By Matt Singer | Criticwire August 30, 2012 at 2:55PM
Reviewing kids movies is a tough assignment for a critic. What does a 40-year-old know about the adventures of a magical talking dolphin and his wacky camel sidekick? A film might look horrible to me and fantastic to a child. But if it was designed for kids, and kids enjoy it, who am I to say it's bad?
If you're looking for a child's perspective on recent movies, you might want to check out the reviews of one Miranda Clarke, who's been a contributor to CinemaNerdz since last summer. She was just nine when she wrote her first article about "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" ("One of my favorite parts of the film is when Mouse, Judy Moody’s cat, works the Magic 8 Ball. I think it was a great way to show how talented cats can be.") Now ten, she's got a new piece on the stop-motion animated cartoon "ParaNorman."
"I think 'ParaNorman' is a movie about life. Norman changed the world in his own way. Even if you don’t have everything you can change the world too, in your own way. You should see 'ParaNorman.' It’s funny, it’s crazy, and it’s out there. This movie is like no other movie I’ve seen. It’s really good."
Most critics include star or numerical ratings in their reviews, and Clarke is no exception, awarding a perfect "five out of five" to most of the movies she sees, including "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," "Ice Age: Continental Drift," and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked." The one notable exception is Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin," which she gave just two and a half stars.
"The Tintin character is kind of annoying because he takes so long to do a simple thing. Like when Tintin was just staring at a clue for two minutes. He always wants to try to solve the case. Tintin irritates me because he is kind of boring and talks way too much."
Brutal. But not as brutal as professional (grown-up) New York Times film critic A.O. Scott's review of the new kids movie "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure," which is written from the perspective of Stella, a seven-year-old girl he brought to the press screening. You might say Scott was channelling his inner Miranda Clarke with Stella, or maybe his inner Howard Beale, since he was clearly none-too-pleased to have endured the Oogieloves in their big-screen debut.
"There’s 3 Oogieloves. The girl is Zoozie. The smart one is Goobie and the one with pants that fall down is Toofie. When his pants fall down your sposed to go “Goofy Toofie Pick up Your Pants.” It happins 4 times. When the butterflies come on the screen your sposed to stand up and sing the song, then sit down when the turtles come, but a lot of kids dint sit down and the grown-ups dint stand up because they were texting. Hallie’s dad texted Shoot Me Now and that was silly because why would you text someone to shoot you. There is no shooting in this movie."
Stella's funny, but I like the real thing better. My advice to Miranda: keep up the good work. You're a much better critic than I was at your age; if I was a parent, I'd definitely read your reviews before deciding whether to take my kids to the theater. Make sure you're getting paid fairly -- a good critic doesn't write for free. Also, I can't wait to read your review of "Holy Motors." Oh, and if anyone out there would like to read my treatment for the future children's classic "Porpy the Magical Talking Dolphin" they can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.