Monday, March 23, 2009

"Race to Witch Mountain" sports surprisingly Libertarian themes

This weekend at the beach I took the kids to see Race to Witch Mountain remake, and I was prepared for the usual fairly plotless, inane Disney release.

Well, it is pretty inane and in many ways clueless, what with the cut-rate Terminator sub-plot and all....

But the movie also has a surprisingly Libertarian slant.

The bad guys--both human and alien--are the government. Both governments are determined to achieve their policy ends even it requires killing children, using massive firepower indiscriminately, and wrecking vast amounts of private property without the slightest hesitation. The one guy from the government who occasionally shows twinges of conscience from time to time never reaches the point of protesting: the idea that he should shut up and soldier to save his job always gets him back into line.

But the really interesting scene takes places in a small southwestern restaurant/bar where the sheriff (Ike Eisenmann from the original film in a cameo) briefly stands up to the Feds. The Feds pull their guns to intimidate the locals, and the locals--law enforcement and civilians alike--draw down on them without the slightest hesitation. The director doesn't overplay it, but along with the deputies backing up their sheriff you can clearly see, for example, one long-haired restaurant patron holding a shotgun on the Feds. (As a plausibility issue, you do kinda wonder where he got it. Was he eating with it under the table? But if you've got plausibility issues, what are you doing at a Disney movie?)

Curiously enough, promotional information for the film suggests that the director actually sought technical advice from the CIA and the military:

Director Fickman ... added that, as fantastical as the film is, he strove for a sense of reality, and sought out UFO experts and military and CIA advisers for assistance.

You have to wonder if they had any idea how they were going to be presented.

I suspect, since work on the movie started in 2007, that an earlier release date was intended, and that the film was meant to be an anti-Bush administration film, given all the subliminal messages about excess government authority and abuse of power.

But to have it appear now is a truly interesting twist.

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