Half term this week, so another trip to the cinema to watch more crap Dads. This time: Epic.
I am happy to report that Epic passed the Bechdel test, courtesy of a brief conversation between Queen Tara (voiced by Beyonce Knowles*) and MK. But did it pass the Sutton test?
As seems to be the way with films I watch these days – is my wife trying to tell me something? – there were loads of Dads in the film. Were they rubbish?
The leader of the evil, decay spreading Boggans, Mandrake, intent on destroying the forest, seemed like a fairly loving father as tyrannical leaders go. He included his son, a general, in their joint enterprise of spreading devastation and darkness. When his son meets a messy end, and one of his soldiers says 'Plus, your idiot general gets himself mulched!', he thunders: 'That idiot general was my son!' with something approaching fatherly pride. So, setting aside the apocalyptic intentions, I think Mandrake passes the Sutton test.
The leader of the Leafmen, Ronin, voiced by Colin Farrell in a really off-putting way where his Irish accent pops up and disappears like a Whack-a-mole fairground game, is a father figure to MK's love interest, who he has mentored since the death of his birth father. He's the square-jawed, stoical hero type, who struggles to express his emotions. There's a nice line at the end where the two, relieved to be alive, are ribbing each other and MK says 'Oh please… just say you love each other!', and Ronin replies 'I thought we just did'. Dads, eh? Can never tell our boys we love them. Except of course we can and do. But again, a pass for the Sutton test.
Finally there's MK's Dad, a naturalist obsessed with finding the advanced race of little people in the forest. He starts off as the stereotypical rubbish Dad, barely noticing his daughter (grieving for the loss of her mother – for every rubbish Dad in a film, there's a Mum who's got off the hook by dying). His single-minded pursuit was behind the breakdown of his marriage, and although he obviously loves his daughter he's on track to lose her too. He's basically saved by the fact that he turns out to be right, so MK starts to see him in a different light. When someone asks her 'Who gives up everything for a world that's not even theirs?', she replies: 'Dad. My Dad does'.
Us Dads have been known to have our obsessions, and the message here seems to be that as long as they bear fruit all will be forgiven and your children will still talk to you. But once again, overall I think MK's Dad just about passes the Sutton test.
So well done to the makers of Epic, who I think also made Ice Age (which has a lot of Dad themes in it). It's all still pretty relentless though isn't it: certainly seems that all Dads in films have to display some level of thoughtlessness, single minded obsession or repressed emotion!
*Dad joke alert: How do you contact dead single ladies? Have a Seyonce. Yes, that's right, this whole post was just an excuse to tell that joke.