The Brass Teapot

A few years ago there was an animated film called Coraline about a young girl who discovers a portal into a mysterious world which might be as magical as it seems... or it might be something more sinister. If you were a child you might not know where the story was going, but as an adult I've come to expect that no fantasy is as good as it seems to be, and that meant that I was kind of bored as I watched the movie hit all the beats I expected it to hit.

 

The Brass Teapot has a similar story problem. In the Brass Teapot a young couple who are having money troubles find a magic teapot that gives them crisp new $100 bills every time one of them gets hurt. At first they start trying to get grocery money by stubbing their toes, but then it quickly escalates to burning their hands so they can buy luxury goods. The movie wants us to ask: how far are these people willing to go? What psychological traumas will result from hurting each other like this? Will they start hurting strangers? But those questions are only open questions for a child. As an adult I'm well aware that there's only one way that the story can go, both because I know the basic rules of storytelling and because I know what a movie like this thinks about human nature. 

 

The movie presents this fable as a philosophical case study, but I don't know anyone who has much real world experience with cash who isn't aware of how much bad behavior a little bit of money can prompt, so there's not much of a moral lesson to impart. Furthermore, the insinuation that everyone would be corrupted by such an obviously complicated trade-off is condescending. I spend a lot of time examining and re-examining various life choices I've made, and I can say pretty conclusively that I do not have much of a lust for profit. My top priority has always been amassing information and growing more cultured, and I have pursued that goal at the expense of a lot of things, including monetary success. (My proof: I've put way more effort today into writing this review than I have into job hunting, even though it's not nearly as important.) I can honestly say that if such a device fell into my hands it would only interest me in a very short term way, because while a little bit of money is nice, I don't want money badly enough to pursue it the lengths that these people do.

 

The biggest difference between Coraline and the Brass Teapot is that Coraline is a kid's movie. It might have been a bit simplified, but it was made simple on purpose. The Brass Teapot, in contrast, is a movie about all of the different pains that adults can have, whether that's being physically hurt, or being hurt by an unfulfilled ambition that someone can lord over you, or being hurt by seeing a loved one change for the worse. Those aren't topics for kids movies, so why are they being used in a movie that's basically telling a child's fable? That makes less sense to me than Coraline's upside down world, and that was supposed to be a world that didn't make any sense.

Winner: The Cat

The Brass Teapot on IMDB