Sometimes I feel like I am watching and old empire crumble.
This morning, I went to see Kubo and The Two Strings. I really wanted to like this movie. I ended up hating it.
Why? Hollywood and all of its shenanigans.
Before I unpack this, I need to explain some things that I understand. I understand that it costs money to make a film. I understand a studio needs to be able to attract as many eyes as possible to a film in order to remain in the black. I understand that sometimes actors are cast in movies because they have a built-in following that will show up with their dollars. It's called show business, not show friendship.
I'm willing to believe this was the case with Kubo and the Two Strings.
Here's my issue with this film. It's a fantasy tale set in a mythical world that borrows heavily from Japanese culture. It's 2016. This would be a great moment in history for a film studio to cast Asian voice talent in this film.
Guess what? They didn't. The film stars Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, and Art Parkinson in the top four spots. That's right, set it in a mystical version of Japan and cast it whiter than white. Asian culture might make for a good film, just make sure that you don't cast anyone of Asian descent in leading roles.
I believe in the meritocracy. Get the absolute best person for the job, regardless of background. Art Parkinson was great as Kubo. But Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey? Their performances were terrible. Charlize Theron speaks in one tone for the whole movie. I've heard people read directions for shampoo with more enthusiasm. Matthew McConaughey sounds like he stumbled in from a happy hour. You can't tell me that there wasn't someone better for these parts.
This was an opportunity for Hollywood to show it understands the people it's selling their stories to. I think in this case, they failed miserably. They followed the safe pathway instead of being courageous and casting an unknown actor who would actually act in the lead roles.
Kubo isn't the disease, it's just the symptom of something much worse. There is a correction that is going on in our culture and Hollywood had an opportunity to jump on board with it. They didn't and as a result, they made a beautiful movie that gets buried by their disinterested voice talent.
The empire will continue to crumble and people will go find places where their stories can be told. That may be on YouTube, or a street corner. In the end, the old system will die and I can't say that I will be sad to see it go.