August 14, 2009

Spare the Child, Spoil the Movie

I don’t usually make it a practice of spoiling the ending of movies. After all, I wouldn’t want the same to be done to me for a movie that I was really looking forward to seeing… although it would be fair to say there is a statute of limitations on this rule. After all, if my sharing with you that Darth Vader is Luke’s father is going to cause you to curse my name for ruining your weekend movie-rental plans, I’m sorry – that one is on you. I’d say 28 years was more than enough lead time.


However, I’m going to make an exception for the film “Orphan” which opened in theaters on July 26 of this year and is likely still playing at a Cineplex near you. Now, I haven’t seen this movie myself, and have actually no desire to in the future. But when a film gets as much attention as this one did before its release date, I certainly take notice.


The trailer for “Orphan” made it clear this was pretty much a routine horror flick, with a family adopting a little girl from the local orphanage, only to discover that she is actually not the sweet, innocent child she at first appears to be, but actually some form of “pure evil.” It’s essentially the same movie as “Hand That Rocks the Cradle” or “Fatal Attraction” or “The Omen” or a million other films where things are not as they seem.


However, since this particular movie had the titular orphan as the “monster” – many self-righteous groups were up in arms. Protests were organized and a media blitz from pro-adoption advocates calling for moviegoers to boycott the film based on its plot were the focus of nearly every newscast and entertainment program - all before any of these outraged parties had actually seen the movie in question with their own eyes.


Jedd Medefind, a former member of the Bush Administration, and current president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, wrote the following in the conservative National Review – again pre-release: “The Warner Bros. movie Orphan, which opens this weekend, has elicited outrage from many orphan advocates, and understandably so. The last thing orphans need is major motion picture that adds them to the lineup of creepy horror villains. A story like Orphan isn’t helpful to how they view themselves . . . or how other kids on the playground talk about them.”


Again, I would be perfectly fine with Medefind’s expression of this point of view, if in fact, the film was about an orphan “gone bad.” Heck, I might even agree with him that it isn’t helpful to the very legitimate cause of overcrowded orphanages in America, especially in terms of older kids.


Except for one huge fact – that’s not what this movie is about.






The huge twist of this movie is that sweet little Esther isn’t a little girl after all. She is in fact, a 33-year old woman suffering from something called “proportional dwarfism.” She is not an orphan gone bad, but a sick, twisted, former mental patient/prostitute who uses her youthful experience to hoodwink prospective parents into giving her shelter and trying to seduce the fathers once inserted into the family home.


And yet, now that the film has been running for several weeks, I’ve heard nary a peep from the protest groups. Somehow a “Google” search for the “Christian Alliance for Proportional Dwarfs” yields no results. What’s wrong, gang? Do we not care how the kids on the playground will talk about them?


Have a good weekend, gang. We’ll be back on Monday.

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