I have fond memories of children’s movies I watched repeatedly as a kid. In those days, an indicator of whether you liked a movie was if you were willing to sit through the VCR re-winding the tape. Movies like the 1951 Alice in Wonderland, 1942’s Bambi or some vintage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs circa 1937. As far as children’s stories in general, I remember my mom reading me many Dr. Seuss books and recalling the tale of Hansel & Gretel. One of my very favorites was Where the Wild Things Are.
In recent years, Hollywood has been making every effort to completely ruin my childhood memories of these great stories. I haven’t watched/read the classic rendition’s of any of these titles lately, so I’m going entirely off memory. Now, to say my memory could use an hourly shot of ginkgo biloba is like saying… wait, what were we talking about? Perhaps the childhood me was naïve to some underlying message they presented. Whatever the case, here’s my not-so-subtle analysis of how Hollywood has butchered some classic children’s stories, or at least my recollection of them.
Snow White and the Huntsman, 2011: This one takes the cake in terms of butchering the original. In 1937, Snow White was a soft-skinned, gentle-hearted girl escaping her wicked step-mother. In 2011, Snow White is a vampi… a skin-n-bones whiner, bent on vengeance and convinced she’s the next Xena: Warrior Princess. I won’t even get into the absurdity of the dwarfs. I could live with a story built around the Huntsman, but let’s keep Snow White and her little buddies out of it.
Alice in Wonderland, 2010: Tim Burton should have probably deferred to someone else on this one. The combination of his unique on-screen vision and the already peculiar world of Wonderland was a train wreck waiting to happen. The actual storyline was fairly true to the original, but the artistic liberties taken by Burton were, for me, overwhelming.
Hansel & Gretel, 2013: I’m cool with a stand-alone saga about a brother-sister duo battling against witches, trolls and the like. But why, oh WHY, must you piggy-back on this classic children’s tale? If the R-rating doesn’t clue you in to this movie’s distortion of the children’s story, here are three words that will: exploding witch heads. Dear Will Ferrell & Adam McKay, please stick to comedies and leave my childhood memories alone.
The Cat in the Hat, 2003: It’s hard to argue this movie wasn’t true to Seuss’ original, but it’s easy to wonder why anyone would think dressing Mike Myers up in a cat-suit would be a good idea. Throw in each actor being purposefully over-the-top cheesy, and it’s just bad.
The Lorax, 2012: To be honest I don’t remember much about Dr. Seuss’ original, just that a little orange guy wanted to protect some trees. However, I’m pretty sure that even though the original is an obvious pro-environment message, it was not meant to also be the anti-capitalist, wealth-demonizing piece of propaganda this turned out to be.
Care to add any to this list?