Phew! Second book is out, which means that I can get back to posting inane writing advice and random opinions about television, music, and movies. Now, Christmas is coming (according to my local Target, it’s been Christmas season for about three months now) but soon, the kids will be out of school, which means that parents everywhere, in addition to searching for that Lego Ninjago set that their kid just had to have that apparently every other kid in the country also had to have (just me?) …besides that, parents will be tearing their hair out trying to find things for their kids to do instead of bugging them.
Now, if I was a wholesome, smart blogger, I’d give you all sorts of uplifting, but thrifty, crafts that your kids can do. Ideally, you’d also be able to use these as Christmas presents for grandparents. Sadly for you, I am not that wholesome, so I’m just going to give you…
The top five family movies that won’t make you want to gouge your eyes out! (Because we all know that Christmas vacation really means letting the kids watch entirely too much TV.) Without further ado…
- Anything by Pixar Let’s just get this out of the way, even Pixar’s not-the-greatest movies (I wasn’t a huge Cars fan) are still heads and tails above the rest, and when they’re really good, they’re sublime. (You haven’t watched UP yet? WHY NOT?) Stand-out favorites of mine: UP, Ratatouille, The Incredibles.
- Into the West This is a 1992 Irish family film you probably haven’t heard of. It may feature a somewhat idealized version of Irish Traveler life, but it also offers a wonderfully imaginative story, two brothers with vivid imaginations and a desire to be cowboys, and solid performances from Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, and David Kelly. It’s sweet and fantastic in the best way, a perfect film for the dreamer in the family. Other favorites from Ireland: The Secret of Roan Inish, The Secret of Kells. (Lots of secrets, but then, I’m a fan of Irish mythology.)
- Howl’s Moving Castle I love this film. I love anything from Studio Ghibli, but Howl is a favorite. Once again, it’s a fantastical story, and one that might not appeal to younger kids, but the animation is gorgeous, the voice work is stellar, and the story is pure magic. Miyazaki has some of the most distinctive characters in animation, and you’ll fall in love with Sophie, Howl, and even the very memorable (but voiceless for most of the film) Scarecrow. Other Miyazaki films worth looking for: Ponyo and the amazing Spirited Away.
- Uncle Buck I’m mixing it up, but any Christmas without at least one classic John Hughes film is no Christmas, as far as I’m concerned. Why Uncle Buck? Because it’s been I-don’t-know-how-many-years, and I’m still missing John Candy, and he just shone in this movie. Also, there’s one of the best kids bowling scenes in film, ever, and you know how I feel about bowling. John Hughes required viewing: The Great Outdoors and (of course for Christmas) the original Home Alone.
- The Muppet Movie Watch the original. Watch them all. Watch A Muppet Christmas Carol for the holidays. Watch the new one in the theaters. (I saw it! It was very fun.) Watch the original TV series if you can find it. Just watch the heck out of the Muppets. Why? Because Muppets are awesome, and if your kids are not exposed to them, they’re missing out, and I might report you for neglect. Okay, not really…but maybe. I’ll think about it. Mostly, just watch the Muppets and appreciate the wit and the phenomenal skill involved in doing slapstick comedy with puppets. Jim Henson and company knew that comedy didn’t have to be vulgar; we didn’t appreciate him enough while he was here.
So, there’s my top five recommendations. Well, looking now, I can kind of see there’s more like…fifteen or twenty up there, but hey, it’s a long two weeks for you parents. I don’t want you to go nuts.
Thanks for reading,