Around our house, movie nights have become a lot more complicated. Gone are the days when anything with talking animals or princesses was met with enthusiastic approval. Now, one kid likes ‘scary,’ and one doesn’t. One likes science fiction and fantasy, one doesn’t. One likes romantic comedies, and one doesn’t.
You get the picture.
The worst part about my kids’ maturing taste in entertainment (aside from their mutual love of Squid Game) is that I’m not ready to let go of the wholesomeness of family movie night; those precious moments when our phones were off and our feet were up, no distractions; when I knew I wasn’t going to have to answer questions about why that person got shot or what that lady was doing without her clothes on.
Such simpler times.
While I’m not a huge fan of princess stories (except for Tangled, #Rapunzelforever), there’s nothing funnier and sweeter to me than talking animals, and sharing childhood favourite animated movies with my kids has been one of my greatest joys of parenting. By watching classics like The Fox and the Hound, The Aristocats, Lady and the Tramp, and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi I was able to share details of my own childhood experiences with my daughters. I’d wax nostalgic about the first time I saw the film, my favourite parts, and how euphoric I felt when the VHS version came out and (gasp!) we could actually watch it again IN OUR VERY OWN LIVING ROOM.
Like I said, wholesome and sweet. Now it’s not only harder to find something everyone likes, but’s it’s also harder to find something I consider appropriate. I’m not opposed to having conversations with my kids about sex and violence, but I’ll be damned if I’ll sit through another program featuring clueless adults and vapid kid characters delivering sassy comebacks and sarcastic one-liners like it’s their job (which I guess it is). If I had a nickel for every time I asked (yelled) “Is anyone on this show actually nice to each other?” I’d be a rich woman.
I guess this is what it feels like to be old.
Speaking of old, I recently realized that many of my tween and pre-teen favourites don’t exactly hold up. Take Sixteen Candles and the blatantly racist treatment of the Asian character Long Duk Dong; or the part where Jake “gives” his blackout drunk girlfriend to Ted.
Or the similarly rapey storyline in Revenge of the Nerds, where one geek pretends to be a sorority girl’s boyfriend to have sex with her; or the scene in Teen Wolf where Michael J. Fox’s character insists he’s “a werewolf, not a fag” in order to placate his dickhead buddy Stiles.
You won’t get any of that nonsense from talking penguins or pigs that go shopping, I’ll tell you that right now.
My kids have already obliterated both my sanity and my bank account, they can’t have the talking animals and animated movies too. If they want to continue living under my roof they’re going to have to abide by my rules, which means cute cartoons every now and then. And in between, on the nights when I’m too tired to go full court press on The Secret Life of Pets, we’ll dive into shows like Atypical, Heartland, and The Amazing Race – ones we can all enjoy. Because ‘the most important thing’ isn’t being together. The most important thing is putting something on that won’t make mom crazy after her no-good, terrible, very bad day of cooking, scrubbing toilets, and peeling underwear out of jeans before they go into the wash.
So if you’re ready to enjoy some real entertainment with your kids, here are some of my our favourite animated movies:
- Ferdinand (2017)
- Zootopia (2016)
- Madagascar (2005)
- Rataouille (2007)
- Babe (1995)
- Kung-Fu Panda (2008)
- Ice Age (2002)
- Coco (2017)
- The Croods (2013)
- Shrek (2001)
- Flushed Away (2006)
- The Good Dinosaur (2015)
- Hoodwinked (2005)
- Charlotte’s Web (2006)
- Storks (2016)