Where were we? Oh yes, Scott and his mother are talking. I included this scene in my review because it is literally the most we will hear from Scott’s mom.
I’ve been noticing a few things as we go along.
1. Adult females do not have much of a role. The only females that are important to the movie are Margaret, who is Scott’s age, and Regina, who is… younger than Scott and Margaret. Beyond that, I’m not even sure. I think she might be Scott’s little sister? Oh, and Aunt Bitch. Can’t forget her. She is the adult woman we will hear the most from in this story, and she’s clearly a bitch.
2. Everyone is white. Every. Single. Person. There is not one person in this movie who is a person of color. Even Pete’s gang in Chicago was all white. I would find it extremely problematic if members of Pete’s gang were the only black people in the movie, however, I find it equally problematic that there are NO black people in the movie.
Even the Left Behind movies have a Token Black Guy(tm).
3. This movie is not very good at introducing characters. I only caught Regina’s name on the 3rd watch through, and even then, I only caught it because I’d read the back of the video case and was listening for it.
4. What is up with the cuffed jean shorts? I thought that was what girls did in the early 1990s. Why are boys wearing them?
Alright, that’s all. Moving on.
It’s winter now. Pete tells Scott he has good news and bad news. The good news is academic crap I don’t care about. The bad news is that Aunt Marie says it cost too much for Pete to come home for Christmas. Yes, he really does say “home for Christmas.” So, I guess he doesn’t view Chicago and Aunt Marie as home now. What a pity. I’m also not sure if this is supposed to show that Aunt Marie is too poor, or if she’s just being stingy by not giving him the money. My guess is that we’re to assume the former, because only poor people join gangs.
That was sarcasm, btw, in case anyone needs it spelled out for them.
Aunt Marie: Pete, you got a letter from Scott!
Pete: Ok I’ll read it later, alright?
Seriously, why is Aunt Marie chasing Pete out the door with Scott’s letter? Seriously, she is saying this to him as he walks out the door. Like, she’s running after him with it, kinda. It was never a rule that you had to read letters right away, even back in the 90s before email got popular.
We next hear Pete’s voiceover telling some Scott he met some new friends, as Pete leaves the house and slips after his new friends down a dark alley. Because clearly only bad kids hang out in dark alleys. They couldn’t possibly be just… oh, I don’t know, cutting through the alley to get to the local soda shop? Pete says, “they call themselves the blades” and “hang out in the arcade a lot.” The camera fades to black as they disappear down the steps into the alley… what kind of alley has steps I don’t even…
I actually kinda like this. The voiceover while he goes off with his friends who “Call themselves the blades” lets the adult reader know that Pete has joined a gang. It’s a good way to state something while at the same time not going into the gory details of what joining a gang really entails. And for a children’s movie, I can get behind that. This works, for a children’s movie. I like it…kinda.
It’s now spring. Pete has stopped writing. Cut to Chicago, the middle of the night in a back alley somewhere where Pete is being the dumbest gang member ever. He yells out the names of his fellow gang members (I can’t be arsed to go rewind it and get them, because they never come up again) really loudly and yells, “come on man, this isn’t funny man.” Also really loudly. Seriously, if they’re in the middle of something illegal, this is the worst thing I can think of for him to be doing. There’s the sound of broken glass and an alarm ringing. “What’s going on?!” Pete screams. His friends finally show up and they start running toward the end of the alley. “What did you guys do? Come on we gotta get out of here!” A cop car pulls up, they run toward the back of the alley. The pull down a metal fire escape, and then instead of, oh, I don’t know, trying to escape to the roof, they use it to try and stop the cop car from getting them.
I never considered this before, but maybe… maybe pete really doesn’t know what his friends were up to. From the above dialogue, Pete is either the World’s Stupidest Criminal (plausible) or Really Freakin’ Gullible (most likely.)
Cop: alright hold it right there you kids!
Pete: I told you I didn’t do anything! You got the wrong guy!
Which, since I just heard him screaming, “what did you guys do?!” (at least, I think I did, at the 8:40 mark) I actually kinda believe him. Poor Pete. He is clearly not very high up on the gang hierarchy.
Cop: sure, that’s what they all say. Let’s see how these fit.
We hear handcuffs snapping, but by the time this happens, the visual has already cut away to Scott, so we don’t get to see any of this, yet we still hear it. This is just so…. odd? Like, there’s no reason for them to cut to Scott at this very moment. I wonder why? Did they just not want the actor to actually be filmed being handcuffed? Are the handcuffs made of Nickle and Weatheredd is extremely allergic? It just makes no sense.
Here’s the part I find unrealistic. See, I have a friend who is now 30. He’s been in prison since he was 15 for gang related activity. And he didn’t even do anything, he was just there when the gang robbed the place. For that alone, he was sentenced to 15 years. Now, granted this was back in the 1970s when there was a move for harsher sentences on gang members specifically, but I don’t think it had improved much by 1992.
Bottom line: Pete should be in prison. He should be in prison for a long time because prison sentences are ridiculous. Fortunately for Pete, he’s in a movie where the screenwriters didn’t bother to do actual research, so nothing happens. For all we know, he didn’t even spend a night in jail. Which is odd, because it’s already been established that Aunt Marie doesn’t have the money to bail him out. Or won’t bail him out, I’m honestly not sure which. Either way, Aunt Marie won’t be bailing him out of jail.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, treehouse, Scott is writing Pete a letter. He starts out, “dear Pete, I haven’t heard anything from you for a long time…”
“Dear Scott, that’s because I’m in prison…”
Just kidding! That doesn’t happen.
Back to Chicago, where Pete is sporting this getup… like, seriously he is so totally dressed like … like… I don’t even know. The clothes int his movie are just…so…WEIRD.
At least, *I* don’t remember anyone wearing anything like that in the 1990s.
Pete’s gang members are the ones in white. They look like normal gang members from 1990. I think. I’ve never actually SEEN a gang from the 1990s, but, from what I remember of 1990s clothing, they look normal.
Pete, on the other hand, looks like… well… a dork. Even for the 1990s, that getup is DORKY with a capital D.
I just noticed something… Pete is wearing a red bandanna, but his gang members are wearing blue… what’s the significance of that? Shouldn’t his gang all be wearing the same colors?
Anyway, Pete and his gang members walk pete home. His aunt Marie is standing at the door, waiting for him. Pete sends his friends away.
Aunt Marie: (angrily) do you know what this is?
No, Aunt Marie, why should he? I don’t even know what “this” is. Pete expresses this.
Aunt Marie: It’s a letter from your school, you’ve been expelled.
Having never been expelled before… don’t they tell both you and your parents at the same time that you’ve been expelled? Would they really just do it like that, send your guardian a letter? Actually, now that I think about it, my school did it with phone calls… but that was a boarding school. Of course they had to reach most parents by telephone. At a real public school, wouldn’t they call you in for a meeting? Someone else can tell me otherwise, but I have a feeling this is not very realistic at all.
Anyway, since no such meeting took place, how the hell would he know that Aunt Marie had his expulsion notice? I mean, if I was a “bad” gang member, and I knew I was being expelled, I’d have hidden the letter. So why does Aunt Marie ask “Do you know what this is?” Like she thinks he knows what this is because clearly, he doesn’t.
It’s hard to tell because the quality isn’t good, but I think Pete here looks surprised. (Actually, on further inspection, I think he just looks stoned. Which admittedly I would have to be if I was working on this movie.)
Aunt Marie: It says you broke into another kid’s locker
Pete: one of the other guys in the gang set me up
Did he? I have no idea, to be honest. And I hope you weren’t curious either, Dear Reader, because We Don’t Get To Know(tm)
Aunt Bitch has this look on her face:
Aunt Marie: ever since you were arrested you’ve been blaming other people!
Well Aunt Marie, let’s see…. people who have been arrested often start getting blamed for every. Little. Thing. Soooo yeah, I could very easily see someone setting up Pete to take the blame, because he’s been arrested before, so people will believe that, and no one will think to look beyond surface evidence. Is Aunt Marie too stupid to know this? Really?
I mean, maybe Pete does have a history of stealing, but as far as I can tell, the evidence is dubious.
When people discovered, back in high school, that I had a reputation for stealing, suddenly I got blamed for every theft that occurred. Actually, I never stole from other students. I got blamed for stealing $50 from my cousin M. My dad thought I had done it because, he asked me, “where’d you get the $50 from?” and I was like, “hello? You just gave it to me, remember? You said your mother told you to give it to me for my birthday!”
Clearly, adults will believe anything.
Pete: I didn’t do anything this time, ok?
This time. Sooooo he probably has stolen, but not this time… wouldn’t surprise me.
Aunt Marie: well what you did do, is pick the wrong friends!
I just want to point out that this is incredibly subjective, and I don’t blame Pete for looking like this
Since….when is this a crime? I mean, yeah, she’s probably right, but at the same time… she is using an accusatory tone. This is clearly not meant to come across as a parental figure having a sit down talk about the friends he has and how they’re really not good for him. She’s coming across as blaming him for his friend choices, rather than coming across as concerned for Pete’s welfare and reputation.
Pete tells her he will stop hanging out with them, but Aunt Marie says he’s told her that before. And then we get this:
Aunt Marie: Look, I asked you to live with us because I thought you’d be a good example for my children.
Ouch. Because I thought you’d be a good example for my children.
Not, because I love you or because I wanted to be a mother to you. Aunt Marie wants Pete for what he can do for her, not because she loves Pete.
If I was Pete, I wouldn’t be thrilled to hear that, either. In fact I’d be very, very, hurt.
So much for “the closest thing I’ll ever get to a real mom.”
This is… just… how did I not notice this when I was 11?
Apparently all Aunt Marie’s children ever talk about is how someday they want to be in a gang like Pete. Well bitch, maybe if you loved your children, they wouldn’t feel the need to join a gang when they get older! Sure they’ll talk about it now, but most people, or so I’ve read, join gangs because of the need to belong, the need for family. If your children have that, I wouldn’t worry too much.
Or maybe there are other reasons people join gangs. If you’re worried, you should sit down with your children and talk to them about gangs and why it’s important to stay away from them even though they may seem appealing.
Yanno, that thing that starts with a P what’s it called… oh yeah… PARENTING! Just getting rid of Pete isn’t going to get rid of the underlying problem.
Now, maybe Pete would still need to be sent back to live with his grandparents. Maybe that really would be better for him. But then I would expect Aunt Bitch to be saying something like, “Pete, I love you. I don’t want to send you away. I wanted you to live with us because I love you and I wanted to be a mother to you. But I’m scared for you and I don’t want to see you end up like -insert bad thing a gang member could end up as here–. I think it would be best if you left Chicago to keep you away from the bad influences. I’m not doing this because I don’t love you. Please keep in touch, I do love you. I do.
No, we get none of that from Pete’s aunt. None whatsoever. So much for the closest he’ll ever get to a real mom. Poor Pete. I really feel for him here.
I think we are supposed to sympathize with Aunt Spaghetti here and… I just… I want to punch her. I really really want to see her get run over by a truck.
Or stabbed by a gang member. Actually, why did Pete join a gang? I read (though I’m not sure how true it is) some people join gangs for protection for their families… what if, in fact, Pete joined the gang and hasn’t left them because he is afraid for Aunt Marie and her children’s safety? What if he has been doing his best to protect the ones he loves?
Aunt Marie doesn’t ask about this. In fact, no one in the whole stupid movie will ask why Pete felt the need to join a gang in the first place. In my opinion, this would be far more helpful than anything anyone does to him in this movie, because, even if you get him away from the gang, the reason Pete joined is still going to be there until it’s dealt with. Juuuuuust saying.
Anyway, Pete promises to do better. Aunt Marie just glares at him and says, “help me to the street with this.” Pete asks where they are going. Aunt Bitch says, “you’re catching a bus home.”
So, she never saw her home as Pete’s home, either. “Home,” for both Pete and Aunt Bitch, has always been Pete’s grandparents’.
I’m just saying, no one in this movie really seems to love Pete, at least, not after he “turns bad.”
Pete picks up his one suitcase… one suitcase. He’s been living there for months and all he has is… one suitcase.
Pete: I like it here just fine.
Aunt Bitch: I’m sorry But I’ve talked to your grandfather
(Finally! An apology from her! It doesn’t come across as sincere, though. Quite the opposite, in fact.)
(note: grandFATHER not grandPARENTS. Seriously, I think Aunt Marie is the only (adult) female who actually gets a real role here. I mean, we never actually meet Pete’s grandma, and I would suspect he didn’t have one if she weren’t referred to multiple times, and all Scott’s mother seems to do is to nag him and nod along when his father talks to him. Females don’t have a large role in this story at all. At least, not the adult ones)
That’s all I have steam for (read: I will die of alcohol poisoning if I drink anything else) today. Next episode: Pete goes back to SmallChristianTownville! See how his former friends react to “The New Pete.”
Spoiler alert: It’s not pleasant.