miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children20 Century Fox

Is this really what you want? Death for Jake and Miss Peregrine, eternal life for me…and a mint for you.”

When his beloved grandfather leaves Jake clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepens as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers–and their terrifying enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends.

Back in 2014, while wandering around the local Barnes & Noble, I came across a rather peculiar looking book (see what I did there?). It featured a bizarre, one would say slightly morbid, Victorian era photograph on the cover, and bore the title Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I was intrigued, yes…but not enough to get past the fact that it was in the New Young Adult Fiction pile. Yeah, I may be a bit knee-jerk reactionary when it comes to my choice in fiction. Haven’t been a “young adult” in nigh unto a rustic metaphor, so I passed on that one. As well as the other sequels I saw popping up.

Which is my long-winded way of saying, I haven’t read the books the recent movie is based on. I saw the preview trailer a couple of times, and thought two things: 1) “Huh, it looks dark enough to warrant a watch when it comes out,” and 2) “Tim Burton? But…this isn’t a Disney remake.” Yeah, okay, that was a bit of a cheep shot, there, I admit. But, I did get enough feedback to watch the movie adaption the same weekend it came out.

Concerning the movie itself…wow. Just, wow. I was not really expecting this level of whimsical dark fantasy, mainly because Tim Burton’s output since his take on the Headless Horseman legend (Sleepy Hollow) has been not up to par with some of his classic earlier stuff. But, I was rather impressed. I’m not saying that it’s a return to form for Tim Burton, but I do believe he was able to achive the spirit of his older macabre with modern sensibilities. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

On to the story: A young man’s grandfather–who is the greatest grandfather who ever lived, I should point out–seems to have dementia, and is found dying outside his Florida home, his eyes missing. But, with his dying breath, he implores his grandson to travel to Whales and seek out Miss Peregrine and warn her of a looming danger that’s about to befall her and her young charges. But, once he’s there, he discovers that the home is a burned out husk, having been bombed in World War II, and abandoned since then. Things take a turn for the weird, though, when he discovers that the residents are all alive and well and living in a time loop, experiencing the very same day before the bombing since that year, keeping everyone the same age and living a Groundhog Day scenario. And now this young man, whose life has been very hum-drum and pointless, finds himself charged with protecting the young ones in Miss Peregrine’s care, because he has the same peculiar talent his own grandfather had when he was a resident there: He can see the invisible monsters about to attack. Comes in handy, I’m sure.

Really, I found this movie to be a fantastic and wondrous romp with a delicious dark whimsy that, really, has been woefully missing in a lot of books and movies, and the movies based on the books. I found myself with a big, stupid grin on my face and tingling in a way that I hadn’t felt since…well, it’s been a while since a movie did this to me. Not even the recent Star Wars, I’m afraid. Try not to let the gaping mouth there attract flies. Very unbecoming.