Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Great Lesser Known Kid's Movies

There are tons of great movies for kids out there - too many to list.  So, instead of attempting to list all of the great ones, I will list a few that you may not have heard of but are worth a watch.  In no particular order...
1.  Lassie (2005)  This recent adaptation of the novel (which also inspired the popular tv show) is really good.  It is not exactly action packed or a laugh a minute but it is sweet and moving.  The accents can be a bit of a challenge for some younger kids but once they get the hang of them they will be glad they stuck with it.  The actors are all much better than they need to be in a kid's movie.  It is a great one to watch with the kids.  You won't be sorry!
2.  Secret of Roan Inish(1994).  Another great movie to watch as a family.  It is beautiful and magical and all of those wonderful things that can go so horribly awry in the wrong hands.  This movie is directed by John Sayles who also directed one my favourite movies, Lone Star (not a kids movie!)  Anyway, if you don't believe me  that Secret of Roan Inish is great, read Roger Ebert's review.    I will give the same warning about the accents that I did about Lassie.  I would say this one is not for very little kids since it is quite slow.

3.  Robin Hood (1973)  I am a sucker for anything to do with Robin Hood so this movie could frankly, suck, and I would probably still enjoy it.  Luckily, it doesn't!  Interesting trivia for you; this is one of the last movies that Walt Disney had a hand in.  It came out several years after he died but he was involved in the original storyboard process.  Also, anyone who has seen the Jungle Book will recognize the voice of Baloo the Bear providing the voice of Little John and notice that Sir Hiss bears a rather striking resemblance to Kaa the Python.

4.  The Adventures of Robin Hood (1939)  See?  A sucker for anything to do with Robin Hood!  Also a sucker for Errol Flynn movies (Captain Blood is another great one). This was my favourite movie when I was a kid.  So much swashbuckling, so many feats of derring-do!  Anyone who watches this movie and doesn't immediately want to take up archery is dead inside I tell you.

5.  Singin' in the Rain (1952)  Not a kid's movie per se but great for the whole family and I say this as someone who hates musicals.  So charming.  You might have to explain that movies used to be silent to some younger kids in order for the plot to make sense but otherwise they will be right in there.  The songs are catchy and everyone involved is lively and perfect in their parts.  This movie is so perfect it has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

6.  Gold Rush (1925) Having trouble getting kids to understand that movies used to be silent?  Well, look no further than Charlie Chaplin's Gold Rush to illustrate the point.  It is the perfect introduction to both silent movies and Charlie Chaplin since it is a late enough film that it looks professional and well produced but early enough that it doesn't demonstrate as much self satisfaction as some later Chaplin movies did.  It also contains one of Chaplin's most famous scenes (Chaplin eating his shoe) which will be a hit with kids and adults.

7.  Ponyo (2008)  This Japanese movie is by the same director who made (among others) Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away and Kiki's Delivery Service - all excellent as well.  I picked Ponyo because it is his movie that is probably for the youngest audience.  Kiki's Delivery Service would also work for fairly young audiences but the other three listed here are probably best for young teens and up.  Ponyo is a loose adaptation of the Little Mermaid and features the voices of Liam Neeson (always a plus, I mean, come on, the guy could read income tax returns and it would sound good), Matt Damon (my imaginary boyfriend), Tina Fey (my spirit animal) and Cate Blanchett (me, in my dreams).

8.  The Iron Giant (1999) The Iron Giant is based on a book by Ted Hughes, a great writer who is probably best known as Sylvia Plath's husband.  The movie is about a boy and his friendship with a robot but it manages to touch on all kinds of issues and relationships in a sweet and sensitive way.  But it also has robots so it will still appeal to kids of a less sensitive nature.  The cold war setting also provides some interesting background and opportunities to talk about a period of history that isn't dealt with much in kids movies. 

9.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)  This movie has no redeeming social values, it won't teach your kids anything deep and meaningful but it will make them laugh and probably you too.  I saw it when I was a teenager and loved it but it is fine for younger kids too.  It is a pretty rare movie that will make kids, teenagers and parents laugh so it is worth a look on family movie night.

10.  Remember the Titans (2000) This movie is a shameless tearjerker but who cares, sometimes that is what you want/need (don't judge me!)  I am not saying it is a great movie but it is good and was sort of lost in the shuffle when it came out.  It is not a kids movie per se but it would be suitable for any kid over about 10 and it would appeal to both boys and girls.  Also, it also has Denzel Washington for the moms (and some dads) to enjoy. 

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