P&G Studios, in conjunction with Walmart, is trying to take back family movie night. Years after the takeover of family entertainment by PG-rated kids cartoons, both companies see consumer value in producing new movies that are made to be entertaining for both kids and adults, without being punctuated by sex, swear words, and too much violence. Additionally, themes of the movies are meant to play to what is best in the human condition rather than showing the worst in us.
Together, P&G and Walmart have produced three feature movies, and are working on their fourth. I was invited by P&G to the location shooting of the new “Change in Plans,” and also saw the just finished “Walk in My Shoes,” due to air this Fall.
I truly believe in this mission and so want their effort to work. As a dad with two small kids, I’m all too aware that everything we want to watch as a family is bad for someone. Either the movie is Curious George-clean, or risks exposing the kids to romantic concepts way beyond their years. Our family has found the solution in watching 1960’s and 1970’s TV shows and movies. But we do miss watching new shows with contemporary themes.
So as a family, we watched the second movie of their endeavor, “The Jensen Project” which aired first in July 2010, and is on sale now as a DVD.
While my kids, six and ten, found the movie compelling, I regret to say that the film wasn’t up to adult standards. It’s not that it’s too “clean” or too family-friendly, it just isn’t up to high quality standards of top-rated shows we like as adults: “The Good Wife” or “House” or even something completely fantastical, and similar, like “The Event.” I quickly tuned out, grabbed my laptop, and worked away while I “shared” time with my kids, which was not the family moment I was hoping for.
While in Toronto with P&G, I also saw an early screening of “Walk in My Shoes,” the third movie made by this corporate studio. While still not a movie that can compete with highly rated TV shows for adults’ attention, the show was more compelling and I did want to actively watch it.
Now I want to see their new film, Change of Plans since I met the cast, director and producer. I have no way of knowing whether it will again be a step closer to the objective of the mission of this family-friendly quality movie ideal, but I am hoping so. All the people involved, while clearly motivated by a corporate objective, were obviously motivated by a personal goal that most parents share. We all want to see our kids consuming entertainment whether books, movies, TV, or online that is good and developmental for them. And after a long day at work, we also would love it if we could share it with them, like in the old days when the family would all watch Ed Sullivan or the World of Disney, but this time, not just because it’s the only thing on.
See my interview with the executive producer Brian Wells in an upcoming post.