How many times have you sat down with your child or children to watch a new kid’s movie only to feel like you want to vomit about 20 minutes into the film? I could focus on the horrors inherent in most children’s movies nowadays by listing all of the aspects of what is wrong with the genre, but instead, I’d like to share some children’s movie titles that actually offer high-quality content. If you are looking for some uncommon movies to share with your kids that take you off the conventional track, check out this list.
Song of the Sea ~ 2014 ~ Song of the Sea is an animated fantasy film from Irish director Tomm Moore. The beautiful artwork used to bring this family story to life is magically captivating and simply breathtaking. The concepts and themes are relevant to the realistic struggles of childhood. The plot, characters and soundtrack weave a tale accessible to children and adults alike. I highly recommend this film!
My Neighbor Totoro ~ 1988 ~ Directed by Hayao Miyazaki ~ Miyazaki has created a multitude of animated films throughout his career, and My Neighbor Totoro is just one of the many kid-friendly films from his collection that I recommend. Beautifully animated with a focus on the natural world, the story is about a family living in the Japanese countryside. The two daughters explore their natural surroundings and discover the magic of the forest. The story also explores themes pertaining to difficulties in childhood and emphasizes the strength of female characters.
The Red Balloon ~ 1956 ~ A French film directed by Albert Lamorisse. This is a short live-action film, running 35 minutes and is unique in that it does not have much dialog at all. There is a musical score and environmental sounds, but the absence of dialog allows the viewer to really focus on the action and feeling of the film. It tells a story of a young boy who befriends a red balloon that possesses a life of its own. Themes focus on childhood sensitivity, standing up to one’s peers and believing in magic.
Babies ~ 2010 ~ A French documentary from director Thomas Balmes. This is another live-action film that follows four different humans from the time they are born up until they become toddlers. Watching this film with your children is a wonderful way to teach them about different cultures and ways of living in our world. It is definitely different than the standard fast-paced, over-stimulating, action-packed nonsense that most children’s movies throw at us these days. Children are fascinated with watching images/footage of other children, and this documentary provides a unique opportunity for world culture exploration.
Wallace and Gromit: The Complete Collection ~ 2008 ~ I am recommending these animated shorts because I find that children’s attention spans can usually handle shorter films better than the standard 90-minute film. Nick Park released his four animated shorts as a complete set in 2008. Every title is unique and awesome in its own way, following the follies of Wallace – an eccentric inventor and his dog, Gromit – an anthropomorphic companion who helps Wallace escape his shortcomings. This British clay animation series is fantastic for young and older kids alike, and its clever storytelling will entertain adults as well. Good stuff!
The Last Unicorn ~ 1982 ~ A fantasy film based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle, directed by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass. This is an alluring animated film that follows the journeys of a magical unicorn who discovers that she is the last of her kind left in the world. She sets out on an adventure to find the other unicorns who have disappeared over the years and meets quirky, compassionate friends along the way. If you grew up in the 80’s like I did, you will appreciate the one-of-a-kind soundtrack that accompanies this film. A great story that emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s nature and standing up to fearful circumstances.
Well, this concludes my list of high-quality, unique movies to share with your children for now. I may decide to add more at some point down the road, but I think this is a good start! Feel free to comment and leave your own suggestions, as I am always on the search for something different to share with my own kids.