My dad hated musicals, which he thought were super artificial, so just about the only musicals I saw as a child were animated Disney movies that happened to feature songs (which to my mind were just cartoons.) I did, however, watch a lot of science fiction, particularly Star Wars, which is perfect for a five year old.
Because of that training, as an adult that I’m totally willing to suspend my disbelief for science fiction world building. Even though most crazy-make-em-ups generally feature a lot of implausible details I can always make peace with alien planets with multiple suns and indigenous populations of slithery beasts. Conversely, there are a lot of musicals – which are far, far more plausible, since people actually can and do sing – which seems like they are coming from a different world. There's nothing I can point to in Meet Me In Saint Louis which seems unrealistic to me, but the world that’s depicted here is so unlike any world that I’m from that it might as well have been from Mars.
After my dad hurt his back in a car accident he almost never got out of a chair without saying a curse word; hearing people say “the H-word” instead of Hell and asking someone’s pardon for saying “dang” sounds wrong to me. I was raised by two feminists, so the scenes where the father of the family emotionally blackmails his wife and children into doing things that only benefit him struck me as cruel, and he struck me as a pompous cock; I really wanted his wife and older daughters to have jobs so they could be on an equal footing with him, where they didn’t have to knuckle under his edicts just because he was the sole provider. And I was really disappointed at how little his daughters wanted out of life other than to catch a beau and get married, but I suppose that was their only career possibility in turn of the 20th century Saint Louis.
I probably I could have found more in common with their world if there was more going on in the story, but the first half hour of the movie is spent watching this family waiting around to hear if the older sister will get a wedding proposal on a long distance phone call; the second half hour is about Judy Garland’s attempts to snag the next door neighbor; then there’s a a weird section about Halloween that has nothing to do with anything; and then in the last half hour all the girls get proposed to. And that’s it. Over half of this movie is spent waiting around for boys, something that I’ve never done (even if you switch the gender of the intended target.) Their lives seem slow and boring and out of their own control, and I just can’t relate to that, partly because I’m a man and partly because people have so much more agency in their lives now.
I don’t know what it says about me that things that are definitively not people can strike me as more human than things that are clearly people, just old fashioned ones. I can understand the motivation of a Darth Vader - hell, some planets are probably worth exploding - but you show me a woman who spends her entire life waiting for someone to entertain her and I just get befuddled. If you show me a scene where a tentacle rises out of a trash compactor and someone has to scream "what the hell is that thing?" I'll be prepared to answer them fully, but if you show me a movie about people who live like the Mormons still do and I'll scream "who the hell are these people? at my screen. At the end of the day I'm just not gonna meet someone in Saint Louis if I can meet someone on Tatooine.
Winner: The Cat