My kids are at those ages where the little kid movies aren't going to work anymore. They are reading real big kid books--the kind that get turned into long, serial movies, and so they have opinions now about well the filmmakers did at being true to the original tale.
This is funny for me because I used to be that kid--the voracious reader, the analytic critic--and now I'm reduced to whatever memoir can be read on a plane. I've almost given up reading altogether, living almost entirely on the fiction or the occasional juicy biographical articles you can read about a movie star or a political figure in The New Yorker.
So when I'm taking my kids to the movies now to see a film based on a book, I'm a pretty easy customer. Since we didn't have a television in our house for almost ten years, I've discovered I have fairly abominable taste in film. Case in point: Alvin and the Chipmunks did not trouble me one bit. I do not need my movies to have the air of literature as long as they make me laugh.
My kids, however, are not on this page. As the credits rolled for The Lightning Thief a few weeks ago, I stretched in my chair elated only to look over and see my eight and eleven year old slumped over in disbelief.
You've got to be kidding me, Madeleine said.
Nothin' like the book, Carter sighed.
We then spent the next hour listening to their frustration on the discrepancies. As long time fans of Greek mythology (upon which the characters in The Lightning Thief are loosely based), they were colossally disappointed.
The longer they talked the more I could see actual problems in the movie that my exhausted middle-aged mind didn't have the energy for a few hours earlier. The female character, while given a more aggressive role, remained one-dimensional. This happens all the time, Madeleine pointed out to me. I agreed and we talked about how girls are portrayed and what it would look like to have a real female protagonist who was supportive of her friends and capable of battle at the same time.
I don't know how long my kids will stay in this in between place where more grownup movies look boring and little kid movies are irrelevant, but I'm grateful at the moment for this trend of making reading books into movies. It's not only giving us good topics of conversation, it's helping me see little glimpses of my kids as adults. I'm looking forward to being pulled into discussions that are driven by their interests; I'm seeing all the ways my own experience can be deepened and expanded because of the ways their minds can grow.
How about you? Are your kids reading along with the movies? What's your policy on book vs. movie--do you make your kids read the book first before seeing the film?
Weigh in in the comments below.