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In Defense of Fairy Tales: Why These Films Should Be Embraced, Not Banished

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Jan 25, 2013 | 12:32pm EST

Hansel and Gretel

Fairy tale films are all the rage in Hollywood right now. One movie in particular, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, is receiving an overwhelming amount of criticism. But are we unfairly averse to the genre? Here's a rundown of why fairy tale movies aren't just a cash-in craze, but a time-tested cinema staple.

Once upon a time, you and your best friend were at a wild party. The drinks were flowing, the music was bumping, one thing led to another. And suddenly, she lost a shoe. Luckily, that ridiculously handsome guy returned it to her and they started dating. Or how about when your mom grounded you for wearing too much makeup — clearly jealous of your beauty — and she forbade you from going out that night? It was really cute when your true love woke you up with that oh-so sweet text. Somewhere in the back of your mind, a faint bell of recognition is ringing. These are fairy tales. Tweaked and twisted with a modern day edge, but they’re still fairy tales.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Sleeping Beauty. Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella. Peter Pan. Hansel and Gretel. The list goes on and on. These childhood fables — no matter how farfetched — are something that anyone, regardless of age, race, or orgin, can love. We grew up reading about Jack’s crazy beanstalk adventure, Goldilocks' issues with personal space, and the overly trustworthy girl whose signature style included a red cape. And now, these stories that were once only found in books or in sing-songy Disney flicks are being transformed into full-fledged action adventures. What’s so wrong about that?

Fairy tale-centric films have been popular since long before contemporary Hollywood decided to cash in on the craze. Movies with motifs of good versus evil, a quest for adventure, or all-consuming love have been featured on the big screen since the industry began. But now that we’re seeing our bedtime stories spring to life one after another, some movie-goers are wishing they could banish these tales to a far away land. Here's what I have to say to that: Bibbity Bobbity Boo-Hoo. Get over it!

True, some enchanted flicks have not been the most compelling or entertaining cinematic creations (Oh yes, I’m looking at you Mirror, Mirror!) but are they really something that should make you huff and puff until you’re red in the face? I don’t think so. These stories are supposed to be whimsical, imaginative, and completely unrealistic. They’re fairy tales! We love them because they are a way to escape into an unknown world where the stresses of work and everyday life magically disappear for two blissfully fun hours.

Fairy tale movies are widely considered captivating because they have large elements of nostalgia, but with surprising cinematic twists thrown in. You may remember reading about a damsel in distress who needed a prince to fight her battles, but now the scripts have been flipped: suddenly she’s the one wielding the sword. No matter how well you think you know a tall tale, there is always someone waiting to bring you an new and hopefully intriguing adaptation.

One could argue that it’s the same reason that the movie industry keeps churning out remake after remake of every comic book superhero ever created. Green Lantern was an embarrassing flop, but at least it gave us an excuse to see Ryan Reynolds in a skin-tight body suit. There are pros and cons to every genre, it’s just a matter of looking at the potion as half-full.

So before you roll your eyes or groan at the next mythologically based movie, just remember it’s all in good fun! If you still don’t have any desire to see a fairy tale film then I’d suggest wishing on a star, throwing a penny into a well, or calling up your fairy godmother. But take note, you’re going to need a lot of magic because these spellbinding shows are going to be around until movie-goers get their fill of happily ever afters.

Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera

[Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures]

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