gail schimmel

The blog of writer Gail Schimmel: A bit of writing, a bit of parenting, a bit of thinking and some book reviews

The Challenge of Children’s Movies


One of the strange side effects of having children (other than a flabby tummy and slight loss of bladder control) is that you get to watch ALL the children’s movies. I go to about one adult movie a year and it is a REALLY big deal when that happens – but I am up and happening on the question of what is hot on the kid’s circuit.

So in the last week, I have seen two movies, and they have led me to think a bit about how adult’s perceive that magic of childhood and what the magic of childhood is really like.

The first movie was The Little Prince. I was raised on this tale, and then read the French version when my French was fluent enough, and I was really looking forward to this movie. And it was magical. The themes were big – how the ordinary is transformed by love; how death is transcended by memory; and how we must never forget the wonder of a child. And it was beautifully and cleverly made – the original drawings cleverly woven into the modern story of a little girl being forced to live a monotone adult life. I sobbed during this movie, and smiled, and was delighted. My children, those beings so filled with wonder and magic, you ask? Seven year old son wiggled and said, “I want to go home” and “I don’t get it”. Five year old daughter prised my eyes open and yelled, “Mommy are you crying? I think she’s crying.”

The next movie was Alvin and the Chipmunks. Holy fuck what the hell is that movie about? Did someone have a bad acid trip when they came up with this whole chipmunk thing? Why chipmunks? It was. . . painful. My children bopped along to the music in their seats and recounted large portions of the plot to each other in the car afterwards. It is true that at one point my daughter turned to me, prised my eyelids apart and said, hopefully, “Are you crying again, Mommy?”

“I might,” I said, truthfully. “I might.”

It seems to me that perhaps, as adults, we have an over optimistic view of the magic of childhood and the ability to engage in abstract fantasy. While we like to believe that they are all about magical travel to imaginary worlds, unfettered by reality – they are actually all about talking chipmunks, unfettered by reality.

I asked my children which movie they preferred, and they claimed to like them both equally. At first I was relieved that they had some appreciation for the beauty of The Little Prince. But then I realised that it’s probably more a complete lack of critical thinking.

All I know is that whatever we see next, it’s got to be better than those bloody chipmunks.




4 thoughts on “The Challenge of Children’s Movies

  1. I’ve been avoiding movies for the past 7 years (oldest kid is 7, youngest 4) taking them to children’s theatre instead. So this December I decided it is time to take them. I’ve been looking forward to Little Prince for months and might have already cried in the previews. The 7 year old was reasonably quiet except for asking a few times if I’m crying and then laughing about it. The 4 year old spent the entire movie asking when we are going home. I think he cheered when the movie ended.

    I saw previews for Alvin and the chipmunks and snoopy but for both I said I’m never watching them. But I promised another Mom we can go together so I had to choose the lesser of the 2 evils. Ended up watching the snoopy movie in 3D and what a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed it and all the children loved it. 4 year old just asked to sit on my lap close to the end but was quiet throughout.

  2. On the whole I have been pleasantly surprised. . . Alvin was an exception!!

  3. I particularly love these bits/ sentences:
    how the ordinary is transformed by love; how death is transcended by memory
    The next movie was Alvin and the Chipmunks. Holy fuck what the hell is that movie about?

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