Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wise Child

Hollywood likes to put geniuses in their films.  They're like magicians--they can magically fix any plot holes by doing whatever it is they're allegedly expert at.  It's easy enough to ignore, I suppose, except when they're front and center.  It's even worse when they're kids. Which is what I was thinking while recently watching two 2017 films about brilliant kids.

First there's Gifted, which features a girl who seems to be around eight years old.  She's a math whiz. I don't mean she can operate at a high school level, I mean she can solve problems that stump people with graduate degrees.

The story is more about her relationship with her father, and a custody fight, but the genius part of the story is insane.  I don't care what kind of brain a kid has--no eight-year-old, or nine-, ten-, or eleven-year-old, is that brilliant, sort of in the same way no ten-year-old is ready to play college football.

The filmmakers don't care, of course.  The girl being a genius makes her interesting to them.  But unbelievable to me.

Then there's The Book Of Henry.  This one was much worse---both as a film and as a portrayal of genius.  In fact, the film was such a disaster that director Colin Trevorrow was fired from directing the next Star Wars film. (Well, some people believe it's due to The Book Of Henry, though others claim it was over creative differences.)

The movie is a mess, top to bottom.  Not even the talented Naomi Watts can make her dialogue and character (mom of the genius) work.  Henry is an eleven-year-old who lives with his brother and his mother, who's a waitress.  Henry is such as whiz at the stock market that he's built up enough money (starting with what?) to make the family financially secure.

Henry can also build about anything.  And is able to come up with complex plans for tricky situations taking into account every real-life permutation. Also, when he has some medical problem, he know as much about the condition as the specialist who treats him.  He's also amazing at reading people's psychology.

Many geniuses are good at a particular subject, but can't do much else any better than the average person.  But Henry is one of those movies geniuses who knows everything about anything.

The filmmakers then go on to make a bigger mistake.  At least the girl in Gifted was taught not to show up adults.  Henry is an obnoxious jerk who doesn't just treat adults as equals, he talks down to them.

Ridiculous kid geniuses are bad enough, but obnoxious ones are worse.


Blogger brian said...

I did not see either film. What about every TV comedy which has the kids spouting comedy gold line after line. There are a few shows in which the kids act normal and the adults are having all the fun (and punch lines). I generally like that better.

And TV show kid genius Sheldon Jr is a complete BORE.

8:08 PM, April 19, 2018  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Kids saying funny things in sitcoms is fine as long as the laugh lines fit the age and character. I like Modern Family, but for years they've had the youngest kids on the show saying clever lines that are a bit too much.

The point of Young Sheldon, of course, is for us to see the genius Sheldon, whom we already love, as a kid. But I agree the show is a bore.

12:03 AM, April 20, 2018  
Blogger brian said...

I am reading book with a genius child as an important plot element. I will let you know how the genius child character is fleshed out. So far barely two dimensional.

2:57 PM, April 20, 2018  
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