In the summer of 1947, a mysterious thirteen-year-old girl, accompanied by her mute mother, seemingly appears from nowhere. When two thirteen-year-old boys fall deeply in love with her, they find themselves on a collision course with one another that could not only destroy their friendship, but take the tiny town of Medda, Alabama with them. Written by
It is difficult to tell if any member of the production company responsible for this appalling movie, ever read Truman Capote's original short story. The short story had at its center a delightfully willful heroine whose good deeds were only incidental to her self-centeredness. In more skillful hands, this wicked piece of literature could have reached the screen as a spare little piece of Southern Gothic. What the filmmakers chose instead to do was to turn Miss Lily Jane Bobbit into Pollyanna, the classic little do-gooder. It is not as if I am unaware of the eternal conflict between people's images and recollections of the printed word and what Hollywood ends up putting on the screen. Truman Capote himself called "Breakfast at Tiffany's", his most popular screen adaptation, a "mawkish valentine to Audrey Hepburn". (He later recanted that opinion, by the way.) Probably the best example of the expression "the movie captured the spirit of the book" occurred with "To Kill a Mockingbird", a production which recognized that source material needs to be treated with honesty and respect. Disappointments are inevitable, but a good adaptation requires just that -- honesty and respect. This production of "Children on Their Birthdays" not only lacks those qualities, but it also lacks good taste, while at every turn is busy making everything politically correct. My only solace in all this is that this picture will never receive a wide theatrical release, and will only be seen on video. It is too much to hope that this thing would just be shelved.
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