The lure of chil­dren’s movies

THE GIVER

Kapi-Mana News - - MOVIES/ART -

What’s up with th­ese old­time, A-List stars pop­ping up in teen films? Ear­lier in the year, Os­car win­ner Kate Winslet played a sup­port­ing role in sci-fi Di­ver­gent.

Be­fore that, Sir Ben Kings­ley and Har­ri­son Ford played grownups in the sci- fi mind mel­ter, En­der’s Game.

And this week the Queen of Amer­i­can cin­ema, Meryl Streep, turns up in the weird­est young adult adap­ta­tion to date, The Giver.

Sadly, The Giver doesn’t live up to its ex­cep­tional cast, never re­ally land­ing the emo­tional punches it aims for.

But thanks to Streep, who plays the ice-cold Chief Elder of utopia built on prin­ci­ples of con­for­mity, it’s not with­out its mo­ments.

In one scene, she de­liv­ers such a beau­ti­fully nu­anced and ra­tio­nal ar­gu­ment for con­tin­u­ing to med­i­cate away all emo­tion, you almost agree with her.

Big-name and big-tal­ent stars give high-con­cept films the weight they need to help them con­nect with the au­di­ence.

Who bet­ter to lend your con­tro­ver­sial sci-fi cred­i­bil­ity than Han Solo him­self, Har­ri­son Ford? And while you’re at it, whack some­one with a knight­hood in there, too.

But that still doesn’t ex­plain what the stars, who may be jeop­ar­dis­ing el­e­vated sta­tuses by slum­ming it in teeny- bop­per adap­ta­tions, are get­ting out of it.

Look at The Hunger Games, which man­aged to lure leg­ends Don­ald Suther­land and Phillip Seymour Hoff­man.

Those films came with a ready­made au­di­ence – fans of the book – and the fact it’s a se­ries meant a steady, very fat, pay packet for those job­bing ac­tors.

It also meant a big pro­file bump to a new gen­er­a­tion of film-go­ers.

Avail­abil­ity must fac­tor into it, too. Winslet was able to par­tic­i­pate in Di­ver­gent be­cause the pro­duc­tion set its shoot­ing sched­ule around her avail­abil­ity.

But we’d have to go back even fur­ther, to the Harry Pot­ter films, for the rea­son that res­onates with me most.

The late, great Richard Har­ris, who played Dum­ble­dore in the first two films, be­fore his death in 2002, was re­luc­tant to take part in a chil­dren’s fan­tasy film. Ac­cord­ing to Em­pire mag­a­zine, Har­ris fi­nally ac­cepted the role after pres­sure from an un­likely source.

‘‘It was my grand­daugh­ter, Ella, who’s 11, and whom I wor­ship with all my life,’’ Har­ris said.

‘‘She said, ‘Papa, I hear you’re not go­ing to be in the Harry Pot­ter movie’, and she said, ‘If you don’t play Dum­ble­dore then I will never speak to you again’.’’

Golden age: A-List star Meryl Streep slums it in teen novel adap­ta­tion, The Giver.

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