Tween Kids Books = B.O. Gold

With “Meatballs,” someone at the studios is finally getting the message.

Last Updated: September 16, 2009 @ 5:59 PM

 

Huzzah! Huzzah!
 
Hollywood has finally figured out how to put many, many “butts in the chairs.”
 
Kids books. Reimagined in 3D, CG and Blu-ray. And sometimes with actual people, too!
 
We’re not talking Disney or even Dr. Seuss or the usual craptastic holiday junk.
 
Dispense with adolescents’ fascination with castles, unicorns, Harry Potter and "The Hobbit." Forget the feel-good “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or myriad other girly teenage Miley/Selena/Vanessa treacle.
 
I’m talking about an in-between age, the tweens — when kids are still somewhat innocent and still like picture books, but only if they have cool pictures. Cool-scary and not in a real-feel life-threatening way. But absolutely no Care Bears or miniature horse tomes.
I’m referring to books that even parents won’t find tediously dull or creepy.
 
First Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” is finally going to hit the big screen and now, another intelligent, irreverent favorite, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” is soon heading your way.
 

Someone at the studios is finally getting the message: Moviegoers are sick of sequels and redos of classics and cult fare. It remains to be seen if Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures clear decent grosses on this one. Yet, somehow I bet they will.

 

And the geniuses who decoded the treasure map toward a hit should get bonuses because they probably have kids who know and love the book, as do they.
 

Why is this such a shoe-in? Because every mother I know who has read this whimsical tale of magical thinking combined with food will be taking their kids (even those over 21) or going alone, multiple times. Because they probably know the book by heart, since it’s been an ed-time request since it was published.

 

“Meatballs” will be voiced by Bill Hader ("Saturday Night Live," "Night at the Museum"), Anna Faris ("The House Bunny"), James Caan and Andy Samberg. With a nifty website already up, proffering games, downloads and even a Twitter account (!), kids will be saturated with marketing before the movie opens Friday.
 
This time, it’s for a worthwhile cause. Getting kids to see a movie on which a beloved book is based will result in more sales of the book for a new generation who will be delighted and surprised. Not scared to death as with the awful “The Polar Express.” A fabulous book that was ruined by its "Twilight Zone"-y factor on the big screen. Grim colors and scary ambiance will not a repeat customer make..
 

But the trailer of “Meatballs” has me salivating (metaphorically) in anticipation. Which used to be an actual word before Carly Simon ruined it with ketchup. If you remember that commercial, you’re showing your age, and I should know. Which means you should be looking forward to Friday as much as me. I mean my kids.

 

 

Naomi Serviss has covered Broadway, celebrities, lavish resorts and high-end spas. Based in New York City, she's still hooked on Hollywood.