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Reviews of Kids' Movies

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media > Kids' Movies > Reviews of Kids' Movies



101 Dalmations

101 Dalmations was pretty fun, I thought, though a little hard on the career woman (Cruella). At least there are no dead mothers in this one, as there are in Cinderella, Aladdin, Snow White, Pocahontas (or at least missing), and so forth. Glenn Close is worth the price of admission. My kids enjoyed it a lot. The best part was telling them they were going to go see it, because my eldest immediately said to her buddies, "coool, you guys, we get to go see the ADULT version" (as opposed to the old animated flick). For whatever reason, we could get into Emery Bay when other places were sold out. - Lynn

Well, I have to admit, having a kid is the perfect excuse to see Glenn Close in the perfect role. I can't think of anyone (alive) who could've done a better job with Cruella De Vil. She's fabulous and is worth seeing. The parent dalmations, Pongo and Perdita, are exceptionally well trained dogs capable of making "human" expressions, no "human voice thinking out loud voice overs" are done for any of the animals, it's all done very nicely with expressions and gestures. Even the 99 puppies seem to have exceptional training. The movie moves quickly and stays entertaining, with the first third being mainly people oriented and the last two thirds being primarily animal acted. I have heard some people commenting that parts may be too violent for little kids, I suppose this is where the horse gives Cruella a big kick in the you know what, but my 2 year old enjoyed it immensely complete with hand clapping and excited pointing and question asking. - Dorothy

My [2.5 y-o] son was a little less enthralled with 101 Dalmatians. He had a hard time sitting through it and surprisingly asked to go on two bathroom breaks. Just after the first half in which Cruella De Vil reveals her evilness, he wanted to go home. I think he was scared. With a bit of candy, we stayed and by the second half when the bad guys get beat up (mostly by farm animals or their own foolishness), he was into it and began to talk to the movie. Now that he has seen it, he talks about it, but so do all the other kids. We went with another family with a 2.5 and a 8? year old. The eight year old seemed to like it and the 2.5 year old didn't seem as fidgety or ready to leave as my son. For the adults, Glenn Close is wonderful. Except for her I think I like the cartoon version better.


Antz

From: Roger (10/98)

I took my 11 and 15 year old to it. I heard a small child scream in terror at one point where the ants were engaged in an "everybody dies" battle with the termites. It was frightening, but even Disney movies are frightening. There's no sex or profanity, but its pretty heavy on violence. Lots of ants die, including one with a name and a personality. Woody Allen is delightful as the voice of Ant "Z". He's an unwitting hero and a hopeless romantic. Sharon Stone is the voice of his love interest, Bala the ant princess. The bad guy is General Mandible, voiced by Gene Hackman, who is engaged to Bala and is out to overthrow the Queen and the colony.


From: Kimberly (10/98)

We went to see Antz when it first came out, sans 4 1/2 and 3 year old daughters. Frankly, we were amazed to observe that many families had brought their young children, some of whom looked to be younger than three. For the most part, the movie would be fine for youngish children; however there is one horrible scene in which the soldier ants go to war against some other insect colony, um, termites? The battle scene was greusome, with ants and termites being hacked to bits, and at the end of the battle, the lone survivor meets up with a buddy who has been be-headed, and talks to the disembodied head before it dies. There is one other scary bit (for a child) where the evil general lets loose a flood of water into the ant tunnels which threatens to drown the entire ant colony. I wouldn't recommend it for small children, unless you can contrive to take your kids out of the theater during the battle scene.


From: Helen

I took my 9 year old son, a friend of his and my 6 year old daughter to Antz last weekend and they all enjoyed it (and so did I). It is very much like a cartoon Woody Allen movie and there are some "adult" themes and violence (pretty vivid battle scene where one ant is left with just a head and the Woody Allen character holds him until he dies). I was surprised my daughter "got" as much of the humor as she did, and the boys "got" just about all of it - so it depends on how sensitive you are to exposing your daughter to these types of things. If you have any doubts at all, I would skip it.


From: Laura Beth

I took my 2 year old to ANTZ and he was enthralled. There is, however, a scary battle scene (which went over his head) but would not go over the head of a five year old. It involves one of the main character's friends dying (no blood) in his arms. I specifically thought that I was glad my 6 year old nephew wasn't there. You can see it coming and could have a potty/popcorn break at that point, I guess. You will also hear the words crap, dammit, and hell.

From: Patrick

There's a battle scene between the ants & the termites that's pretty gruesome & there's the sinister evil & tension about the main characters' survival that's pretty typical fare in kids animation. Aside from the termite battle--which I thought would seem like Private Ryan to the 6-year old in our party, but apparently didn't--I think it's fine for kids who have already been exposed to the typical Disney feature-length fare. So, it's really a matter of how exposed this 5-year old has been. If she's been carefully sheltered from this society's kiddy violence, I'd keep her away from Antz. But if she's been watching cartoons & gone to the Disney features, she'll probably be ok with it...although you should probably still be ready to hold her & cover her eyes for the battle scene. For the accompanying adult, it's got some funny stuff here & there, but overall it's a bit of a disappointment given the people doing the voices.


From: Natasha

I think that ANTZ is more suitable for older kids. Although the animation is impressive, there is a lot of dialogue (I found it to be essentially a Woody Allen movie). My husband and I went to check it out without our 4.5 yo son (who's noticed the ads and wants to go) but we didn't find it appropriate for him yet. The audience had a lot of pre-teens who really seemed to enjoy it and got the jokes. There is one battle sequence between the ants and termites which was "impressive," we dubbed that scene and its aftermath "Saving Private Ant." ANTZ is rated PG. However, there were previews for some of the holiday kids' movies coming out soon and they seemed more fun (a new Babe and Pixar's insect movie) for our son's age group.

Babe

Go see it!!! You'll love it and so will your kids! This movie has something for everyone. Little kids will like the talking dogs, pigs, rooster, etc. and adults will appreciate the humor as well as the clever special effects. This ain't Walt Disney! It's about a little pig that doesn't know his place and wants to be a sheepdog, and his master who believes in him despite ridicule from the other humans. My surly pre-teen sons enjoyed themselves at this movie even though I had to promise not to tell any of their friends they went to see it since it does not have any violence at all in it and is rated G (or maybe PG). Ginger

Braveheart

My son (9) saw Braveheart, and thought it was great...it was violent, however, so that's still something to be aware of. I think the battle scenes are more disturbing to parents than kids. (reviewed by another parent)

Broken Arrow

This is a pretty good movie to see with kids over 10 or so. It's an exciting thriller about an air force pilot, played by John Travolta, who steals 2 nuclear weapons. His partner, played by Christian Slater, goes after him and the movie becomes a battle of wits and of course heavy artillery as Christian tries to prevent the destruction of Utah by nuclear weapons. There is a strong female role, Samantha Mathis, a gutsy park ranger, who is able to help without having to reveal cleavage!!!
Broken Arrow is rated R for language and violence. The language is your standard military guy tough talk. The violence is pervasive and includes all manner of explosions every 5-10 minutes including a nuclear explosion and so many exploding helicopters that after a while you forget they were actually made for flight. Besides exploding, the helicopters are also used as weapons: 2 scenes involve humans being assaulted by helicopters. There are several scenes of human-to-human assault and battery - at least 3 of these I saw coming and shut my eyes. One example is when Travolta kills another bad guy by cracking him across the trachea with a tire iron.
Now you're probably wondering why you'd want to take your kids to a movie that is non-stop violence all the way through. Well, unlike other movies of this genre, there are no scenes of prolonged or sadistic violence. But mainly, this movie has fine acting, and great writing filled with humor and intelligence. Sample line: the government geek who says, when told "broken arrow" refers to a lost nuclear weapon, "I don't know if I'm more worried about the missing bomb, or about the fact that it happens so often there's a term for it." Ginger

Bye Bye Love

This is a nice, light comedy film about three divorced dads who have their kids for the weekend. All the dads love their kids, but still have to deal with their own lovelife, or datelife, and various other problems. The movie has many funny scenes, some a bit silly, but not too bad, and has the advantage of playing out Dean Martin's hit song, "When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie, That's Amore." My son and I both enjoyed this movie, and I think older children and teenagers would also, as several of the kids are teens. Dianna

Corinna, Corinna

This is a nice little film staring Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta, also a very good child actor who's name escapes me. It is set in the late 50s or early 60s and concerns a little girl, about 5 years old, whose mother has just died. Her father is trying to cope with work (advertising) and his daughter, who has stopped speaking altogether. He hires Whoopi Goldberg as a housekeeper/babysitter, her name is Corinna. Corinna succeeds in a getting the little girl, Molly, to speak, and indeed Molly bonds with her so tightly that she stays with Corinna when she should be in kindergarten. Corinna as a college degree in music, and would like to be a music critic, but being a black woman her chances are pretty much nonexistent at this time. So this film does deal with racism to some extent. Molly wants Corinna to be her mother and indeed a romantic interest does develop between Corinna and Molly's father, which is a bit of a shock to their family and friends. My son and I greatly enjoyed this movie and I think that kids of most ages would, Molly's grief over her mother's loss is something I think a lot of children would understand. Dianna

Crimson Tide

I have seen Crimson Tide and think it would be interesting and fine for this age group. (I have an 18 yr old and a 7 yr old.)

...

This is a talky movie, so children under 12 will probably be bored. It's a good movie for older kids and the very handsome Denzel Washington is a treat for parents, not to mention the excellent Gene Hackman. The story is interesting and the acting is great.

Down Periscope

This is a vehicle for the guy who plays Frasier on the TV show. I admit I've never seen Frasier - what makes this show so popular? He seemed smug and unlikeable to me. How is the movie for kids? There is no sex, no violence, one F-word. Kids will like the slapstick humor, the many references to flatulence, and the 5001 different ways of saying "penis". Adults will cringe, and there's more: check out the one female in the cast, out to prove her capability, whose humiliations are presented as humor and whose triumphs in the end are congratulated with a kiss from the boss and the hint of more to come. (Hmm. Don't try this at home.) My advice on this one is: wait for the video. It isn't worth spending the theater bucks, especially if you have a full-price over-12-year-old. --Ginger

Ginger-
I think on this one I must disagree with you. Our family found Down Periscope to be very funny, with a good dollop of suspense, and a heartwarming ending. The underdogs win by cleverness, not brute strength, and the captain, when given the opportunity to hog all the glory, does not, instead choosing to continue working with his unorthadox crew. The stuff you found sexist about the female crewmember, I actually found quite balanced. She shows strength in the face of ridicule, earning her place in the crew (yes, women get more hazing, and it isn't fair, but it IS realistic). And the captain handled her lack of confidence skillfully, showing her that she WAS indeed competent (which resulted in HER kissing HIM (out of speechless gratitude), not vice-versa).
This is not an intellectual comedy. If you want highbrow, go elsewhere. But we felt it was well worth our $4 each matinee tickets. And it is certainly worth a look after it comes to video.
Dawn

Dragonheart

I went to see DRAGONHEART with my brother who is actually fully grown but had bought some hype and wanted to see it. The dragon is pretty wonderful, but the violence and cruelty of the red headed prince/king is seriously chilling, including near-rape and maiming of various individuals. I also confess a personal soft spot for Dennis Quaid (ever see THE BIG EASY? aaaah, now there's a summer movie -- for grownups) and Sean Connery (the voice of the dragon) but Dennis put on some strange gruff voice that really cut the warmth of his character. Yes, mixed bag, mixed bag: the (count 'em -- two) female characters were strong, there was a message I personally appreciate about organizing against oppression, but the tale rather meandered and the violence wasn't necessary. Seems to me if you're making a cheesy-but-quality summer kids movie about dragons you should have a cheesy bad guy, not a real one. Take the older kids if you have a particular dragon or knight afficionado, who won't get offended by ugly portrayals of red heads.

reviewed by Jennifer Tue, 09 Jul 1996

Finding Nemo (August 2003)

Forest Gump

Although most people don't think of this as a family film, when I rented it to show to two friends we couldn't get our two 5-year-old boys out of the room. They especially liked the scenes set in Vietnam. I wasn't too pleased about this at first, but I realized that it made a big impression on my son. He now realizes, to some extent, that war is BAD, that real people, nice people, get killed, mostly for nothing. So this turned out to be a good counterweight to the glorification of violence found in so many cartoons. Beyond this, we also enjoyed the rest of the movie, as judging from the Academy Awards, most people who saw it did.
Reviewed by Dianna

Goldeneye

I didn't really want to see this movie but how many movies are there that a 13-year-old boy will consent to see that are rated PG-13? Not that many. It had its moments. Pierce Bronson is James Bond. He is not Sean Connery but he is not so bad. The PG-13 rating is due to sex consisting of very chaste kissing and very silly S&M - female villain gets her kicks squishing men between her legs whilst leering and running her tongue over her red lips. Violence consists of an explosion every 5 minutes. There are at least two funny scenes - one at the beginning where James free falls into the cockpit of a prop plane, and another great Streets-of-San-Francisco chase scene involving a tank. The talky plot advancement scenes made my kids drowsy, but the explosions compensated. There is a nod to Womens Lib, with a female M telling James about his next assignment. Plus, the female protagonist is a smart computer programmer (she falls for James anyway of course). Older kids, boys especially, will enjoy it as will dads. It's tolerably entertaining for moms.

Independence Day

This is a great family movie for all but the very young. For children younger than 8, use your discretion: there are some scary aliens, big explosions, and some people are killed (offscreen, usually). Actually entire cities are wiped out. But it's a very thrilling, heart-warming story - the only evil characters are the bad aliens. I like this movie for kids because the humans must all work together to triumph; and all the different human traits - brains, brawn, courage, and heart are all needed. One of the main themes in this movie is love among family members, and among all different kinds of humans. Will Smith is great and pre-teens & teens will enjoy him (adults too). For the best effect, see this in a theater like Jack London Square with a big screen and Dolby sound, preferably on the weekend when it's real crowded! Ginger

Iron Giant

James and the Giant Peach

I took two 6 year olds to see JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH which was WONDERFUL! (No, I never read the book, please don't hold that against me.) It is cartoon-y in the right places, deep and thoughtful in its darkness, the scary unkind part of life comes through without being hopeless and meaningless or too scary, the animation is just astounding. I loved the music too. Both six year olds REALLY liked it, and my son proudly said he was scared but didn't need to get on my lap or leave the theater. They were very moved by the movie events, and cheered for the many bug-heroes. My son has been chiding me lately to be more sensitive to "species" other than my own -- we now have a sow bug cemetery in the backyard -- and I'm sure this movie had something to do with it...:->
reviwed by Jennifer Tue, 09 Jul 1996

Johnny Mnemonic

Giving in to to heavy pressure, I took my kids (10 & 12) to see Johnny Mnemonic. I didn't like it myself - dumb plot, Blade Runner wannabe. There were 2-3 scenes of graphic sadistic violence, which the kids thought was "cool" (I had to close my eyes) but the rest was ok.

...

I saw Mnemonic, and thought it was just silly, and the language was occasionally...brusque. I'd be hard pressed to recommend it, though my kids are lobbying hard to go.

...

My husband took our 10 year old daughter to Johnny Mnemonic. They both loved it. It was somewhat violent, but not beyond what he felt was OK, as long as he was with her. One caveat is that she likes gorey movies a lot, so it might not be appropriate for all 10 year old girls.

(reviewed by other parents)

Kiki's Delivery Service

I highly recommend a new (in the U.S. market) animation video titled "Kiki's Delivery Service" by Hayao Miyazaki. The Japanese version has been out for some years now. If you liked "My Neighbor Totoro" by the same director, you will probably like it even better. As of yesterday, Costco still had a bunch of them for about $12 each. Quite different in the feel from standard Disney productions.

I believe there will be more animations by Miyazaki to be released in English in coming years. "Castle in the Sky" is one, and the most recent with the Japanese title "Mononoke Hime" (a bit hard to translate, but it's a story about a girl left in the deep woods as a sacrifice and grows up as an adopted daughter of a wolf) is also excellent.

As for the story of Kiki, I quote an excellent description of the book version from the ucb_parents archive: I highly recommend a new (in the U.S. market) animation video titled "Kiki's Delivery Service" by Hayao Miyazaki. The Japanese version has been out for some years now. If you liked "My Neighbor Totoro" by the same director, you will probably like it even better. As of yesterday, Costco still had a bunch of them for about $12 each. Quite different in the feel from standard Disney productions.

I believe there will be more animations by Miyazaki to be released in English in coming years. "Castle in the Sky" is one, and the most recent with the Japanese title "Mononoke Hime" (a bit hard to translate, but it's a story about a girl left in the deep woods as a sacrifice and grows up as an adopted daughter of a wolf) is also excellent.

As for the story of Kiki, I quote an excellent description of the book version from the ucb_parents archive:

UC Berkeley Parents Digest Oct 24-26, 1997 -- Circulation: 702
From: Susan

... KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (pub. 1992), based on a story by Eiko Kadono, is essentially a novel of education about a 13-year-old apprentice witch. Witches here are not scary or evil but women with special talents. Kiki has to leave her parents and find her way in the world in order to become a full-fledged witch. She flies off to a beautifully portrayed European-style city, finds a woman baker (very pregnant) who takes her in and lets her run a flying broom-based Fedex out of her store. When things get rough, Kiki finds an older girl artist who lives alone in the woods as a mentor. Kiki struggles with teenage cliques and finds a friend, a good natured boy--whom she saves from mortal danger with her magic powers at the end of the book. It's all delightfully and warmly done. I've never seen an English-language version of the film released (unlike My Neighbor Totoro) so this book may be the only way to get the story. I highly recommend a new (in the U.S. market) animation video titled "Kiki's Delivery Service" by Hayao Miyazaki. The Japanese version has been out for some years now. If you liked "My Neighbor Totoro" by the same director, you will probably like it even better. As of yesterday, Costco still had a bunch of them for about $12 each. Quite different in the feel from standard Disney productions.

I believe there will be more animations by Miyazaki to be released in English in coming years. "Castle in the Sky" is one, and the most recent with the Japanese title "Mononoke Hime" (a bit hard to translate, but it's a story about a girl left in the deep woods as a sacrifice and grows up as an adopted daughter of a wolf) is also excellent.

As for the story of Kiki, I quote an excellent description of the book version from the ucb_parents archive:

UC Berkeley Parents Digest Oct 24-26, 1997 -- Circulation: 702
From: Susan

... KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (pub. 1992), based on a story by Eiko Kadono, is essentially a novel of education about a 13-year-old apprentice witch. Witches here are not scary or evil but women with special talents. Kiki has to leave her parents and find her way in the world in order to become a full-fledged witch. She flies off to a beautifully portrayed European-style city, finds a woman baker (very pregnant) who takes her in and lets her run a flying broom-based Fedex out of her store. When things get rough, Kiki finds an older girl artist who lives alone in the woods as a mentor. Kiki struggles with teenage cliques and finds a friend, a good natured boy--whom she saves from mortal danger with her magic powers at the end of the book. It's all delightfully and warmly done. I've never seen an English-language version of the film released (unlike My Neighbor Totoro) so this book may be the only way to get the story. Izumi (9/98)


KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE (pub. 1992), based on a story by Eiko Kadono, is essentially a novel of education about a 13-year-old apprentice witch. Witches here are not scary or evil but women with special talents. Kiki has to leave her parents and find her way in the world in order to become a full-fledged witch. She flies off to a beautifully portrayed European-style city, finds a woman baker (very pregnant) who takes her in and lets her run a flying broom-based Fedex out of her store. When things get rough, Kiki finds an older girl artist who lives alone in the woods as a mentor. Kiki struggles with teenage cliques and finds a friend, a good natured boy--whom she saves from mortal danger with her magic powers at the end of the book. It's all delightfully and warmly done. I've never seen an English-language version of the film released (unlike My Neighbor Totoro) so this book may be the only way to get the story. Susan Oct 1997

A Little Princess

Another great movie. The Surly Ones (boys, 10 & 13) were enthralled all the way through. [A footnote: to get them to watch this movie I had to also rent Tales from the Crypt PLUS Deadly Weapon Part 3 which I believe is rated R] You would think this movie would be a tear-jerker, but it isn't. You'd think there would be cruel scenes but there aren't any. It's about a little girl in 1914 who has grown up in India. Her British officer father sends her off to a fancy New York boarding school when he is called away to fight in WW1. She falls from being the richest girl at the school to being a servant despised by the evil headmistress when her father is reported dead in the war and his fortune is claimed by the British government. But she is saved by her imagination, her friends, and a little magic on the part of an Indian neighbor. This is a really heartwarming, wonderful movie that anyone will enjoy. The sets are gorgeous, the acting is superb, and the story is enchanting. It may be the best "children's movie" I've seen. Ginger

Mission Impossible

Huh? This movie seems to be deliberately confusing. All the interesting characters are killed off in the first 10 minutes, it's not clear why, leaving only Tom Cruise. So if you're not a big Tom Cruise fan, you might be disappointed. The movie is like a bunch of preview trailers all strung together in no particular order. Older kids (over 10) might like it just for the high intensity action scenes. Quiz them afterwards on the plot! There are several violent scenes, some completely gratuitous (did you know there are big sharp steel spikes at the top of elevator shafts that people can impale their heads on?) On the whole it's just one action scene after another, until the end of the movie.
My Neighbor Totoro We are great fans of the video "My Neighbor Totoro." If you don't find a used copy of the book, you can usually find it new at Kinokuya Bookstore in Japantown, or at Kimono My House in Emeryville (which also carries other Totoro goodies).

For those of you who aren't familiar with the video, it's a lushly animated story of two sisters and their adventures with mysterious/friendly creatures they encounter in the Japanese countryside. It's available at Reel on Shattuck and Five Star on University or Solano. Natasha (8/98)

Piglet's Big Movie

April 2003

Has anyone taken their children to see this movie yet? I am concerned about the trailers - are they appropriate for the young age audience? Were they (the trailers)as loud as they normally are? Thanks for any comments! vivienne


I took my preschooler to see the Piglet movie, and it was OK. The trailers were loud, but not terribly offensive or inappropriate as I remember. HOWEVER, I wanted to note that my (super-sensitive, book-loving) daughter had a real problem with the storyline near the end of the movie. Piglet has made a scrapbook and his friends find it. They take it out and about while they look for Piglet. It starts to rain the the drops ruin some of the pictures. Then the friends argue and rip the book in half by accident, which sends it flying into the river. Then everybody goes home. My daughter was horrified and began to sob - ''They're just walking awaaaayyyyy!'' A bit later the friends find a couple of pages and it seems they will put the book back together. My daughter was beginning to calm down then. BUT... they give up! They make new pictures to replace the old book, so it turns out OK, but my daughter STILL (a week later) starts to cry when she talks about poor Piglet's scrapbook. We had to come directly home and make our own scrapbook to cherish.

OK, so I know my daughter is super-sensitive, and none of the other kids in the theater appeared to be bothered by this, but I know there must be other sensitive kids out there who would be bothered by destruction of a book like that. I know this wasn't really what you were asking, but I wanted to warn anyone with highly emotional children who treat books as jewels. :-) Jaime


My husband took our 2 1/2 year old to see ''Piglet's Big Movie'' this weekend at Metreon in San Francisco. Apparently it was a huge hit (there was reported to be much enthusastic hootin' and hollerin' throughout the theater as well). Our son's review was: ''It was better than Lion King -- it was shorter!'' g Volume levels probably differ from theater to theater. Isabella
Piglet's Big Movie is the first movie my almost 3 year old has seen in a theater. She doesn't watch TV, but usually gets 1 hour of video a week, mostly of the TeleTubbie or animal/big machine ''documentary'' variety. She liked Piglet, and we've seen it twice. Most of the movie is a recap of Pooh adventures that featured Piglet. I can't really think of anything objectionable. There's an bee swarming scene, some stormy weather, and a waterfall rescue--I think that's about all. I was a bit offended by some of Carly Simon's lyrics (Kanga gives Piglet a bath, and the song includes verses about how great mothers are at cleaning house!). Jenne
I just saw this film with my 6-year-old. He is somewhat sensitive and really liked it. I think the age recommendation in the review I read was 3-6 years old and you won't find anything objectionable in the film for kids in this age group. I found myself wishing they made more gentle films targeted to really young viewers like this one.

Also, we saw it at the Emeryville theatre (the one next to Emeryville Public Market) and they provided little plastic booster seats for the kids which I thought was very nice since they have large oversized captain's chairs in the theatre.

I have to confess that this film was so gentle that I fell asleep for 10 minutes while my son was enjoying the movie. --Sharon


You didn't say how old your child is, but I took my 33 month old son to the Piglet movie last week, and he loved it. It so held him in thrall that he sat through the entire film (thankfully, it's little more than an hour), even though it was his first theater experience and he is a very active, very verbal guy. Much of the audience was in the 2 to 3 year old age range, with the oldest being perhaps 5. It must be a good film--I was surprised at how little yelling, running in the aisles, etc. there was!

That said, you are right to be concerned about the trailers. I don't remember them being excessively loud, but there were four (which I thought was too many for this age group) and two of them seemed totally irrelevant to the audience. How much overlap can there be between Piglet fans and those who would be interested in the Lizzie McGuire and Pokemon movies? Worse yet, the Pokemon trailer is intense--not overtly violent, but enough to inspire my son to start repeating ''I want to go home.'' A friend of his who is the same age burst into tears during the Pokemon trailer and also wanted to leave. (Both rebounded when the Piglet movie started, however.)

One option would be to hang out in the lobby until after the trailers are through, then slip in for the start of the movie. With my son, however, I found that being in the theater before it was totally dark, and sitting through the gradual dimming of the lights helped him overcome his fear of it being ''too dark.'' That way, he was already acclimated to the room and knew where the doors were by the time the trailers started to roll. It's a trade-off, I guess. Hope this helps! Lynn K


I just took my 2 1/2 year old to this movie. It is very calm and quiet (I think my daughter actually got a little bored with it towards the end). If you are worried about the trailers, then simply wait until they are over before going into the theater. We were a little late so we missed the trailers all together.
I took my 18 month old to see the movie. The trailers were a bit louder than the movie was but both seemed toned down compared to the regular movies. My toddler wasn't scared at the trailers but I did see a girl about 4 who got scared of a shark in a trailer and they took her out. She came back and sat through the movie with a smile. My daughter loved it too until she passed out 3/4 of the way through. Most kids seemed to be between 2 and 4 and seemed happy with it. I thought it was cute and just right for those aged 2 - 4. Nicole
I took my 2 1/2 yr. old son to the Piglet movie and he loved it. To be honest I don't remember the trailers. Yes, there were some, but they must have been appropriate because I probably would have remembered if it were otherwise. It was his first movie in a theatre and he sat still and enjoyed it the whole time. I thought it was a cute movie. Luckily, the movie itself is only about an hour. Enjoy. Lisa

Pooh's Heffalump Movie

Sept 2005

I'm wondering if Pooh's Heffalump Movie contains any of the scary/acid trippy images of heffalumps. The previews seem quite benign. Thanks. Michael


The Heffalump movie was the first movie that I took my daughter to see in a theater (she was 2 yrs at the time). She loved it! There were no scary scenes, and no psychadelic heffalumps that I can recall. Enjoy! elaine
My daughter saw the Heffalump movie in the theater when she was four years old. The theme of the movie is prejudice, basically, Tigger is prejudiced against Heffalump because he is closed minded and fears the unknown. Of course this goes over most kids' heads. When Tigger put Heffalump in a cage, my daughter started to cry. This then opened up a discussion about prejudice. So I guess that's the point. a mom

Rob Roy

We have not yet seen Braveheart, but last week my husband and I went to Rob Roy (the other Scottish film). That is quite graphic and violent, but not out of proportion with the subject matter at all. It does have a rape scene in it, but it is well handled in context (and no clothes are removed). I would highly recommend it for the historical content (costumes were impeccable throughout), but use discretion when taking your kids. (reviewed by another parent)

The Rock

Well, Nicholas Cage is fun to watch and Sean Connery is still handsome. And there are nice shots of San Francisco. That's about the best I can say for this movie. There are lots of explosions, loud noises, car chases, and things like that, some of it invented just for the sake of having it in the movie (why is there a mineshaft beneath Alcatraz?) There is a lot of very gruesome and graphic violence, such as a person's face melting away and plenty of mutilated bodies. Practically everyone dies. So I wouldn't take kids younger than 10 or so. Older kids will insist on going anyway.

Rumble in the Bronx

For kids over 10 or so
This is basically a Disney movie, except:
1. There is just enough violence tossed in to push the rating up to R.
2. It's funnier than a Disney movie.
3. Nobody's mother dies.
The truth is, I didn't want to see this movie; I went to see it as part of a complicated deal with my two boys involving homework and detention hall. I enjoyed it despite my reluctance! The hero, Jackie Chan, is a funny and likeable guy who does his own amazing stunts. All sorts of reckless behavior takes place and Jackie huffs and puffs and grins throughout. The story is silly - a local youth gang that has been harassing Jackie sees the light and turns nice after Jackie helps them escape from evil mobsters. There are a number of very funny scenes and Jackie has no qualms about poking fun at himself. There are 2 violent scenes that may be too disturbing for some kids: in one, which takes place off camera, one of the gang members is pushed into a tree shredder by an evil mobster. In the other, Jackie is cornered in a dark alley by the gang, who pelt him with broken glass bottles and he emerges blood-soaked. The movie is non-stop noise and action all the way through, the acting is basically terrible, the plot hard to swallow, but it is great fun!
--Ginger

I agree about Rumble in the Bronx. I didn't really want to see it either, but I went along with the crowd (including my 10-year-old step-daughter). Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it. It was certainly the best "kung fu" movie I'd ever seen. The movie is funny, and Jackie Chan never takes himself (or the rest of the movie) too seriously. Most of the blood is off-screen (with the exception of the broken bottle scene). I saw a tv-blurb with Chan, and he specifically said that he doesn't like the total blood and gore of so many modern action flicks, so one can anticipate that future movies will also be low in these departments.
Also good are the outtakes at the end of the movie (during credits) showing how difficult the stunts really are. He did many scenes in this movie wearing a special running-shoe-look sock to cover up a cast on his ankle! This dose of reality may help to discourage budding stunt-men from "trying this at home."
Well worth the $4 we paid for the matinee.
--Dawn

The Santa Clause

I had high hopes for this movie because I've been watching Home Improvement in the re-runs and I think Tim Allen is funny. But this movie just didn't come through. The story is about a divorced dad who inadvertantly and reluctantly becomes the new Santa, to the delight of his somewhat neglected 8ish son. Tim's ex and her psychiatrist (boyfriend?husband?) immediately assume that Tim and son are off their nut and succeed in getting sole custody of the son. The mean people are won over at the end, but I found their disbelief to be so disturbing and frustrating that the lighter moments of the movie were ruined for me. I recommend instead the hilarious "A Christmas Story" which my kids and I enjoy year after year.

Secret of Roan Inish

My daughters really liked "The Secret of Roan Inish". It may be more of a girl thing. Its about a family who moved from an island to the mainland and in the process their youngest son floated out to sea in his cradle. Now you never know whether he floated or the seals took him. The family of couse is devastated. It is the little boy's sister who eventually saves the day. The movie is basically dark and dreary but ends on a happy note (at least as happy as one can get in that time and place). It is an Irish legend made into a movie. (reviewed by another parent)

The Snapper

I didn't see this movie with my kids but I think it would be a good movie for parents with teenagers to watch together. It's very funny but also carries a good message about how a family sticks together during a crisis. The teenage daughter in a working class Irish family is pregnant and it looks like the father might be a neighbor, her girlfriend's middle-aged dad. At first her own parents are ashamed - her father gets into a fistfight at the neighborhood pub when one of his mates makes a remark about his daughter and her proper mother slugs the wife of the suspect. But everyone rallies at the end. I liked the fact that the other kids in the family were all so weird. A little sister is continually marching about in the background in a majorette uniform and the brothers all look like punk rockers with bad teeth and strange hairdos. But it's obvious there is a lot of love in the family. This is by the same director who did the movie The Commitments a few years back, a nice little movie which I did see with my kids and they marginally enjoyed, maybe because it was rated R (for over-abundant use of the F word throughout to the point that you stop noticing it halfway thorough.)

Space Jam

It's certainly an interesting idea, but the realization falls somewhat short. The plot is basically that Michael Jordan has retired from basketball in order to take up baseball, and he is currently playing (not very well) for a minor league team. Meanwhile, there is a group of animated evil (albeit rather cute) beings from a space amusement park beyond Jupiter who decide to kidnap and enslave the Looney Tune characters (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweetie and Sylvester, the whole crew) to jazz up their park. These baddies head for Earth and start capturing Bugs and co. However, that tricky old Bugs persuades them that the cartoon rule books states they must have a chance to defend themselves. The Looney Tune characters decide to do this by playing a basketball game with the baddies, who are quite small. But the baddies magically steal the superb basketball abilities of five great players (including Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing). And they also grow monstrously big. This prompts the Looney crew to kidnap Michael Jordan, in the flesh, to play for their side. Much zaniness ensues, with a smash climax of a basketball game.
As I said, it's a good idea, but I found the dialogue to be especially flat. Michael Jordan did the best he could with such material, but he really didn't have much to work with. There seemed to be a lot of missed opportunities, in my opinion, for one or two line zingers, but instead you just got very plain, very obvious statements.
Still, all the kids liked it and basketball fans will particularly appreciate some sections. - Dianna

In two days I went to both Space Jam and 101 Dalmatians with my son, 2.5 years old for his first movie theater experience. He loved Space Jams - he's been a fan of Michael Jordan since before he could talk. At the end of the movie, he was dancing along with the music with arms punching the air. He asked if he could see it again. I was happy with the movie in that it pleased my son. There was even an accomplished female cartoon bunny basketball player. They had to play up her allure, although she did take care of herself pretty well. On my own I might have found it a bit contrived - the plot is pretty simple and they don't actually go into space. Rather, the extraterrestials 'toons come to Earth and Toon town. Michael Jordon actually does a good job of acting or whatever it is called when you relate to a cartoon character.

My 6 yr old son and I saw Space Jam. One of the most exciting parts of the movie was the actual film clips of Michael Jordan slam dunking shots at the very beginning of the movie. Then there was about 15-20 minutes of plot laying which was wasted on my son (and me). Once the cartoon action started up my son stayed engrossed in the rest of the movie. It had quite a bit of violence in the slap stick cartoon style. It was an OK movie but I wish I'd waited and rented the video. - Kay

Star Trek: First Contact

I think you have to be a Star Trek fan to appreciate this movie. I've seen the TV show a few times so I recognized the crew including Capt. Picard and Data. (When did LeVar Burton lose the glasses? You can see his eyes now.) The villians are the really nasty and evil Borgs whose aim it is to assimilate all humanity ("Resistance is Futile"). For my taste, there were one too many close-ups of a power drill aimed right at somebody's eyeball. I believe as much grimness as possible was packed into this movie without exceeding the PG-13 rating, and I didn't find much in it to enjoy. But at least I can say I've seen every single Star Trek movie! -- Ginger

I also saw "Star Trek: First Contact" and loved it; however, I am a dyed-in-the-wool trekkie. It's definitely too violent for a kid under 10, and I would have hesitations about even that age. - Dianna

Step Into Liquid

There are not many movies out right now that are appropriate for children, but I wanted to recommend one that is great and you might not have heard of it or considered it for your kids -- Step Into Liquid.

Step Into Liquid is a documentary about surfing today with the message being about finding happiness. There is no foul language, sex or violence (except for the occasional wipe out).

It is quite a feel good movie with stunningly beautiful images of the ocean and people. The movie also exudes an old-fashioned goofy sense of humor -- having been written and directed by Dana Brown, son of Bruce Brown, director of Endless Summer.

We took our 2.5 year old. He liked the movie -- ''wow they are going fast!'' (and the popcorn) for the first hour and was admittingly bored for the last half hour. However, for children five and up, I think that this would be a GREAT outing. Connellan (August 2003)

Tank Girl

This is a hip, funny movie for older kids based on a comic book heroine who rides around in a tank blowing up bad guys. I enjoyed it as much as my two sons, 10 and 12. There is violence, but it's done in a very cartoony way - lots of grand explosions and strange evil weapons interspersed with cartoon stills and animation. Tank Girl has to rescue a 10-year-old girl from the bad guys, and there are some scenes that may be disturbing to younger children when the child and Tank Girl are in the hands of the villains. I had to cover my eyes when the main bad guy made his underling walk across broken glass as punishment for not wiping out all the good guys, and then did him in with some kind of weird device that sucks all the water out of a person. There are one or two scenes with sexual implications and a Las Vegas style dance number with dozens of barely-clad women but the R rating is mainly due to violence. Tank Girl and her mechanic girl buddy save the day, assisted by a gang of non-violent half kangaroo half human guys, one of whom becomes Tank Girl's boyfriend. This was an enjoyable movie and I recommend it for older kids who like action movies. Ginger

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

From: Andrea (7/98)

re: Ninja Turtle Videos -- my now ten-year-old son used to be an enormous fan of the Turtles. As I remember, the violence is limited to martial arts, and the Turtles are a kick -- basically have the personalities of good-natured 15-year olds.

Toy Story

This is a great movie. It's amazing to watch realizing that it's all done on computers. Really cool graphics. But the movie doesn't rely on flashy technology alone. The toy actors have personalities and the humor is sophisticated enough to appeal to grownups while still slapstick enough for the kids. The story is great - a cowboy toy worries that his role as leader of the toys will be usurped by the new high-tech spaceman toy, who is in denial about his toyness. They must work together to save themselves when they are thrust into the Real World. You will like it and so will the kids. However, younger children who are easily frightened may find parts of the movie scary. There is a sadistic little neighbor boy who tortures toys and his toy victims are disturbing - a doll head with an eye missing who creeps around on erector set spider legs; a pair of Barbie legs with a fishing pole torso. But the mutant toys triumph in the end, and the movie wraps up nicely. Several UC Berkeley ex CS grad students worked on this movie! Ginger
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