A few of my friends have been assaulted by my preaching about the inadequacy of nostalgia. It's why I don't see the appeal in the Transformers movie, or this movie:
Yikes. See, just because you remember something fondly, doesn't mean that you're going to like seeing it again. Now granted, I didn't watch much television as a kid, but I have rather neutral, detached reactions to my childhood TV memories, rather than the orgasmic joy the above image is supposed to elicit.
I mean, I could be an anomaly, because my TV watching was restricted by my parents, but I think it's deeper than this. I don't really have many good associations from childhood at all. Not that I had a bad childhood, it's just the stuff that sticks out in my mind is mostly the humiliating or painful stuff: pissing my pants during P.E. class, failing math in seventh grade, being completely confused playing baseball*, and getting run into a row of lockers by a bully, slamming my face into said lockers, and catching my bright yellow braces (they were yellow because the bands or whatever were yellow, not because they were gross) on my top lip, and bleeding all over myself and the band room. So how does an "Are You Afraid of the Dark" movie make me feel good, now?
One really great memory of childhood that I retain are all of the books I read. I'm not sure if these are still in elementary school circulation, but I remember them being the "kids' books" that I didn't graduate from, and still haven't:
1. A Wrinkle In Time
2. Island of the Blue Dolphins
3. Time for the Stars (all of the "Heinlein Juveniles", really)
4. The Homer Price books
5. The Giver
I have only good memories of these books. One set of books that really engaged me, and helped to further my interest, in myth and history, was The Dark is Rising sequence. It has everything: historical puzzles, Arthurian legend, and the main character is named Will Stanton. Which is why I nearly started quaking in my chair when I saw this:
Patience, Joe, patience. It was too complicated to adapt, probably. The Dark is Rising contains tons of puzzles and nuanced mythical references--it'd be hard to express a lot of the things that happen in that book onscreen.
But does Will Stanton have to be American, really?
And what's all this puberty shit? I mean, the book is about a kind of puberty, but it's the kind of puberty where you learn that you are imbued with a terrible power and are forced to make decisions that will drastically effect those you love. I don't remember Will getting all drooly over some other pre-adolescent, ever. He has a world to save. Christ. I guess this is to book adaptations what turning Optimus Prime into the backwards-baseball-cap wearing fratboy is to toy franchise adaptations.
I think there is potential to make great film adaptations of children's books. I'm looking forward to the film version of The Golden Compass**, even though it's the only book in the the series that I've read. I think that a lot of the books that I listed above could be really great movies. I just wish that filmmakers would be ambitious. Instead of making The Dark is Rising into Bratz with horses and magic, why not just challenge viewers with some dense Arthurian legend? It'll be good for everyone, and I won't feel the urge to peel out on somebody's face so often when I'm browsing around You Tube***.
*I'm still mostly confused.
**A lot of this has to do with Sam Elliott.
***No guarantees. Have you ever been on You Tube?