MOVIES: From Tinker Bell to Wonder Woman
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- There's much in our culture that separates the family, including what we like to watch at the movies. Little sis enjoys a dose of Tinker Bell's pixie dust while big brother wants to see the heroics of Marvel's Justice League. And there are films that teens will appreciate more than Mom or Dad. But movies at their best can bring a family together.
A few years ago, I dutifully watched all the Tinker Bell DVDs with my little niece. I could sense Megan's happiness when I'd laugh out loud at Tink's adventures. It means something to kids when we take time to do something they want to do. So, while spending time with Tinker Bell and her fellow animated forest wood nymphs may not be your idea of a good time, such a sacrifice can create fond memories for both you and your little one.
Keeping that in mind, here are a few DVD selections to watch with different family members that won't drive you up the wall. (Hopefully.) In Part 2, following below, I'll compile several choices you may enjoy with your entire family.
To view with little ones
"The Brave Little Toaster" (1987) -- This creative animated story about household appliances that come to life when no one's home is full of positive messages about friendship, loyalty and self-sacrifice. These kitchen machines share several adventures as they go into the world searching for their missing owner. The vocal talents of several "Saturday Night Live" alumni make this kid-aimed tale a delight for adults as well (well, comparatively). (Not rated)
"Disney's Tinker Bell" (2008) -- It's a pleasure to be able to spotlight a smart, funny, positive feature for kids that their older relatives can appreciate along with them. The color, design, voice characterizations, even the story found in Tinker Bell, and her subsequent sequels, represent Disney Studios at its finest. The film works for kids because it's gentle, sweet-natured and causes them to use their imagination. Because of the clever ingredients and presentation, it's a perfect picture for parents (and older siblings) to share with the princess of the house. (G)
Watch with older kids
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (2008) -- Though this sequel is more action driven than the first episode ("The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"), character development has by no means been abandoned. The many armchair-grabbing battle sequences, the intricate plot and the growth of the main characters likely will serve to open a rewarding dialogue between parent and child. The Christ-like symbolism found in the pivotal character Aslan and the meaning of God's seeming silence at times in our lives are addressed with transparency.
But while this is a four-star production, I would hesitate to subject young children to its seamless magical illusions, since it can be difficult for them to discern what's real from what isn't. For instance, seeing a huge bear nearly attack little Lucy may be too disturbing for toddlers. That said, for older children and their parents, this is a fun, spiritually rewarding addition to that film series. (PG)
For teens and parents
"The Climb" (2002) -- This action drama concerns two mountaineers forced to team up as they ascend Mt. Chicanagua, a dangerous Chilean alp that tempts the most astute of adventurers. With different backgrounds and views on life, their struggle with each other becomes as daunting as the mountain itself. What impressed me most was the script's delicate inclusion of the Gospel message. World Wide Pictures' outdoor adventure reveals an innate need for Christ's salvation. Evangelical themes in The Climb address God's mercy, Christ's sacrifice and how to welcome both into our lives. (PG)
Dad, watch this one with mom
"Enchanted April" (1992) -- Featuring an English cast, including Joan Plowright and Polly Walker, this is a satisfying fable about four women in the 1920s escaping their repressed London lifestyles by renting a castle in Portofino. They soon discover the estate has a magical effect on all those who vacation there. Containing witty dialogue, dreamy cinematography and savory performances, it's a romantic adventure with no sexual activity, profane language, violence or religion-bashing. (PG)
Mom, watch with dad
"Wonder Woman" (2017) -- Ladies, I'm with you on this -- the superhero genre is not my favorite either. My indifference to this genre aside, there are exceptional exceptions. Besides containing the essentials that make for a great superhero movie (big-budgeted CGI effects, a creative spin on the story, clever dialogue, engaging characters) this adaptation of the DC comic book heroine also contains theological metaphors. Yes, there are some Greek and Roman mythological concepts, but this actioneer can also be seen as a biblical parable concerning the fallen state of man.
As for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, while she is attractive, she's smart, tough and caring. Wonder Woman is a movie that entertains, but one that also reinforces the Amazon warrior as a role model for young girls. And it's a great addition to the Justice League for the 14-year-old in us guys. (PG-13 for intense comic book action.)
Below is Part 2 of Phil Boatwright's list of movies that the whole family can watch together.
Movies at their best entertain, teach and, maybe best of all, serve to unite. In our families, isn't it more fun to share a good film with someone you love?
"The Secret Garden" (1993) -- This Dickens-esque fantasy has three children discovering a magical garden. A nearly perfect movie with endearing performances, a cinematographer with an eye for striking and efficient compositions, and positive messages of hope and the need to be loved, it features a solid if not well-known cast, apart from Maggie Smith. Its vibrant cinematic storytelling will hold the attention of both young and old(er). (G).
"Max" (2015) -- A retired military canine, Max helps bring together a dysfunctional family. And since there seems to be a great many of those, any film offering aid in that endeavor is a positive addition to the cinema scene. The film has dimension as well as being an engrossing adventure.
This isn't just about a dog and his sullen teenage master. It's a film of substance, ultimately reminding us of one of God's great gifts to mankind, the canine. They can be trained to see for us, hear for us and protect us. They serve the military, the police, our firefighters and those distressed with disabilities. Different breeds of dog can be trained to do just about anything. On top of that, they love us, forgive us and often better us. (PG for action violence, peril, brief language and some thematic elements.)
"Chicken Run" (2000) -- From the people who gave the world the "Wallace and Gromit" shorts comes a Claymation comedy set on a chicken farm where a flock of hens is determined to fly the coop before meeting a fowl fate. The expressive faces (chickens who smile and have teeth), the pacing, adventure and witty dialogue make for a fun family film. (G)
"The Rookie" (2002) -- Based on the true story of an aging ball player who astounded scouts with successive 98 mph fast balls, this is the best baseball film I have ever seen. Involving storytelling, witty dialogue, an outstanding lead performance by Dennis Quaid as Jim Morris and beautiful cinematography -- it's all there. Top that off with the subtle implication that the main character is a person of faith (in real life, Jim Morris is a dedicated Christian), and Disney scores! (G)
And when the little ones are fast asleep, here are a few films you may enjoy with older kids, teens or even Gramps.
"The Winslow Boy" (1999) -- Writer/director David Mamet (best known for his salty dialogue in past productions) has sensitively adapted Terence Rattigan's play about a barrister defending a youth accused of a theft at a prestigious boarding school. This genteel look at a father's (Nigel Hawthorne) determination to see justice done has a superb screenplay by Mr. Mamet, proving a story can be told without bombarding the viewer with profane and offensive material. (G)
"Steep" (2007) -- Like surfers searching for the tallest wave, extreme mountain skiers attempt to conquer the highest and most inaccessible adversaries. This involving documentary features terrific cinematography and reveals the character of these sportsmen. Best moment: Three skiers are photographed from a helicopter while getting caught in an avalanche. Not only a thrilling, armrest-grabber of a moment, the aftermath reveals a camaraderie known only to those who risk their lives together. PG (several expletives; lots of dangerous skiing in places not fit for man).
"The Magic of Belle Island" (2012) -- In an effort to tap into his original talent, a wheelchair-bound author (Morgan Freeman) moves to a rural town where he befriends a single mother and her three daughters who help reignite his passion for writing. Not quite in the same league as "To Kill a Mockingbird," still the film contains a sort of father/daughter relationship, a nurturing one that leaves us uplifted and with a reminder to cherish those we sometimes take for granted.
The Magic of Belle Island is rated PG for one sexual innuendo, but there are no sex scenes, and for brief language including a man misusing Christ's name and it being repeated by a 9-year-old girl. The scene reflects a good example of a parent correcting her child and encouraging her to use words correctly.
Though it's not a religious motion picture, The Magic of Belle Island reminds us that we find reason and purpose when we are open to the needs of others. Of course, our lasting peace comes through a relationship with Christ, which the film doesn't deal with, but for those of us who follow Jesus, it's good to be reminded of something that pleases Him greatly -- our caring for others.
Now that we've found some movies for the family to enjoy together, shall we discuss the banishment of all things cellular during the family dinner hour?