Saturday, October 2, 2010

Movies for Your Kids

There are some movies that had a profound impact on my life as a child. Some, obviously, were negative (Last of the Mohicans at age 6, Rocky Horror in 2nd grade). But here are the best of the positive:

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas

This one's pretty straightforward. At the time I wasn't even too moved by it. I appreciated it more as an adult, I guess. But, as an adult, I still only watch sparingly. For some reason it sticks out. I guess it's a good transitional film for kids growing up.

9. Raggedy Anne and Andy: A Musical Adventure

When I was very young this movie was probably my favorite. It's really, really, weird. The taffy monster is legitimately frightening for little kids. Think Brave Little Toaster with a softer edge, and pirates.

8. Dr. Doolittle

Oh Rex. Honestly, this movie probably is very responsible for a chunk of my ethics. I read all of the Doolittle books (and there are many). I would watch it back to back, delighting in the songs and gentle sentiment of the good doctor.

7. Bedknobs and Broomsticks

This one's pretty hokey. It's by far the best live action thing Disney did. I still know the magic incantations and songs. It was my introduction to blending live action and animation (sucks to Mary and Roger). Only after a couple years did I figure out the plot.

6. Disney's Robin Hood

I wouldn't be surprised if I'd seen this fifty times. It's not too inventive, although it does have a sweet little story, good humor, and nice songs. I had to put it on here for sheer volume of watching. In a very serious way, though, it helped inform my ideas of the middle ages.

5. The NeverEnding Story

On the flip side of things I did not watch this very much – only a couple of times. Its visuals stick with me to this day. The sphinx gate, the turtle mountain, and many others were incredibly hard to shake. As fantasy goes it's great, and sort of touching.

4. Fantasia

This was for me, and probably many people, my first experimental film. A light year away from standard stories like Robin Hood this showed me what animation was capable of, and further what movies were able to do. Bach's Toccata and Fugue sequence will always be seared in my mind.

3. The Dark Crystal

Step off. The Dark Crystal provided my introduction to high fantasy. In a way, obviously, all of these have been high fantasy. But Crystal cleared the way for self-contained worlds like Tolkien and Lewis that I would meet later on.

2. Totoro

Oh man. Not only did this get high status on the 'watch until the VHS dies' list, but it also earns top points for visuals and message. There is nothing conceivably base about Totoro – it is all loving. That said it tackles very adult stuff, through children's eyes. This is often attempted, but nowhere else done so well. Plus, you know, the environment.

1. The Mind's Eye series

Back in the early 90's I was enjoying computer animation y'all didn't get for a decade. The Mind's Eye series was incredibly ahead of its time. They were doing stuff in '92 that wasn't mainstream until, say, Moulin Rouge and The Matrix. The short animated pieces were sometimes strung together for a story, and were always put to music, like Fantasia. They were so diverse, visually stunning. Surreal without the uncomfortable connotations that word usually holds.

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