Pack up the kids and the family fortune ‘cause we’re off to the cinema.

Admission to the movie $$$. Popcorn (popped maze, fluffy Styrofoam, proof that with salt and butter one can make anything palatable) $$$$$ (… I’m glad that mortgage lender was still available to approve the third loan on the house so we could afford the popcorn , of course the sub-prime loan debacle began subsequent to that loan, hhmmmm??) and a Drink $$$$ (anything with that much salt requires a beverage). Having to take a second job to pay for it all… priceless.

“What be this bleating in mine ears???” Baaa, Baaaa. Ah, a flock of sheep; all queued up for their ration of salted, buttered, Styrofoam and caffeinated, colored sugar water to wash it all down. (And for those disillusioned few who believe they have escaped the prison of said sheep fold, I offer exhibit A to the court, bottled H2O. Only the worst of prisoners are restricted to Styrofoam and water rations.

I watch, mesmerized, as one sheep followed the other and each was fleeced, right there at the counter. Then they walk away with a goofy self-satisfied grin that flies in the face of the fact that they have just squandered a full 1/3 of their children’s college education fund. Baaa, Baaaa! “Next!” and I take my turn at the shearing.

What movie could be so compelling I would risk financial and gastronomic ruin to attend? None other than that cinematic epic of popular culture, that masterpiece of film making, none other than that icon of hip, debonair and coolness…(I get goose bumps just thinking about it)… give it up for, “Alvin and the Chipmunks!” aaaaaahhhhh!! Woooo hooo!

As I sat there taking one for the team (so-to-speak) a great line from another strain on my budget came to mind and I settled in like a penguin on the beach in Madagascar, “Smile and wave boys, Smile and wave.”

Then it began to dawn on me, hey! this is a pretty good commentary on popular culture and on the Hollywood entertainment machine in general. It was heartening to see someone actually expose (albeit in a backhanded, under the radar manner) the star machine for the meat factory it is and the industry moguls for prostitutes they are. Wow! This reality thing has gone from Survivor, to the Biggest Loser, to Smarter than a 5th Grader, to Alvin and the big screen. Reality meets fantasy in a surreal rock-u-mentary featuring the meteoric rise to stardom of three striped rodents.

To be honest, without the trite remarks, the movie did a good job of showing the pitfalls of life without boundaries, My radar clicked on when the antagonist said, “There is only one rule…. There are no rules!” That is the essence of our present pop culture, No rules! No boundaries! Freedom! Complete autonomous freedom leads to anarchy. Alvin and the Boys were a fantastic visual representation of that truth. More of the, “If it works for you then it is ok,” mentality. One only has to look at Lindsey and Britney and a host of other pop icons to see the natural outcome of complete autonomous freedom. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when it is given at the personal level.

So, all in all, I would have to give the rodents a thumb’s up. It may not be Oscar material but it is a good springboard to initiate conversation with your children concerning boundaries, rules and what true freedom means.

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