28 December 2010

But…are those even frogs?

My mom came over to my house on Boxing Day and we watched, among other things, Frogs
I think where the movie Frogs fails is that the wildly inaccurate title is also misleading. The movie has ambitions beyond killer frogs, even beyond killer animals on a single island. They hint of a nature revolt occurring around the world, but they don’t ever show any of it, and all we’re left is a wealthy family’s struggle to survive on an island that, I think, is supposed to be in Florida. Of course, I’m probably putting too much thought into assessing why a movie about killer frogs isn’t that good.

The movie takes place over the fourth of July holiday at the Kennedyesque island compound of a pulp mill Baron. The wheelchair bound family patriarch insists on the family coming together every year for the holiday, which just happens to be his birthday. Enter the ecology-expert photo journalist, paddling around in his canoe and documenting the litter in the water. His boat gets swamped by one of the Kennedys, out on a drunken powerboat joy ride. They take him back to the island and creepily insist that he stay pretty much for the rest of the weekend. Then people start to die. But it takes awhile for the deaths to occur, and aside from a few comments about pesticide use and pulp mill effluent, we’re left with no real reason why nature is rising up and killing everyone. Surely not every person on the planet deserves to die, but the snakes, scorpions, crabs, alligators, iguanas and lizards (to name a few) don’t seem to discriminate.
There are also implications that the plants are in on it too, as one guy is seemingly held down by the Spanish moss while the tarantulas fall on him from above and bite him to death – or something. Most of the deaths were pretty vague. The best death is the guy who got trapped in the greenhouse with a bunch of lizards and iguanas that proceeded to knock bottles of poison off shelves, causing the room to fill with poisonous gas and the man to asphyxiate. Another vague death has a woman knee-deep in water in one scene, seemingly trapped in the mud while a giant turtle inches slowly towards her, and the next time we see her, she’s lying face down, covered in crabs. The most confusing death is the old guy who, I think, just panics and has a heart attack after the “frogs” invade his room. He kind of just falls out his chair and dies. Then the “frogs” hop all over him.
Here’s what bothered me the most - the fauna on this island: frogs, toads, crabs, turtles, iguana, lizards, tarantulas, scorpions, monarch butterflies, snakes (including rattle snakes and water snakes), leeches, alligators, birds (although, surprisingly few killer mammals). This is a freaking biodiversity hotspot, despite the fact that the Kennedys apparently spray it daily with pesticide just to kill the frogs and keep them from croaking. But, and this wouldn’t bother most people, I was massively confused by the mix of fresh and saltwater taxa. Or maybe toads and frogs are more marine tolerant than I know. But at the beginning I assumed they were on an island in a lake, because the water was so calm and the scenery was more indicative of a lake than the coast. I suppose it could have been a sheltered area in the Everglades, with brackish water.  That would explain the crabs, anyway. At some point I got really frustrated and said to my mom, “his movie now officially makes no biological sense.” To which mom replied, “oh, honey. You’re so cute. You thought that it would?”

Here’s something for all you invasive species biologists out there, I found this on the back of the DVD under the heading “Fun Facts”:

Many of the 500 Florida frogs and 100 Giant South African toads purchased for this movie escaped during production.
So, they intended to use frogs, at least. Oh! And the scene where the giant frog eats an entire person never happens. Stupid lying movie poster.

1 comment:

Candra said...

Frogs?? LOL...more like Killer Toads! Was this a B-rated movie ;)