Last night we went to see The Spiderwick Chronicles. Afterward, I mentioned to my son that he was continuing to bat a thousand on movie recommendations and that I was giving him credit on my blog. He suggested that I say the following: that he is my pride and joy, and my reason for getting out of bed in the morning to face each new day. Did I mention that he’s 12? 🙂 And he really is wonderful.
I liked the movie very much (see below). However, I’m sick and tired of films in which kids don’t tell their parents things because they’re sure the parents won’t believe them. Parents and other authority figures are routinely portrayed as blind idiots who refuse to listen to a word their kids have to say, even as some major plot element is destroying the known world all around them. Then, when they’re somehow forced to pay attention and see what’s going on, there’s a touching “Oh, honey, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you” moment.
In Spiderwick, the mom has every reason not to listen to her son Jared: she’s in the middle of a divorce, a move, and a new job, and her son has incredible anger issues and has been acting out physically. So, at least she isn’t made to seem like an idiot — just a stressed, harried woman who needs a week at a spa. But still, she won’t believe him, and she won’t listen to him, even when her other two children confirm his apparently wild stories. I find this immensely frustrating. And at the end, when she knelt down next to him, my son whispered to me, “Now she’s going say ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you'” — and she did, in fact, say exactly that.
Plots like this are getting kinda old. I’ve assured my kids that if aliens land in the backyard or they find an elf living under their bed, I will listen to them, and even believe them, if they show me the proof, and I’d much prefer them to come to me rather than trying to save the world on their own. Not all parents are blithering idiots, and I wish Hollywood would give us a little credit.
Anyway, here’s what I say on my Movies page:
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). Yet another excellent recommendation from my son. He and I were the only ones home last evening, and when I asked if there was anything in particular he’d like to do, he suggested going to see this movie. I knew next to nothing about it, and had no real desire to go (I would have preferred to see Penelope), but I’m very glad we went. This is on its face a children’s fantasy-adventure movie about the magic world all around us that we can’t see, and a troubled family whose children get mixed up with goblins, fairies, and a very large, very unpleasant ogre. But many of the outstanding special effects would be far too intense and scary for small children; and the movie has plenty to keep adults engaged. It’s a visually beautiful film, and I loved the music. Plus the actors are all wonderful — for example, I haven’t seen the boy, Freddie Highmore, in his other movies (and he’s made plenty, including the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), so I didn’t realize that the two boys in this film weren’t twins until the end; Highmore is entirely convincing as two different brothers.