An Awfully Pig Adventure: The Peppa Pig Film Preview

I went to school with a boy who later went up to Oxford and became a film critic for one of the student rags there. He became notorious for writing reviews of films he hadn’t actually seen. His claim was that his film knowledge was so superior that he could form opinions based simply on who made the film, who was in it and what it was about. Like most right-minded people I find this approach both high-handed and objectionable. And that is why I am trying very very hard to reserve judgement on the upcoming Peppa Pig film.

Or Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience to give it its proper title. The name strikes me as curiously functional, like re-imagining Raiders of the Lost Ark as Indiana Jones and the Search for the Culturally Significant Religious Artefact. In fact the label doesn’t refer to plot of the film. It’s directed at the audience themselves.

Thus it becomes probably the first film in cinematic history to incorporate its own marketing strategy into its title. But at least this way any potentially harrowing scenes involving Peppa’s first encounter with a hot dog stand are avoided.

I speculated as to the content of the film and how the makers would tackle the challenge of making this well-loved television character a cinematic proposition, without losing its essential Pepperiness. But actually, the Peppa Pig film isn’t a film at all, it’s nine new episodes shown back-to-back. So it may just be that Peppa Pig: My First Cinema Experience is less of an artistic endeavour and more of a profit-making one.

This novel formula at least offers a raft of opportunities: a week’s worth of surround-sound Coronation Street. 3-D weather forecasts. Or A Question of Sport: The Movie.

In fairness you could say that most films are propelled by financial imperative. And the format suits my children, particularly the Minor who would probably struggle to sit through the opening credits. I’ve sat through a few Peppa Pig marathons myself, normally at around 5.22am. It is possible to enter a sort of stasis during this period, and rouse yourself an hour or so later, slightly furred like the inside of an old kettle.

I should add also there are some episodes of Peppa that contain a streak of subversive humour which is genuinely appealing. Who can forget the classic moment when Daddy Pig reads The Wonderful World of Concrete to his kids at bedtime? Uttering the immortal line: “concrete is a construction material composed of sand, water and chemical admixtures”.

The resident cast boast several actual comedians, which has been bolstered for the “film” by the likes of Jo Brand and David Mitchell, perhaps playing a slightly spluttering middle-class badger railing at the rank commerciality of it all.

The most concerning element of the Peppa Pig cinema enterprise is that it’s apparently interactive. I’ve researched this and this involves live action characters (failed actors in intimidatingly large suits) initiating dancing and sing-a-longs. No parental hibernating here. Given that the only famous song associated with Peppa is the theme tune, I can only see this going one way.

Altogether ladies and gentlemen and children…

“Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun Pepppppa Pig dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun Peppppppppa Pig….”

Any good?

The Unique Challenge Of A Trip To The Cinema

The first time I took the Major to the cinema it was just the two of us. I told him that it was a very special treat. But he demanded some kind of reward as if he was fulfilling some distasteful family obligation, which in a sense he was.

Maybe he was also aware that as far as special treats go this one isn’t that special. The cinema near us offers tickets for selected children’s films on a Sunday for £1.75. That is £1.75 for children and £1.75 for adults.

I’ve not yet established whether the reduced price for an adult is reliant on being accompanied by a child, but if you’re in your thirties and turn up to watch Monsters Inc. on your own then probably prepare yourself for some odd looks and to be put on some kind of register.

The economy of a cinema trip is not the only attraction as it also represents a rare opportunity for me to sit in the same place for an hour. It seems that I am not alone in this. The cinema is always lit up by a galaxy of Smartphone screens, operated by parents enjoying the freedom of an entertained child.

I envisaged our trips as an induction for the Major into the noble filmic arts. But actually he regards the cinema as simply a dark room where he can eat snacks. When the scoffing is over the cinema has outlived its usefulness and the Major wants out immediately. I’ve never watched an entire film at the cinema with the Major.

So if I really want to know what happens at the end of Hotel Transylvania 2 then I need to both provide full snack-catering but also ensure we take our seats at the precise moment the opening credits appear. This is a challenge because of the various factors that have to be weighed up in timing our run.

Of course the advertised start time of the film is actually the start time for an absurd amount of adverts, some of which are weirdly age-inappropriate. I mistimed our journey to Shaun the Sheep: The Movie and watched on in horror as the Major guzzled half his popcorn in front of various ads for women’s hygiene products.

At my cinema the queue for food can stretch out into the car park; columns of exasperated mums and dads waiting for the shuffling staff, who frequently disappear for suspicious lengths of time to retrieve hotdogs from a back office. I am profoundly disconcerted by this. Hotdogs should be visible at all times. I can’t help imagine some kind of aquarium of grease where the frankfurters swim about waiting to be fished out.

Once in the cinema I am comforted by the fact it seems the Major isn’t the only one with a short attention span. There comes a point in every film when the collective fidgeting breaks out into foot-races on the stairs and a wrestling tournament in the aisles. And that is normally our cue to leave.

I always try to initiate some kind of critical review on our way home. What was your favourite bit? Who was the best character? What kind of socio-political message was the director trying to convey with their use of form and light?

But mainly the Major wants to know what a Lilet is. Still. At least I’ve spent only £3.50.

Any good?