A Freudian approach to narrative emphasises the Oedipal trajectory of the story. Freud used the myth of Oedipus to explain the psychic processes necessary for a boy to become a man. This requires the boy to move his sexual fixation from his mother toward a mother substitute so he can become like his father. Raymond Bellour (in The Analysis of Film, 2002) shows how North By Northwest (1959) tightly fits this pattern through Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) being forced to ‘stand up’ to his mother, encountering an apparently ‘loose’ woman (aptly named Eve) who turns out to be ‘good’, saving her and then consummating their relationship (shown in the film shot of a train entering a tunnel):
The hero proves his worthiness to take up his place as a man, by accomplishing a series of directed tests: a process which will often culminate, in self-contained narratives, with his integration into the cultural order through marriage… it provides the most familiar structure for such male-orientated Hollywood genres as the Western and the adventure film. (Frank Krutnik, In a Lonely Street, 1991, pp. 87-8)
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has an Oedipal narrative (the mother is absent (dead) for most of the film and I suspect the reasons for this would be interesting) and I’m interested in how prevalent it is in films aimed at a young audience. I must be in list mode as I’m now going to tag films that are Oedipal in nature; I expect them to be predominantly American. The film itself, if you can ignore the narrative, features some wonderfully surreal imagery – the attack of the headless, and cooked, chickens for example – and enough of typically American food to induce vegetarianism.
It is progressive in it’s portrayal of the token female who learns that desiring to be weather girl, and so suppressing her intellect, is not a good thing.
Bechdel test: Fail (3/2)
Protagonist: Male (0/2)