With The Mertmas being nearly eight years old and his sister not even being one yet, I figured I had at least three, maybe four years before I’d have to see films like “Tinker Bell And The Pirate Fairy” in the cinema. But, when he decided, having viewed the trailer, that he wanted to go and see it (we’d already seen everything else that was on offer), who was I to argue?
A few years back, I was helping out at a school fair, manning the hook-a-duck stall. Kiddies would have a go, and if they managed to nab one of the rubber duckies they got to choose a prize from the assorted toys on offer. After a little girl had successfully snagged her duck, she started towards the toy cars and footballs. I (in all innocence) mentioned that there were other prizes she might prefer, only to be met by an indignant huff from the mother of the child who brusquely told me not to ‘gender stereotype her child’. Her child: a child dressed head to toe in pink of varying hues, fabrics and accessories. Touché, madame.
I only share this because I noticed that in the half-full auditorium, there were plenty of mums and their daughters, and a few dads with their daughters, but there was, as far as I could see, only one boy – and he was with me. Not even one sullen, reluctant little brother who had been dragged along because his sister wanted to see it or mum hadn’t booked in advance and the showing of “Turbo” was sold out.
The story concerns a creative, ambitious but misunderstood dust-keeper fairy named Zarina (Christina Hendricks) whose experiments with blue and yellow pixie dust cause problems in Pixie Hollow, so she flees in disgrace after being fired by the head dust-keeper. Fast forward a year and as the Four Seasons Festival kicks off, Zarina returns and using her mastery of pixie dust, she sedates the entire population and steals the irreplaceable blue pixie dust. Luckily, Tinker Bell and her friends avoid being put to sleep and chase after Zarina. When they catch up to her, they initially think she is being blackmailed by the pirates until they realise that she is the Pirate Captain. Now they must race against time to thwart the pirates’ plans to enable their ship to fly and plunder the world while also returning the precious and apparently irreplaceable blue fairy dust to Pixie Hollow.
The story trundles along at an agreeable pace and apart from one or two big twists is reasonably straightforward. There’s a decent amount of humour gleaned from the fairies having their powers switched around and there are a good many nods to “Peter Pan” which this serves as an effective prequel to, including the first appearance of a cabin boy called James Hook and a certain crocodile.
Apparently, this is the fifth film in DisneyToon Studios’ ongoing Tinkerbell series. DisneyToon is, of course, the brand name of the gratuitous money grabs that Disney and/ or Pixar are happy to profit from but don’t quite want to sully their own brands with (see also: “Planes”). I haven’t seen any of the others so much of what I saw was new to me. It turns out that Pixie Hollow society is based on a rigid and ruthlessly enforced caste system whereby you are allocated a role in society and there you must stay. Often, these roles are defined by specific super-powers (but this is for girls, so instead of super powers, we’ll call them talents). The authorities frown on any exploration or invention outside your predefined talent and certainly forbid anything which challenges the status quo. Until, apparently, some fairies have a heart-warming adventure and society pretends that it was totally cool with whatever it was they had previously been against. Sheesh. Would you believe this movie actually passes the Bechdel Test? With flying colours!
The adventure the fairies go on is light, fun and mildly entertaining (and, to be fair, is the majority of the movie) but Pixie Hollow seemed to me to be a veneer of saccharine-sweet flowery happiness hiding a sinister, totalitarian police state. Or maybe I was just
grumpy because I wanted to go and see “Turbo” reading too much into it. Mertmas enjoyed it at the time but hasn’t mentioned it since: a sure sign of something’s mediocrity. It’s perfectly adequate entertainment, I suppose: it’s got Tom Hiddlestone in it (as the voice of James Hook – he really needs to check those Loki contracts more thoroughly) and the animation is decent enough but shouldn’t we be demanding more from entertainment perniciously aimed at girls than this? I’m not really sure what the eventual moral of “Tinker BellAnd The Pirate Fairy” was meant to be, apart from maybe ‘a fool and their money are soon parted’. There’s another film in this series due after this one but I don’t care – I’ll be looking for better things for my children to watch.