Walt Disney’s “A Christmas Carol,” featuring Jim Carrey, opened Friday, and I’m hearing many of the same complaints from parents as I did a few weeks ago with “Where the Wild Things Are.”
A friend took her kindergartner to the movie, and they had to leave before it was over because it was “too scary.”
Reviewers also warn against taking kids under age 8. Reviewers Matt Mungle and Wes Singleton give helpful reviews at neighborsgo on The Dallas Morning News site. Singleton says “in spite of what Disney wants you to believe, this is not a film for young children.”
I admit that all of this is disappointing news. I was looking forward to taking my kids (ages 4 and 6) and thought it would be a fun “holiday activity.” On the other hand, Charles Dickens’ book, first published in December 1843, was not written for kids. I re-read it two years ago, and it’s a ghost story that just happens to take place at Christmas time. It’s meant to be scary – Scrooge had to be scared into better behavior. In Mungle’s review of the movie, he said “(the ghosts) are there to frighten Scrooge into facing his life and the point is not tamed down for a kid audience.”
But even understanding all that, it is still frustrating because this is a Disney movie, which traditionally produces features for children. And even when its movies are not particularly suited for children, they are still heavily marketed for children.
After watching several trailers, featurettes and interviews on YouTube, none of which Disney would allow to be embedded here or anywhere else, I understand why reviewers and parents are complaining. It looks like it would be alarming for young kids.
The Dickens classic has long been a favorite of filmmakers, though, first appearing on film in 1908. In the 100 years since, countless versions have been created. Some of the more kid-friendly versions include the likes of the Muppets, Mickey Mouse and friends, the Flintstones, the gang from Sesame Street and Barbie.
Maybe you can treat the little ones in your household to one of these … better yet, if they’re old enough, have them read the book.