As someone who has to take his daughter to the movies every once in a while, I found it refreshing to see the movie “Rise of the Guardians.” It is a family-friendly movie in every sense of the word.
When I interviewed its director, Peter Ramsey, Nov. 29, I knew I had to ask him to comment on having such characters as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, who are stand-ins for the real reasons behind those seasons, in the film — besides being two of the central characters in the William Joyce books on which the movie is based.
“We knew we were dealing with these characters, and we knew we embraced these characters” from our own childhood, Ramsey replied. “These are real, and they have a real presence for these people. You can’t deny that there’s something real emotional and real special about these characters.”
He added, “We wanted to make a movie that kids would be able to see and completely enjoy. We didn’t want to pander to one group or another. We didn’t want to load it down with stuff for adults: ‘Yeah, this is corny and syrupy sweet. We’re in on the joke.’ We wanted to tell a straightforward adventure story for kids that anyone could enjoy.”
To that end, Ramsey and crew succeeded. John Mulderig, CNS’ associate director for media reviews, gave “Rise of the Guardians” a classification of A-I — general patronage. He called the film “a tenderhearted and touching family movie — one, moreover, that’s entirely free of objectionable content.” Privately (well, not so privately, if I’m spilling the beans here), he told me it was “as ‘A-I’ a movie as I’ve seen this year.”
I, for one, found it quite free of those manipulative moments that tug at the heartstrings of grown-ups, and was glad of it. Not so, apparently for movie watchers at previews Ramsey’s attended. “I can’t tell you how many grown men come up to me afterward: ‘I don’t know why I felt this way but I cried three times during the movie,'” he told Catholic News Service, adding there have been “at least three with every screening.”
Ramsey said some viewers have told him, “It really did make me feel like a kid again.” And it can, he notes, “if you are really open to that side of yourself.” Well, when you’ve got the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman on the same side as Santa and the Easter Bunny doing battle against the Bogeyman, how can you lose?