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Wary About Harry

Is the big-screen Harry Potter as delightful as the one in the book? And should you be worried about his witchcraft? Critics and viewers respond.
The long wait is over. Tickets have been sold, fans have waited in line, the lights have gone down, and a major motion picture has begun what is sure to be a memorable run. Yes, that's right, Snoop Dogg's The Wash has arrived. But rather than spend our time drawing more attention to that, instead let's focus on another movie … the one about Harry Potter.

At Thanksgiving dinners everywhere, people will be discussing director Chris Columbus's big screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling's breakthrough children's book. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a big, clever, fast-paced adventure.

Columbus's movie adaptation broke the box-office record set by The Lost World: Jurassic Park, earning $90.3 million in one weekend. (Potter opened on more big screens simultaneously than any movie ever.) Some even predict Titanic may sink as the top box-office grosser of all time as Potter flies up the charts faster than Harry on his broom.

Ahh … the broomstick. There's the problem. Many religious media critics are troubled by the popularity of the franchise, believing it glorifies witchcraft. Others argue that, with proper guidance, children will understand that this magic is just make-believe, representing the powers and abilities that we can use for good or evil in our daily lives.

Those who discovered the joy of reading before the arrival of Potter probably recognize the influence of many imaginative greats—T.H. White, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, and Lewis Carroll, to name several.

The Potter books are unique in that Rowling's style, aimed at kids, appeals to all ages in this hurried, sound-bite culture. Kids love the perpetual humor, and grownups find Rowling easy to read and compelling. Age-old mythical formulas ...

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