Thursday, July 6, 2023

Nanoreview: Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, or, Who Ordered These Reheated Leftovers?

The true monster is whoever stole the corpses of other movies to stitch them together into this

Remember that surreal period from the late 90s to the mid 00s, when inexplicably Disney and Dreamworks happened to release variations on the same premise? Well, guess what Dreamworks has launched mere weeks after the remake of Disney's The Little Mermaid: a spiteful diatribe against the very idea of mermaids. In this uninspired purée of finely chopped pieces of Luca, Turning Red and Aquaman, we learn that mermaids are actually bad. They're jealous, treacherous divas who only have a good reputation thanks to their manipulative skills. Because subtext is for cowards, the mermaid we meet in this movie has abundant, gorgeous red hair, like a certain other mermaid of better fame. The marketing didn't bother hiding the reveal that this little mermaid is the movie's villain, and upon watching it, one can tell how much fun Dreamworks derived from punching her in the face.

OK, Dreamworks, you had your moment of inconsequential revenge. But are you telling me an interesting story? Let's see: awkward girl trying to fit in, love interest with the power to befuddle the heroine, anxious mother with communication issues, hyperactive little brother with no concern for personal safety, eccentric uncle who feels left out, improbably intelligent pet, circle of friends replaceable with cardboard cutouts, obviously false new friend, secret royal lineage, training montage, excessive reliance on pop songs that will make the movie feel dated in two days, MacGuffin quest followed by MacGuffin switcheroo, impending school prom where the story's climax occurs, kaiju fight won with the power of teamwork, obligatory dance scene at the ending. There isn't a single original idea in this movie. It's like the producers told the animators, "make us a mermaid to punch" and left them with vague instructions to fill the rest of the runtime with a laundry list of tropes.

The quality of Dreamworks films has been, let's say, not uniform. Their record contains almost as many successes (Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots 2) as misfires (Shark Tale, Bee Movie, Turbo, The Boss Baby). At some point during the production of Ruby Gillman, someone should have warned the studio that hiring, of all people, the director of Space Chimps and one of the writers of the South Park movie was not only a sign that the producers were cheap, but also that they had alarmingly questionable taste. It appears to be the curse of Dreamworks to play second fiddle to Disney, but this curse of mediocrity is one they've willingly inflicted on themselves.

Nerd Coefficient: 3/10.

POSTED BY: Arturo Serrano, multiclass Trekkie/Whovian/Moonie/Miraculer, accumulating experience points for still more obsessions.