If you had told me before I had children that the majority of my cinema trips would be to see animated films, I would have scoffed. Now that Little O is old enough to go to the cinema though, taking him to see something he might enjoy is a lot of fun. Although he doesn’t really get a lot of movie etiquette it’s worth him shouting “this is amazing” at the top of his lungs and letting him eat all my popcorn to see his excitement. Our latest watch was How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World… or in Little O’s words “Dragon Movie”.Read more…
Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not a great one for kids’ movies. I don’t like the cheesy happy endings, the lousy way the female characters are dealt with (for the most part) or the heavy handed morals and I particularly don’t like Disney… however… I do have exceptions, and these are them. (Please note for this blog I am focusing on films predominantly made for preteen audiences, which is why things like Harry Potter haven’t been included.)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Starring (voices): Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn
Why?: It’s like one giant acid trip, which really captures the essence of the novel (let’s just pretend it wasn’t written by a a dodgy older man for the underage object of his affection).
Best character: The Cheshire Cat
“Cheshire Cat: If I were looking for a white rabbit, I’d ask the Mad Hatter
Alice: The Mad Hatter? Oh, no no no…
Cheshire Cat: Or, you could ask the March Hare, in that direction.
Alice: Oh, thank you. I think I’ll see him…
Cheshire Cat: Of course, he’s mad, too.
Alice: But I don’t want to go among mad people.
Cheshire Cat: Oh, you can’t help that. Most everyone’s mad here.
[laughs maniacally; starts to disappear]
Cheshire Cat: You may have noticed that I’m not all there myself.”
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Starring (voices): Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara
Why?: Because it’s really creepy and dark and kids love dark, creepy stuff. They’re macabre little buggers.
Best characters: Lock, Shock and Barrel
“Santa: [from in the bag] Me on vacation? On Christmas Eve?
Barrel: Where are we taking him?
Lock: [removes his mask] to Oogie Boogie, of course. There’s no where in the whole world more comfortable than *that*. And Jack *said* to make him comfortable, didn’t he?
Barrel, Shock: Yes, he did.
Santa: Haven’t you heard of peace on earth, and goodwill towards men?
My Neighbour Tortoro (1998)
Starring (voices): Hitoshi Takagi, Noriko Hidaka, Toshiyuki Amagasa
Why?: Because it brings the imaginary friends so common to small children to life.
Best character: Catbus!
“Mei Kusakabe: To-to-ro? You’re Totoro!… I bet you’re Totoro…“
Starring: Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Mara Wilson, Embeth Davidz
Why?: it’s a great intepretation of a great story, plus it glorifies reading which is always a good thing.
Best character: Mrs Trunchbull
“Harry Wormwood: A book? What do you want a book for?
Matilda: To read.
Harry Wormwood: To read? Why would you want to read when you got the television set sitting right in front of you? There’s nothing you can get from a book that you can’t get from a television faster.“
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
Starring (voices): Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Why?: Because it’s really funny and it has a lot of heart
Best character: Snotlout
“Snotlout: Watch out babe, I’ll take care of this.
[Throws weapon at Deadly Nadder but misses; Astrid glares at him]
Snotlout: The *sun* was in my eyes, Astrid! What do you want me to do, block out the sun? I can do that, but I don’t have the time right now!“
Horton Hears a Who (2008)
Starring (voices): Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett
Why?: Because music saves the day and because Jim Carrey is perfect as the utterly silly Horton
Best character: Katie
“Katie: In my world everyone is a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies.”
Despicable Me (2010)
Starring (voices): Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand
Why?: Every little detail is just perfect. I have seen it countless times and it still cracks me up.
Best character: Agnes
“Agnes: [singing] Unicorns, I love them. Unicorns, I love them. Uni uni unicorns, I love them. Uni unicorns, I could pet one if they were really real. And they are! So I bought one so I could pet it. Now it loves me, now I love it. La lala la la…“
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Starring (voices): Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt
Why?: As funny, if not more funny, than the first one. Also more Minions and god knows I love Minions!
“Best character: Minions
Silas: I am the league’s director, Silas Ramsbottom.
Minion: [giggles] Bottom.
Monsters Inc (2001)
Starring (voices): Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs
Why?: The idea of seeing behind the scenes of the “monsters” under children’s beds is genius.
Best character: Boo
“Sulley: Mike, this isn’t Boo’s door.
Mike: Boo? What’s Boo?
Sulley: That’s… what I decided to call her. Is there a problem?
Mike: Sulley, you’re not supposed to name it. Once you name it, you start getting attached to it. Now put that thing back where it came from or so help me…
[Mike pauses, realizing that they suddenly have the attention of the entire scare floor]
Mike: Oh, hey. We’re rehearsing a – a scene for the upcoming company play called uh, Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me. It’s a musical.
Mike: Put that thing back where it came from or so help me… so help me, so help me and cut. We’re still working on it, it’s a work in progress but, hey, we need ushers.”
Finding Nemo (2003)
Starring (voices): Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Why?: It’s like an aquarium come to life… and I love an aquarium.
Best character: Dory
“Dory: [about the humpback whale] Maybe he only speaks whale.
[slowly and deeply, imitating the whale]
Dory: Mooo… Weeee neeeed…
Dory: …tooo fiiind hiiis sooon.
Marlin: What are you doing? Are you sure you speak whale?
Dory: Caaaan yoooou giive uuuus direeeeectioooons?
Marlin: Dory! Heaven knows what you’re saying! See, he’s swimming away.
Dory: Cooome baaaaack.
Marlin: He’s not coming back. You offended him.
Dory: Maybe a different dialect. Mmmmoooooowaaaaah…“
After the surprise success of low budget, 28 Days Later, some movie exec’s eyes must have lit up with the word “SEQUEL” and so we have the not entirely logical 28 Weeks Later, now with added explosions and unnecessary Americans but minus character development and a coherent story line. I was particularly indignant about the bit where they end up attempting to get from what is obviously Charing Cross to Wembley Park by walking underground on the tube… there are so many flaws in the idea of a two children with nothing but a night vision sight on a gun being able to manage this that I could go on for half an hour (but I won’t). All of that said though, it’s not a terrible film. It’s just not comparable to its predecessor.
I’ve been avoiding Inviticus for a while now. I’m not generally a big fan of American made South African movies… they just don’t get our psyche. However this dramatisation of the uniting power of sport in the lead up to the 1995 Rugby World Cup is actually quite sweet. Morgan Freeman plays the newly elected Nelson Mandela, facing the daunting challenge of getting South Africa through the transition from Apartheid to democracy without everyone killing each other. And Matt Damon plays the then beleaguered, South African rugby captain, Francois Pienaar. If you can look past Morgan Freeman’s atrocious accent and a bit of rose-tinting of the facts it’s not a bad watch, especially if you, like me, remember it all first hand.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I don’t like animated films. How To Train Your Dragon might be one of the few exceptions. You have to look past the fact that the Viking adults have Scottish accents (??) and the children have American accents but once that’s out of the way, this tale of a boy and his dragon is both hilarious and moving. Jay Baruchel voices, Hiccup, the son of a Viking chief (voiced by Gerard Butler) hell bent on eliminating the dragons that terrorise their village. When Hiccup, who also happens to be a walking disaster and a bit of an outcast, captures a mysterious Night Fury dragon, he forms a friendship that challenges everything he thought he knew.
In this creepy, atmospheric thriller, Sam Rockwell plays an astronaut on the solo three year mission to mine the moon, with only an interactive robot called GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) for company. When he starts experiencing strange events he begins to wonder if the isolation is affecting his sanity but the truth is far more horrible than he ever imagined. Sam Rockwell is EXCELLENT but I’m not sure if I enjoyed this. It was really quite disturbing.