Digimon: The Movie
2000, PG, 82 min. Directed by Takaaki Yamashita, Hisashi Nakayama, Masahiro Aizawa. Voices by Joshua Seth, Michael Reisz, Mona Marshall, Lara Jill Miller, Colleen O'Shaughnessy, Philece Sampler, Bob Glouberman, Michael Lindsay.
REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., Oct. 13, 2000
Just now, I feel a bit like a music critic sussing out the latest Ol' Dirty Bastard CD for Martha Stewart Living. Even if my opinion mattered to ODB's fans (which I think we can safely assume is not the case), none are ever likely to see it, given the context. In other words, dear Chron readers, you and I are seriously buggin' if we think any of our tut-tutting about shoddy, brainless, pre-sold kids' entertainment such as Digimon: The Movie will have any effect at all on our youth's primal drive to consume it and all its attendant marketing effluvia. We're irrelevant, our dismay serving only as a trigger for box-office-stimulating backlash. The worst mistake we can make is to try and evaluate Digimon as a distinct work of art. Far more helpful to look at it as simply the latest in an endless series of cultural screen-blips that also includes Pokémon, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Smurfs, Tron, etc. The point of these films has never been lasting merit, though most have seemed less grating in hindsight and had a certain charming awareness of their own ephemeral nature. Instead, they're tribal bonding rites for modern kids, many of whom live regimented existences consisting of endless minivan shuttles between school, soccer practice, dance class, and other "improving" activities foisted on them by today's eugenically obsessed parents. Youngsters like these, even more than you and I as kids, need shared fixations that annoy and mystify mom and dad. Loutish, foul-mouthed gangsta rap fills the bill. So does this hopelessly baffling tale aboutc (as best I can tell) a virtual-reality war between an evil, computer-generated prawn and an elite group of "digi-destined" human kids who are able to morph into electrical form and patrol cyberspace as digital superheroes. The Digimon (digital monsters) they encounter in DigiWorld seem to differ little from the dimly remembered Pokémon of 1999 apart from their ability to talk, not just squeak and trill. Most are benign, but some are very nasty indeed. All have the ability to change shape with migraine-inducing speed. They're seriously into scatological humor and, cutesy appearance aside, often startlingly violent. What else? Well, even if you're a hardcore anime fan, don't expect much from this generic-looking display of minimally passable animation, which apparently consists of two Japanese TV episodes threaded together with some extra material and a makeshift linking story. No, you and I are outsiders by design here. Our designated roles are as comically clueless naysayers and, thereby, as validators of collective youth identity. As Sly Stone once answered when Dick Cavett asked him what his classical music training had taught him: "Uhh, you gotta have counterpoint, man."