Title: The Adventures of Tintin
The disturbingly real – and yet disturbingly not real – Spielberg 3D version.
Not the comic books, and not the very good Franco-Canadian animated series that is not only an excellent adaptation but also less drinky and shooty than the books. But since the freaky 3D Tintin just came out on DVD that’s the one we’ll focus on for now.
A young reporter, Tintin, purchases a model ship at a flea market which sets in motion a series of ever more dangerous events. The young reporter along with his faithful dog Snowy and his unreliable but hilariously alcoholic partner Captain Haddock digs as deep as possible into the mystery of the Golden Unicorn. Their thirst for the truth winning out in the end.
Well, it’s Tintin’s thirst for the truth and Haddock’s thirst for booze. Did I mention that alcoholics are hilarious?
Ages 9 and up
If you’re not familiar with Tintin you should know that the comic books the movie is based on feature more than a little gunplay. Tintin is no MacGyver. If using a gun will help Tintin out of a jam he’s going to use it. The books were published primarily in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s and the idea of a boy and his gun back then was very different than it is today. So too was the attitude toward hard-drinking characters like Captain Haddock. The movie makes a case for Haddock’s drinking as a result of his backstory but this certainly doesn’t make it any more appropriate for a younger audience. Prepare yourself for rewarding parental conversations about gun violence and alcoholism.
So, guns and booze, that’s pretty much the theme here. The almost complete lack of girls takes away any threat of sexual impropriety and the characters are too busy breaking and entering, getting hit on the head, drinking, or shooting to get naked so, no worries there. The action is very much like Indiana Jones and while there’s not a lot of gore (a little blood in the service of the plot) there is the occasional on-screen death. Most of the violence is cartoonish but it’s still violence and depending on how you feel about it you may want to hold off on showing it to your kids until they are better able to process it. The drinking is another problem. It’s an integral part of Captain Haddock’s character and, believe it or not, it’s actually toned down in the movie (a little) from what happens in the books. For the most part it’s played for laughs but that just comes around to how you feel about the what I said before: alcoholics are hilarious. If you agree, no problem. If not, it is possible to ignore it, sort of, and get on with enjoying the rest of the adventure. Either way, I would strongly advise you to have that rewarding parental conversation with your kids.
I actually already wrote about Tintin when it was in movie theaters and touched on the idea of the freakishly uncanny 3D motion capture. Since then my son and I have had long discussions about how we would have preferred the movie to be animated with good old fashioned 2D line art. The Franco-Canadian animated TV series that I mentioned is pedestrian in its animation but is still very well done and very true to the original stories with the gun violence and drinking toned down to a more appropriate level. As I write this the animated series is available on Netflix and I’m sure you could find DVDs without too much trouble. I would recommend checking them out.
You may notice that I said I’m having these long discussions with my son and not my daughter. She has read several of the Tintin books and enjoyed them as most kids do but there is, as I said, an almost complete lack of girls in the stories. Tintin is definitely a boy’s world and that’s the primary audience here. Girls can and do enjoy the Tintin books but over time I think their enjoyment is going to be somewhat limited.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment or have something to add?
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Let me know what you think.
The movie and the anthologies that contain the stories the movie is based on: The Secret of the Unicorn, Red Rackham’s Treasure, along with some Crab with the Golden Claws, and others… Oh, and the animated TV show.