This summer, there was an absolutely hilarious skit making the rounds on the 'Net. It's an interview with the "screenwriter" of the latest Fast and Furious movie, but then we see it's actually a five-year-old kid.
"I wanted some of the cars to drive fast, and I wanted some of them to explode," he says. The kid is very funny explaining one of the action scenes, and when talking about working with Vin Diesel, they show a picture of them playing with toy cars on the ground.
The kid also says there's gonna be "600" sequels to Fast and Furious, and at the end when the newscasters try to ask one more question, the kid's taking a nap.
The Onion did this skit, the message is obvious, and it's preaching to the converted. Yes, blockbuster movies are very childish, but sometimes the inner child in us can come up with some amazing things.
If anything, I miss how movies can go with a reckless abandon that can remind you of a kid telling a story. It can be all over the place, things that don't make sense come out of nowhere, and you love it because the kid is so enthusiastic, and wants you to like what he's saying.
Sometimes an artist will advise you to think back to when you were a kid, when you felt creatively uninhibited and weren't afraid of anyone judging your songs, drawings, or whatever you came up with at that age. And there's definitely a difference between being in touch with your inner child coming up with great stuff, and coming up with stuff that even children think are dumb. It's about the spirit behind it.
I always thought it was amusing that a young kid helped make a story change in the Jurassic Park films. As screenwriter David Koepp told Premiere, "When we announced the sequel, I got this pack to letters from an elementary-school class, and one of the kids wrote that we should add a stegosaurus and this and that, but 'whatever you do, please don't have a long, boring part at the beginning that has nothing to do with the island.' The kid is only eight, but he's right, and I kept his letter on my desk. On my tombstone it'll say IT TOOK TOO LONG TO GET TO THE ISLAND."
I'm sure many people rolled their eyes reading this story, but with movies like this kids are indeed your focus group.
But talking about the reckless abandon of storytelling like I mentioned before, one of the most perceptive reviews of a movie I've read was for Phantasm, "If you've ever listened to a bright, imaginative 8-year-old child make up a ghost story, you'll have some idea of what it's like to watch Phantasm. What happens next is never more logical than what happened before, but at least something is happening, which often necessitates that characters and facts be suddenly introduced (or dropped) with the kind heedless enthusiasm that only 8-year-old raconteurs can muster."
Not easy to get the right degree of childishness without being childish, but I miss the eight year old raconteur feeling in movies.