If you've a "tween" or teenager begging for attendance at "Hunger Games," by all means be an indulging parent and deliver said child to the theatre. This cultural phenom is as irresistible to its target audience as is cheese to a mouse. But be advised: under no circumstances should you purchase -- which is to say, squander the price of -- a ticket for yourself.
Dear heaven it's bad -- shockingly bad, distressingly horrible, the horror of which I modify with "distressingly" because one finds oneself almost violently anxious to bolt from one's theatre seat every shockingly bad minute.
I hadn't read the book, which the film-recommending and apparently lobotomized adult woman behind us at the concession stand had, who was about to pee her shorts in anticipation of a "Peeta" viewing. Of course by then I had already squandered the price of a ticket; but in my defense, this I had done only because some gal from Atlantic magazine, appearing last night on "PBS Newshour" to discuss the film, failed to righteously butcher it, as good taste, proper decorum and even a rushed acquaintance with decent movie-making would have warranted.
"Hunger Games" is, in a way, appropriately titled, in that it hungers for a comprehensible plot, a sophisticated script, passable acting and perhaps a smidgen of character development. One explanatory instance should suffice: somewhere well within this splendid example of a cinematic mess a little girl dies, yet there wasn't a teary eye in the theatre, including mine. Ordinarily if anyone upstanding "gets it" in a film I blubber like a buffoon, but here, there simply was no one to identify with or care about. The movie is that flat.
You have been warned.