If you head to the movie theater thinking you’ll see ‘Jurassic World’s leading female character kick big bad dinosaur butt, you’ll be disappointed. Bryce Dallas Howard’s character is too busy trapped in a sexist stereotype.
It was impossible to fully enjoy Jurassic World even with adorable Chris Pratt playing a “dinosaur whisperer”, Owen Grady, who is in touch with his own emotions and those of velociraptors. That’s because it was hopeless to not be annoyed by the film’s central female character, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), who embodies all the worst stereotypes about successful career women.
Claire, the operations manager of the hugely popular Jurassic World theme park, is the uptight, all-business woman who is so focused on her career that she has no time to spend with her two young nephews who she hasn’t even seen in several years. She doesn’t know their ages, barely remembers their names and pawns them off on her equally clueless assistant, who is just as glued to her smartphone as Claire.
Claire also hasn’t been on a date in years, calls the dinosaurs in her park “assets” and “attractions” rather than acknowledging that they are living beings. In other words, she’s completely out of touch with her emotional life. She’s every “man’s” worst nightmare of a career woman — clipped, controlled, controlling and intensely ambitious. She’s also ridiculously attired for a dinosaur park, even if she is an executive.
Claire is decked out in a white skirt suit with a padded shoulder jacket which she somehow manages to balance over her shoulders when she is out in the park jungle. Like it would really stay in place! On top of that, she’s wearing nude heels which she steadfastly refuses to take off even when she’s being chased by a terrifying monster of a genetically mutated dinosaur — “Indominus Rex”. See, like all ambitious working women, Claire is willing to risk her life to keep looking stylish and professional.
‘Jurassic World’ Could Learn A Lesson From The Original!
What’s just as galling as Claire’s insanely bad decisions — like refusing to evacuate the park after Indominus escapes, because it will hurt the bottom line — is that it is, of course, the leading man, Chris Pratt, who saves the day. Yes, it takes a guy to be pragmatically intelligent and in touch with how Indominus will behave. He’s as warm as Claire is cold. His decisions are smart; hers are stupid. He immediately tells her what needs to be done to save Jurassic World‘s tourists, and she refuses.
Claires’ behavior is so wrong headed, you just want to shake her. Only when her two nephews have disappeared, running for their lives from Indominus, does she throw off her fitted jacket and roll the sleeves up on her blouse, to signify that she is capable of hunting for the boys. But no, she still doesn’t lose the heels. Claire is a throwback to every old damsel in distress character. When Owen saves her and her wayward nephews from a terrifying attack of flying killer dinos, she suddenly gets all googly-eyed and goes right in for a kiss. Oh, puh-leeze!
So much for Ms. Cool and Contained. Her brave prince has slain some dinosaur dragons and she melts. Just what was with the writers of Jurassic World and with director Colin Trevorrow? The original Jurassic Park was totally enlightening with its attitude towards women back in 1993, with Laura Dern playing the courageous and quick-witted paleontologist Dr. Ellie Sattler. The doc would not be impressed with throwback Claire. Thankfully, by the end of the film, Claire has been terrorized into reality and she gets resourceful. She has a save-the-day moment that redeems her. But really, do we have to sit through two sexist hours before a working women character is treated with some respect?
Let me know what you think, HollywoodLifers.
— Bonnie Fuller