The Ploughman’s Lunch Links – short enough to watch over your midday break.
Me the Terrible (2012) dir. Josephine Decker
Playtime! Grab yer flag and get ready to conquer the dirty world of adults.
Childhood play is a tricky thing to emulate and “Me the Terrible” accomplishes this by appearing to be at play itself, gleefully stealing locations and creating others out of cardboard (the climb up the Empire State Building being a highlight). The soundtrack incorporates snippets of radio or television sound like a kid repeating some overhead dialog during a game. And if our intrepid conqueror has an unlikely interpretation of someone “throwing” a power switch, all the more delightful.
Artists who can evoke some of that childhood feeling have the fast track to audience’s hearts. “Me the Terrible” shares roots with proven models like Calvin & Hobbes, filtering an adult perspective to a child’s worldview. And like Bill Watterson’s comic, writer-director Josephine Decker allows that it’s not always a pleasant headspace to occupy.
In the final minute, it appears that the whole film is going to end as a disappointing allegory of the end of childhood. Yes, yes, eventually the sounds of your own personal adventure music will fade into the sounds of the city, your sobs drowned out by police sirens. The city on the waterfront, once wide open with possibility, is now a series of intimidating girders slashing the frame, got it, growing up sucks. Even the boat’s sail and the map, our guides to adventure and imagination, are torn to pieces in anguish.
But then these pieces are reassembled into a makeshift Teddy, and Decker suggests that playtime hasn’t been left behind entirely. Rather than joining the crowded coming-of-age market, “Me the Terrible” simply acknowledges that some kids’ games end in tears. The same child that can gleefully bowl over a crowd of adults can also be bowled over by the loss of a toy.
And if recapturing that toy requires deconstructing and compromising parts of playtime, well, we know where that eventually leads. But not today.
Quick note of thanks to The Solute for leaving the door unlocked and the opportunity for this little feature I’ve been playing with for a few months to appear outside the grasp of disqus.