Monday, March 4, 2013

Movies: NPR's Bob Mondello on Fairy Tales for Millennials and Upcoming Adaptations

Molly Quinn in Hansel and Gretel get Baked

Bob Mondello over at NPR examines the new fairy tale movie adaptations that cater to teens and young adults coming out this year. He remarks upon Jack's lack of initiative in Jack the Giant Slayer, possibly commenting on or catering to the image of the millennial generation (I do not necessarily subscribe to this stereotype, being a cusp of millennial myself). They don't take destiny into their own hands, like Jack from the original tale, but are swept up in events beyond their control. This is perhaps appropriate for teens and young adults entering a work force that has no jobs for them:
"At age 6, as Disney long ago established, abandonment by your parents is terrifying. So is illness, so is the unknown, and so is that scary old dude down the street. But when you're 20, there's a whole new set of fears — fear of commitment, fear of getting pregnant, fear of unemployment. Or maybe of getting busted for drug use.
In the upcoming Hansel and Gretel Get Baked, a witch lures teens with marijuana, then eats them to stay young. It's a horror movie — clueless teenagers getting in trouble because they're clueless teenagers, just going with the flow, passively.
That's different from the more active tykes who populate storybooks. In the old English folk tale Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack is maybe 12, and a schemer. He steals gold from the giant, chops down the stalk, killing the giant, and lives happily ever after with his stolen gold. I'll leave it to parents to find a moral in that, but at least he went up the stalk on purpose; it was his idea.
In the new movie Jack the Giant Slayer, Nicholas Hoult is playing Jack as a 19-year-old who's kind of a slacker and is trying to impress a girl when the beans sprout under him and he gets carried up to Giant-land very much against his will. Once there, he proves less incompetent than you might expect, but he's basically reacting to things, not making them happen.
The girl is the one who's looking for adventure, though for plot purposes — she is a princess, after all — she'll spend most of her time getting rescued.
There's no real "risk" in any of this. The Brothers Grimm wrote stories that were actually grim — designed to scare children. Hollywood's new grown-up fairy tales may quicken your pulse a little, but they're centrally soothing. Yes, there's an army of giants coming, but pluck and optimism will carry the day — a reassuring thought if you're a 20-something and staring nervously at an uncertain, recessionary future. It's especially reassuring if that thought is couched in a fairy tale so familiar and comforting, you've half-forgotten it. So get ready for lots of grown-up bedtime stories."

He also updates us on the upcoming fairy tale movies:
"I was going to say we're not in Kansas anymore, but we kind of are. There are nine — count 'em, nine — Oz movies currently in the pipeline, including the prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful, a story involving Dorothy's granddaughter that's just called Oz, and a martial-arts oriented Oz Wars. Also dueling Pinocchios, from Guillermo del Toro and Tim Burton, the horror-masters behind Hellboy and Beetlejuice. Not to mention Angelina Jolie assaying the title role in Maleficent, which tells the Sleeping Beauty tale from the evil stepmother's point of view."
 NINE???? NINE Oz movies. Geeze, think of something original, people.

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