A champion for teens

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First Posted: 11/10/2014

I’m 35 years old. I’ve been to a college-like institution. My lord and savior is whispering my name through the heather and soon my restless thetan will be cradled – for all eternity – in the sinewy arms of L. Ron Hubbard. I’ve lived a long mediocre life and I no longer have the patience to endure precocious teenage geniuses in films or television shows. As I die an excruciatingly prolonged and unfathomably slow death, I will no longer sit idly by as precocious teenage geniuses create fantabulous, utterly contrabulous gizmos. Nor will I look the other way as precocious teenage geniuses totally get all up in our collective faces with their sassy dude-a-tudes.

It’s done.

Those dark days of tolerance are over because “Big Hero 6” broke me. It shattered my will. The relentless onslaught of precocious teenage geniuses hee-hawin’ around, horsin’ off and talkin’ about their skid mark riddled underwear as other precocious teenage geniuses dry-heave changed me in ways I’ll never fully understand. The worst part of this is that it really didn’t have to be this way. Buried underneath the mounds of loud, candy-colored garbage, exists a poignant and very funny premise. The kind of premise a studio like Pixar would have the courage to fully embrace without compromise.

In essence, “Big Hero 6” is about loss. Hiro (Ryan Potter), one of the many precocious teenage geniuses we must endure in this film, has just gotten over the death of his parents when his older brother Tadashi dies unexpectedly in a fire. As Hiro struggles to go on living without his brother, one of Tadashi’s creations – a criminally huggable medical robot dubbed Baymax (“30 Rock’s” Scott Adsit) – lumbers awkwardly into Hiro’s life. In a Pixar movie, this would prompt a gentle “Up”-like adventure in which Hiro quietly comes to terms with his depression. But this isn’t a Pixar movie, it’s a Disney movie; a Disney movie at its most mercenary.

Very loosely based on an ill-remembered and nearly unreadable Marvel comic book, “Big Hero 6” basically plays like a blander, far more obnoxious Marvel Studios movie crossed with the ‘ this is just one big commercial’ qualities of the old “He-Man” cartoon. Characters – with one defining personality trait each – exist merely to pad out the inevitable line of action figures. The story is standard superhero movie boilerplate with indistinguishable heroes, in their amazing Technicolor dream-armor, fighting an unmemorable villain in a kabuki mask.

Too much of the comedy comes from T.J. Miller – who, let’s face it, turns into a neutered Jason Mewes once he’s removed from the confines of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”– as a family friendly stoner who lamely riffs on comic books and soiled underwear. “Big Hero 6” alternately feels like a movie that is trying too hard and yet not trying hard enough.

After “Frozen” and “Wreck-It-Ralph”, “Big Hero 6” is depressing throwback to the days of “Chicken Little” and “Meet the Robinson.”

And yet, the potential for something far more subtle and nuanced was always there. “Big Hero 6” didn’t have to be so disposable. Baymax is easily one of Disney’s most fully-realized characters. A selfless, unfailingly compassionate oddball, Baymax manages to earn laughs just by gawkily trundling around Hiro’s bedroom or squeezing his vinyl, balloon-y body through a narrow alley. Unfortunately, by the second act, Baymax is forced into a robotic, Sentai-inspired samurai suit and the character fades into the background only to emerge when it’s convenient for the story. Like last month’s “The Book of Life”, “Big Hero 6” is a visually stunning (the film seems to take place in a pre-dystopian “Blade Runner”) but ultimately shallow endeavor that serves to remind you that Pixar hasn’t released a new movie in well over a year.