Yesterday my mom called, which is always concerning. It usually means that someone has died.This time, though, she called because the two teens she’s tutoring wanted to know if “Catching Fire” is any good. When I said it was excellent — better than the first “Hunger Games” movie — there was much high- pitched screaming in the background, the kind that in my day we reserved for New Kids on the Block.
And I’m thrilled. I love that they love something so much that they’ve managed to get their parents to let them go to the midnight opening. The fact that they are enamored with something of such high quality makes me feel even better.
All of the cast members who returned for the sequel are better this time around. Maybe Jennifer Lawrence kept her Oscar on display in her trailer, I don’t know, but everyone has stepped up. It helps that their characters have more depth since the last time they watched children get slaughtered. Elizabeth Banks gives a surprisingly moving performance as Effie, the stylist who once believed that appearances matter more than anything and feels helpless now that she knows that’s not true.
I’m so glad “Catching Fire” will make a gazillion dollars. Teenagers — like any niche audience — often go to crappy movies just because they feature people who look like them. It’s the same with young adult novels: Teens devoured “Twilight” because, at the time, it was the only way they could read about characters who shared their concerns. (Um, as in romance. Not vampires. High school isn’t that tough.)
YA literature now, though, has such a range of high-quality titles that teens no longer have to settle. Give them John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” — read it, but be careful not so sob all over your Kindle — and they don’t need “Twilight” anymore. Give kids excellent films like “Catching Fire,” and, just like anyone else, they’ll stop accepting anything less.