Friday, February 24, 2012

Family Movie Night

I love watching movies.  And if I can watch a movie I like with my kids, so much the better. But it's actually really hard these days to find a movie we can all watch together and enjoy. Generally, I don't like cartoons. I'm sick of paying money to sit through a crappy animated movie, such as Over the Hedge. I've done it for years because, you do. I hate it. I'm done. Luckily, there are some really decent movies for kids and, luckily, my kids are getting older. They are also, luckily, old enough to be dropped off at the movies when they want to see something I'm not interested in and, luckily, I can always read blogs on my iPhone if I do end up sitting through a movie with them that I don't like. My kids have pretty good taste, anyway.

Some good animated movies I like are: Megamind, and Toy Story 1, 2, 3. But I didn't really even love Up that much. It starts out great but then that colorful bird gets involved. I liked Cars but Cars 2 was insufferable. (Ugh, Mater--SPARE ME.) Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is good. I loved the premise of Mars Needs Moms. Such potential to say something good and interesting! I liked the beginning where they don't take permissive moms--they only want good, firm moms. But I ended up hating that movie so much. The martian who wants the firm mom is a cruel, controlling matron who has banished all the males to a junk yard. I feel like this movie was written by someone who uses the term "femi-nazi." The men were worthless Rastafarian freakazoids. As if sitting through Jar Jar Binks the first time weren't painful enough. I appreciate that Mars Needs Moms tries to be pro-family but it misses the mark.

Additionally, it's not that my standards are super high, I'm just super picky. I don't want to show my kids crass movies with the F-word in them. I don't want to show them anything sexually explicit or nasty.  Mostly violence doesn't bother me. Drug use does. It's not funny to me and it I find it very disturbing. Stupid humor I can not tolerate, which is why I wouldn't allow my kids to see The Smurfs. In fact, I recorded Mystery Men to watch with my kids. I watched it first just to check it out. I really love parts of it and I think my kids would really like it. But it has so much crude humor I decided not to show it to them. Let them watch it with their friends some day. If I show it to them it's like I endorse it. I have a lot of hang ups. Sam is old enough to be sick of baby cartoon movies but Ellen is basically still into that. Maggie is sensitive to swears. Ben is impressionable. You have to be careful!

So last week I showed them one of my all-time favorite movies, Unstrung Heroes. Ellen fell asleep. It's not good for little kids. But my other kids enjoyed it and seemed engaged and interested. We've talked about it since and referred to jokes in it, which is the fabric of family life--don't you think? My kids rated it from 1-10, 10 being the best, as follows:
Maggie (age 12) 10
Ben (age 9) 7
Sam (age 14) 8 or 9.

The thing is, it's a sad movie. But it's beautiful and funny and moving and says good things. It's so, so much better than Mars Needs Moms--and "pro-family" as well. My kids did wonder why I showed them such a sad movie. I told them it was to show them that even a quirky family can give you what you need. Remember John Turturro before he was in Transformers? He's great to watch and it's good for kids to see a dad who's weird and then gruff and to understand that he's like that because his wife is sick and he's worried about her. It helps to understand different people's perspective. He has lost his faith and has this exchange with his brothers:
The dad: Religion is a crutch. Only cripples need crutches.
The uncle: A crutch isn't bad if you need it, Sidney.
Other uncle: All of us are cripples in some way.
The dad: Well, I'm not.
Like I said, it's sad. But not totally depressing. It has a handful of swears and SPOILER: The mom dies. If that will haunt your kids then don't show this movie to them. I think it was good for my kids--makes them appreciate me more. Also, Kramer is in it.
Any suggestions for  movies I can watch with my kids?


  1. I watched that with my kids last year. I forgot what a tear-jerker it is.

    I let my kids watch Slumdog Millionaire. I know it's R but I've seen it three times and I though it was fine for my over-10 kids. There is pretty much no swearing or sex but I think it's really important that my kids see an authentic view of life in third-world countries.

    Here is a movie you might be tempted to watch with your kids but DON"T: Splash. You remember it as being really cute and funny. it's got a ton of dirty parts! John Candy walks around with a Penthouse magazine for the first 20 minutes. And Tom Hanks and the mermaid have sex constantly.

    I'll have to think of some more movies. We have a Clear Play which is great for movies like Groundhog Day that are great except for a few things here and there.

  2. I just watched "Millions" with my kids (ages 11-19) last night. It's an English movie about two brothers who find a bag containing $200,000 of stolen money. There are a few nail-biting scenes, but it's not scary. There is no swearing, no violence and no sex.

  3. We really liked the new Muppet Movie. Also I think Super 8 would be great to watch with the older kids.

  4. In retrospect there are a couple of scenes in "Millions" that might be inappropriate for kids, so my first comment was a little less than accurate. Sorry about that.

  5. We really like "Bandslam." My husband and I thought it was hilarious and all five kids (ages 13-3) enjoyed the music. Smart and funny.

  6. All right, I am adding Unstrung Heroes to my own list. I'm not sure I'm emotionally stable enough to handle it, but the spoiler helps.

    We're finding it highly enjoyable to watch The Cosby Show with our kids.

  7. I love that movie. Didn't Diane Keaton direct it? I think yes, which makes it even better.

    I love love love Into the West. Fantastic and brilliant. Also, I have had good mileage with Miyazaki movies, including the sublimely weird Spirited Away and the weirdly sublime Princess Mononoke. I love Uncle Buck, but there's a teenager who is possibly going to have sex with a bad boyfriend. Narrowly averted, though. I dunno. And we have watched Raising Arizona more times than I can count, from when my kids were super little.

  8. What about The Princess Bride? That's a family favorite at our house. And bonus: it is infinitely quotable!

  9. My boys are 7, 5, and 2, so my list might not work for your family. Here are a few we have used for family movie night:

    Mary Poppins
    Matilda (had to read the book first)
    Star Wars Episode IV
    Stuart Little (not my favorite -- by a long shot)
    Milo and Otis
    Homeward Bound

    In the future, we plan to view:

    The Princess Bride
    Sound of Music
    7 Brides for 7 Brothers
    Flight of the Navigator
    The Parent Trap
    The Never Ending Story
    Follow Me, Boys
    The 10 Commandments (love me some Charlton Heston)

  10. Anonymous4:46 PM

    I hear you on the crappy animation thing...over it. But here are two that my kids and I have loved. The Fantastic Mr. Fox and My Neighbor Totoro (early Mayzaki.) Also, right now we are working our way through the TV show Merlin which they love.

    I had one little who went through a Dumbo obsession phase, that was a long season.

  11. My kids love musicals interestingly enough. There favorites are:

    The Unsinkable Molly Brown (mild cursing though)
    Fiddler on the Roof
    Bye Bye Birdie

    My kids are 16,14,11 and 8.

  12. We also do a lot of musicals, but some can get really long...or old favs from my childhood (or earlier) like Labrynth, Never ending story, parent trap, the old freaky friday (this one does have some bizarre smoking and alcohol in the 70's) and any of those old non-animated disney, Love bug, shaggy dog...

  13. I so agree with you on the crappy anitmation movies...I think it's a crime that they make any money on movies such as Smurfs, Rio, and the like. I'm ashamed to admit we spent good money on Spy Kids 4, but I absolutely refuse to see "Chipwrecked". I have to draw the line somewhere!
    We watched "Radio" with Cuba Gooding Jr., a while ago, and my 8 and 11 yr. old really liked it. I also decided to let them watch the new season of Amazing Race with us, hopefully there won't be too much swearing. My 8 year old is sensitive to that. We saw Hugo and I actually enjoyed it, but it got a little weird towards the end when it delved into the history of movie-making a little too much.

  14. I looove My Neighbor Totoro. Just be open-minded the first time you watch it. I remember as a kids watching movies like Goonies, A Field of Dreams (which made me as a 12 year old cry every time), and lots of old musicals, especially Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, and South Pacific.

  15. We love to watch old Stooges shorts with the kids.(I know...but we like them)Last Christmas we got The Egg and I then watched all of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies. The kids were surprisingly amused. Lately we have watched Rear Window, Vertigo and The Birds. They loved them. I recorded an edited version of Stand By Me and they enjoyed that, but DON'T buy the unedited version. Holy moly, I forgot how much cursing was in the original.

  16. Second Hand Lions, it has it all. Micheal Cain, ROBERT DUVALL, and Hailey Joel Osment. One of my all time favorites! Note one offensive thing in it.

  17. Ditto for Second Hand Lions - it's a perennial fave with my grandkids. Hoot is good - so is Holes - so I Because of Winn Dixie - so is Bridge to Terabithia - the newer one. Also the newer Tuck Everlasting. Do you see an adolescent lit trend here??

  18. I love Holes, Meet the Robinson's, Nanny McPhee, Nacho Libre, Project Runway, Hugo was good, maybe Life is Beautiful when they are a bit older...

    The Cosby Show rocks!

  19. Movies for kids can be tough. And I hear you on the cartoons. My kids are 5, 7, and 9, and animated movies are still high on the list.

    I will say, hands down, best movie I have ever seen with my kids was the new Muppets movie...not sure what that says about me. But I loved the show growing up and they did a great job of making the movie reflect the original show, and still be fun and entertaining for todays kids.

    Another surprise movie that I actually thought was decently cute, and funny, was Aliens in the Attic. But part of that is cause we are gamers here (just blogged about it in fact...) and they had some great humor. It may or may not be your thing.

    Im not ready to watch movies with my kids that teach them life lessons, but I guess I should! We just really like to laugh. :)

    ps. I really didnt understand The Fantastic Mr. Fox, have you seen it? I would love to read your review of it, because then I think I could understand...

    1. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of my favorite movies. I think what I like best about it is the corduroy suit.

  20. Anonymous10:35 AM

    Here is a list a good friend sent me a few years ago...

    Anything in the Love Comes Softly Series
    Anne of Green Gables series
    Becoming Jane
    Any of the Shirley Temple Movies
    The Princess Bride
    Toy Story 1 & 2
    Miracle on 34th Street
    My Fair Lady
    Father of the Bride
    On The Town
    Cool Runnings
    Free Willy
    Harriet the Spy
    Homeward Bound
    Honey I Blew up the Kids
    Sound of Music
    Pillow Talk
    Singing in the Rain
    The Music Man
    7 Brides for 7 Brothers
    Roman Holiday
    Yours, Mine, & Ours (the original, not sure about the new remake)
    Milo & Otis
    A Walk to Remember
    Annie (original although Ms. Hannigan is a bit tipsy)
    Angels in the Outfield
    Black Beauty
    D2 The Mighty Ducks
    Emma (1996 version)
    Iron Will
    Little Rascals
    Little Women
    The Polar Express
    Searching for Bobby Fisher
    Akeelah and the Bee
    The Sister Act
    Stuart Little
    The Cutting Edge

    Also Secondhand Lions, The Ultimate Gift, Flight of the Navigator, Nim's Island, Follow Me Boys, Ella Enchanted, The Happiest Millionaire

  21. I think your older kids would love Paper Moon--I remember watching it for the first time at about 12 or so, and have loved it ever since. Haven't watched it in a while, so I am not sure if there is anything too objectionable...
    Also, our "Family Movie" for two generations has been The Great Race with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood.
    Also from that time of my life--Haunted Honeymoon with Radner and Wilder and DeLouise.

  22. If you can find "Breaking Away", try it. Dennis Quaid is the only star that I can remember the name of that is in the movie. He was much younger in that movie. He was in one later called "The Rookie" that was pretty good too. I'm not sure about your littlest one, but you and the older ones might really like them. Have you tried "The Hudsucker Proxy?" It's different, but you might like it too. I loved "The Secret of Roan Inish". They speak with a heavy Irish accent that you have to get used to, but it is worth it. My last suggestion in "Babe". Just make sure you don't get Babe, Pig in the City. That was awful IMO.

  23. I second "The Secret of Roan Inish."

    1. I LOVE The Secret of Roan Inish. It's one of my favorite movies.

  24. Father Goose. When I was 10 my dad checked it out from the library and insisted that I watch it. I didn't want to because it was an "old" movie (from the 60's). But I watched it until I practically had it memorized. You can't go wrong with Cary Grant.

  25. A couple others have already mentioned it, but Singin' in the Rain is a great one. My six and four year old boys love it (but do like to skip "the boring parts"), and back in the olden days of VHS, I once loaned it to my boss whose kids were about your kids' ages. He said his whole family was laughing so hard at the Make 'Em Laugh musical number. It's my kids' favorite part as well.
    As far as Goonies, that's one that I thought was totally kid-friendly, since it's, you know, full of kids. But once I was a YW leader and was hosting a sleepover, and I was like, "Hey, let's watch one of my favorite childhood movies!" Five minutes in, they broke the penis off the mom's statue of David, and I was like, "This may have been a mistake..."
    I really enjoy your blog, by the way. Such a great writing style.

  26. One I haven't seen mentioned is Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. My daughter loved it as a little girl - she's 24 now, and still loves it. It's about a girl who runs away from her foster family to join a traveling show. I can't remember any swears, there is a love story but it's chaste.

  27. You Can't Take It With You
    What's Up Doc

  28. My kids are 6 and 7.5 they love:

    The Neverending Story
    Small Soldiers
    The Princess Bride
    Harry Potter Series
    Godzilla (all the old Japanese movies)
    Men in Black
    Karate Kid (Old & New Versions)
    Three Musketeers (New Version with Milla Jovovich)
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Mask

    Those are just a few. Of course they have a ton of animated movies they love but they are hardly worth mentioning since most parents are well aware of them.

  29. Oh yeah! What's Up Doc!

    It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
    The Gods Must Be Crazy
    Iron Giant
    The Secret of the Kells
    The Secret of Roan Inish
    Time Bandits
    Places in the Heart
    The Long Walk Home
    Yours, Mine, Ours (the original)


    Your kids are just at the age where they'll start to appreciate movies like Bringing Up Baby--those old screwball comedies. North By Northwest. The Pink Panther movies. Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

    How responsive do you think your kids would be to movies with subtitles? My parents used to take us to the International Cinema all the time, and we even rented foreign films. There are some beautiful movies to be seen: My Father's Glory and My Mother's Castle, Where The River Runs Black,
    Cinema Paradisio, Alamar, Children of Heaven,

  30. I too love the Second Hand Lions. It is a family favorite. An old Steve Martin movie called Simple Twist of Fate is really sweet and family friendly.

  31. Yes, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken! Also, Steve Martin's Invisible Man. And you must watch Man on A Wire - documentary about the guy who illegally walked on a balancing wire between the twin towers. Amazing.


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