focus (Captain Dog's canal boat journey is a little too portentous, without ever really satisfying) and although by the time the action swings around to Australia (where some shocking antics with a boomerang are difficult to watch once, let alone repeated three times) there has been some moments of levity, ultimately the focus has been lost and perhaps the key message diluted.
"You'll come back, won't you?" implores Peppa at the films denouement. We probably will, we think, but this time we'll be prepared.
I called off his players' names as they came marching up the steps behind him....All nice guys. They'll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last.