Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
SDG

Family viewing: Off the beaten path

Recommended Posts

SDG   

Links:

I'm putting together a list for an article about worthwhile family films most kids probably haven't seen, or even heard of. So far my front-runners include the following:

  • The Court Jester
  • The Kid Brother
  • The Miracle Maker
  • Mr. Bean's Holiday
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Peter Pan (2000)
  • The Story of the Weeping Camel
  • Watership Down

That's eight. I'd like 10. Movies I currently have listed as runners up include Akeelah and the Bee, A Cat in Paris, Condorman, La Belle et la Bete, Road to Morocco, The Straight Story and What's Up, Doc?

Movies mentioned in the article, but which are not candidates for the list -- either because they're too well-known, or because they have close parallels in the list -- include Atlantis (1991), Babies, E.T., Holes, The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, The Prince of Egypt, The Princess Bride, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Singin' in the Rain, The Song of Bernadette, The Sound of Music, The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Wizard of Oz, as well as the various Muppet movies and the rest of the Miyazaki canon (of which My Neighbor Totoro is given as representative).

I'm hesitating on Akeelah, La Belle et la Bete and The Straight Story, because for the purposes of this piece I'm looking for movies that receptive kids of the right age are likely to glom to on their own, and I feel like those three are more likely to require some adult mediation.

Road to Morocco I've only seen once, and that was a long time ago, so I'm not quite confident enough to include it.

Condorman is currently unavailable on DVD except at exorbitant prices, so that one may not be quite fair. (It is available from Amazon Instant for under $2. Still, not everyone has a computer screen suitable for watching movies, or the ability to stream the Internet to their TV.)

What's Up, Doc? is probably a good contender.

Any other thoughts? Suggestions?

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First Position (documentary about kids doing ballet)

Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast

Edit: Follow Me Boys!

Edited by kenmorefield

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NBooth   

Road to Morocco I've only seen once, and that was a long time ago, so I'm not quite confident enough to include it.

I would be. That movie was an important part of my own childhood. Road to Rio is even better, but Morocco is where the formula got set. OTOH, its suitableness as "family viewing" would depend largely on the family viewing it; still, it's mostly silly fun.

--and while we're on the subject, the Ma and Pa Kettle movies were always an off-the-beaten-track hit with my family. The Egg and I is the least representative of the series; Ma and Pa Kettle is where the series really starts firing on all cylinders. Kids should love the "house of the future"--I know I did--that shows up in the second through the fourth movies of the series. Pa's "Indian" companions could be a troubling element (stereotypes and whatnot), but I think they're mostly harmless.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   

Thanks, Ken.

Yeah, First Position is a good 'un (one of my honorable mentions in my 2012 wrap-up). I guess I didn't include it, along with Spellbound and Racing Dreams, because of an unstated criterion: For me at least, these kids competition documentaries don't have enough rewatch potential. They're engrossing and fascinating, but I wouldn't be inclined to watch them again a month later, unless I was with a new audience.

On Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, AKA La Belle et la Bete, see my comments above.

NBooth: Thanks for your input.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't open all the links, Steven, but I'll reiterate a couple of titles I've beat the drum for over the years here:

King of the Hill (Soderbergh)

The Leopard Son

Fairy Tale: A True Story

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I would appreciate The Straight Story now, but I was either a freshman or sophomore in high school when it came out and I couldn't care less. My parents dragged me to it. I love La Belle et la Bete but, again, that's the adult me talking. I don't what I would've thought of it as a kid. Of the titles you mentioned, I would go for either Road to Morocco or What's Up Doc?

My own recommendations might include something by Abbott and Costello (I loved Hold that Ghost and The Time of their Lives), or for a harder-to-find Bob Hope film, Son of Paleface, the sequel to The Paleface. I was introduced to all of those when I was kindergarten age or a little older and I've seen them many, many times since. They're still nostalgic favorites.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tyler   

Millions.

The Secret of Kells.

The Secret of Roan Inish.

Babe.

The Red Balloon.

Ponette is one of the best films about childhood I've ever seen, but I think it's more a movie "about" kids than "for" kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evan C   

Bringing Up Baby - Kids who proclaim black and white films "boring" have laughed their heads off at this.

Would Buster Keaton be too ambitious? I would want to include one of his films. Our Hospitality or The General might work (possibly Steamboat Bill Jr.)

And I maintain that there should always be some Hitchcock on a family movie list. I fell in love with Rebecca at 10 or 11, but I think his most accessible film for a younger audience would be To Catch a Thief. It's less talky and a very direct myster that's exciting and pretty easy to follow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   

Thanks for the suggestions so far, everyone.

Christian: I've seen none of the three you mention, so I'll look into them.

Andrew: I recently introduced my kids to Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. They enjoyed it, although I think there was some adult mediation factor. Haven't seen the Paleface films (other Bob Hope movies I've seen, besides Road to Morocco under consideration, include My Favorite Blonde and Monsieur Beaucaire).

Tyler: a) Millions I left off because some of the content I think needs adult mediation. b.) The Secret of Kells I dig, but I'm conflicted enough about the religious themes (or the religious themes are conflicted enough for me) not to throw it out in a top 10 list for a Catholic publication. c) The Secret of Roan Inish I admired but didn't entirely connect with. d) Babe I thought too well known for this list (though I should have mentioned it above. e) I admire The Red Balloon a lot, but my kids hated it, so that's that. (Ditto Where the Wild Things Are, which is also probably too well-known.) f) I agree on Ponette.

Evan C: Keaton is certainly not too ambitious, but I've got Harold Lloyd on the list already, and my brief write-up genuflects to Keaton (The General) and Chaplin (Gold Rush 1942). Bringing Up Baby is a possibility (possibly linked to What's Up, Doc?). All Hitchcock, including To Catch a Thief, skews too old for my present purposes.

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have Condorman on DVD; I got it for free after collecting about five or six DVDs' worth of "Disney Movie Reward" points.

In that vein, I wonder if you might like another Disney film available via points called So Dear to My Heart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evan C   

I thought of another: Love Me Tonight. This was one of the very first successful musical films, and it was a huge influence on future Hollywood musicals, inspiring directors such as Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins, and Gene Kelly. It has a terrific score by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. As delightful as Singin' in the Rain, and unfortunately not well known at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   

Darren: Thanks for the suggestion.

Peter: Re. Condorman, I know this about you. Hm, So Dear to My Heart.

Darrel: On Iron Giant and Keaton, see above discussion.

Evan C: Goodness! I've never heard of Love Me Tonight, but it looks fantastic. What's your sense of its kid interest factor? (And how qualified are you to speak to that?)

Hm. On Love Me Tonight, TV Guide writes:

The cast … make the most of the saucy pre-Code antics. Ruggles's mad dash in his underwear and Butterworth's "I fell flat on my flute" demonstrate comic diffidence of the highest caliber … Loy plies her smooth comic touch and gets to add a naughtiness she usually wasn't allowed later. Her man-crazy Vantine displays a freshness partly inspired by Mamoulian and Loy's creating the part as they went along … the genial, risque tension between Chevalier and MacDonald works as deliciously as vodka in orange juice.

So, I dunno.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M. Leary   

I didn't open all the links, Steven, but I'll reiterate a couple of titles I've beat the drum for over the years here:

King of the Hill (Soderbergh)

Came here to say this...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   
I didn't open all the links, Steven, but I'll reiterate a couple of titles I've beat the drum for over the years here:

King of the Hill (Soderbergh)

Came here to say this...

Okay, I'm taking this seriously. How would you two rate the kid appeal factor here?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I'm taking this seriously. How would you two rate the kid appeal factor here?

It skews toward pre-teens/teens, Steven.

I expanded a bit on it here:

While most of Soderbergh’s films wouldn’t be accurately characterized as “family films,” there is one from early in the filmmaker’s career that could be watched by older children and adults. That film is King of the Hill, Soderbergh’s third feature, which critic Leonard Maltin included in his book “151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” and called a “masterpiece.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I'm taking this seriously. How would you two rate the kid appeal factor here?

It skews toward pre-teens/teens, Steven.

I expanded a bit on it here:

While most of Soderbergh’s films wouldn’t be accurately characterized as “family films,” there is one from early in the filmmaker’s career that could be watched by older children and adults. That film is King of the Hill, Soderbergh’s third feature, which critic Leonard Maltin included in his book “151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” and called a “masterpiece.”

[Typos in original post fixed in my excerpt (I hope). Is there any worse a feeling than opening an old post and discovering a typo? More than one typo? sad.png ]

Edited by Christian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this coming generation would be open to "Plan 9 From Outer Space", with a Rifftrax commentary, of course. Special bonus points by pointing out it being one of the first church-funded movies ever, beating out the Fireproof filmmaking team by over fifty years (and yet it's not sold in Christian bookstores. wonder why that is?).

I would not do Akeelah and the Bee. There's a new age element in there that's gotten a pretty strong endorsement by a central positive character. Adults can discern, children and yonger teens might not.

It kills me... I just saw a slightly older movie this past weekend that had "The Triplets of Belleville" in its trailers section--but the movie has PG-13 comic nudity. A clean version would've been a home run.

How about Searching For Bobby Fischer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   
I would not do Akeelah and the Bee. There's a new age element in there that's gotten a pretty strong endorsement by a central positive character.

What??!! I've seen it twice, and nothing like that struck me. I'm pretty sensitive on that score, too.

It kills me... I just saw a slightly older movie this past weekend that had "The Triplets of Belleville" in its trailers section--but the movie has PG-13 comic nudity. A clean version would've been a home run.

Meh. I found it sporadically charming, but too shapeless and directionless.

How about Searching For Bobby Fischer?

Based on my one viewing, I'm not sure it's got the kid-appeal factor I'm looking for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BethR   

One from among the links SDG posted: Lassie (2005) (PG)--one of the best, and the dog doesn't die.

The Dish (2000, PG-13)--history (the moon landing) and comical cultures colliding. I believe the rating is for some language?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would not do Akeelah and the Bee. There's a new age element in there that's gotten a pretty strong endorsement by a central positive character.

What??!! I've seen it twice, and nothing like that struck me. I'm pretty sensitive on that score, too.

Dr. Larabee has Akeelah read from a plague on his wall. That quote is from Marianne Williamson's "A Return to Love: Reflections from the Principles of A Course In Miracles." A Course In Miracles has theological problems that have been brought out by many an apologetics industry.

How about Searching For Bobby Fischer?

Based on my one viewing, I'm not sure it's got the kid-appeal factor I'm looking for.

It is a mixed bag, but from reading the real-life Josh Waitzkin's "The Art of Learning" (which, may or may not fit in the same category of "A Course of Miracles"), when he was participating in chess tournaments as a teenager, post 1993, all the kids looked upon him as a rock star. So it spoke to those students at least.

Edited by Nick Alexander

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   
One from among the links SDG posted: Lassie (2005) (PG)--one of the best, and the dog doesn't die.

The Dish (2000, PG-13)--history (the moon landing) and comical cultures colliding. I believe the rating is for some language?

I reviewed both of these appreciatively, but I only saw them each once. With The Dish, I feel like that's a random accident, but with Lassie it feels like part of a pattern. Why did I never feel compelled to buy Lassie and watch it again with our kids? Likewise, Duma we've watched twice (but only twice), and Two Brothers I never even showed them. Yet we've watched nature documentaries like Atlantis any number of times. What is it about these animal stories that I admire when I'm watching them and writing them up but that I don't feel I need to revisit?

Edited by SDG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×