Family Film Mom is a weekly column about family entertainment for parents with kids (and kids with parents) by Tara McNamara, the editor and founder of KidsPickFlicks.com.
What would you do if you encountered a vampire or a werewolf in real life? Personally, I would run and scream in terror. I believe 8- to 12-year-olds would ask the monsters to join their Xbox tournament. Teens, or course, would try to date them.
Movies seem to be on a mission to humanize monsters and make them unfrightening. In Friday’s Hotel Transylvania, Count Dracula is a helicopter parent and drinks fake-y “Blood Beaters” because killing a human would “set monsters back hundreds of years.” In The Twilight Saga (tickets on sale Monday for Breaking Dawn Part 2), Bella falls for sensitive romantic vampire Edward and is besties with werewolf Jacob Black, both of whom protect – rather than consume – Bella and her family. In Monsters Inc., being re-released Dec. 19 in 3D, we learn that monsters not only work, they contend with office politics, and only scare children to generate energy.
In other words, monsters are people, too. Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie (Oct. 5) go a step further, showing that we’ve got it all wrong when it comes to monsters: they are scared of us. Humans are the bad guys. It’s our prejudice and lack of understanding that leads to pitchfork mobs that riot before getting the facts straight. It’s an idea that’s been around since The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Personifying Frankenstein and The Wolfman increases our tolerance of those whose lifestyle or culture we don’t understand. It’s certainly a valuable lesson that our kids need on the playgrounds of our diverse nation. And it’s a pretty good message for the angry mobs, too.
Here are three movies to see with your kids this week:
Hotel Transylvania. Count Dracula worries about his daughter leaving the nest while entertaining fellow creatures of the night. In sending up familiar monsters and familiar situations, Hotel Transylvania is the rare film that every generation can enjoy.
Pitch Perfect. Tweens aren’t ready for the sexual and drug references you’d expect in a movie about college, but this hilarious musical comedy is a fun way to bond with your older teen daughter.
Finding Nemo 3D. The 3D conversion improves an already perfect animated classic.
Do kids like these movies? To find out, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com, where all kids are movie critics.