When are mainstream children’s cartoons going to have openly gay characters? How long do I have to wait for a Pixar Will & Grace? It’s 2011, damn it, and we need a reality check! I really thought Megamind could have been my hero, but I’ll get to that momentarily.
The film opens with a little baby Megamind and a teensy baby Metro Man being rocketed from their home planet, which is about to be blown to smithereens. They land safely on Earth: Metro Man lands underneath the Christmas tree of a wealthy family, and Megamind lands in a prison. This serves as a perfect metaphor for the whole nature versus nurture debate. I couldn’t help but draw parallels to another movie I recently saw, Waiting for Superman, a documentary about how and why the school systems in America are failing our children. In school, Megamind is treated as a bad child, and thus he is taught to be exactly that, whereas Metro Man is praised consistently and treated as an especially good child, and thus he is taught to fulfill that role. It’s just like the real school system! Kids’ movies these days are tricky like that.
Well, fast forward about 20 years, and Metro Man has become Metro City’s superhero while Megamind is (of course) his nemesis. When Megamind’s evil plan to destroy Metro Man and take over the city actually works, he is at a loss. As it turns out, he’s not really cut out to be an evil dictator. He then spends the rest of the film grappling with his identity. Is he truly evil? Is there more to him than even he thought possible? Is he just living the life everyone else expected of him? What does he really want out of life? Pretty heavy stuff, if you stop and think about it.
Since they already had the “deep and meaningful” ball rolling, I think they could have kept at it with another story line. The lead female character, Roxanne, is a reporter who Megamind constantly kidnaps in order to lure Metro Man into a trap. On multiple occasions she mentioned that, contrary to popular belief, the two of them were never actually “an item,” and that he is not really her “type.” Oh, if only either Roxanne or Metro Man would have come out of the closet! It would have just driven the identity theme home! What better way to challenge society’s opinions on who and what you should be than for the leading guy or gal to break stereotype and be homosexual? But alas, ‘twas but a pipe dream. (I don’t want to give away the ending, but things are pretty clichéd.)
All in all, it was a very enjoyable movie with an awesome comedic cast: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt. With the exception of Pitt, all were able to showcase their improvisation background while still keeping it more refined and family-friendly than what we’re used to seeing with them. Add in the timeless message with a moral imperative, and you’ve got yourself a keeper. If only Roxanne were gay, though…