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2004: A ROTTEN Year for Kids' Films?

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It has indeed been a dry year in that category. Two Brothers is the standout so far, and if The Incredibles disappoints, I'll be very surprised and disappointed. But two winners should be the total for a month, not a year.

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I took my 5 yr old daughter to see 'Two Brothers' - I think that's the only time I've taken any of our 3 kids to a film so far this year. (We might've done 'Clifford,' if it had made it to our area.) As far as the rest of the year goes, I'm planning to take them to 'The Incredibles,' and perhaps to 'Spongebob.'

So if my family's experience is any indicator, yeah, it's been a pretty lame year for kids' films.

(By the way, have you seen 'Peter Pan' yet? I know it's a late 2003 film - but my 5 and 7 year olds loved it, when we finally got it on DVD.)

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(By the way, have you seen 'Peter Pan' yet?  I know it's a late 2003 film - but my 5 and 7 year olds loved it, when we finally got it on DVD.)

It made my top ten of all 2003 films, I can't begin to talk about its awesomeness. But, yeah, it *is* 2003...

I will of course take this oppotunity to mention Thunderbirds. Which was hated by everyone on the planet except (1) Me (2) Mark Kermode and (3) The four/five year olds sitting behind me in the cinema. Which means, therefore, it was actually great.

Phil.

Edited by Shantih

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Every kid responds differently, of course, but I think you'd be OK. 'Peter Pan' has become a favorite of a couple of preschool neighbor kids, and their parents are good people who fully endorse the concept of limited and age-appropriate viewing material. We're planning to let our 4 year old watch it, too.

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Not a parent but I'd certainly show it to any kids I might have. It has darkness, to be sure, but I feel its the type which kids respond to positively (good Lost Boys fighting nasty, nasty Captain Hook with skeletons hanging around the place) rather than the horrible, horrible stuff.

If she can take The Wizard of Oz, do you think she could take Peter Pan?

Absolutley. A good example of darkness used well.

Phil.

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Just saw the latest trailer for The Polar Express which could be the last big, family oriented release of the year.

I'm kinda ambivelent about it at the moment. The teasers for this had me quite excited, loving trains and Christmas movies as I do. But since they've shown a little more of it it's looking more like an eye candy fest than an actual story. (Am I the only person in the world interested in seeing a young boy exploring the world by train around Christmas time without the whole 'city of flying elves' and whatnot alongside it?)

But I will go into it with a certain level of excitement. It *will* be around Christmas, after all...

Phil.

Edited by Shantih

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Last year, we had Finding Nemo, Holes, Peter Pan, Cheaper by the Dozen, Winged Migration, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Elf,, and others.

The year before, there was The Rookie, Stuart Little 2, Lilo & Stitch, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Powerpuff Girls, Return to Never Land, Tuck Everlasting, Treasure Planet, and others.

In 2001, Spy Kids, Monsters, Inc., Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, maybe Cats and Dogs.

You have to go back to 2000 for a year in which family entertainment has been as poor as this. Chicken Run, maybe Rugrats in Paris.

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You have to go back to 2000 for a year in which family entertainment has been as poor as this. Chicken Run, maybe Rugrats in Paris.

But, then, 2000 also had the well regarded Miracle Maker, the glorious Emporer's New Groove and the 'so-so but still good fun' Road to El-Dorado. Whichever way you look, this has been a poor year.

Phil.

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I wouldn't consider The Rookie a "kids" film. It may be G-rated (despite a few very mild profanities), but it's still really a story ABOUT grown-ups FOR grown-ups.

I'm guessing nobody here cared for Disney's Home on the Range? It has not yet come up in the conversation, at any rate.

As for The Polar Express, the trailers don't do much for me, and I am unfamiliar with the original book, but I suppose it could be okay. In the meantime, I am wondering what to make of this e-mail that we recently got at the Christian paper for which I write:

- - -

To Whom it May Concern,

We are promoting a new family movie Polar Express with Tom Hanks (November 10, 2004). The Polar Express takes you on a journey we have all experienced regarding faith and the act of believing. The Bible says that it is good to believe without seeing ^

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Thinking about SDG's list some more, it occurs to me that Fantasia 2000 may have been released in, like, the last week of 1999 or something, but most audiences didn't really get a chance to see it until 2000 -- I believe it played in IMAX theatres for the first few months, and then in April it went to regular theatres.

SDG, I also wonder how many of the films on your list you would consider appropriate for a 4-year-old, since it seems to me that Alan began this thread wondering about the lack of films that would be suitable for his own daughter. I was about to say that I have just finished the second Lemony Snicket book and have relatively optimistic hopes for the upcoming film adaptation, but I don't know that I would take a 4-year-old to see that.

(And my thoughts on this are complicated further by the fact that my fianc

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I wouldn't consider The Rookie a "kids" film. It may be G-rated (despite a few very mild profanities), but it's still really a story ABOUT grown-ups FOR grown-ups.

I wouldn't call it a "kids'" film either, and yeah, that is the subject heading, but I don't think it's a "grownup" film either. I think it's a family film in the best sense of the word, a film that can be enjoyed by parents and kids alike, at least if they have any affinity for sports movies.

I'm guessing nobody here cared for Disney's Home on the Range?

Moo.

Fantasia 2000

Way underwhelmed myself. Loved the Pines of Rome flying whales, was impressed by the anime-inflected Firebird Suite finale but disappointed that the climactic Christian and Catholic note of the original finale was replaced by eco-pagan imagery and that the only hint of Judeo-Christian heritage was in the not very impressive Donald Duck Pomp and Circumstance Noah's Ark sequence (a weak follow-up both to the Ave Maria and Sorcerer's Apprentice sequences from the original). The rest was fitfully interesting but not really impressive. Totally lacking in the original's groundbreaking power.

SDG, I also wonder how many of the films on your list you would consider appropriate for a 4-year-old

Good point. Here is the subset of my original list that I either have shown to my three-year-old son or that I would show him with no particular reservations: Finding Nemo, Winged Migration, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, The Rookie, Stuart Little 2, Lilo & Stitch, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Return to Never Land, Treasure Planet, Spy Kids, Monsters, Inc., Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Cats and Dogs.

Add to those Shantih's adds of The Miracle Maker and The Emperor's New Groove (but not Road to El Dorado; too sexy).

I told her I'm fine with that, but as soon as the oldest child is old enough to watch them, it'll be pretty darn difficult to prevent the others from watching, too.

Ain't it the truth! Our three-year-old watches all the Star Wars movies with the big kids, including Attack of the Clones, and has also seen The Scarlet and the Black, Watership Down, and other films you might not usually show a three-year-old.

However, this December when the kids and I sit down for a multi-day marathon screening of the complete extended Lord of the Rings, Jamie will have to sit it out. (How that's going to work I have no idea.) I'm already pushing it including six-year-old David, although he'll probably deal with it at least as well as Sarah, who will be ten. I can't keep it from them any longer -- they know the story (we're almost finished reading The Two Towers) and are familiar with the actors and imagery from the films partly from their cousins and partly from other sources. And they don't even go to school!

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: I saw it on the IMAX screen at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, probably in October

: or November of 1999?

Doubtful, since the IMDB says it premiered December 17.

: I've not read any research indicating that moderate TV/movies for kids 2-5 is

: harmful.

Hmmm, I may have to check back with D on this -- it occurs to me that she might have made an exception for documentaries. I believe her basic point might have been that children under a certain age have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fantasy in films. I wouldn't know, as I have virtually no memories of my own from before the age of four.

SDG wrote (re: Fantasia 2000):

: Way underwhelmed myself.

I also, though for a different set of reasons. One of my biggest complaints was that Every Single Segment had to Tell A Story -- I missed the abstraction, the sense of Dance, that several segments in the original film had. (Even the so-called "abstract" piece in the second film, the Beethoven bit, was a story of some sort; sure, it had flying triangles instead of, I dunno, butterflies or something, but it certainly wasn't "abstract" in the way the first film's Bach sequence was.)

: Loved the Pines of Rome flying whales . . .

I thought that was one of the lesser pieces!

: . . . was impressed by the anime-inflected Firebird Suite finale but disappointed

: that the climactic Christian and Catholic note of the original finale was replaced by

: eco-pagan imagery . . .

I was disappointed that the segment had missed the point of the original piece of music, which surely was that it was the FIREBIRD that died and rose again (being a phoenix and all), whereas the cartoon turned the firebird into a villain and, as you say, handed the death and resurrection theme over to a symbol of eco-paganism. That said, the Ave Maria sequence in the original film began to tilt in an eco-pagan direction, too; if you check the DVDs, you can find all sorts of original artwork showing how the sequence was originally going to be explicitly Catholic, with stained-glass windows of Madonna and Child etc., but then Disney decided to make it more "universal" by showing the pilgrims walking through "nature", etc. And then, if you watch the sequence with Walt Disney's commentary track turned on at that point, you'll hear him talk about how there is something divine about mankind and the imagination, or some such; so the music praises the Virgin Mary, the visuals praise Nature, and the commentary track praises Man. An interesting combination.

: . . . and that the only hint of Judeo-Christian heritage was in the not very

: impressive Donald Duck Pomp and Circumstance Noah's Ark sequence . . .

I loved it as a Donald Duck cartoon, but not as much else. Have you ever seen the 1930s Silly Symphony Father Noah's Ark? It's quite the contrast. It has at least one gag that made it into the Donald Duck cartoon -- the huge family of rabbits leaving the Ark -- but it's much more biblically literate (Noah's sons have names! heck, he has sons! and they all have wives!) and the music has a kind of Negro spiritual aspect to it that preserves the religious flavour of the story.

: Totally lacking in the original's groundbreaking power.

Very agreed.

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