Thanks to the massive worldwide success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland a few years ago (it’s one of the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time), many filmmakers are cracking open the classic and copyright-free children’s fables to retell their stories in a fresh way.
Hollywood likes to reinvent fairy tales for the same reason it likes to make sequels: it’s an easy way to sell tickets. Moviegoers enjoy movies about stories or characters with which they’re already familiar. Studios find it easier to promote a film if they’re not starting from scratch to educate the public about the subject matter. You know how little kids will watch The Little Mermaid over and over and over? That’s because younger children find it empowering to already know what will happen. A story retold in a fresh way pleases children who thrive on predictability while older audiences appreciate seeing a new twist to a classic.
The current trend in movies is to portray fairy tales closer to their dark, gritty source material (I once bought a book of fairy tales as they were originally written for my child—yikes! Saw has nothing on some of those horrific stories). This June’s Snow White and the Huntsman is the next to revise the neglected-princess tale into an epic adventure; the trailers are fantastic but it looks too dark for little children, Snow White’s core fan base.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom in the Enchanted Forest. This weekend’s Mirror Mirror reimagines the Snow White story with whimsy and humor. Julia Roberts deftly creates an Evil Queen so horrible she’s hilarious. Lighthearted change-ups, like the Queen giving the wrong kind of love potion to the prince, really work to make Mirror Mirror a fun film for the whole family.
Mirror Mirror is the lone fanciful new release for kids, but several edgier films are in theaters for tweens and teens:
Wrath of the Titans. The sequel to Clash of the Titans creates a new chapter in Greek mythology while demonstrating new feats in CGI. Wrath is a gods and monsters war movie following Perseus as he tries to save his kidnapped father Zeus from the clutches of brother Ares and uncle Hades who are trying to release grandpa/titan Kronos, who will destroy Earth. Dysfunction much?
Bully. This documentary is a bold effort to educate and stop bullying in schools. It’s meant for tweens and teens but after the MPAA gave the doc an R-rating for harsh (although not gratuitous) language, The Weinstein Co. is releasing it without a rating. Allow a lot of time for post-movie discussion.
The Hunger Games. Every kid who is in the double digits is talking about The Hunger Games. The film about a dystopian teen gladiator-like game to the death is receiving such phenomenal word of mouth and critical reviews, theaters this weekend will still be packed.
To read what kids think about Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans, The Hunger Games and other movies, go to www.KidsPickFlicks.com , where all kids are movie critics.