Movies That Children and Parents Can Agree on
Finding things that satsify the whole family can be a challenge, and picking movies is no exception. Many 'grown-up movies' have material children shouldn't see or won't understand, and some 'kid movies' can get on a parent's last nerve. Case in point: someone once gave my seven-year-old nephew a movie that was funny but featured 'toilet humor'. My nephew loved it, but my mother wanted to toss it out the window. Another nephew got a martial arts-themed movie for Christmas that his mother took away from him because she felt it was too violent. I'm sure we can all think of more examples. However, it's not impossible to find movies that both parents and kids will find interesting and fun to watch. Some of them have been out for decades, whereas others have come out fairly recently. Either way, here are a few suggestions for 'family movie night' selections:
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). This Dr. Seuss holiday classic never gets old, no matter how many times you watch it. The plot centers around a town of 'Whos'-a group commonly featured with Dr. Seuss-that has an elaborate celebration of Christmas. Watching all the action from afar is a 'Grinch' who can't stand to see the Whos being happy and decides to stop Christmas from coming. He recruits his poor little dog and poses as Santa Claus, but in reverse. Hilarious songs and rhyme describe his efforts to wreak all of the havoc he can in one evening so that Christmas doesn't come. The fact that the curmudgeon-ly Grinch can steal all of the Whos' stuff but can't steal their joy is a heartwarming lesson about the 'real meaning of Christmas'. The songs are likely to stick in your head for the next few days, but that won't be a bad thing. For those who prefer live-action to animation, Jim Carrey starred in an updated version of the tale in 2000.
-Aladdin (1992). This Disney adaptation of One-Thousand-and-One Arabian Nights is insanely funny, but makes a point too. The plot centers around Jasmine, a bored princess who seeks adventure by escaping the palace walls and ends up in a busy marketplace. She runs into Aladdin, who others call a 'street rat' and his monkey, Apu. Jasmine is being pressured to get married to take over for her father (the sultan), but wants nothing to do with any of the suitors that have been picked out for her. On the other side is Jafar, an evil royal advisor who has everyone snowed into thinking he has everyone's best interests at heart. The story focuses on Aladdin finding a magic lamp with a genie and the two of them trying to stop Jafar in his attempts to steal the throne and basically make everyone's lives miserable. In keeping with Disney tradition, there are a lot of elaborate songs and unusual-looking characters. Making the show is the genie, voiced by Robin Williams. Because of his comedy and the twists and turns of the story, you'll be laughing long after the movie is over.
-Shrek (2001). This Dreamworks story is set in a fairy-tale land, with characters and themes from every childhood fairy story you can think of. The main character is Shrek, an ugly and unmannerly ogre who is given a quest to find a beautiful fairy-tale princess who has been asleep for several years and bring her back to marry the king. The king has chosen her simply because of her looks, as expected in stories like this. What the king doesn't know, however, is that she has been given a curse that makes her beautiful by day but not by night. Along for the journey is a talking donkey, one who really gets on Shrek's nerves at first but proves to be a faithful and hilarious sidekick as the tale goes on. The 'moral' of the story-what makes a person truly beautiful-is very cleverly executed, and the voices are hilarious. Adults and older children will enjoy the way this movie pays homage to other movies such as The Matrix, and everyone will enjoy the voices and three-dimensional animation style. Among the actors who lend their voices are Mike Myers doing his popular imitation of a Scottish accent and John Lithgow playing a very good 'snobby king'. If you look closely, you'll get a kick out of how some of the characters are drawn to slightly resemble the voice actors! Some of the jokes are a bit off-color, but this is more than offset by the comedy and unexpected twists on a classic tale. Don't turn off the DVD at the end of the movie, though, or you'll miss the final gag!
As I've said before, finding a movie that satisfies everyone isn't as hard as one might think. If you take my suggestions above, you are pretty much guaranteed a movie night that everyone will enjoy. Finding a snack everyone likes, on the other hand, is up to you. :)