Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Released: 1968
Rated: G
Length: 144 min. (with an intermission at the 1:27 mark)
Age: 6 and up            Commensense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: fantasy adventure story abounds in peril but all is exaggerated and cartoonish; the Baron and his spies are too bumbling to be truly scary; the Child Catcher on the other hand is extremely creepy, he’s the scariest thing in the movie, especially when he captures Jemima and Jeremy

Intense Scenes: all the children living underground is a rather pathetic sight, it stuck with me as a child; Caractacus and Truly posing as dolls is a bit suspenseful, but mostly amusing

Questionable Language: apparently Grandpa says “ass” at some point

Other Violence and Mayhem: the Baron and Baroness are pretty weird, especially the Baron’s sly attempts to do away with his wife, particularly during their cutesy song together before the party; in an earlier scene the Baroness is ejected high into the air, she floats gently down thanks to her large skirts and the Baron hauls out his shotgun and shoots at her! (the resulting holes in her billowing skirt bring her down quickly, and he expresses disappointment that he only hit her skirt!)

Interests: cars, inventions, magic, action, adventure, castles, scientists, inventors, spies, musicals

Next: Ian Fleming book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (very different plot)
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The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush  (1925)

Written, directed by, starring: Charlie Chaplin

Rated:  — (unrated)

Length:  95 min. 1925 release / 72 min. 1942 re-release

Age: 5 and up          Commonsense Media sez: 8 +

Scary Factor: Little Tramp menaced periodically for comedic effect; two men struggle over a shotgun which is always pointing at the Tramp; he is also chased by starving, hallucinating miner with a gun and then an axe; cabin tipped precariously on edge of precipice; all threats are treated comically and violence is bloodless and kept at a distance

Intense Scenes: a wanted criminal shoots and kills two police officers before perishing in an avalanche

Other: a bear is shot offscreen for food; some smoking and drinking

Interests: old movies, silent movies, arctic adventure, history

Versions: restored 1925 print is 95 minutes long, with piano music and title cards; 1942 sound release is 69 minutes long, has an orchestral score, no title cards, narration written and performed by Charlie Chaplin

Next: other Chaplin – Modern Times, City Lights

See also: Top 5 Silent Movies for Preschoolers
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Tangled (2010)


Tangled

Rated: PG for brief mild violence

Length:  100 min.

Age: 5 and up.        Commonsense Media sez: 5 +

Scary Factor: not overly scary, mostly just suspenseful chase scenes; scary-looking thugs in tavern are revealed to be sweethearts; Rapunzel is briefly menaced near the end by villains

Violence: Rapunzel repeatedly knocks Flynn unconscious with a frying pan for comedic effect; Mother Gothel stabs Flynn at the end; Mother Gothel falls to her death – though she disappears before she hits the ground, aged right out of existence

Intense: it appears as though Flynn dies in a very sad scene at the end, but he revives; psychological abuse Mother Gothel inflicts on Rapunzel may trouble some

Bad Behaviour: no bad language; there is beer in the tavern, but this is underplayed

Interests: princesses, fairy tales, magic, romance, horses, action, chases
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The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant

Rated: PG – for fantasy action and mild language

Length: 86 minutes

Age: 6+              Commonsense media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: plenty!… fishing boat goes down in storm (fisherman survives); the robot gets zapped at power station in a loud scene; scared boy runs away from robot; stressful scene in which robot is hit by a train; government agent menaces boy and threatens to take him away from his mom; boys fall from building but robot saves them; big ending has lots of action as army attacks robot and he returns fire; a nuclear missile is launched, heading directly for the town

Intense Scenes: robot learns about death when he sees a stag shot dead by hunters; during battle it briefly appears as if Hogarth is dead but he is soon pronounced unconscious; the moment when townspeople realize they are all going to die when the missile lands is quiet but intense; plus final climax in which robot saves the town is very, very sad and moving (but hang on for the ending!)

Language: “oh my god!”, a few “hell”s, and “you just blew millions of government dollars out of your butt!!” – these warranted the PG?

Bad Behavior: villain smokes a pipe, a boy drinks a little too much espresso and goes a little haywire in a funny scene

Interests: science fiction, robots, action, history (Cold War era)

Next: book The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, other movies written/directed by Brad Bird: The Incredibles, Ratatouille

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Aladdin (1992)


Rated: G
Length:  90 min.
Age: 6 and up         Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: villain Jafar is creepy and evil; the huge lion creature guarding the treasure is truly frightening; it devours a thief at the beginning, though this is not seen; in one scene Aladdin nearly drowns; villain’s magic in the climax at the end is pretty scary and huge – turning into an enormous snake and then an even bigger genie

Action: Aladdin is continually fleeing guards with swords – played for laughs but may be stressful; the scene when Aladdin’s in the cave is pretty heavy action-and-danger-wise (Indiana Jones-esque)

Bad Behavior: when the sultan is imprisoned Jafar’s parrot tortures him by force-feeding him crackers – this might be disturbing, or maybe just disturbing for adults!; Genie smokes a cigarette at one point

Sex: all females are scantily clad; a few kisses

Racism: many stereotypes of Middle-Eastern peoples and lifestyle; heroes sound American, while bad guys have Arabian accents

Language: very slangy; also name-calling: “stupid” “dumb” “idiot”

Interests: Arabian legends, magic, desert, folk tales, other cultures

Next: picture books of 1001 Arabian Nights, old movies like The Thief of Bagdad

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Muppet Treasure Island (1996)


Rated: G
Length:  99 min.
Age: 4 and up.           Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: usual pirate fight scenes, though no blood; pirate attack on tavern a little alarming (though interjected with funny business)

Also: human character dies at beginning of heart attack, after drinking excessively (no drunken muppets though)

Interests: pirates, ships, muppets, adventure

Next: The Muppet Show TV series, or movies: The Muppet Movie, The Muppet Christmas Carol, etc.
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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

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The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon


GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNER – 2007

Mini Grey

New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

30 pp

Ages:5 +

Interests: nursery rhymes updated, crime and punishment, love stories

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Captain Blood (1935)


Black and White

Rated: TV-G (TV rating)

Length:  119 min.

Age: 6 and up (more for complex plot and slow pace at start)

Scary factor/Violence: slaves are beaten, and one is branded as punishment (not graphic – offscreen); many battle scenes, but generally bloodless; one big swordfight on beach, but not graphic or disturbing

Sex: scene in which pirates party in a brothel/bar is pretty harmless

Other Bad Behaviour: fair amount of boozing, especially among the naughtier French pirates

Interests: pirates, sailing ships, history, old movies

Next: Treasure Island, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk
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Up (2009)


Rated: PG for some peril and action

Length: 96 min

Age: 6 and up        Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary factor: pretty high, with those snarling dogs in attack mode; dogs in planes fly into each other and plummet to the ground; dogs attacking/biting each other; villain Muntz tries to kill heroes; guns firing; many near-falls from airborn house; Muntz falls to his death, though impact not seen

Intense scenes: opening montage showing Carl’s wife in decline and then Carl in the funeral home and in mourning

Interests: action, adventure, travel, ballooning, South America, dogs
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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.