Puts the Bad in Sinbad
Pop quiz. Yes, this will be on the midterm.
Which of the following does not appear in Sinbad: Legend of the 7 Seas?
A. A giant vagina floating in space just off the edge of the world
B. A reference to the male genitalia as “pickles and eggs”
C. Intimations of oral sex, castration, and prostitution
D. Erect nipples that could put someone’s eye out
E. Brad Pitt’s naked, animated derriere
F. A cute, anthropomorphized animal sidekick who accompanies the hero on his adventures
In case you hadn’t already guessed, the answer is F.
You know what? I’m not even going to complain that this kind of stuff is inappropriate for kids and what is it doing in what is basically a children’s film, cuz honestly, it’s all gonna go right over their head, except for the naked butt cheek, of course, but kids think that’s pretty funny particularly if a dog was involved in that teeth- to- the- butt- rips- the- pants kind of way, as is the case here.
No, on behalf of all grownups everywhere, I’d like to say this: Ewww. It’s like along the way from the 1001 Arabian Nights, this screenplay took a detour through the offices of Maxim. No, Sinbad isn’t even as would-be hip as Maxim — think more like Playboy, in that tired, worn-out, no- longer- swinging way. Sinbad might have been risqué in 1963, but in 2003, it’s sorta sad.
Did Austin Powers write this, trying to put the “bad” in “Sinbad”? (It was actually John Logan, who wrote Gladiator but also, alas, has The Time Machine to his name.) Well, it’s there, all right, in the leering, swaggering Sinbad, who uses his ship like some guys use their cars, as an extension of their clearly insufficient manhood, and actually sneers about how women shouldn’t drive. (Again, I ask you: Was this script frozen for 40 years? It certainly has lost its mojo, if it ever had any.) The woman who shouldn’t drive is Marina, the requisite plucky girl who’s all spunky and independent in that prefeminist way, in which pluck and spunk were the only characteristics a female character supposedly needed to define her as a person. She is at least less cardboard than her fiancé, Proteus, also Sinbad’s best friend, a fairly laughable paragon of nobility and square-jawness (and since this is animated, the square-jawness is literal, too). Marina and Proteus are blandly voiced by, respectively, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, America’s Sweethearts) and Joseph Fiennes (Enemy at the Gates, Shakespeare in Love), whose voices are barely recognizable, though this may in fact be preferable to Sinbad’s voice, provided by Brad Pitt (Full Frontal, Ocean’s Eleven (2001)), who here sounds like some hooting loser on a Girls Gone Wild video.
Michelle Pfeiffer (White Oleander, I Am Sam) has some fun as the voice of Eris, goddess of chaos. (I’m sure everyone involved was having fun, but Pfeiffer’s fun is the only fun that we share in.) She lives in that giant vagina off the edge of the world, and Sinbad — who, recall, has some problems with women — has to sail into it to steal back a stolen artifact called the Book of Peace, and if that’s not hugely Freudian or something, I don’t know what is. A guy who’s afraid of the power of women has to have metaphoric sex with a really powerful gal who’ll make his life chaotic but when it’s over peace and happiness will reign again? Oy.
I just have to keep telling myself that it could be worse. After sailing into an inexplicable frozen section of the ocean, Sinbad feels the need to tell his first mate to put a shirt on, lest he stab someone in the eye with — as Sinbad levels his eyes right at the guy’s bare chest — “those things.” Thankfully, the animators chose not to offer us a visual as to why “those things” were so potentially dangerous.
It’s not much, but it’s something to be thankful for.