Friday, August 22, 2014

Top 10 Films by a Two Year Old Future Film Buff

Please meet Movie Critical's guest contributor for two year old son, Jackson!

When I was pregnant, one of the things people took delight in telling me was how when I had a child my movie watching days were over. Like many things people warn you about when you are expecting, this was a slight exaggeration. When you are passionate about something, your passion doesn't automatically leave you when you start a family, but it goes without saying that it does take a backseat compared to the love you feel for your child. My son is my world, but what I have learnt as a mother is that you can't neglect the things that make you who you are. Finding that balance in life is incredibly important because a happy mother means a happy child, and anyone who knows my son will confirm that he is indeed a very happy little boy. I understand that different people's passions can be hard to maintain when a child is present, but I am lucky enough to have one I can bring to my child.

My movie watching hasn't come to an end since having a child. Very far from it in fact. Even though little Jackson is only two, I try to get him involved with my love of film as much as I can. He had his first official trip to the cinemas when he was only two months old when I took him to one of Event Cinema's Bring Your Baby sessions and took him to many afterwards. The lucky thing has also been to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood to see The Muppets Most Wanted while on our family holiday in the USA. Of course he doesn't accompany me to most of the films I go to in order to review, but he is growing up familiar with cinema and one can only hope that he will find the same love for cinema that I have. I'm very proud of the fact that he recognises Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp and exclaims "Charlie!" when he see's his picture.

At home, it is a common misconception that having a child means that it is just a constant marathon of Dora The Explorer, In The Night Garden, Sesame Street and Peppa Pig. I'm not going to lie, these television shows do get air time in my household and I don't find them anywhere near as entertaining or enjoyable as Jackson does. However, his preferred entertainment extends past these television shows and funnily enough, he does tend to dwell near our collection of DVD's where he chooses his favourites and brings them over to my husband or I to put on.

Here is the good news for every parent. Having a child doesn't mean you need to sacrifice your enjoyment of film. The type of films you watch change (until the younger members of the household go to sleep anyway), but watching movies with young children doesn't have to be a mindless and monotonous activity. There are a great deal of films out there which can be enjoyed as much by adults as children for different reasons. Unless you have a severe distaste for animation, finding something for both you and your child to enjoy is not as trivial as it is made out to be. Children at a toddler age tend to like films which have colourful images and characters, music and singing, and children their age or older so they feel like they can relate to them. When you think of film viewing with children in terms of these ideals, there is a great deal of choice for mothers and fathers at family movie time.

So with Jackson's help, I have put together a list of the top ten films which can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike. With each film listed, there are the reasons Jackson and other children will enjoy it and the reasons why adults will also enjoy it.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Why children will enjoy this.....Finding Nemo is a great film for children of any age. Younger children will be particularly taken by this film because of the bright colours which are used in order to create the world of clownfish, Marlin and his son, Nemo. As the fish are underwater for 98% of the film, the gorgeous bright blue water of the world below the surface expands takes over the screen and has almost a hypnotising quality for children. They are also entertained by the cute and enjoyable characters, particularly Nemo, Squirt and Dory. Jackson finds Dory speaking in whale quite hilarious.

Why adults will enjoy this.....Finding Nemo really is a film for everyone. It is both simple and comical, yet quite emotional as it is ultimately the story of a father being separated from his only son and doing anything he can to get him back. Some of the funniest moments in the film are perhaps greater understood by adults than children such as Bruce and the other sharks at the fish eating support group. Ellen DeGeneres gives life to Dory and the seagulls steal the show with their "Mine, mine, mine" throughout the film. One cannot help but admire Finding Nemo also for the same reasons that the little ones love it too. It is such an attractive film to watch with an incredible use of colour throughout and wonderful visuals of ocean life.

The Muppets (2011)

Why children will enjoy this.....There are a number of Muppets movies and three seasons of "The Muppet Show" available on DVD, but the 2011 film has a particular charm for children. The Muppets are indeed colourful characters in themselves, both in appearance and in personality which make them excitable for children to watch. The Muppets is simplistic and has a generally fun atmosphere with several toe-tapping song and dance numbers. "Life's A Happy Song" is a sure favourite of any child with it's upbeat tempo and dance routine in the first scenes of the film.

Why adults will enjoy this.... The Muppets have been continuously in pop culture since the 1970's and there are not many people out there who do not enjoy watching Kermit and his friends. Jason Segel's screenplay provided the basis for the best Muppets film in decades with great comedic moments and the perfect amount of Muppets corniness. Again, there are elements of this film which are greater understood by older audiences such as hilarious cameos by celebrities such as Dave Grohl and Jim Parsons, and also references to the older films. While "Life's A Happy Song" is a favourite for younger audiences, "Man or Muppet" will be a favourite with older audiences and long time Muppet fans will love the inclusion of "The Rainbow Connection" and "Mahna Mahna".

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone (2001)

Why children will enjoy this.... The first two Harry Potter films are favourites with young children because they relate to seeing the students at Hogwarts at a young age. Even though J.K. Rowling's books are read by people of all ages, they were first and foremost children's books, as are the case with the films. There are some moments in Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone which can be quite scary for small children, but the film is entertaining and enjoyable for children watching Harry, Ron and Hermione at eleven years old. They have a particular fondness for Harry's owl, Hedwig and playing spectator to a game of Quidditch.

Why adults will enjoy this....There is no denying it, the world of Harry Potter is a whole lot of fun. There is no wonder the books were and still are such a phenomenon as the world Rowling created is so original and imaginative. The characters are well constructed and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry an enviable place to complete your education. The films, like the books, are also quite addictive as you become attached to the characters and have a thirst to know what happens to them as the years go by.

Despicable Me (2010)

Why children will enjoy this.... A film about a villain sounds like a tough sell for young audiences, but Despicable Me is actually quite a hit with young children. While the animation is undoubtedly well done and extremely colourful, it is certain characters which draw children into the world of Gru. Firstly, Agnes is the youngest of Gru's girls and the human character children love to watch the most as she is still a little girl. She has a great love for her toy unicorn and has a wild and entertaining imagination that comes with her naivety. Secondly, the infamous minions. The minions are hilarious to watch and hear speak in their gibberish, which is an extremely humorous quality that children love. Their bright yellow colouring is also particularly eye catching.

Why adults will enjoy this..... Adults will also enjoy the hilarity of the minions, but the humour doesn't stop with the minions. The film is very funny throughout and has a wonderful screenplay. Gru is an exceptionally well constructed character and there is a real pleasure in watching him go from being a hostile, unlikable villain, to a caring and protective father figure. The voice performances are also wonderful in Despicable Me with the voices of Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews and Kristen Wiig being almost unrecognisable.

Frozen (2013)

Why children will enjoy this.... Although still relatively new, Frozen is an absolute winner with children. Little girls adore princesses Anna and Elsa and it is not an unusual sight on any given day to see a little girl at the shops wearing one of their princess dresses. Yet Frozen is by no means just a girls film. Little boys enjoy Sven the reindeer and the antics of Olaf the snowman. The white winter wonderland has the same hypnotic qualities which underwater animation does as it is tinged with a shimmering light blue shade which is visually very pleasing.

Why adults will enjoy this.....Frozen is a wonderful Disney princess movie which is unlike many past movies of the same calibre as it contains modern themes and has deep underlying themes. People appreciate a fairy tale which scoffs at the idea of love at first sight and chooses to focus more on the undying love of family. Visually gorgeous and the comedic talents of Kristen Bell are a treasure. Love it or hate it, there is absolutely no way to get "Let It Go" off your mind after you hear Idina Menzel hit her high notes.

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

Why children will enjoy this.... Little boys in general tend to be drawn towards dragons, dinosaurs or anything that roars, so How To Train Your Dragon is such a wonderful film for them. However, the animation of the main dragon, Toothless makes him very much like a pet and has many of the same characteristics that a cute puppy would have, so this makes him also attractive to little girls. Children are also quite taken by the flying sequences in which Hiccup and Toothless soar through the sky overlooking the sea and their island. The fast pace of these scenes leave children mesmerised and highly entertained.

Why adults will enjoy this..... Adults will no doubt enjoy How To Train Your Dragon for the same reasons as children will, as Toothless is really quite endearing to behold. The film is highly entertaining and can be quite an adrenalin rush at times. Jay Baruchel breathes life into Hiccup and adds to this character who feels like he is a real disappointment to his father, a notion which will ring true to many watching this film.

The Princess and The Frog (2009)

Why children will enjoy this.... Again, as The Princess and The Frog is a Disney princess movie, it can be seen as more of a girl's film than a boy's. However, the majority of this film takes place while it's two main characters are frogs rather than their true human selves. If there is one thing that children love in animation films, it is talking animals. Tiana and Naveen spend much of the film trying to become human again, so watching these bright green frogs bicker, laugh and sing with each other is highly entertaining for children. Not to mention there is also a trumpet playing alligator and a romantic firefly for them to also be entertained by.

Why adults will enjoy this..... The Princess and The Frog is based on E.D. Baker's novel, "The Frog Princess" and is a highly enjoyable adaptation with interesting characters and extremely catchy songs. What will surprise people about this film is how atmospheric it is. Set in the Jazz era in New Orleans, the sights, sounds and music are quite nostalgic and the fact that it is an animation does not take away from the feeling of being in Louisiana in this glorious time.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Why children will enjoy this....The Wizard of Oz is an absolute family classic. Admittedly, much of this film can be too scary for children, such as the Wicked Witch of the West and her monkeys. However, children love The Munchkins and their songs. In their mind, they are watching children like themselves because of their size. The Lollipop Guild are particularly popular with this age group. Another favourite part for children is when Dorothy opens the door in order to reveal a world of colour, as this is when the movie suddenly becomes a whole lot more interesting for young children. They love colour and black and white doesn't provide much stimulation for them, so when Dorothy opens the door they feel as though the film has just started for them.

Why adults will enjoy this..... Watching The Wizard of Oz as an adult is a completely different experience to watching it as a child. To watch The Wizard of Oz is to be filled with awe, as it was a film which was completely ahead of it's time and a masterpiece for the year of 1939. The scenes which you found scary as a child no longer seem as scary, but still evoke a feeling of dread and tension. The songs are just as enjoyable and catchy as they were when you first heard them as a child. There is a reason that The Wizard of Oz is a timeless classic, as it never gets old no matter how many times you watch it.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Why children will enjoy this..... In December, watching a Christmas film is the perfect way to get in a festive mood. Miracle on 34th Street is another classic film which has stood the test of time and is a family favourite. As little children start to realise what Christmas is about, they develop a love for Santa Claus, a very prominent figure in this 1947 film. It isn't just Santa Claus they are watching, but little Natalie Wood. Again, children love seeing children in films and Wood was nine years old here. A favourite scene of many is when Edmund Gwenn's Santa Claus and Wood's Susan are playing make believe and pretending to be monkeys.

Why adults will enjoy this..... Miracle on 34th Street says a lot for the Christmas spirit. It is the faith of a child that drives the belief of Santa Claus and it is a belief that brings happiness and love. To not believe and be a sceptic doesn't guarantee happiness. Miracle on 34th Street is the perfect family Christmas movie as it brings happiness and optimism and reminds us all to have faith. Edmund Gwenn gives an Oscar winning performance that is just divine and Natalie Wood is just adorable.

Curious George (2006)

Why children will enjoy this..... Curious George is Jackson's favourite movie at the moment. His main reason for loving it is Curious George the monkey. This monkey really is a thrill to watch for children as he is full of life, very cute and often very funny. The fact that this cute monkey is smiling all the time makes children so happy and laugh uncontrollably. The animation is relatively simple compared to other films, but there is still a great use of colour which stimulates children. Curious George is a very happy, but simple film and this and the entertaining monkey works for children.

Why adults will enjoy this......  Yes, George is very cute and he will probably make you want a pet monkey yourself. The film is also what it is due to the talents of Will Ferrell, who gives his voice to George's human friend, Ted. There is no mistaking it is Ferrell behind the voice, but this is not a bad thing as his humour is perfect for the part and perfect for an adults enjoyment of the film. Curious George's Jack Johnson soundtrack is also something of a treat, which brings more happiness and fun to the film.

Thankyou to my beautiful son, Jackson for contributing by helping me choose the films to feature here!

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