Published on April 6th, 2010 | by Greg0
Disney Meets Japan; Fox Meets Farmers
I was once having a conversation about a kid’s movie and the man I was conversing with corrected me. “No,” he said, “it’s a movie made for adults that kids can stand.” Considering kids will watch their favorite movie ad infinitum, it’s probably good if you like them. And considering the level of drivel that some mass-produced movies are, we have a list of 5 good atypical movies out on DVD and Blu-ray that you should consider.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
This movie is definitely for future Ocean’s 11 fans. Mr. Fox’s voice is distinctly played by George Clooney and it seems that even as a fox, he’s the debonair and charming quick-talker we’ve all come to love.
Mr. Fox is a reformed chicken thief, reformed after the birth of his son. But when facing three large corporate farmers, he can’t help but want one last big heist. When the farmers swap stories, all out war is raged against the animals of the underground that results in a lot of destruction. The battle comes down to the cunning of a fox vs the resources of the corporate farmers.
Directed by Wes Anderson of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums fame, this movie has a distinctly gritty and adult appeal. Suitable for a PG audience (there is action, smoking and “slang” humor), this is really the movie adults will want to watch again and again. The jokes, the characters, the stop motion. Ah, don’t get me started!
Available for around $25 on Amazon.
Kiki’s Delivery Service
If you need a break from Harry Potter, perhaps you can tempt your kid towards this enchanting Miyazaki anime. A young witch named Kiki takes off at aged 13 for a year “abroad” helping a big city in any way she can. She starts her own delivery service and works in a bakery for her room and board. Lots of flying and aeronautics, this movie is just cute. Perhaps Kiki could be better at making friends and being nice to the boy who is just as stubborn as she is, but it’s a very light movie suitable for quite young kids. Special edition 2-disc DVD available for around $22 on Amazon.
Hayao Miyazaki is the artistic genius behind Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke. Some of his earlier work came out in my childhood, but wasn’t available on Blu-ray until the new Disney releases.
Castle in the Sky
By far my favorite of these Miyazaki movies. Action, adventure, and steampunk flying machines. Pazu is a young boy and an engineer’s apprentice. One day a girl named Sheeta falls from the sky. They travel together in search of the lost land of Laputa, a castle in the sky, while evading the military, pirates, and gravity.
What’s wonderful about this movie is that it is a very well balanced story between the boy and the girl. Both are cooperatively working together in their adventure. They tell each other secrets. They trust each other. And when Sheeta is told she can’t do something because she’s a girl? She argues with them until she wins. My kind of girl.
This requires by far the biggest attention span of all of the movies, coming in at 125 minutes, but luckily has the most action scenes and the fastest pacing of the bunch. And hey, the pirates, robots and floating temples don’t hurt. Available for about $22 on Amazon.
My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro reminds me just a bit of Alice in Wonderland, a parallel and magical world existing just in the woods. My teenaged nephew had walked in on us all watching this movie and reminisced about his own childhood watching Totoro.
Two adorable sisters spend the first ten minutes of the movie exploring their new home, close to the hospital where their sick mother is staying. Lost in wonder of their new place, eventually the younger sister realizes there’s something magical going on here.
Filled with a very large bunny-like thing and the most awesome “cat bus”. It’s a touching, albeit slightly slow film. Available on Amazon for around $20.
And finally, for the parent that needs a break from the Little Mermaid, here’s a wonderful underwater world. A young boy named Sosuke finds a goldfish (with a face) in the sea and starts carrying it around in a bucket. He names her Ponyo, but loses her in ocean again.
After being found by her sorcerer father, she tells him she wishes to be human to join Sosuke. This movie will have your young boy wanting a goldfish as a pet. Available in 2-disc bluray for $25 on Amazon.
All four Miyazaki movies have incredible voice actors including Anna Paquin and Dakota Fanning. And for true anime fans, don’t worry, the audio comes in English and French dubbing in addition to their original Japanese (with subtitle options of course).
None of these movies are your typical princess movies — well, OK, maybe one turns into it, but generally the Miyazaki collection has a lot of average girls meeting the extraordinary, becoming entrepreneurs, and sticking to their goals with tenacity. Fantastic Mr. Fox shows family spirit triumphing in the face of evil corporate men bent on your destruction. But best of all, your kids will be able to stand you watching these movies again and again.