Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Awaiting The Croods: Great Expectations


Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The series finale of LOST

Losing my virginity

These are just three examples of times when my unbridled expectations left me feeling deeply disappointed. I'm sure you have a few of your own. Me? I've got MILLIONS. I think that it may have to do with me being a bit obsessive. My pops was a manic-depressive, so the obsessive gene is clearly within me. It could also be that I'm a li'l too geeky for my own good. I feel the nerdy need to learn absolutely everything I can about the stuff that I'm enamored with. Oh, and then there's the elation I experience while anxiously awaiting something. It's sorta like the sensation you get while waiting for a doctor to give you a shot, only positive, and without all the stabbies. I'm sure endorphins and adrenaline play a part, but for the sake of stupidity, let's just call it a 'high.'

Huh.

I guess that makes me a junkie.


To the un-obsessive, non-expectation-having, normal folk, it probably appears that this 'high' hits when that which was so eagerly anticipated finally arrives. Bzzt! WRONG. Those of us who while away our workdays browsing the net for news about upcoming animated films (or Broadway shows, sporting events, unlicensed porn parodies, etc.) know that all too often, finally getting to see said film (or Broadway show, sporting event, unlicensed porn parody, etc.) is actually kind of a downer. Or, to corrupt a cliche: 'Be careful what you wait for. It eventually arrives.' No, the real 'high' comes while allowing our imaginations to run wild, taking the tid-bits of information and gossip surrounding our object of anticipation and working and re-working them into our idealized versions of what may be. It's like a cosmic collaboration between ourselves and our heroes...only without our heroes' actual involvement...or acknowledgement...and taking place entirely in our heads.

(Yes, that line felt both creepy and crazy even as I was typing it. Acknowledged. Continue.)

This brings me right back to my corrupted cliche. After weeks or months or even a little over a year of obsessively diligently daydreaming, how could ANYTHING hope to meet our elevated expectations? Even if the film/show/sporting event/porno parody is a critically acclaimed and audience adored masterpiece, there's still no possible way that it could speak to us as personally and profoundly as the versions we'd been cobbling together inside our craniums.

So is the act of anticipation really just a sucker's bet?

Sorta. Sometimes. It depends a lot on who or what you're investing your hopes and dreams and unpaid blog posts in.

I'm hoping like hell that The Croods is yet another Chris Sanders-directed animated classic. I'm dreaming like heck that Sanders continues to mine the themes of family and friendship for new insights and moments of emotional enlightenment. I'm unpaid blogging like the H-word in anticipation that The Croods -- like Lilo & Stitch and How To Train Your Dragon -- contains large doses of quirky, character-based humor seamlessly blended with quieter moments of heartfelt sadness and tenderness. Now, I realize that this is a pretty tall order. Had Chris Sanders not already shown himself to be completely capable of fulfilling it, it could easily be classified as an 'unreasonable' order, too. But he has. Twice. Yet even if Sanders fails to meet one or all of these requests, I won't regret having heaped such grandiose hopes upon The Croods. Even if my self-induced 'high' becomes a soul-sucking low, even if The Croods turns out to be a Phantom Menace/series finale of LOST-sized disappointment, I'll still speak fondly of Chris Sanders forever, and probably stack similarly grandiose hopes upon his next flick.

Want to know why?

(Warning: More creepy and crazy ahead.)

Cuz Chris Sanders is a lot like that gal I lost my virginity to.

(What?! I warned you! Plus I'm 'high,' too, remember?)

At the ripe old age of 20, after two decades(!) of waiting for Mrs. Right (a.k.a. Mrs. Willing), I finally got to play doctor for reals -- with THE WOMAN OF MY DREAMS. Maybe it was my awkward and abbreviated performance, or maybe it was the fact that Salt-N-Pepa's Push It was playing ironically and inexplicably in the background, but the actual act definitely did NOT match up to my fantasies. That said, everything that gal and I had shared up 'til that cringe-worthy coupling was all-caps AMAZING. The conversations we had blew my mind, expanded my consciousness and changed me forever. The suburban adventures we shared were goofy and ridiculous and still bring a smile to my face. First base, second base and third base were all grand slams as far as I was concerned, so if the actual home run left a little to be desired, how could I possibly allow that to spoil everything that had come before?

I couldn't.

So too with Chris Sanders and his artistic output. With Lilo & Stitch and How To Train Your Dragon, Sanders unwittingly changed my life for the better. As a late-in-life orphan with a wounded kid sister, Lilo & Stitch's positive portrayal of holding a fractured family together at all costs, as well as being open to adding new members to it, had a profound effect upon me. Having been a less than ideal son for my deeply demanding father, the Stoick/Hiccup relationship in How To Train Your Dragon resonated powerfully with me as well. It's rare in life that we find art that speaks to us personally. Chris Sanders has done it TWICE. It's entirely due to these two films that I await The Croods with exponentially increasingly expectations. It's also entirely due to these two films that I will feel ZERO regret over those same expectations should The Croods somehow fail to meet them.

Still...

Chris...

If it's not too much to ask...

PLEASE MAKE ANOTHER MASTERPIECE!

Related: Awaiting The Croods: The Agony & The Ecstasy

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