I read a lot of books growing up. The Berenstain Bears were huge in my house. In Elementary School I went through just about every single book in the Hank the Cowdog Series. I don’t recall a lot of the names but I do remember constant books being read at bedtime (the phrase “Pa-Da-Rump, Pa-Da-Rump, Pa-Da-Rump-Pump-Pump” comes to mind, I think it was a book about an errant wheel looking for something). Corduroy Bear was read. My mother tried to get my brother and I into those Boxcar Children losers, and while Tim just didn’t give a damn about the story I kept thinking about how I would exploit such a situation to my advantage. How I would beat up the leader of the Boxcar Children and steal a bunch of stuff and live the most lawless life I could think of (and I forget which of the Boxcar Sisters I claimed for my girlfriend), and I was offended by the lack of imagination on the part of the author. Were these kids complete tools? Where’s the impending amorality this scenario cries out for?
But one book I never got around to was “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak. I don’t know why, either, because I distinctly recall the cover of the book, and I was always intrigued. Part of it may have been that I conflated it with “Where the Red Fern Grows,” and so an impenetrable link to boredom and laborious storytelling was formed.
And I still haven’t read it, but I think it’s the movie I’m most looking forward to this year. It is being directed by Spike Jonze, and that’s really enough right there to make me see a movie. His films are always really interesting visually – he made “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation,” and if you think those are simple films, watch them again. And the thing that’s really sold me? The trailer. I like movie trailers. I know some critics and movie nerds have sworn them off, but I feel like I am able to sift through the inherent consumer element and figure out if this is something I will want to see. And I want to see this movie. A year or so ago my friend BJ and I made lists of movies that make us feel like a kid again, in the best way possible. And that’s what this trailer did. It is mysterious. There are creatures, there is a boy with access to a magical world. It mentions 3 key words – Hope, Fear, Adventure. The trailer has a sense of wonder – for some reason, wide angle shots following people running always get me, it’s a favorite of mine. I have no idea why. Watch it now
There have been lots of fantasy children’s movies made the last few years, but all of them look like they’ve been put through the ringer of salability, they feel stilted and stifled. Finally, this one looks alive. And to be fair, I bet a lot of those books were written in those types of situations where the book is written less out of need and more out of its ability to appeal to kids and be sold. It’s the literary equivalent of chemically altering food (with great tasting but less than organic materials) to appeal to the average human’s instinctive tastes. I just can’t wait for this movie. This movie looks genuine, is what I’m saying. Childhood, here I come.