On her Tumblr blog over the weekend, Kelly Oxford wrote about an interaction she’d had with Mr. Harmon. When her 7-year-old daughter, Salinger, started having nightmares after seeing the animated film “Monster House,” for which Mr. Harmon shared the screenplay credit with Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler, Ms. Oxford wrote to Mr. Harmon, semi-sarcastically:
It’s been 3 nights of her waking up crying and I totally blame you. You should come over and rationalize the entire thing to her. Okay, maybe you could just write her a note because she doesn’t believe I know the creator of her nightmares.
Rather than respond with a patronizing form letter, Mr. Harmon sent Salinger a thoughtful reply that also offered a remarkably candid look at the nightmare world of Hollywood and how movies get made.
“Dear Salinger,” Mr. Harmon wrote:
Your Mom told me about Monster House scaring you. It sounds like one of the things that upset you is the fact that the house kept wanting to hurt people even after nobody wanted to hurt it anymore.
I will tell you a secret that sounds so silly, you might not believe it, but this is true: I never finished writing Monster House before my bosses turned it into a movie. And then different writers, people I don’t even know, changed the story in lots of ways, and the movie that you saw was not the story I wanted to tell you.
I think a good story, even if it is sad or scary while you’re watching it, should always make you a little less scared after you’ve seen it. … And that didn’t happen in Monster House.
I hope one day I can finish writing a movie that they don’t change so much, and if you see it, I hope it makes you happy. Until then, I heard that Wall-E is very good, you should go see that. And next time Monster House is on, just remember that the guy that wrote it told you it was dumb.
Read the full story on NY Times.