Sunday, August 1, 2010

Review: Movies for Toddlers

There's a few movies and such that we've added to the playlist for The Boy as his tastes have evolved over the course of the past year. The Boy no longer watches the Elmo movies (except, occasionally, for the "Silly Songs" program) or the Thomas the Tank Engine movies. I'm not sad about the Thomas phase being over; although I like Hero of the Rails, I've found the Thomas television show to be quite objectionable. Most of the behavior that the other engines show is quite reprehensible and mean, even though they get their comeuppance at the end and learn their lessons.

"The Emperor's New Groove," is a Disney flick from 2000 that stars the voices of John Goodman and David Spade as Pascha (the good-hearted, faithful villager) and Emperor Kuzco (the immature deposed Emperor that learns his lesson through the course of the movie). Special notice comes out to Patrick Warburton as Krunk and Eartha Kitt at Yzma, the bad guys. It's a buddy flick: they hate each other at the beginning, the Emperor learns his lesson, and they grow to be great friends.

This movie is a diamond in the rough. Nobody knows what it is, and fewer people have seen it. It generated one straight-to-video sequel starring Krunk. It's exceptionally funny in every aspect. The jokes are funny for kids and for adults, and there is a lot of good, old-fashioned slapstick humor. I heartily recommend it.

There are no scary bits to speak of; any potentially scary bits are made funny immediately. There is no language issue anywhere in the movie. There is cartoon violence: people getting bonked on the head (a lot) and the emperor getting "poisoned" by the stuff that turns him into a llama. Nobody actually gets hurt, though.

The Boy's other favorite is "Monsters, Inc." We all should know this 2001 movie, starring John Goodman "Sulley" and Billy Crystal "Mike Wazowski," although The Boy has their names confused pretty well. He calls it "Mikey Bikey." This is a another buddy movie (are we noticing a trend?), with the two monsters scaring kids to get them to scream, because screams provide electricity to Monstropolis. Randall, the bad guy monster, hatches an evil plot around the girl, Boo; kids are, after all, toxic to monsters.

There are quite a few scary bits in this, particularly in the very beginning where the monster tries to scare a child in a "simulation." There are also some other suspenseful bits. There is no language issue (Pixar!) and a little bit of cartoon violence. Not much, though, and it mostly consists of Mike Wazowski doing funny things to hurt himself.

Under normal circumstances, I don't think I would have exposed The Boy to these movies until he was a little bit older. But, of course, he's not operating under normal circumstances. He loves the slapstick humor, of course, and I think he understands some of the jokes. He does have advanced language skills. They are fun movies with interesting soundtracks and great dialogue. The voice acting is pretty amazing, and the animation is wonderful. Highly recommended for all ages.

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