by Mary Burgan
Other Reviews by Mary
This week Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan reviews and recommends movies for younger children. Her column runs every two weeks and her next one is on movies for older children.
Children’s Movies for Grandparents: Part 1
When I travel to see my grandkids, which I am going to do this Thanksgiving, I always end up renting a few flicks to help while away our mutual boredom. I will offer suggestions for movies for kids in the next month to help readers in my situation.Here are some of my own choices for toddlers. They can even be viewed with pleasure by adults who don’t have the excuse of grandchildren. Additions welcome; just add them as a comment.
Call me corrupt, but I don’t mind the inevitable farts that send the little boys into gales of laughter in Alvin and the Chipmunks or Disney‘s recent G Force—both of which have been roundly panned by the real critics and loved by the grade school.
As a grandma, always seeking approval by that set, I prefer cute robotic animals pooping rather than nightmares on wheels smashing everything in their way. I know that the Transformers movies are favorites, in part because their violence gives them the thrill of a PG-13 rating. Nevertheless, I’m not going to Blockbuster for those movies. (The Blockbusters store at 17th and P NW just closed.)
For quality viewing, Up, the adventure of a widowed and childless grandfather, leaped to my top ten list the first time I saw it, even though I realized that my grandsons would find it woefully lacking in gore. The same is true for those other classics of more recent years, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille.
I don’t know why I find the Toy Story series tiresome, but that’s only me. I gather the most recent one in 3-D is a hit with the parents and kids who have seen it together. As for me, I liked Pixar’s Monsters Inc. better. I haven’t seen Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs yet, but I’ll probably view it over Thanksgiving. I will read my little ones the book first; I’ve found the trailer for the movie a big turn-off, actually.
As for the classics, I loved the magnificent Glenn Close as Lady Cruella deVil in Disney’s 1996 remake of 101 Dalmatians with live actors. Cruella gave my little granddaughter a sense of evil that Ralph Fiennes’s rotten teeth and shaved head cannot match in the Harry Potter series (which, now a teenager, she loves).
I’m not charmed by the cute ugliness in DreamWork’s Shrek because I love William Steig’s drawings too much. You could actually buy Steig’s Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and have a good and comforting time with your little one when he’s worried that mom and dad aren’t really coming back from their night out.
You could do the same with Maurice Sendak‘s Where the Wild Things Are, now in theaters as reimagined by Spike Jonze. I was not thrilled by the movie, though I sensed that all the males of various ages at The Uptown loved it. For me, giving a fuzzy wild thing puppet a runny nose is not a charming update. It’s just gross. Moreover, the dark colors and mood of Jonze’s film don’t convey the joy of the book. The original Max was only about five-years-old; this one is nine, and has the Id of a forty-year-old. Definitely for adults and older children.
For younger kids, there’s always early Disney from Snow White, Pinocchio, and Bambi through Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, with the more recent additions of Beauty and the Beast. The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King.
Boys get restless with fairy tale princesses as they grow older, but for those who love princesses, I recommend Amy Adams in the recent Enchanted. It had good Disney tunes, witty live actor turns on animated fairy tales, and feel good for all.
Next time: Classic older children’s books into movies.