Thursday, August 13, 2020

Two for One: LITTLE MONSTERS & COOTIES

by Anthony King
“My job is to keep you safe. That's what I'll do.” - Miss Caroline

It's back-to-school time once again, and even though it looks and feels different for everyone around the world, it's important to remember who the true heroes are right now: the teachers and administrators. That's why for this round of Two for One, I want to highlight two films about teachers and what they have to go through every school year.

We start things off with one of my favorite movies from last year that is still flying way under the radar. Little Monsters stars Lupita Nyong'o as a pre-school teacher who has to keep her class alive during a zombie outbreak. It is one of the sweetest movies I've ever seen, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried both times I've watched it. And as a horror fan, there is so much to love. It is a rare horror-comedy where the perfect balance is struck between the two genres, it's a fresh enough take on the zombie genre that you won't get bored, and the make-up effects are out of this world. Lupita is so great I found myself swooning because of how much she loves her kids. And Josh Gad as a children's program host called Teddy McGiggle delivers the funniest performance I saw last year.
We follow that up with Jonathon Milott's and Cary Murnion's Cooties, starring Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, and Nasim Pedrad. For a fuller synopsis, read Patrick's wonderful review here, but the short of it is: Kids turn into bloodthirsty zombies from tainted chicken nuggets and the teachers have to survive. I agree with Patrick in that it's a decent movie. But I do think it shows perfectly what it feels like to be a teacher on certain days.

People don't become teachers because they want to make big money. In fact, teachers spend their own money just to buy their own school supplies. They teach because they love it. And they love their kids. That doesn't mean every day is a good day. Some days are harder to get out of bed than others for these people. But they do it anyways – again, not for the money – but because they're making a difference in a young person's life. That's why both Little Monsters and Cooties showcase both sides of teaching perfectly. As Miss Caroline, Lupita shows that a teacher will literally do anything to keep her kids safe. She certainly doesn't have to. After all, it's only a job, right? But you have to have passion to teach. Passion translates to love. Love means you'll go to unbelievable lengths. That includes decapitating zombies with a shovel in order to get an EpiPen for one of your kids, or threatening a beloved children's show host with a ceramic bunny.

On the opposite side of the same coin, Cooties shows the monsters kids can be some days. Again, these teachers will go to great lengths to protect the few good ones, but sometimes all you want to do is run through the playground and clothesline a few of the punks. Some days the goal is just to stay alive and get home for dinner. What I find interesting about Cooties is that it creates several different stereotypical teachers, not from an adult's point of view, but from a student's point of view. The gym teacher is really a big dumb bully, the science teacher wants to dissect a student, the English teacher is a failed writer. In reality, teachers (for the most part) are just normal people who eat, sleep, drink, and fuck like the rest of us. For me, this is where the comedy doesn't go far enough. If we're going that route, then let's GO that route. If the kids are literally ripping the assistant principal limb from limb, then the math teacher can use #2 pencils to stab kids in their eyes (or something much more creative than that).
As a bonus, I know many of us haven't been in the mood for horror movies during the pandemic (me included), but spooky season is quickly approaching and this was a great way to dip my toes back into the horror waters. These are two movies that are very much horror movies but they're both funny enough that it was an easier pill to swallow. And these are two horror films that are so much fun, people who usually shy away from the genre are sure to enjoy them.

This is a super weird time in all of our lives. Nobody knows what the hell is happening. We can't plan what our lives will look like by Halloween, let alone a week from now. Take that everyday stress and add to it planning a teaching schedule. How are you supposed to do that? That's why, more than ever, teachers and administrators need our love and support. If you're a parent, while we're all stressing out about what to do with our children, please please PLEASE take into consideration how teachers are feeling right now. Those that will be teaching in person are literally taking their lives into their hands because they love to teach. That's the only reason. They love your kids so much they're willing to put their lives on the line. I wanted to be a teacher all through middle school and high school. I started going to college with the goal of becoming a teacher. And then I realized what being a teacher meant, and I knew I wasn't cut out for it. Erika, Rob, JB, Patrick, Adam Thas, and every other teacher and administrator, retired or otherwise, around the world, you are truly heroes and the world is a better place because of you.

3 comments:

  1. This is a great double! Thanks for the shoutout!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had a ton of fun with Cooties when i saw it

    ReplyDelete
  3. Only a 1.5 months to Scary Month Month? The year is flying by in spite of everything that is going on.

    ReplyDelete