The Princess and the Frog (2009)

The Princess and the Frog

Rated: G

Length:  97 min.

Age: 5 +                 Commonsense Media sez:  6 +

Scary Factor: villain Dr. Facilier calls upon evil spirits for help several times; three frog-hunters in the swamp shoot guns and whack each other around quite violently; shadow demons chase Prince Naveen; several close calls with alligators and other creatures in the swamp; death of a ‘good guy’ main character near the end is rather shocking and very sad; death of Facilier as demons drag him down into hell (presumably)

Intense: death of a main character is very upsetting, his funeral is shown with grieving friends, although in the end it is rather uplifting

Bad Behavior: some drinking in restaurants and parties, plus one brief gag re. a drunk at the masquerade ball

Language: “hell”, “crap”, insults (“stupid”)

Interests: frogs, swamps, New Orleans, jazz, magic, princesses

More

Top 5: First Movie Musicals for Preschoolers

I’m not including here the animated Disney ‘musicals’, first because they are pretty obvious choices, and secondly because, with some exceptions, the music is often forgettable. I’ve chosen to focus instead on glorious, old-school, Broadway-style live action movie musicals. (Mary Poppins being a borderline case, but it’s mostly live-action.)

The grand old MGM musicals should boggle your child’s mind with the brash, over-the-top craziness of it all. I showed That’s Entertainment to two four-year-old girls last summer, and during the Esther Williams swimming sequences, well, their jaws were on the floor. Remember, that which you and I find cheesy, they may regard as nothing short of miraculous.

5 MUSICALS

1. Mary Poppins (1964) – 2+          (This title on amazon.)

2. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945) – 4+          (This title on amazon.)

3. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – 4+          (This title on amazon.)

4. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – 5+          (This title on amazon.)

5. Annie (1982) – 5+          (This title on amazon.)

Singin’ in the Rain is the only one of the five with a plotline that isn’t immediately child-relateable – that is to say, it doesn’t have a child or teen protagonist with problems children can easily identify with and understand. However it should still grab young viewers with its humour, energy and verve.

If you’re not sure about the plotlines, and whether your child will find them interesting or even comprehensible, here’s my bonus suggestion:

6. That’s Entertainment, Vol. 1 (1974) , Vol. 2 (1976) – age ? (both rated G) : These DVDs are simply compilations of song and dance numbers plucked from many old musicals. An excellent introduction to the world of old movies and musicals, though you may have to fast forward through the ‘modern-day’ introductions from aging stars.

I’ve got a long list of runners-up, so keep tuned for “the next top 5 musicals”…

Cars (2006)

Cars

Rated: G

Length: 116 min.

Age: 5 +        Commonsense Media sez: 5 +

Scary Factor: Mack is nudged by bad cars on the highway at top speeds, Lightning rolls out of his trailer onto the highway and is very nearly hit; soon after he races a train and again comes very very close to being hit; in tractor-tipping scene at night he is briefly chased by a very big and scary combine; same combine reappears in a nightmare and crunches up a car

Violence: nothing significant, save for ‘bad guy’ nudging competitors off the race track

Also: first big race quite stressful, with cars crashing and flying all over (though none are seen to be hurt too seriously)

Language: a fair amount… “hell”, “moron”, “idiot”, “holy shoot”, “Lord”, and I’m even positive I heard a reference to “the little bugger” from the old dame (though none of the other websites I’ve checked mention this); plus a lot of sly double entendres, ie. Lightning talks about the ‘Piston Cup’ to the inevitable response “He did WHAT in his cup!?”

Consumerism: film contains a bewildering array of product placement, and triggered an avalanche of merchandise

Interests: cars, car races, sports

Next: Cars 2

Famous, spoiled hotshot racecar Lightning McQueen is accidentally stranded in a small town in the middle of nowhere. He learns how to care for other people and be a true friend before returning to the big time for a championship race.

More

Annie (1982)



Rated: PG (language)
Length:  126 min.
Age: 5 and up.       Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: Annie is kidnapped, shoved into a car and taken away; she is also chased by Rooster (shouting “I’ll kill ya!”), climbs to a great height on a bridge, dangles over the edge before being rescued

Violence: the orphans are very rough with each other; Annie punches out a bigger boy, knocking him down; much slapsticky shoving about, pratfalls, foot-stomping; less amusing is moment at climax when Miss Hannigan tries to stop Rooster and he punches her, knocking her out; also, a ‘bolshevik’ tries to kill Warbucks with a bomb (a brief and rather lighthearted event)

Also: lots of verbal threats, between orphans and from Miss Hannigan (who likes to holler “kill kill kill!”), most used for humour

Language: “shut up”, several “damn”s, “hell”

Bad Behavior: Miss Hannigan is drunk most of the time (makes her own bathtub gin); grownups smoke quite a lot

Sex: Miss Hannigan throws herself at every man she encounters, in a manner, shall we say, unusual for a children’s film; Miss Hannigan lounges about in her lingerie; Rooster and his girlfriend paw one another, fully clothed

Interests: musicals, song and dance, New York, history

Next: OTHER MOVIE MUSICALS: Singin’ in the Rain (all ages), Mary Poppins (3), Meet Me in St. Louis (4), The Music Man, The Wizard of Oz (4), The Sound of Music (6), STAGE: see Annie the musical live if you can

More

Treasure Island (1950)


(Disney live-action)
Rated: PG (US & video rating in Canada)
Length:  96 min.
Age: 5 and up.                 Commonsense Media sez: 7 +

Scary Factor: lots of adventure, threatening situations too numerous to count; sword battles, shooting, mutiny; Jim fights a pirate and is wounded before he shoots the pirate in the face

Also: much drinking of rum (only by adults)

Interests: pirates, action, adventure, ships, islands, treasure, British history

Next: other pirate films Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk; books Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Robinson Crusoe

More

Yellow Submarine (1968)


Rated: G
Length:  90 min.
Age: 5 and up.                Commonsense Media sez: 7 +

Scary Factor: Blue Meanies and Ruler are threatening and freaky; machine guns carried by the baddies, but no one is shot; flying Glove is scary (mostly the sound of its laugh); one brief moment with Frankenstein monster is a little scary but he soon transforms into John

Also: general freakiness of visuals!

Bad Behavior: one exploding cigar smoked by an undersea monster; no booze, no drugs

Interests: rock music, the Beatles, psychedelia, art, fantasy

Next: Beatles music, movies: A Hard Day’s Night, Help!

More

Pinocchio (1940)


Rated: G
Length:  88 min.
Age: 5 and up      Commonsense Media sez:    6 +

Scary Factor: Stromboli character waving an axe and threatening; young Lampwick’s terror as he turns into a donkey; Coachman herding the donkey-boys with a whip; enormous whale Monstro chasing them at the end

Also: scenes with alcohol and smoking are too numerous to mention; some leering and mild sexual innuendo from lady’s man Jiminy; character playing with fire; wanton destruction

Intense: some children may have trouble with Pinocchio’s ‘death’ near the end, but keep them watching because he isn’t dead for long!

Language: “Give a bad boy enough rope and he’ll soon make a jackass of himself!”

Interests: fairy tales, fairies, magic, puppets, insects, ocean, whales

Next: Dumbo (also astonishingly not-politically-correct)

More

Next Newer Entries

All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.