Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Interesting review concerning Shark Boy and Lava Girl on National Review Online. I may have to reconsider passing this movie off so easily. But it was previewed during Star Wars Episode III, right AFTER the stunning preview for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe so ANYTHING was a letdown after that.

The story follows the adventures of ten-year-old Max, a fairly ordinary boy who enjoys his dreams and dreads reality, for in the latter realm he is the target of school bullies led by the despicable Linus. Max also worries about his parents’ marital problems. He escapes into his dreams, and keeps a “dream book” in which he documents his reveries so that he can remember them.

Of the two main villains in the film, Linus is a typical child bully, and the other is a public-school teacher (though he is a villain only in the dream). A significant part of the story deals with the premise that the public school Max attends is trying to kill his dreams. In the dream world, Linus is called Minus, and he represents all that is evil, barren, and stifling. The school teacher is represented by Mr. Electricity, who tries to keep children from dreaming.

Significantly, in the main reality the bully Linus steals Max’s dream book, thereby threatening to steal Max’s dreams, just as the school is doing. The film emphasizes the notion that dreaming is important because making our dreams reality is what makes the world a better place. The dream planet is called Drool, a combination of words dream and school, and Max must find a way to make these two worlds coexist.

Among his imaginary playmates are Shark Boy (a human-shark mix who was raised by great white sharks) and Lava Girl (who can shoot fire and lava rocks). It turns out that these individuals are not dreams at all but are real, as are the villains. Shark Boy and Lava Girl turn out really to be composed of water and light, respectively.

This is significant because the first of these is a biblical symbol of the Holy Spirit, and the second a biblical name for Jesus Christ. In addition, Lava Girl is, of course, made of rock, another name by which Jesus Christ is known. Also, fire is a traditional symbol of manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

The film is no simple allegory, however: both Shark Boy and Lava Girl, when they reside in Max’s dreams, have flaws. But once Max knows them for what they really are, they become real and are true superheroes. It is Max’s faith that allows them to work in the real world.


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