Monday, August 30, 2010

Children's Movie Weekend

I've been trying to write this post since Sunday. Not sure why I'm having problems with it.

I spent the weekend reading and watching movies and doing very little else. It was blissful. I read three books this weekend, including a new Christopher Moore novel. I spent all day yesterday curled up on the couch. I drank numerous pots of coffee and wasted my days with words and moving pictures. It was a great weekend.

My movie taste lately has run to the juvenile. If it's not animated or geared towards the 10 and under set, I'm not interested. So this weekend I plugged in my earphones, curled up with my laptop, and watched three different kids movies. One animated, one children's classic, and one new classic.

The animated film was Flushed Away, a collaboration between Dreamworks and Aardman Studios. I'm a huge fan of Aardman, so I'd been excited to get a chance to watch it. The film follows a snobby spoiled fancy rat (played by Hugh Jackman) who gets flushed down the toilet and ends up in the rat world below. There he must help a ship's captain retrieve a jewel of hers that he helped hand over to the frog overlord of the Sewers. When the jewel proves to be a fake, the two rats set off to return Hugh Jackman's character home and replace it with a real one. All while being pursued by the frog and his henchmen. I've seen plenty of Aardman films and own my fair share. Sadly this one won't be joining my shelves. It was a decent movie with a couple good scenes but nothing that stood out for me. The animation was fun (it always is with Aardman) but it missed the sophistication of Wallace and Gromit or the witty writing of a Chicken Run. Not my favorite.

The second film was one I haven't seen in well over a decade. When I was a kid I loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the movie based on the Ian Fleming novel about a car with a mind of its own. I love Dick Van Dyke's performance, I loved the crazy inventions, I loved the silly story, and I loved the car. I remember being terrified by the Child Catcher, although I don't remember understanding the Vulgarian society. I didn't understand how much of a tyrant the Baron was. Watching the film again this weekend I notice how many songs the film had. I hadn't remembered all of them. Although the ones I did remember are the ones I'm still humming today. I was just as impressed with how sweet the film was. There was a lot of humor but a lot of tenderness as well. A fun film that I'd somehow managed to ignore for almost 20 years.

But the winner for the weekend was a new film that will quickly become a favorite. I watched Nanny McPhee on Saturday and was instantly charmed by the film. The story focuses on seven incredibly naughty children who finally meet their match when Nanny McPhee shows up to whip them into shape. She's hideous, she's unconventional, and she's magic. She teaches the kids lessons by giving them exactly what they want, only more than they want. Emma Thompson plays Nanny McPhee perfectly. She starts the role hideous and strict, and slowly grows more beautiful and more likable as the children become more well behaved. But the best part for me was watching the children grow. They start out as selfish uncontrollable brats with a distant father; and gradually the family becomes more caring and loving, both the kids and the father. The movie had magic, had humor, and had heart. One of my new favorite kid's movies. Well worth a watch.


Keith said...

Glad you finally got to see Nanny McPhee. Fun movie, especially when they go after that horrid Mrs. Quickly. Yikes. (Thomas Sangster, who played Simon, is playing Paul McCartney in the new John Lennon movie "Nowhere Boy".)

I'm afraid I agree with you about Flushed Away. Just didn't seem to have any life to it.

And I haven't seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in decades, but I still hear "Truly Scrumptious" in my head from time to time.

Cat B said...

I actually watched Nanny McPhee at your recommendation, so Thank You. I'd heard good things about it before but I was still surprised how much I loved it. A fun movie. Did you watch the special features, when the play the scene with Mrs. Quickly as a silent comedy. Hilarious.

Truly Scrumptious is a fun one. I keep getting Toot Sweets in my head.