In their dubious quest to appease every last parent from the Bible Belt to Berkeley, the namby-pambies at Pixar, Disney, and other studios have forgotten that fairy tales are supposed to be scary. In addition to the all-important moral, children gain a measure of self-confidence by going through danger unscathed especially if they share the experience and the fear with hundreds of other kids in a packed theater. (Just ask J.K. Rowling.) For our money, the most frightening and empowering children's movie ever made is the Technicolor freakshow extravaganza The Wizard of Oz. From terrifying tornadoes to maniacal witches to flying monkeys to an omnipotent basso-voiced man with an intimidating reputation lurking behind a curtain (Dick Cheney has nothing on the wizard), Warner Bros.' 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum's novel is a compendium of harrowing hurdles lightened only by Judy Garland's radiant innocence and angelic singing. The film works on a whole other plane for adults, of course, and no doubt a few Haight-Ashbury denizens will BYOLSD to salute the opening night of the Film Night in the Park season. The rest of us will be content to bring a child.
Sat., May 17, 8 p.m., 2008