Video on Demand Report: Don’t Let the Magic Beans Fool You, Jack the Giant Slayer Is Not for Kids
Jack the Giant Slayer
A few months ago, when I went to see the gloriously weird Safe Haven, I happened to be in the hall between screens when a mother came out of another theater to accost a couple of ushers who were cleaning the floor or something and complain to them — as though they had any say in the matter — that all the trailers in front of the movie she’d brought children to see were full of violence and explosions and other scariness inappropriate for the audience. One usher very politely explained that the trailers were for movies rated the same as the one she was seeing: PG-13. “But it’s Jack and the Beanstalk!” she sputtered. “No, it’s Jack the Giant Slayer,” he replied. “It’s about a war against an army of giants.” “Oh,” said the woman. “Apologize to the nice man for trying to hold him responsible for your carelessness,” I did not tell her. I sure thought it, though!
This hysterical/inattentive mom points out the difficulty with all these “dark” “reimaginings” of classic fairy tales. Sure, it seems like a good idea to do a take on this kind of material: Everyone knows the stories, and no one can charge you for the rights. But these are still … stories for children. So if you’re going to pitch them to an audience that’s young-adult and older, it can be very tricky to calibrate them so that they’re full enough of action and violence to be competitive with other PG-13 movies, while still more or less following the original plotline. Snow White and the Huntsman worked, inasmuch as it did, because it cast two stars that tweens love and really downplayed the dwarves. But Jack the Giant Slayer … I mean, even if you change it from one giant to dozens (hundreds?) of giants, it still requires your hero to climb up a damn beanstalk. It’s too silly and babyish for teens and adults, and as much as I might like Ewan McGregor, he’s not enough of a draw to make me see this if I’m pretty certain he’s not going to go full-frontal.
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Filed Under: VOD OCD