5 Night at the Museum: Battle of Smithsonian
To make up for the Fantastic Mr. Fox, we give you Night at the Museum 2, a movie full of the color and slapstick that was lacking in Roald Dahl’s story. It’s full of such kid friendly comedians as Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria and Robin Williams. And while the story may be a little silly and have a tendency to get kids wound up (we’re talking stimulation equivalent of half a Halloween candy haul) there are also some educational side effects. If a parent will help out, the movie is a great entrée for kids into the wonder of museums and can introduce them to some of the more entertaining and exciting figures in American history, such as Amelia Earhart and Teddy Roosevelt.
4 Fantastic Mr. Fox
If you actually stop to think for a minute about most of Roald Dahl’s books for children, you’ll realize that they are all pretty weird. Fortunately, most kids don’t seem to notice until later in life. This movie embraces the nostalgic weirdness in a way that kids may still be able to overlook and parents will love. The stop motion animation is a better way captures it better than any slick CGI and the costumes, scenery and dull color palette bring to mind dark photographs from the 40’s or 50’s. But will kids actually have fun? Sure, as long as they’re the right kids. This may not hold the attention of kids whose attention is only held by the fast and flashy but kids who are old enough to follow the story for its own sake will appreciate Dahl’s understanding of life as a child, even if they can’t express it.
3 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Let’s start out with some advice here, acquired by firsthand experience: Don’t see this movie with cynical and/or sarcastic people. There is much to be snarky about. Some of the teenage emotional stuff that you may not have realized is trite in the book becomes painfully corny when spoken out loud and it gets a lot more attention than in earlier movies. But for some, that could make this the favorite Harry Potter movie. Although it’s still just as dark as movie #5, we do get at least a little bit of Quidditch and the fun characters that make up Hogwarts. And if you’ve read the books, you’ll know not to expect much of that in the next movie. So if you’re into Harry Potter (or fun) this is a great movie to take older kids to see although be warned that it’s likely to scare the pants off of little kids.
2 The Princess and the Frog
The Princess and the Frog is a traditional Disney Princess movie only, unlike many of the golden oldies, it is the heroine who has to physically rescue the prince while he teaches her about the meaning of love. A role reversal of which we heartily approve. And even better: (Spoiler Alert!) in the end, she doesn’t even have to give up any of her dreams from before she got that lesson. Score one for girl power! But if you’re not in this for the educational message, you’ll be happy to hear about the voodoo, dancing alligators and great score of New Orleans Jazz inspired numbers. As in some of Disney’s best, this is an old story (the Frog Prince, obviously) updated and transported to the New Orleans and the bayou in the roaring 20’s.
No question, this is one of Pixar’s best and that’s really saying something. Up is perhaps Pixar’s most human story, which isn’t that surprising since many of them, such as Finding Nemo, Cars, Toy Story and Wall-E, use anthropomorphism to give a new twist to tales of human emotion. But not Up. This movie starts out with the most mundane love story ever told on film and probably the most romantic. Shy Carl meets Ellie, the rambunctious girl next door and they become best friends. They grow up together and experience the usual joys and tragedies of life together. And then Carl is left to grow old on his own. We’re tearing up just thinking about it and this is still the set up. Carl plans to have one more adventure to fulfill Ellie’s dream but finds himself left with a verbose Wilderness Ranger (think the boy scouts) as a stowaway. They have adventures, make new friends and rediscover the important things in life. Although this doesn’t have as many clever references as Toy Story and has more violence and scary moments than Cars or Finding Nemo, there is plenty for both kids and parents to enjoy. The animation is colorful and mesmerizing and the story will make warm even the coldest of adult hearts. Plus there’s just enough silliness thrown in to keep everyone happy.
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