[Watch out, spoiler alert!]
We watched the movie “Puss in Boots” last night as a family, and during the first scene, my wife and I exchanged looks. Several more times throughout the movie, we exchanged the same look.
It’s not that it was a bad movie. It was surprisingly funny and very clever and we laughed hard! It was just so blatant to us (as parents) that Puss was a player. In the first scene, he was talking to one of his female cat-friends and called her by another name. He corrected his mistake and the kitty was pacified. Examples like this abounded throughout the movie.
We talked to my oldest daughter (almost 15) this morning about it. She thought it was a funny scene where Puss forgot her name. “Like, duh?!” Then we asked her how she would feel if someone she really cared about called her by a different name? Her face dropped and she started to get it. Puss was not a very faithful kitty. We explained to her that there are people who secretly date different people at the same time. In this movie, that’s what these cats seem to represent—a culture that doesn’t care about faithfulness and readily accepts infidelity.
We had a good discussion with her about it. The movie doesn’t show the female cat-friend the day after Puss leaves her…or the week after…or the month after. We asked her if she would want to be that cat? Even Puss and Kitty, who evidently fall in love, don’t stay together at the end of the movie. She runs off with Puss’s boots and he rides off into the sunset. We asked her if she would want to be like Kitty, falling in love and then accepting separation to pursue different lives. Nope, she didn’t.
We were able to talk to her about a culture that doesn’t value faithfulness, and brought in an example from the movie “Fireproof”—you never leave your partner behind. We talked about divorce and separation and the scars it leaves on people. We talked about the cool funny adventurous boys that may entice her just like Puss was attractive, and how she needs to look for a heart of faithfulness in that boy if she wants to have a lasting relationship. We created a memory peg for the future, a question we can ask of her—is this boy like Puss in Boots? If he is, stay away. If he is faithful to God, he will be faithful to you.
She didn’t even see this stuff in the movie. But she sees it now.
And what about Humpty Dumpty? Truly he was a product of a very bad environment, growing up excluded from his culture, bullied and bitter. He uses Puss, his best friend, to rob a bank and got him wanted by the law and exiled from his home. Humpty plotted his revenge against Puss for leaving him on the bridge, lied to him, manipulated others with greed to lie to him, and gets him finally thrown in jail for the original robbery crime. Humpty then double crossed the townspeople he was in cahoots with, leaving them to die at the quacks of the “monster.” Puss escaped from jail and convinced Humpty to do the right thing and try to lead the goose away from the town. In the end, Humpty sacrificed himself so that the little gosling lived and the town was saved. Looking down at the shattered fallen form of Humpty, we see a Humpty-sized golden egg.
“I always knew you were good inside.”
Seriously? He was golden on the inside all the time? Is that all it takes—one noble act just before death, and you’re as good as gold?
This reminded me of an example from another movie, this time “Courageous.” One of the characters was talking about good judges. I don’t remember the details of this scene, but here was the point (and I will just make up my own example): even if someone came home after feeding starving children in Africa(clearly a great and noble act), but then murdered someone, they still have to pay for that crime. That’s what good judges do. Do they let the guy off because of the good he has done? Is that fair to the victim, or to the family and friends of the victim? No. A good judge judges rightly.
Humpty Dumpty is us. Just because we do good things, it does not erase the bad that we do. A good judge must judge justly. That is why we need a savior, someone to pay that penalty that we deserve. We don’t live on a scale, heaping up a bunch of good to outweigh our bad. We need forgiveness to remove the bad from the scale.
All in all, a great discussion!