As I feel somewhat couchbound these days, and, therefore, am not doing much of anything exciting to blog about, I have found a bit more solace than usual in the television.

(That, and a new love for painting my fingernails, something I haven’t done in a decade. Because long, thick fingernails is one of the only positive side effects a la Newbie, and I want to FULLY appreciate it.)

(My pinkie nail is so gorgeous right now that Sally Hanson could totally rip it right out of my nail bed and sell it as a press on. No lie.)

And so, in my lack of more interesting and coherent thoughts, I will share my “deep” televisional thoughts…Especially in one area that I haven’t ventured into in about 20 years: Children’s movies.

Ali has never watched too much TV – an episode of Dora or Thomas here or there, but not full-length movies. Until now, when her Mommy needs desperately to sleep while she watches, or to simply rest in order not to puke.

And so, in our new Movie Watching Era, I’ve come to some conclusions:

1. Pixar makes EVERYTHING better. I am completely in LOVE with Pixar. They should totally be given an award for miraculously finding the way to wholly entertain children AND adults all at once.

2. The crisis in each movie must be carefully analyzed from a three year old’s perspective to see if it will scare the toddler snot out of them or not. For instance…

  • Cars has the completely non-traumatic storyline. The “crisis” is simply that the star selfishly wants to get back to his race. Nothing remotely bothersome in that..
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – also quite perfect. What kid wouldn’t enjoy food falling from the sky? And who cares if it gets gigantacorically bigger?? Especially when it’s mounds of ICE CREAM?!?!?
  • Finding Nemo was surprisingly a horribly disturbing movie. Start out by having the Mom die (because all Moms die in Disney movies), then the poor Momless kid gets traumatically taken from his Father. We ended up fast forwarding to the happy ending to prevent Ali from needing Prozac.

    Oh – and the vegetarian shark was pretty disturbing, too.

Nemo Shark

3. Sometimes the plot line you THINK would bother a kid totally wouldn’t, while something that you wouldn’t even think of as a crisis would destroy their little hearts. For instance…

  • The Queen in Snow White says in the most horrid voice, “Cut out her heart and bring it back to me in this box”. I was disturbed. Ali didn’t even blink.

    (Thank goodness there’s not a lot of heart-cutting-out that happens around here.)

  • Cinderella’s pink dress getting torn off by the mean sisters is STILL the Number One ranking most horror-movie-scene Ali’s ever watched. The nightmares stopped, but the memories remain.

4. Always communicate about your movie strategies. When watching Monsters, Inc, I downplayed the fact that monsters were scaring CHILDREN by talking about how cute they were. Ali totally bought it. At the end, Chris came in and said, “Was that fun? Were the Monsters SCARY???” She cringed and curled into fetus position and said, “Yes!!!! They scared me SO MUCH!!!”

5. Some children’s movies are so blatantly full of very depressing and disturbing social messages (because three year olds TOTALLY get that stuff and all) that they don’t have room for a decent plot, any entertaining moments for children OR adults, and are a ridiculous waste of good cartoonists. And that movie would be Happy Feet.

Happy Feet

To summarize, in our New Era of actually watching Children’s movies, Mine and Ali’s favorites have been Cars, Up, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, all of which are magnificently entertaining and, thank goodness, not scary to three year olds.

Any and all recommendations of movies along the same lines are greatly appreciated, as our future still looks pretty movie-ey.

Now, I’m going to go back to admiring my fingernails.

28 thoughts on “My Friend, the Television.

  1. I agree Pixar is fabulous. We are a huge movie family, Madyson and AK watch a movie everynight almost. The only one so far that has given them the hibby-gibbies is The Princess and The Frog. The "shadowman" is the villian in this movie and we have to fast forward his parts.

  2. Hooray for Pixar! That said, I can't stand animated DreamWorks movies. Full of potty humor – yuck! I have to agree that The Princess and the Frog was a little too much for my 3-yr old, but it was a great movie – the Proverbs come to life. (The villain being the fool who tries to lead others astray.)

  3. I completely relate to the Snow White incident. I loved that movie as a child, and so I pulled it out not that long ago for my kids to enjoy. I, too, shuddered in horror over the evil queen asking for Snow White's heart, as well as her occultic spells.

    We also LOVE "Up". Amy Beth will watch it almost all the way through, which is quite the accomplishment for a 2-yr-old, and the boys love it, too.

    We liked "Curious George". It also doesn't have anything too scary or traumatizing. It's a good almost-nap-time movie.

  4. try movies with "real" animals: Beethoven, Garfield, cats and dogs, etc. My kids always loved those more than cartoons.

  5. There are SO many scary children's movies. I spend half my time fast forwarding through the scary parts for Mia:) Why do they have to make them all like that?!

  6. One of my favorite topics.
    Emma cried during the part in Finding Nemo where he's taken from his daddy, for a year. She's okay now.
    I have skipped some parts of some movies, but I don't want my kids to end up like Phoebe in "Friends" when she learned that Old Yeller died in the end, so I try and work them up to it, lol. Of course death is a normal topic around here as my children are intrigued by it and what happens after it. Some of these movies have started some great conversations!

  7. Oh and Milo and Otis was their favorite forEVER. They love nature videos. Planet Earth is their favorite nature video.

  8. Wall-E is sweet and good although there is a social message but not as bad as Happy Feet.

    Beauty and the beast has always been a favorite.

  9. I think almost all the Disney movies are scary for little ones! I remember my mom having to take me out of the theater during the Little Mermaid b/c I was so scared and I wasn't even that young!

    We haven't seen Cars yet, I'll have to get that one. We love Curious George, Bolt, and T and my's favorite, Flushed Away. I thought Up was kind of depressing but K liked it. I think the balloons were all she cared about. :)

    The Veggie Tales movies (full length) are pretty cute too. Toy Story is cute but they say "idiot" and such a few times. Let us know if you find any more good ones!

  10. My five year old was traumatized by the rogue tractors in Cars but when his grandma showed him The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe his comment was, "Nothing scary in that one mom, not like in Cars!"

  11. Try old silent films, like those with Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. Highly amusing and not scary.

  12. Seriously! What's up with creepy witches in Disney movies?! Skip the Little Mermaid. Octopus-Queen-Whatever-Her-Name is totally freaky.
    And ditto about the sharks in nemo.
    If you go the Toy Story route (another WIN! for Pixar) go straight to Toy Story 2. Sid, the creepy kid, is well, creepy.
    And yes, why do toddlers find the non-scary things scary?! In Pistachio (VeggieTales new movie!), Eden was totally freaked out by the puppets…which lasted about all of 3 seconds of the movie and now swears off the movie altogether.
    great post! even if you are couch-bound!

  13. They play "Finding Nemo" in our pediatrician's waiting room. Once, we caught the beginning and I sat there and cried. The Dr. tried to calm me down that an ear infection wasn't THAT big of a deal…

    And I hated "Happy Feet,"

  14. I love Pixar, but totally agree that it's important to think through the plots prior to watching some "kids" movies.

    Finding Nemo is particularly bad – we once screened it for a sensitive three year old and it ended up being less than twenty minutes long after we fast forwarded through all the scary bits.

    Up would be hard on any kid watching with me – it made me bawl. Have you tried Mr. Bean? Assuming his brand of humour and yours get along!

  15. You have to know your own kid, my daughter has never been traumatized by any movie. Disney never bothered her. She watches stuff that I could never watch (flying monkeys in Wizard of Oz). My husband exposed her to stuff I never would have (Harry Potter)at a young age and taught her "it's just a movie" which she constantly reminds me. On movies like that they watched the "extras" that show how they make the movie.

  16. Yes,Pixar is awesome! I do find that the most disturbing movies are actually the old ones which we watched and survived and thought nothing of as kids. Now when I watch them I'm just like "whoa! can they do that?!"

    At 3 the only movie my daughter would watch was "Because of Winn-Dixie." She loved it and wanted nothing to do with cartoons. Great movie!

  17. I could go a lifetime without ever seeing Finding Nemo again. My niece loved that movie. "Nemo! I wanna watch Nemo!"….sigh…

  18. I totally agree about Happy Feet. My son LOVED "Finding Nemo" but he is a total boy and does not get scared by anything because he "sees" movies, he doesn't really "watch" movies. My daughter on the other hand is much pickier. For awhile all she would watch was "Robin Hood" the Disney version. She loves the story of "Sleeping Beauty" and even was Aurora for Halloween, but has only watched the movie one and a half times (stopping before the dragon). Jenna really felt bad about the dress tearing scene as well – they are so mean! We liked Princess and the Frog, the shadowman stuff bothered me more than it did her and it helped that they put in a song called "Ma Belle Evangeline" since that's my other daughter's name :-) My kids also really like "The Rescuers" which I find a little dark, but apparently they don't. Jenna's favorite one, that I have suffered through because it makes me gag a little, is "Beverley Hills Chihuahua" – I called my mother after that one and thanked my mom for all the cheesy kid movies she suffered through when I was little :-) Enjoy your new friend!

  19. YES, love Pixar too!!!

    You can also watch "The Incredibles"

    We always fastforward the first chapter of Nemo that was sooo not necessary right?

    Then for The Little Mermaids: Beginnings (I don´t know the title in english sorry but it´s the 3rd movie) also cruel with the mom.

    We do love both toy story and cannot wait for it to show!

  20. Hi Rachel,

    I so hope you get to feeling better soon. I agree with some of the other comments about Toy Story — I love that one. When I was Ali's age, I loved the Muppets. Since I haven't watched them in forever, I don't know what my adult perspective would be, but I thought they were fabulous when I was little. :)

  21. Tinkerbell is cute. There are no scary parts and my 5 year old loves all the fairies. They make short story princess movies from Disney called "Princess Enchanted Tales" There are 3 or 4 short movies on each DVD and they don't have scary parts like the real movies. They usually teach a lesson too.

  22. yep – we love pixar, though we, like you, don't watch a lot of movies. Our kids do like Toy Story 2 (NOT #1!!!), Bee Movie (I'm totally a seinfeld fan!), Charlotte's Web, Bolt…

    It is HARD picking good kids movies – many of them have really subtle implications or bad attitudes. I know I'm on the protective side, but when it comes to your kids heart and the things that influence their thoughts and behavior, it seems like being a little extra careful is a good thing!

  23. I think you should have named this post, "My Friend, the Babysitter" ha ha. I've heard rave reviews of the Princess and the Frog (how could Ali not love a princess movie?) and How to Train Your Dragon.

  24. Cloudy with a Chance is not a Pixar film.
    My 5 year old loves Howl's Moving castle and Spirited Away and Ponyo, you should check them out!

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