Friday, 21 September 2012

The Best Kids Movies: According to My Two Year Old

I love movies, Hubby loves movies. I see the sense in not letting your kids watch movies all day long. I see the sense in not letting your kids do anything all day long to be honest, but I don’t see the sense in not letting them have their own movies, age appropriate, that they love to watch.

My two year old Nate, like most two year olds, is fickle and quick to change his likes and dislikes. By next month, things will be different but RIGHT NOW, these are his Top Five Kids Movies (from our aging home collection), based on how often he asks for them when it’s his turn to choose at movie time and probably has a lot to do with bright colours and funny little characters. He is only two.

I’ve listed the movie names in ‘Toddler Speak’ as Nate himself asks for them. Translations, when needed, in brackets.

In reverse order, naturally.

Number 5: ‘Megamind’

One you can definitely watch with your kids, it has a constant underlying humour for the adults like all Good Kids Movies should have. The story of a blue alien, Megamind, sent away from his planet as a baby for safety he winds up on earth in Metro City, USA (!!) convinced his destiny is to be bad.
Only he’s not really that good at it. By a stroke of sheer luck, he achieves his best bad moment and sees off his biggest foe and rival since childhood, defender of Metro City, Metro Man! (dan dan daaar). Then he finds himself a bit lost. What to do now? I won’t spoil the story, but in his attempts to entertain himself in the absence of any foe, Megamind somehow figures out along the way that it’s … best to be good!! See, it’ll make you laugh and it’s got a good message for the kids too. Win win.
CAST: WILL FERRELL (Megamind), BRAD PITT (Metro Man), TINA FEY (Roxanne Ritchi), JONAH HILL (Hal/Tighten), DAVID CROSS (Minion), BEN STILLER (Bernard).
Nates Favourite Bit: Tighten (don’t ask) learning to fly. Not sure why but it makes him chuckle.
Mummys Favourite Bit: So many! Everything about Megamind the character himself is pretty darned funny. His warped childhood, his Marlon Brando impersonation, his big blue head. The humour to be found in his total ineptitude at being a baddy, not helped by his hapless ‘Minion’ who complains when Megamind berates him for making a doormat sign for the secret entrance to his hideout, “but I kept forgetting where it was”. The unrequited love between cameraman Hal and reporter Roxanne. And Megaminds turn around to the good side, which makes him thoughtfully suggest “I guess destiny is not the path given to us, but the path we choose for ourselves”

Number 4: ‘Planna Fuffy One’ (Planet 51)

This one Nate generally watches on his own, it has less continuous humour for adults, rather the one long running joke of “Look, aliens living like humans!” Planet 51 is an alien inhabited planet under surveillance from NASA and, for some reason, the alien inhabitants all live as Americans did in the 1950’s. Dress, d├ęcor, music and lifestyle. And the locals are all obsessed with aliens from another planet and hidden Government involvement. Funny, but not funny enough for me to want to sit and watch it with Nate every other day, although I should add that he gladly does. 

NASA’s surveillance bot sadly isn’t really working right. The little bot has an obsession with rocks which is all he sends back info on so when NASA send a heroic astronaut to plant a US flag on what he thinks is an uninhabited planet, he’s shocked to find himself landing in alien suburbia, in the middle of an alien family barbeque. The good message comes as the NASA Astronaut gets used to the fact that on this planet, HE’S the alien. And the, er, ‘locals’ get used to the fact that aliens aren’t going to eat their brains or turn them into zombies. And they all make friends, realise we’re all the same really and hold hands etc. (Yup, Nate watches this one on his own!).
Nates Favourite Bit: He loves the little NASA surveillance bot, Rover, so any scenes that feature him and he’s grinning from ear to ear and pointing at the screen.
Mummys Favourite Bit:  As an adult, I find the Alien dog – based on a canine version of the kind of creature Sigourney Weaver used to do battle with – much more humorous. And that initial landing when the US Astronaut steps out of his ship, in full space suit and helmet, to plant his stars and stripes.

Number 3: ‘Spicable Me’ (Despicable Me)

Now THIS kids movie, THIS movie my friends is a corker. It would be much nearer the number one slot if Mummy was choosing. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry. Nate? Oh yeah, sorry. He loves it too, as does his older brother Tallen. It’s the story of Gru, a large Russian or Eastern European sounding (?) chap, who’s a bad lot through and through. Raised by an indifferent Jewish mother, he grows up in life determined to impress her and does so by trying one monumentous crime after another. Funded by the ‘Bank of Evil’, he and his rival the nerdy Vector race to STEAL THE MOON from the very sky. Oh yes. Enter three, achingly cute and very cool little girls. Margot, Edith and Agnes residing at the gloriously wrong Miss Hatties Home for Girls and wanting nothing more than a home with a Mummy and Daddy who are nice. Oh, and Agnes would like a pet Unicorn. 

Gru spots an opportunity to use the girls to help him with his moon mission, and he promptly adopts them figuring he’ll just abandon them somewhere when he’s done. Margot, Edith and Agnes move in with Gru, his ‘monster’ dog, his wacky scientist partner, Dr Nefario and his hundred or so little yellow minions. Who all have names like Tim the Minion, Bob the Minion and Jerry the Minion. Gru has no idea how to look after children, he was never really loved right himself as a child, and his home is definitely not child friendly. So the girls set about teaching him how to be a good Dad, while he busies himself trying to steal the moon. If you haven’t, you just have to sit down with your kids (or on your own, no shame) and watch this movie. I could go on for ages about how good it is, but I’d spoil the story for you.
CAST: STEVE CARELL (Gru), JASON SEGEL (Vector), RUSSELL BRAND (Dr Nefario), JULIE ANDREWS (Gru’s Jewish Mum), WILL ARNETT (Mr Perkins), KRISTEN WIIG (Miss Hattie).
Nates Favourite Bit: My boys have good taste, this is one of those movies that grabs them from start to finish. They love the girls, they love the minions, they love Gru. Nate does stand up on the couch and join in the disco dance scene at the end of the movie too. As does Mummy at times.
Mummys Favourite Bit: The aforementioned disco dance scene at the end. Oh, and so many other bits. The trip to the Fun Park – Gru getting the fluffy unicorn for Agnes being the highlight. The bit where Gru softens and finally reads the girls their favourite bedtime story and then later in the movie reads them one he wrote himself. Cookie Robots. And Boogie Robots. Nate? Wanna watch ‘spicable Me with Mummy?

Number 2: ‘The Buh-roon One, With Russell and Ke-vin’ (Up)

I have to say, my boys are Mummy’s boys when it comes to their favourite movies. As some of you will know, I’m a big fan of Pixar and I’m happy to note that Nate’s current top two are both from them.
Up is such a lovely and uplifting story. As in all Pixar movies, there’s underlying humour and story depth that’s meant for adults alone so it’s another one you can all sit down and watch together. It starts with the past story of a young boy called Carl, who meets a girl one day with a great ‘Spirit of Adventure’ called Ellie and never looks at another girl again. You’ll find your heart being tugged at as you watch the tale of their lives together unfold, right up until the point where she dies an old lady and we jump forward to an old widowed man, Mr Fredricksen, now living on his own in a house that developers are pressurising him to move out of. The whole world seems to be telling him that he should just give up and move into a retirement home, but then … he has still has Ellies ‘Book of Adventure’. And he has a plan. 
“with this baby, we’ll never be lost”

Just in case you’ve not seen this one yet, I won’t tell you what his plan is but he embarks on the biggest adventure of his life, all in the name of his much loved and much missed wife. Russell, a young Wilderness Explorer Scout trying to earn his ‘Assist the Elderly’ badge, inadvertently goes along for the ride and what first seems like a totally mis-matched relationship between this sad-at-life old man and his overly eager young companion becomes a very touching and funny Grandfather/Grandson connection. Add Kevin, a large female bird, who loves Russell for his chocolate. A whole pack of dogs that, thanks to an amazing collar invention that interprets their thoughts, can talk (“ I can smell chocolate, and prunes and denture cream”) and we have a whole heap of good stuff right there my friends. Watch this movie if you don’t get why I love Pixar. They do this story SO well.
CAST:  ED ASNER (Carl Fredricksen), CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER (Charles Muntz), JORDAN NAGAI (Russell), BOB PETERSEN (Dug – the dog), ELIE DOCTER (Young Ellie)
Nates Favourite Bit: When the ‘BUH-ROONS’ first appear. That’s balloons to you and me.
Mummys Favourite Bit: Loving the colours in this movie. And Russell. He’s such a funny little tyke, I love the characters that Pixar creates and Russell’s a doozy. Just his initial Wilderness Explorer speech to Mr Fredricksen had me going. He drops his Wilderness Explorer GPS out of the window just before declaring “with this baby, we’ll never be lost”. He names his new bird friend Kevin before realising it’s a female, but keeps the name. When Mr Fredricksen shoos Kevin away he holds his chocolate out to him, drops his head and declares sadly “This was her favourite chocolate. Because you sent her away, there’s more for you”. And he keeps checking with Mr Fredricksen, “do you need assistance? Can I assist you?” determined as he is throughout his adventure to earn his final badge and become a Senior Wilderness Explorer.  Love him.

Number 1: ‘WALLY!!’ (Wall-E)

Ah me, gotta love Wall-E. “EVAAAA! EEEVAAAAA!” You won’t know what that means if you haven’t seen it, but if you haven’t – why on earth not?! The story, jump forward maybe a thousand years and Earth has been abandoned. Having eventually buried ourselves and our planet in our own rubbish, the human race left earth to go into space on large Cruise Ship style spaceships and live amongst the stars while robots busily try and repair the damage back home. Wall-E is one of those robots, only he’s been on Earth for many centuries and he’s now the only one left. He’s developed a quirky little personality all of his own too. Wall-E likes to collect things as he sorts through the rubbish. Old toys, electrical items, a little plant he found growing in an old fridge, other robot parts to keep himself maintained. He likes watching clips from old musicals on his TV and his only friend is a cockroach.

Robot Love
Then comes Eve, a beautiful white robot with sparkling blue eyes and a lovely giggle, sent down to earth from one of the Cruise Spaceships to check for signs of plant life on Earth. Wall-E falls head over heels in love. He shows Eve his work, his home, his collection and his plant. But on seeing the plant, Eve promptly takes it and then shuts down into standby mode while she waits for her ship to bring her back in. Wall-E has no choice, he has to leave Earth for the first time in several centuries and follow his love back to her ship. And when they get there, they discover that Wall-E's little plant could mean it’s back to Earth for everyone, time for re-colonising! Younger kids like my two will just love the simplicity of Wall-E and Eves love story. Grown ups and older kids will too, but they’ll also enjoy the futuristic predictions of life on a Spaceship and find they’re ‘getting’ the bigger message Pixar is trying to get across about consumerism, waste and the drain on our natural resources. And next time you go to put rubbish in your bin, you might just stop and think about Wall-E for a minute.
Nates Favourite Bit: When Wall-E and Eva dance in space together.
Mummys Favourite Bit: When Wall-E and Eva dance in space together.

And to ensure I’m not the cause of any sibling rivalry, I may have to follow this post up at some time with ‘The Best Kids Movies: According to My Five Year Old’.