4/7/09

RVOD058 You & Your Family

(1946, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Kind of like Rashomon. Like a rash, anyway.

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:


A multiple choice video test on how to deal with your family.

Summary:

The answer is d) Teach a whale to roller-skate.Mary wants to go to a dance out at the lake, but her parents say she’s too young. What should she tell the young man on the phone?

a) That she can’t go,
b) That he should come over and hang out at her house instead, or
c) That he should wait silently under her window at an appointed hour until she can sneak out and join him?

Dramatizations of each possible choice ensue. Thereafter, we see similarly structured questions regarding possible outcomes of lying, apologizing, or just refusing explanation to one’s father upon crawling home after carousing all night. Also addressed: the question of what sort of excuse one should use to avoid helping mother with the dishes.

Thoughts:

In method four, she dresses in a bear costume and gets punched by Nicolas Cage.For a film that purports to present an array of moral dilemmas for classroom discussion, it sure is playing with a stacked deck. If I were to make a career counseling film on a similar model, the first question would probably go something like this:

When you grow up, to you want to:

a) Dedicate your life to feeding the hungry and alleviating the suffering of the infirm,
b) Kick puppies for a living, or
c) Murder pregnant women and feast on their barbequed fetuses?

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers.


That said, I like it better than most mid-century social guidance films because it actually finds a fresh way to approach what must, even at the time, have been tired and well-worn subject matter.

I also like this Rifftrax more than I do most of commentaries these old black and white moral education films inspire. The strange “Choose Your Own Adventure” format appears to provoke wilder comments than normal, many of them regarding invasive surveillance, undead relatives and hyperintelligent bears. When the “dulcet-voiced narrator” (Kevin’s words) says that the older son, Bill, can choose to do anything, riffer Bill replies, “Like training a whale to roller-skate?” while Kevin says, “Bill aspires to be a rodeo clown.” When the narrator closes by saying that applying the teachings learned in the course of viewing can lead to a happy home life, Mike adds, “Unless you live in Wisconsin, in which case you should abandon hope and drink.” It’s a decent educational film, with one of the weirder commentaries I’ve heard them do.