On Wednesday, March 31, Godzilla vs. Kong, a long-awaited installment in the 2010’s iteration of the classic kaiju films, finally debuted on HBO Max. The film is fun, if a bit unwieldy, and spent way too much time on the human beings in the plot itself (with the exception, perhaps, of Kong’s human crew.) But I’m not here to get into the plot, into the “science,” into some of the super-beautiful CGI scenes, or even into how kick-ass the boss fights were between Kong and Godzilla. Instead, I am here to make one simple statement: what the hell is wrong with the parents in these movies?
Having done a cursory rewatch of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters —featuring Vera Farmiga, Kyle Chandler, and Millie Bobby Brown — and then nearly immediately diving into the 2021 follow-up, which features both Chandler and Brown as well as Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle as another parent-daughter-duo, the question struck me time and time again.
In the 2019 film, the premise is simple. Farmiga and Chandler were once married scientists working on an alpha frequency to control the titans. In a Godzilla attack five years previous (Godzilla, 2014), they lost their son in the attack, and only Brown has survived. Their grief has shunted them away from one another: Chandler, to abandoning his living daughter to take photos of animals in the wild and Farmiga to fall down a work rabbit hole so intense that she will essentially flatten an entire city in an attempt to rid the planet of its polluters (see: human beings.) It would be one thing if she kept her work life and home life separate, but it’s anything but.
Farmiga brings Brown everywhere with her — from their staged kidnapping attempt where dozens of adults die in front of Brown to times when she sets off multiple explosives, setting free titans that immediately wipe out dozens of soldiers and scientists, her and her daughter just barely getting away. I mean — it’s one thing to let your kid near an animal so large it would crush a 60-story office building just by leaning on it. It’s another to SET OFF BOMBS TO WAKE THE DAMN THING UP! What the hell is going on!?
In the 2019 movie, Brown takes it upon herself to run right where two atomic-bomb-level animals are going to fight, which just happens to be the Red Sox stadium in Boston, MA, and nearly dies trying to escape the resultant atomic explosion. At one point, when Farmiga and Chandler’s characters are on the ground in Boston, dodging footsteps from monsters older than time itself, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., says something to the effect of: “If I had parents like you, I’d run away, too!” Which, yes! You would! Farmiga ends the movie dying in a sacrifice, cognizant of her mistakes, unaware of the decades of psychological trauma she has wrought on her preteen child.
And it just gets worse in Godzilla v. Kong. Time and time again, I wondered what the hell these people are doing. Rebecca Hall’s character, the so-called “Kong Whisperer,” lives with her adopted daughter, who lived on Skull Island before her people were wiped out. Kaylee Hottle, who plays the young girl, is a deaf kid who has a special bond with Kong. Much of the issue of transporting Kong from his abode on Skull Island (to what will be the entrance to his new home Antarctica, which leads to Hollow Earth) is the fact that Godzilla will sense that Kong has moved and immediately come and attack because there can only be one King. Well, they do it anyway, and Hall brings her daughter on the ship (who does calm Kong) without a ton of regard for her safety. Indeed, Godzilla attacks, she and her kid almost die, and then hours later, she takes her daughter straight through Hollow Earth in an untested aircraft on a dangerous mission even she doesn’t fully understand. They almost die! Several times!
And then, when three different monsters (including Mecha-Godzilla) battle in Hong Kong, Hall just stands there with her daughter watching on the ground, mouth agape, apparently not wondering if she should remove her daughter from the situation in which an entire city is being leveled to the ground by three separate, extremely deadly, weapons of mass destruction.
That’s not even to mention the human B plot — which is that Millie Bobby Brown, now a teenager and full-on Godzilla truther (she was there, anyhow) finding a random adult conspiracy theorist podcaster, stealing her friend’s brother’s van, breaking into several high-security facilities with said adult and friend, and going MIA from her dad for dozens of hours. Do you know what her dad does!? He just … texts her! That’s it! They share a single phone call and then her dad says, well, I’ll figure it out later. Come on.
Listen, none of the humans we care about really die in this movie, and all of the kids with speaking roles, as always, are miraculously fine. But if there were a CPS agent in this movie wondering if these high-profile officials were endangering their children and investigating claims of reckless endangerment, I would firmly be on their side.
But maybe all of this reckless parenting is intentional. Maybe the subliminal message lurking in the newer Godzilla flicks is much smarter. Maybe the message is don’t be this kind of parent, because if you are, then the real monsters aren’t Kong and Godzilla. It’s you!