Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

The reviews are in for Where the Wild Things are and I'm mostly finding them annoying. There seems to be this developing meme that kids can handle dark and scary stuff if it weren't for all these neurotic and over-protective parents. Blerg.

I am annoyed as a rule by strawman arguments. I'm pretty sure this is one. I haven't heard a parent out there say the movie is too dark for a kid. I've heard a lot of parents say it's too boring for a kid.

And here's the thing: I'm willing to bet that 9/10 of the things hailed as the Greatest Kids Story/Movie/Book/Whatever get that moniker when viewed through an adult lens. Grown ups love Where the Wild Things Are because it reminds us of how we felt as children. Kids think the book is good. But I'm willing to bet dollars for donuts that there's not a kid out there who loves that book anywhere near as much as you remember loving that book when you were a kid. Because you didn't love it that much when you were a kid. You love it that much as an adult because it reminds you of how you felt when you were a kid. Savvy?

You know what kids do love? Farts. They think farts are hilarious. If Max from Where the Wild Things Are and Captain Underpants were both drowning, I'll give you one guess which one the kid is going to save.

I've been a grown up for a long time, but I've never stopped reading books ostensibly for kids. I'm not sure who died and decided that at puberty you need to cast off Maurice Sendak for Proust or something, but there's just no reason why we can't accept that fact that we love those books more than our kids do. And there's nothing wrong with sharing these things that you love with your children. So long as you leave a little room for Captain Underpants too (full disclosure: Captain Underpants cracks me up)

A few months ago I took Laney to see Ponyo. One scene scared the bejeezus out of her; the rest was marginally entertaining. I loved it. A year ago, I took her to see the play The Selfish Giant, which made me weep with its wondrousness. She gave it a 6 out of 10. All this is cool because remembering what it's like to be a child is nothing like what it's really like to be a child. Savvy?

I have no idea what I'm using this expression "savvy?". It was in a movie. But I can't remember which one. Probably watched it when I was a kid.