Classic Movies: A Better Option for Children
I love kids’ movies. It is such a treat to have a special date with your grandchild at the theater or snuggled up on the couch at home. With the lights out, popcorn in hand, we get to share a common experience in entertainment that, at that moment, belongs just to us. Finding an appropriate movie to see together is a different matter. It seems that these days the faster the dialogue and the quicker the scenes change, the bigger the box-office pay off. I think the reasoning for this is pretty simple. If a movie appeals to adults as well as kids, adults are more likely to take their kids to see it. Also, by taking an animated movie and weaving in content for older kids, the appeal is wider and the movie’s shelf life for the family is a lot longer. I get it. Personally, I would rather sit through a fast-paced, multi-layered comedy than a slow, obvious story with simple images. But, we’re not watching the movie for me.
When my grandkids were first old enough to really start watching movies from beginning to end, I raced out and got what was popular. There is no shortage of Pixar and Dreamworks movies that top the sales charts and whose corresponding merchandise dominates the toy aisles. And let’s give credit where credit’s due, these movies are amazing. But what I found is that my grandkids didn’t like them at such a young age. The images moved too quickly for them to process, and they couldn’t follow the mature dialogue. Therefore, they couldn’t tell what was going on with the story. Watching these movies along with them, I was acutely aware of each word, action and innuendo that was being presented to my very small grandchildren. I carefully packed these movies away for “down the road” and reached for the good ole classic movies.
When I say “classic movies,” I am referring to kids’ animated films being made in the 1950’s all the way to the late 1990’s. From Winnie-the-Pooh and Mary Poppins to The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. These movies move slowly, the plots are easy to follow, and almost always the content is totally kid-friendly. Now, these movies still have scary villains and some issues that need explaining (Bambi’s mother!). Overall, though, the classics offer safe children’s programing that has stood the test of time for good reason – they are quality films that are appropriate and enjoyable for children.
Now, where to find them? Many of Disney’s major classics have been rereleased on DVD. These are not cheap, however, and usually range from $17 to over $30 for special editions. The easiest and most economical way I have found for viewing these cinematic gems is another classic, the VHS. If you still have a VHS and it works, use it! If you no longer have one, many electronic stores still sell VHS/DVD combos. Garage sales, consignment sales, Goodwill – really any place where you can buy gently used goods – are great resources for buying classic animated VHS movies. The best part? They are usually priced around $5.
However you acquire them, I highly recommend exposing your grandchildren to the classics that you and your children loved. Even if they watch all-together different types of movies at home, your house can different. It’s okay for a grandparent’s home to represent a simpler and gentler pace of life, including the on-hand selection of movies.