The Secret Life of a Substitute Teacher

What a horror show!

Picture this

Through a series of odd events in your life, you find yourself substitute teaching at a high school in rural N. America. You’ve been there for half a year. The students are overall very friendly, as are the staff. One day, the day after MLK DAY, you go in, like always, get your assignment, theater, easy peasy. You find out the lesson plan is a movie and that the principal is going to come in to talk to the students. When hearing this from my supervisor i wonder, is it going to be some kind of drug and alcohol talk? Did the students get in trouble? Is their teacher terminally ill? You go to your assigned room and wait. Minutes tick by until students arrive, groggy and quiet. Through a series of partial conversations, you find out that the teacher you are subbing for quit or was fired for known/unknown reasons. All rumors. The principal arrives wearing a white button-down shirt with a cornflower blue tie. Confirming that the teacher has resigned and they’re doing what they can to find a new teacher (4 months before the school ends…). Basically, he’s announcing that the course material is shifting towards watching films indefinitely. and then hands the class to you….good funkin luck asshole.

Hi kids my name is Miss Direction and this is the newest mutherfunkin class on the menu: Film Appreciation. 

The first rule of film appreciation…i

hold on a sec. this isn’t a joke. i actually gotta make up a lesson plan for some high schoolers to go along with some random funkin kids movie real quickly or i might have a mutiny so…so since i have to watch the same 45 funkin minutes of the same funkin movie 7 times in one day you have to deal with this mutherfunkin nightmare of an issue with me–  funk. (and do not come into my comments about typos this is real life i’ve got more better shite to do than worry about if “their” is spelled correctly when you can clearly tell which one i mean.) 

Now [unruffles feathers]
The first film we’re going to appreciate is 

Secret Life of Pets.
Discussion Theme: Spirit of Place
Guiding Questions:

  1. Does the location of this film matter?
  2. If this film were set in Philly, Barbados, or here in rural Mad County would the same script, character design, voice acting choices, soundtrack, etc still work? 
  3. Why or why not (for 1 and 2) 

(no. i’m not a bot this is a very quickly written) Example
Directed by Chris Renaud. also under his belt, despicable me, DM2, Minions, etc.

Like his previous films, Secret Life of Pets (SLP) is young-kid-family-friendly. The film is exactly what’s promised, cute, fluffy, and silly. You and your 5-year-old will find something to giggle about together. Plus a few jokes that wink wink at the adults–which, honestly, i would be a fan of except they are usually hinting to binge drinking, drugs, and fatphobia–all of which isnt what we really want to pass on to our children. It’s amazing how many jokes they animate just within the first 10 minutes. The animation is pretty stunning. Obviously, the film isn’t plot heavy, this is more of a character piece if anything. They exaggerate the view of the city to incorporate more than just the skyline. Even more important than the plethora of animals, New York City is both the location and the main character. Most of the humor in the script and the voice acting play off stereotypes of the people and experiences in the big apple. 

The story arch is basic but it works. First, they show wide shots of the city before introducing all of the characters in their apartments. then, we see who the pets are in their own spaces, and we see the conflict arrive– all these housepets are going to go outside their normal routines. We see how they react to the shift in normality.

This film works because its makers combine the audience’s love of thinking about what animals do without humans with our love for NYC culture. If the film took place anywhere else it wouldn’t work. Twere this set in Philadelphia, St Louis, Barbados or even rural Madison County they would have to rewrite the script and redesign the characters so it makes sense in those contexts. In conclusion, to be as funny and cute as this film is– location matters.

wrap up:

Did i answer prompt perfectly? No. Does it matter? Not especially in this instance. The point is to appreciate the film, those prompts are guiding questions, follow them or don’t. It’s my appreciation so i can write what i want and in your appreciation, you can write whatever you want. Have fun, but take it seriously. Write something to the point where it could be published even if you dont intent to publish it, its good practice. If you don’t learn to write for yourself than you won’t push yourself to new levels. Can’t wait to read it [said in sarcastic voice even tho i’m not sarcastic, i’m stressed out in an unhealthy way.]

Thanks for reading with your eyes, ears, and hands. Raise young hellions peacefully,
Anne Arkhane.

PS. Student recommendation for animated series geared more toward young adults and adults:

helluva boss on Youtube. I have not watched this yet so I’m making this recommendation blind. Watch at your own risk.


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