In Defense of Shazam
We went to see Shazam: Fury of the Gods this weekend. The reviews haven’t been great for that movie, but I enjoyed it. Sure, there were potholes you could drive a heard of unicorns through. Yes, the product placement was blatant and persistent. But there’s a lot to be said in its defense.
First off, can we just take a moment to acknowledge that every adult actor playing one of the super kids does any amazing job of acting like a kid. Zachary Levi in particular exudes childlike joy like he’s lit up from within by a high wattage laser. We as the audience buy into them as children so completely that we tend to forget how it’s a very skillful ruse.
Same goes for the magnificent Hellen Mirren. I love that the movie takes a moment to openly praise her for the level of menace she can project. What I think is even more impressive is the complete deadpan she maintains while reading the rambling letter the kids sent her – asides and all.
And let us not forget the fabulous treatment of the emotional issues relating to abandonment and fear of moving on from childhood. Assuming the responsibilities of adulthood can be intimidating for any teen, but for the foster kids there is the prospect of losing their home and family as well. There is no soft landing for children who age out of the foster system and I praise Shazam for shining a light on this societal failing.
I also give a great big kudos to the film for addressing the elephant in the room by having the mother say that she doesn’t know how to parent a group of superpowered children in the middle of an apocalypse. In this way she speaks for all the parents of today who are overwhelmed by raising children in the age of internet predators, school shootings, toxic train derailments, global warming, and armed insurrection.
If I were a parent my brain would have exploded by now. So hats off to the parents of this world doing the best that they can in this crazy world their children inhabit, and hats off to Shazam for being a mirror of our times.