Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ode to the Family Film

What ever happened to the family film?

Now, don't get me wrong, for those of you who've visited this blog before, you'll know I'm not traditionalist. On the other hand, I'm also a bit of a media tyrant when it comes to my kids - we don't do a ton of media, and when we do, it's often in the two non-English languages we speak in the house (that's a whole other blog entry on raising tri-lingual kids)

But today was our one zillionth snow day this month, and I was tired. And all I really wanted was to make popcorn and cuddle up with my kids on the sofa and watch... something. But all the stuff available streaming on Netflix today seemed to in the vein of Hannah Montana and the Olsen Twins sing in a high school musical. Er, no thanks.

And it occurred to me - when did we as a society start marketing ALL the kids' media to, well, kids only? I mean, what ever happened to films and books that adults and kids can enjoy together? And I know that's what the Pixar and some of the Disney films are going for, but (and perhaps I'm romanticizing here) didn't films in some imagined bygone era lift kids UP rather than having adults come DOWN?

Now, clearly, for someone who LOVES children's and YA lit, and much, MUCH silly YA media (see prev. post The Vampire Diaries for confirmation therein), I'm obviously only half serious about this argument. But the other half of me, the parent half, actually  prefers having my kids see, say, "The Sound of Music", "My Fair Lady", "Sissy", "Meet Me in St. Louis" (movies they LOVE, by the way) than the really fast moving, admittedly witty (almost too witty?) films billed as modern day family fare.

So today, we watched "Cheaper By the Dozen" - the 1950 version. Now, it was admittedly steeped in the values of its time, including pretty annoyingly traditional gender roles, but it was also sweet, and funny, and slow paced. In a sense, the ideal qualities I'd like to enact in my own family. Er, except the anti-birth control ranting and uncomplaining-mom-at-home-with-twelve kids part. Yea, that part not so much.

What are your favorite 'old fashioned' films or books?

(Right now, we're doing From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a before bed read aloud - and last night my 6yo actually interrupted me to ask "What's a typewriter?" which required a suprisingly long explanation... how fast times change...)


  1. I love Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- the old movie (not the new Johnny Depp one). It made a great read-aloud, too. And the kids loved Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. Actually...anything Dahl is tops on my list.

    Another slower, calmer, yet still fantastic story I love as both a book and a movie: The Black Stallion. The cinematography is amazing and of course...anything involving horses is a hit in this house!

  2. Amen! I want more family films! Growing up we loved "The Princess Bride" (does that count?). Lived and breathed that film. For years. Also, the version of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.

  3. Thanks for the comments! Princess Bride is one of my favorites - and now that people have reminded me of it, I will definitely think about it for my kids as a big family night treat!

    There were several others posted on my FB page by friends and I'll list them here:
    1. Original Parent Trap
    2. Freaky Friday
    3. Wizard of Oz
    4. Willy Wonka (original)
    5. Swiss Family Robinson
    6. Treasure Island
    7. Mary Poppins

    I'll also add - as kids get a bit older - anything by Cary Grant, Audre Hepburn et al. (I'm thinking Charade, Funny Face, To Catch a Thief, etc.) And of course musicals like Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers stuff, Singin' in the Rain, White Christmas, etc. -- although those aren't kids fare persay, I've found that kids love 'em!

  4. I love older movies and musicals so:
    Marx brothers
    Miracle at Morgan's Creek
    King and I
    Swing Time
    Singin in the Rain
    Bringing up Baby
    Trouble with Angels
    Yours Mine and Ours (original of course)
    Bells of St Mary's
    Sound of Music
    Support your Local Sheriff
    Destry Rides Again

    and slightly newer:
    Journey of Natty Gann
    Homecoming (96)
    Akeelah and the Bee
    Black Beauty (94? it's the one with Sean Bean)
    any Little Women adaptation
    Pirates of Penzance (Kline/Ronstadt version)
    Anne of Green Gables & sequel

  5. God, I don't know. Does Home Alone count? Miracle on 34th street? Love The Parent Trap! I think I've seen every version of the parent trap every made.

    Harry Potter!

    The Lightening Thief?

  6. great suggestions, all, many thanks! (my netflix cue doth runneth over!) :)

  7. lol, don't know if they put The Waltons down. And all the I Love Lucy series.

  8. Hah! thanks for visiting Abigail - who can forget Lucy or John Boy? :)

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