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January 30, 2009

Open movie thread: Family movie edition

Movie camera On recent outings with friends, I've caught two family movies that I enjoyed very much: Bedtime Stories and Inkheart. With nothing that might be considered objectionable except for a bit of gross-out humor in the former and some fantasy-type violence in the latter, both movies featured good stories; strong, appealing characters; and loving families. Bedtime Stories, which in its best moments reminded me of the days when Disney really knew how to make 'em, did well at the box office. But I was sorry to see that Inkheart didn't follow suit. Perhaps the violence took it out of the running for the youngest kids, or perhaps, as some have suggested, it was just released too soon after its predecessor. But in any case -- again, unless the violence in Inkheart would be a problem for any of your children -- I would recommend either for a night out with the kids.

Have you seen any good family films lately that you'd like to recommend?

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CITY OF EMBER makes for good family viewing. It even touches on some nice themes, like faith, courage and conviction (though I wish they would have been developed a little more).


How are boys to learn to become men if they are feminized by being denied a boy's imagination and play by the utter banishment of play at protection by fighting against evil?

Gina Dalfonzo

Labrialumn, I'm not sure how that point is relevant to the films we're describing, unless you're referring to my emphasis on the violence in "Inkheart." If so, I wasn't saying that showing the violence of a fight against evil is a bad thing in itself. I was only acknowledging that young children aren't always mentally and emotionally ready to handle depictions of such fights.

Our readers know their own children (or grandchildren or godchildren or nieces and nephews or cousins or siblings) best, and can judge for themselves what the little ones are ready to see. I just wanted to give them a few tools to help them make that judgment.


Labrialumn, those were the sounds of ‘time and relevance’ passing you by. How many of you have heard the same? I’m not saying this to be mean, but to make a point…at the Point.

Jason Taylor

It used to be that children's literature took some degree of violence for granted. Back when older children read Kipling and Stevenson and younger ones read Brother's Grimm(who from what I understand could be quite "grim" at times). Even Longfellow of all people could make allusions to violence(Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere*).
Of course there is violence and then there is violence and much of the stuff they have now is a bit different and quite a bit more vulgar.

*By the way,I read somewhere that Paul Revere's chief fame in real life is a function of the fact that his name rhymes with hear.

Jason Taylor

Farley, time and relevance passed me by a long time ago.


I'm not good about keeping track of what movies are recent, but I do know that Wall-e and Bolt are relatively new films that are really good! Wall-E is now one of my all time favorites. Kung-Fu Panda is also really good. A movie that's recently been re-released is Flywheel and my family really enjoyed it.

Rachel Coleman

Although I never got around to seeing Kung Fu Panda, my three children did, with other family members. The oldest, now 14, said it was funny and enjoyable but also the sneakiest presentation of eastern mysticism she had ever seen, mixed with a generous dose of "if you can imagine it, you can do it. The answers are INSIDE OF YOU!!!" self-actualization nonsense. She was concerned her younger cousins were being conditioned to feel comfortable with questionable ideas.

Our family loved all four of the books in the City of Ember series, though the series is eerily devoid of religious or spiritual beliefs of any sort (except for one loopy religious type in Prophet of Yonwood, who seems to be that way primarily for comic purposes). The way faith plays no part in this post-apocalyptic world bothers me, though I can't yet articulate exactly what is the worst problem. The offspring and I are still sorting through it, trying to prise the basic meaning from the stories. We'll definitely see the movie.

Inkheart ... those books were dark and creepy but not *because* of the violence therein. It was more the tone that bothered me. The books (there are three) seemed to delight in wrongdoing -- lingering on examination and description of the bad guys and not coming out clearly in favor of the "right" side. There was also a sense of "there's no safe place," which can be, I think, quite destructive in children's literature -- an essential nihilistic point of view very subtly explored, as in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Ultimately, the only thing I settled on about Inkheart was that it was, as in Madeleine L'Engle's description of other books, "hollow."

As my son sometimes remarks with a sigh, "It's because you're an English major, Mom, isn't it?"

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