Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summer Movie/TV Fun

When I was a younger mom, I thought I'd do summer movie fun and introduce kids to the classics.  Boy, was that a dumb idea!  It's sort of like trying to get your kids to eat gourmet. It's possible, but it's more likely they'll look at you and say, "Where's the blue box? Can I have cereal? or I don't want this!"  Frustration city is an overeager too early exposure to something.  The kids feel annoyed at being pushed. The parent feels annoyed at having an epic fail even if no one ever knows.  Money, time, effort spent, and pleasure derived from the experience, zero. 

I don't know why I thought they'd get the beauty of such things before they were older, I sure didn't.  I remember having to be dragged to watch Casablanca.  I remember discovering Singing in the Rain in college.

So I no longer try to earn Mom merit badges by introducing my kids to something they're not ready for just yet with anyone.  It doesn't mean I don't sprinkle their young lives with stretching experiences. It just means I don't push too hard or demand too much.   Save Casablanca for when they've had their first break up and the fancy meal stuff for the teens and older. It took a long time to figure out, I don't have to eat what they eat.  We don't have to watch what they watch.   

But having a Summer Movie night is something we've enjoyed for years once we took the pressure off.   So here are Sherry's movie/summer picks for a large brood where you get to enjoy, and it isn't too kiddie or too adult, great for when you have a sleepy Friday night or a rainy day and everyone is a bit antsy.      

Some of these are older films...from when my older kids were the youngest ones...

Here are Sherry's Picks for Family Friday Night Films: 

Ella Enchanted
This is a great book and if your tweens haven't read it, they should because it's better than the film, but the film is still loads of fun.   As a film, my kids all found it fun and it happened to come out when one of my daughters was turning 9 so it became a perfect birthday party.  It won't give nightmares, it will entertain, and the soundtrack is fun too.  Pass the popcorn. 

How to Train Your Dragon

If your kids haven't seen it, this beginning of what is slated to be a trilogy stands on it's own, and the tv series is fun for middles (ages 5-13), too.   I found the sequel rather dull, it didn't have the scope, heart or humor of the first, but for a Friday night, if your kids have't seen it, it's fun.  I won't give away the final tug at your heart if you haven't seen it, but it has more to it than a mere coming of age story, and there's more of that in the book series but it's a bit different from the film. 

Spirited Away

This one my kids love. I found it frightening the first time through, but even my five year old and seven year old son Paul loves this movie.  They will watch it anytime.  It's hypnotic like a dream with it's weirdness, but that's what Miyazaki does.  They will also watch Ponyo, or My Neighbor Totoro anytime as well.  Of the three, Spirited Away hits the broadest range of kids, while Ponyo and Totoro are slower, quieter, gentler introductions to this animation director/story teller's world, great if you have sensitive children.  My youngest learned to love ham because Ponyo loves ham. By the same token, I think half my older kids will never eat roasted chicken anymore because they saw the parents eat the spirit food in Spirited Away.  

Over the Hedge 

I would have thought would never work. It was based on a comic strip.   It had a large cast of successful actors.  I worried it would be like a grocery store cupcake, too much frosting, not enough flavor in the cake.   However it works.  Everything about it is fun, with its light satire of suburban life, and a good deal of unexpected heart.   No kid should be too scared even of the very obviously bad news bear, because you get the sense, it will work out and without any spoilers, like any charming kid's tale, it does.   

The Fantastic Mr. Fox 

The stop action animation is weird and clever and it's from a book by Robert Dahl so you know, it will go in directions you never quite can predict.   My kids love this movie so much, we had to hide it for fear it would be on in perpetuity.   Again, this is a Friday Night way to enjoy the screen with your kids, but maybe rent it from a Red Box or Netflix so it doesn't become a perpetual part of your rotation.  What does the fox say?  Lots of things, and sounds like George Clooney.  

Big Hero Six

I've learned to trust my 20 year old (anime fan/illustrator/graphic artist) when she says to go see a film with the kiddos.  She can pick them. I didn't have any interest in seeing this film, but it is a beautiful story about recovering from grief (warning, for sensitive kids, the death of the brother early in the story will hurt, and Hiro's wrong choice might frighten as well).  Fortunately, the action is strong, the humor keeps it from getting too dark, and if you have middles/tweens, this is a fun way to get them to unwind rather than stare at phones or computers, make pizza and sit with them to enjoy.  As with all Marvel films, stay for the end or you'll miss the bonus humor.  
 The soundtrack by Fallout Boy is fun too.   

Wrek it Ralph

My daughter told us to go to see this film too, and it is more than the sum of it's parts. Again, I would have said NEVER in a million years would a movie about video games work. (See PIXELS if you want to see how a movie about video games can go seriously wrong).  It's got about three minutes total of cheap as we call it in our home, 4th grade humor.  Other than that, it's great fun.   

Bridge to Terabithia

If your kids haven't read the book, it's a great summer (albeit sad) read for your 4th, 5th, 6th graders or 3rd grader with you. It's sad, but it's also a great stretch and wonderful read.  The film holds to the flavor and beauty and quiet friendship of the book itself.  My kids always cry, but they also love it.

        The Iron Giant

Before the Incredibles, Brad Bird made The Iron Giant.  He knows how to ratchet up tension, use feints and develop character.  It's one of my favorite kid films.  It's also not boring for the adults. It does tend to loose my daughter's attention, but it holds the boys well.  Make root beer floats for a nostalgic touch.   

The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe

It's a fun way to introduce your kids to C.S. Lewis and the first one holds the closest to the actual story.  Well done, and feeling slightly grown up despite having talking animals and Santa Claus, it's a nice Friday night...hand them the books afterwards, they'll feel like they just found a treasure trove.  

Ten movies, ten weeks.  Happy Friday Nights.   

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