With bullying being an increasingly serious problem, we start to see that it’s been around much longer than we’d like to admit. Now granted, the scholastic bully is a more modern problem, but they have existed in many forms for many decades. Still, the question remains: how does one deal with a bully? Generally, bullies are stronger and more confident than the ones they pick on, so one option is to hire someone who is much stronger and much more confident to fight the bully on your behalf. And yet, people won’t just fight your battles for you for free, so these fighters often have to be paid for their services. Even though the title of “mercenary” can be looked down upon, sometimes they are necessary. This week’s two films look at two sets of mercenaries who fight for the little people (figuratively and literally).
Rating: Not Rated
Length: 141 minutes / 2.35 hours
Dealing with one bully may be difficult, but dealing with a whole gang of them is nearly impossible. When the enemy is a faceless mob, there’s no way to really stop the harassment. Now, let’s say you want to hire someone to fight for you. That’s great, except you don’t have any money. How would you get someone to fight for you when you can’t even begin to pay for them? Most warriors will only fight for themselves or their ideals, so the only other option is to get them to get them to pity your plight. And yet, occasionally you’ll run across a warrior that will actually fight for the underdog pro bono. Unfortunately, since these warriors are hard to come by, it’ll still be a difficult job to repel the attacks of the mob of bullies. Still, a handful of warriors is better than nothing.
Bandits usually get whatever they want, especially if they’re harassing downtrodden farmers. Everyone’s got to eat, so the bandits figure that stealing the farmers’ crops is a simple way to keep their bellies full. Of course, after a few harvests, the farmers have had enough. Heading into town to seek out some help, they find a samurai who’s down on his luck. Since he also has to eat and has not had as many opportunities to do so, he takes up their offer of giving him three square meals a day to help defend their crops. After the samurai gathers six more to help the villagers, they teach the lowly peasants how to fight for nothing more than three bowls of rice a day. The true test of the warriors comes when the bandits return: is the farmers’ plight enough for them to fight and even die for?
A Bug’s Life
Length: 95 minutes / 1.58 hours
One of the earliest stories of bullying comes from the animal kingdom in the form of one of Aesop’s many fables. While the “bullying” is actually done by the ants in this version, by allowing the grasshopper to starve because he did not plan ahead for the winter, Pixar has taken this idea and flipped it on its head. After all, grasshoppers are stronger than ants, so why shouldn’t the grasshopper bully the ants into giving it all of their food? Does this sound familiar? Well, it should, because A Bug’s Life is loosely based on the aforementioned Seven Samurai. However, ants don’t really have the skills to hire samurai, so they do the next best thing: hire some bigger bugs. Once again, the crop of these farming insects is at stake on the gamble of some hired fighters.
Hopper (Kevin Spacey) and his gang of grasshoppers is disappointed to find that the ants they’ve been bullying don’t have the food that they have come to collect. These downtrodden insects are shocked to find that the tinkerer of the group, Flik (Dave Foley), has accidentally doomed them to starvation because Hopper is now asking for more food in less time, with no time to gather food for themselves. In the guise of banishment, Flik sets out to find some bigger bugs that will fight for the ants. When he finds them in the city, he gets them to come back to the anthill, but under some false pretenses. While these warrior bugs cannot fight, but instead excel at acting and vaudevillian routines, they still help the ants with a plan that could drive the grasshoppers away.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 free soldiers of fortune