I almost forgot… The Great Kid-Flicks Contest!

I need to resurrect this contest, because I nearly forgot about it. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t receive enough entries for the contest to be complete. So, read this challenge again and send me your list. (If you already have, don’t worry, I have your entry.)

I’ll call the contest quits this Friday.

* * * *

Imagine the folks at The Criterion Collection called you up and pose you this question:

“We’re starting a special series on the world’s greatest films for young people (12 or younger). We want to see your top five recommendations.”

Which titles would you recommend?

Here we go… Looking Closer’s Great Kid-Flicks Contest!

Send me your top five, in no particular order, or go all the way to ten if you like. Post them here as a comment (no anonymous lists accepted), or email them to LookingCloserReview@msn.com.
Include a brief description of why you picked each one — just a sentence or two will do.

I’ll show the lists to a small group of judges from the Arts and Faith board.

The lists that are voted as the best collection will be posted here…

… and the winners will all get DVDs of Nanny McPhee.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” called Through a Screen Darkly, and a four-volume series of fantasy novels called The Auralia Thread, which includes Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. Jeffrey is a contributing editor for Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine, and he writes about art, faith, and culture for Image, Filmwell, and his own website, LookingCloser.org. His work has also appeared in Paste, Relevant, Books and Culture, and Christianity Today (where he was a film columnist and critic for almost a decade). He lives in Shoreline, Washington. Visit him on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffreyoverstreethq.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Vince,

    Indeed, we should not get in the way of the gospel.

    But by your own thought process, you can see my main objection to Mr. Baldwin’s “ministry.” He is publicly denouncing other Christians for their own Kingdom work–and calling Bono out specifically–saying that the righteous man will preach on MTV rather than serve the poor or try to help countries paralyzed by poverty.

    I am sure that there are kids coming to Jesus through Baldwin’s work. Praise God. If God spoke through an ass to reach Balaam, he can speak through someone who speaks carelessly and contemptuously about fellow believers… like Mr. Baldwin.

  • Vince

    First off – not defending Mr. Baldwin but I’ve been thinking about this for days since reading Jeffrey’s first post. His methods – unorthodox at best. His theology – questionable perhaps. Results? If teens and others are somehow seeing thru his ego, his errors etc. and still finding Jesus; I have trouble finding a problem with that. Not saying “ends justify the means”, just not sure I can criticize either. It took a friend to give me the best response that comes from Acts chapter 5 where Gamaliel is cautioning other Sanhedrin (I think) that if the work they are trying to stop is of God, forget it (my paraphrase) and if it is of man then it will fizzle (my paraphrase again). Not equating Peter with Mr. Baldwin either.

  • Wasp Jerky

    Compared to most of the American media, Salon is Pulitzer material.

  • Anonymous

    yeah zeal without knowledge is a problem.Salon is hardly reputable journalism!BUT It seems like Stevie B revels in his born-agian wise ass persona.Loving Jesus and consumed with his own coolness.
    Re: who is discipling him..great question ..I know he is out and about with Luis Palau!!!

  • jocelyn

    Seth – it’s pretty clear who.
    Rush Limbaugh.
    no, no…
    Stephen Colbert. God Machine, anyone?

    I think Baldwin must have a very “holey Bible,” because he’s missing a lot of those inconvenient parts. The ones that involve loving thy neighbour. Yes, even the different ones.
    Oh the irony that I saw Stephen Colbert featuring a clip about Baldwin on his show. ohhhh…. it just makes me dizzy.

  • Seth

    Wow, it makes me wonder who discipling this guy.

  • Thom

    Having seen multiple interviews with Baldwin, I would be surprised if it was exagerrated at all.

  • Tim Frankovich

    Good observation by Julie.

    At the same time, considering Salon’s blatant anti-Christian attitude in most of its content, I can’t help but feel some of this has been exaggerated.

  • Levi

    Well-said, Julie.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Exactly. Thanks, Julie.

  • Julie

    Sometimes it seems to me that Baldwin has all the zeal we like to see in a new Christian (on fire for God, wanting to evangelize), but is lacking in the wisdom we’d like to see in a well-known “defender” of our faith.

    I think perhaps we would do well to pray that he seeks God honestly and gets himself into a good church/godly counsel where he can grow in grace and wisdom.

  • jasdye

    is this stephen baldwin or stephen colbert?

    fortunately, i’ve never heard anyone quote baldwin, although i’m sure his prominent family (which reminds me of _South Park, the Movie_) isn’t too happy with those Crazy Christians.

  • A M Hildebrandt

    Oh yeah and:

    Willow: I Loved this movie growing up, live action fantasy done well before CGI.

    The Secret of Nimh: More talking animals but a great story when I was a kid.

    Adam M HIldebrandt

  • Anonymous

    In the order they come to mind:

    1) An American Tail: A great story about triumphing over difficulty, and the cats absolutely terrified me.

    2)The Goonies: Classic adventure

    3)The Princess Bride: More Classic adventure. The most memorable and quotable dialog ever.

    4)Disney’s Robin Hood: The one with the fox and animals, this one I would watch over and over; it had talking animals and a medieval story. It was a setting I loved and have loved for a long time.

    5)Mary Poppins: My family watched this every new years eve for most my childhood.

    6)The Black Cauldron: Read the books when I was in middle school, and was thrilled that Disney once made a movie of this.

    7)The Muppet Movie: Does anything get better than the Muppet’s.

    8)The Muppet Treasure Island: I was fifteen when this came out but my youth group would watch this and the Muppet’s Christmas Carol all the time.

    9)The Never Ending Story: My wife’s favourite childhood movie, it scared me too much though.

    10)The Wizard of Oz: I have never seen this one, but I hear it is good.

    All in all they don’t make kids movies like they used to. Movies that would provoke emotions. I like how “A Never Ending Story”, “An American Tail”, and “The Dark Crystal” could be dark and show evil with out censoring it from our children, and that there are real villians who can be terrifing but could be stood up against.

    Adam M Hildebrandt

    spiritbackthemuse@gmail.com

  • Widening Gyre

    Great challenge, Jeffrey. A flood of movies filled my head but after checking in with my eleven-year-old daughter, here is our list. We’ve broken them down into genres for a little extra spice:

    Action-Adventure: Star Wars. ‘Nuff said.

    Live Action Musical: The Sound of Music. Mary Poppins was a close second but the scale and majesty (and the infectious music) of TSOM carried the day.

    Animated Musical: For girls, Beauty and the Beast. For boys, The Lion King. I had to defer to my kids (see my comment below).

    Animated Non-Musical: A Bug’s Life. Ice Age was a close second. Again, deferred to my kids.

    Live Action Comedy/Drama: Sky High (although it does run close to violating my rule below about masquerading as a kids flick (cool tunes, send up of our John Hughes’ films).

    The trick here is to weed out the flicks that play nicely as “kids flicks” but are really more entertaining to the adults because of some intangible such as nostalgia.

    For example, Toy Story 2 with its lovely and haunting Jessie’s Song plays on a much deeper emotional level to me as a parent because I can relate to Jessie’s loss as my children grow up and I worry that I will become the forgotten one.

  • Clay

    My criteria: movies that appeal (or have appealed) especially to the pre-teens in our family, but are enjoyed and admired by everyone, and are distinguished by exceptional production values, script, and acting. Here we go:

    1. Babe: Just a wonderful piece of storytelling and movie-making that never fails to please. “That’ll do, pig.” And does it ever.

    2. The Incredibles: The family we’d all like to have next door and get to know, even though they are digitally animated, and just a great movie.

    3. Searching for Bobby Fisher: A true story about the world of tournment chess for kids that inspires, enobles, and entertains. Got us playing chess.

    4. Toy Story 2: Digital characters you really care about, laugh-out-loud family humor, a great story well-told, and even some really great songs. Toy-riffic!

    5. Rigoletto: My dark horse pick from Feature Films for Families. We all watch this little film based on the opera annually. Great music, and a compelling story.

    Honorable mentions: Hoodwinked; Miracle Maker; Holes; Second Hand Lions

  • Marc

    Wizard of Oz: Was it all a dream? When you’re in a jam, you can get by with a little help from your (new) friends as well as using the solution already with you.

    Millions: How do you deal with the loss of your Mum and a financial windfall? This movie has a good balance of make-believe and all-too-reality.

    Incredibles: Pixar’s best, it’s a great tale of using your talents wisely and the importance of family.

    Summer of the Monkeys: While some may discount this selection (considering all of the other Disney movies to choose), this is an outstanding movie about growing up, sacrifice, and doing the right thing. You’d have a stoney heart if your eyes were still dry at the end.

    Secondhand Lions: (for the older kids) Some people end up finding family in the strangest places. I like the 2 movies-in-one and the uncle’s unswerving sense of honor and decency.

    Honorable mentions: Babe, Iron Giant, Stuart Little, Anne of Green Gables, Sarah Plain and Tall

  • BethR

    Some great nominations already that I definitely agree with. I may have contributed to the original contest, but here I go again:

    The Secret of Roan Inish–not too subtle for children, but offers plenty for adults, and its beauty and mystery is not often found in films suitable for children.

    The Miracle Maker–the unexpectedly effective combination of claymation and drawn animation in this film, and the child’s POV, may make it especially suitable for children, but it’s not at all a children’s movie

    Finding Nemo–dad’s a good guy, friendship prevails, amazing animation, all kinds of reasons to like this one

    The Railway Children (1970)–somewhat like Little Women, but with boys in the family, so everyone can enjoy it.

    To Kill a Mockingbird–one of the Best Movies Ever, for everyone, all the time

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Thanks for getting the kids’ input! Very cool.

    >> “The Miracle Maker” … is without question the most historically, scripturally, and spiritually accurate movie about Jesus ever.<<

    Maybe it’s “without question” for you. But I don’t think any work of art about Christ can be definitively declared “the most historically, scripturally, and spiritually accurate.” After all, historical details are sketchy and open to debate. Scripture requires interpretation, and there is no simple guide to right and wrong interpretations. And the term “spiritually accurate” is challenging indeed–there are some historically innaccurate stories that still communicate powerfully and spiritually. I’m not sure what “spiritual accuracy” is. Personally, I think “The Gospel of John” is admirable in the way the filmmakers attempted to illustrate the scriptural account without embellishment. But I am also deeply moved by the artistic exploration and poetry of other more imaginative and speculative films about Christ… films that show the artist asking questions rather than merely illustrating a text.

  • Goyo

    I polled my monkeys here are the results:

    Stevie, age 5:
    1. Superman Returns
    2. Cars
    3. Over The Hedge(Okay I’m seeing a pattern here.)
    4. Batman Begins (Definitely his father’s son.)
    5. Spiderman

    Christina, age 7:
    1. Anne of Green Gables (A CBC production.)
    2. Stuart Little 3 ( I didn’t even know there was such a movie.)
    3. Barbie as Rapunzel
    4. Chronicles of Narnia
    5. Superman Returns

    Elizabeth 3:
    1. Ella Enchanted
    2. Barbie as Rapunzel
    3. Princess Diaries 2
    4. Shrek 2
    5. Spy Kids

    I guess I’m with Stevie but I was a little surprised he left out Iron Giant which I would put toward the top of my list.

    Here are my picks:
    1. The Cowboys ( I saw this when I was 12 or 13 and it was the first movie that made me cry.)

    2. Ben Hur ( Great fantastic spectacle, fighting, heroics, chariot races. What more could a kid ask.)

    3. The Miracle Maker (This is a “claymation” movie and is without question the most historically, scripturally, and spiritually accurate movie about Jesus ever.)

    4. Iron Giant

    5. Mulan ( Disney deserves some mention if only for all of the fun movies I remember from my childhood. Love Bug, Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, Blackbeard’s Ghost, Swiss Family Robinson. And this is the best of their recent animated movies. A heroic, girl warrior, cool.)

    Greg Marquez
    goyomarquez@earthlink.net
    http://WWW.IVChristianCenter.com

  • J

    I find many kidpics to qualify more as family films, and most actually appeal to me more as an adult, but I’ll take a stab at this as well.

    Beauty and the Beast (1991)
    Because everyone deserves a little indulgence in idealism to shape their values, before corporate “ethics” rewires their opinions about the importance of seeing past appearances and the necessity of fitting in.

    Toy Story 2 (1999)
    In truth I prefer The Incredibles though it will appeal most to the older folks (though so will this, probably), but there’s no reason kids can’t partake in likely the industry’s most profound study of the beauty, simplicity, and often transience of happiness.

    Spirited Away (2002)
    Okay so they won’t know what the heck is going on and it ain’t quite as good without the subtitles, but the universality of Miyazaki-Master-of-Fairy-Tales’s work is near undeniable. It takes a jaded fellow to dismiss the film’s wondrous creatures and even more cynical one to contest either the power of its ideas on respect and friendship or the purity of its message.

    Aquamarine (2006)
    Guess this one’s just for the girls, considering I don’t exactly fathom any guys under 20 even remotely liking it, and not too many over 20 either. I’m not one to volunteer myself for an hour and a half of preteen bubblegum shenanigans, but fortunately the film far favors its clear-eyed outlook on the intricacies of maturation and the realization that making sacrifices is a part of growing up.

    The Iron Giant (1999)
    So all of these selections are recent, or relatively so. My bad, etc. Still, it’s hard to argue with The Iron Giant (props to the earlier mention of it), since it provides such an honest portrait of so many difficult concepts, including death and sacrifice. With this and The Incredibles, Brad Bird’s on a roll, me thinks.

  • Adam Walter

    Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
    Gene Wilder and all the fun of the weirdest sugar high that you’ve ever had (but without the mess).

    The Champ (1931)
    King Vidor’s little-remembered, Dickensian masterpiece featuring the unbeatable acting team of Jackie Cooper and Wallace Beery.

    The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
    A marvel of adaptation, animation, and winning, moral storytelling.

    The Hobbit (1977)
    Still my favorite fantasy film and my favorite animated feature. And if you start kids on this one early enough, they won’t be bothered by the dated folk music (the film’s only real flaw). The voice of John Huston will always be Gandalf to me (apologies to Sir Ian).

    Harvey (1950)
    Trust your kids; they can grasp all the complexities of this wonderful story. And don’t be surprised if they do see the invisible 6-foot rabbit.

  • Brian Friesen

    The Black Stallion – No, really. Check it out if you haven’t seen it in a while. A wonderfully quiet, yet engrossing film that offers a slow, thoughtful pacing usually absent from movies marketed to kids. Possibly too dated for fashion-conscious kids at the upper end of the 1- 12 yr. old scale, but it is a film that captures the imagination without constantly clamoring for our ever-diminishing attention spans.

    The Iron Giant – An inspiring, heart-breaking, heart mending film that explores HUGE themes without overstating them. A timeless film for the kids and for everybody else.

    Babe – It is still a constant surprise how heart-warming this film about barnyard animals is. Themes of leadership, forgiveness, transcending bitterness and overcoming condescension are played out thoughtfully and dramatically. And it’s really fun.

    The Red Balloon (dir: Albert Lamorisse) – A foreign film for kids! The balloon has more personality than a lot of computer generated characters, and the whole thing was done without a blue screen (I think it’s safe to assume). The balloon protects a young boy from school bullies and makes us marvel at supposedly inanimate things.

    The Sword in the Stone (Disney) – Anything is possible in this film. When I saw this as a kid, my childlike faith was not in the least threatened by the magical elements, but was rather deepened – swords, animals, dragons, and even dinner plates are a part of (and even subject to) a larger, spiritual reality.

    Star Wars – Because it is Star Wars.

  • The Cubicle Reverend

    The Goonies – What kid can watch that movie and not want to go on a goonie adventure? You want to be there searching for One Eyed Willie’s treasure. Dodging boodie traps, I mean boobie traps. Figuring out clues. And it is just plain funny.

    The Muppet Movie – Just shows how much of a geniouis Jim Henson really was. A silly movie that can make both adults and kids laugh. The characters are lively and you can’t help but watch it again.

    Race For Your Life Charlie Brown – It is a morality tale on the sly. It shows all the fun and hardship that can occur at summer camp. In spite of bullies trying to ruin things you can still have a great time.

    The Lion, The With & The Wardrobe – They did a great job making this movie. It is exciting and full of adventure. They’ll be tought good lessons without even knowing it. You will get lost in this fantasy world.

    The Lion King (on broadway) – I know this is wishful thinking. Disney at it’s peak. It very rarely gets any better than this. Once again, both young and old can appreciate it. The costuming and effects make you feel like you are in the jungle. They kept true to the movie, and in my mind made it even better.

  • william murray

    Okay, in no particular order…

    Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) – I saw this when I was 3 years old and its’ effect has rippled throughout my life. I enjoy all of the SW flicks but this is the one.

    E.T. – I this was the first movie that got me choked up. I was about the the same age as Elliot when I saw it and it resonated deeply with me.

    The Wizard of Oz – What a great fantasy film. Those flying monkeys still terrify me though.

    Alice in Wonderland (Disney) – I was tempted to say Snow White because it was the Disney film that began it all but I always liked Alice more. It’s just so weird and creepy and silly and fun!

    Babe – The talking animal movie to end all talking animal movies. I didn’t eat pork for months!

    Honorable mention: anything Pixar, Superman:The Movie, The Dark Crystal, Watership Down, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sound of Music, Oliver!

  • William Murray

    Okay, in no particular order…

    Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) – I saw this when I was 3 years old and its’ effect has rippled throughout my life. I enjoy all of the SW flicks but this is the one.

    E.T. – I this was the first movie that got me choked up. I was about the the same age as Elliot when I saw it and it resonated deeply with me.

    The Wizard of Oz – What a great fantasy film. Those flying monkeys still terrify me though.

    Alice in Wonderland (Disney) – I was tempted to say Snow White because it was the Disney film that began it all but I always liked Alice more. It’s just so weird and creepy and silly and fun!

    Babe – The talking animal movie to end all talking animal movies. I didn’t eat pork for months!

    Honorable mention: anything Pixar, Superman:The Movie, The Dark Crystal, Watership Down, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sound of Music, Oliver!

  • William Murray

    Okay, in no particular order…

    Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) – I saw this when I was 3 years old and its’ effect has rippled throughout my life. I enjoy all of the SW flicks but this is the one.

    E.T. – I this was the first movie that got me choked up. I was about the the same age as Elliot when I saw it and it resonated deeply with me.

    The Wizard of Oz – What a great fantasy film. Those flying monkeys still terrify me though.

    Alice in Wonderland (Disney) – I was tempted to say Snow White because it was the Disney film that began it all but I always liked Alice more. It’s just so weird and creepy and silly and fun!

    Babe – The talking animal movie to end all talking animal movies. I didn’t eat pork for months!

    Honorable mention: anything Pixar, Superman:The Movie, The Dark Crystal, Watership Down, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Sound of Music, Oliver!

  • Jay Horne

    The Incredibles: Strikes a C. S. Lewis -like note in making fun of all the right things, teaching kids not merely to avoid evil & stupidity, but to mock it, all wrapped up in a wonderful story.

    Hoodwinked: Is there any better parable to teach Proverbs 18:17?

    The Sound of Music: History, the alps, an emphasis on beauty and love of country (and hatred of evil), a love story (or two)…

    Toy Story 2: Jessie’s song, the movie within the movie, is worth the price of admission. Hauntingly beautiful.

    Okay, I’m done at 4.

  • Kenneth R. Morefield

    Durn Mozilla Firefox…sorry for the duplicate…it’s been doing that to me at A&F too.

  • Kenneth R. Morefield

    Free Nanny McPhee DVD you say? Well, gosh, I have to take a wild swing at that one.

    Course the difference between 12 and 6 is quite profound…my 11 year-old nephew actually got quite enraptured by A&E’s Pride and Prejudice.

    In no particular order:

    Toy Story 2: Cuz it’s the best darn animated film ever, and the story line is so rich.

    Mary Poppins: Cuz kids relate to the kids in it, they like singing, and they are able to watch and appreciate Dick Van Dyke without yet associating him with Rob Petrie.

    Belle et la bete (1946): Cuz, whaddaya know, Criterion already has the rights, and to kids weaned on nothing but animation, there is something magical about seing a fairy tale with people.

    Star Wars. (Or the first [or is it now the second?] trilogy if you care to count it as one. Cuz its fun. I pick SW (aka a New Hope) because the better film (Empire) is at times, perhaps, too intense for some way under 12.

    Little Women (1994); Cuz girls need to see themselves too, and the Wizard of Oz was a bit too predictable a choice.

    Honorable mention/substitue as you like: Rescuers Down Under; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Princess Bride; To Kill a Mockingbird; Pirates of the Carribean.

    The main reason for putting any of these films on the list–they are films that you won’t mind watching again when kids ask to see them over and over–not that kids ever do that, do they?

  • RC

    I’m really glad you broguht back this contest b/c it was a lot of fun to make my list and I want to see what gets chosen.

    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • Kenneth R. Morefield

    Free Nanny McPhee DVD you say? Well, gosh, I have to take a wild swing at that one.

    Course the difference between 12 and 6 is quite profound…my 11 year-old nephew actually got quite enraptured by A&E’s Pride and Prejudice.

    In no particular order:

    Toy Story 2: Cuz it’s the best darn animated film ever, and the story line is so rich.

    Mary Poppins: Cuz kids relate to the kids in it, they like singing, and they are able to watch and appreciate Dick Van Dyke without yet associating him with Rob Petrie.

    Belle et la bete (1946): Cuz, whaddaya know, Criterion already has the rights, and to kids weaned on nothing but animation, there is something magical about seing a fairy tale with people.

    Star Wars. (Or the first [or is it now the second?] trilogy if you care to count it as one. Cuz its fun. I pick SW (aka a New Hope) because the better film (Empire) is at times, perhaps, too intense for some way under 12.

    Little Women (1994); Cuz girls need to see themselves too, and the Wizard of Oz was a bit too predictable.

    Honorable mention/substitue as you like: Rescuers Down Under; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Princess Bride; To Kill a Mockingbird; Pirates of the Carribean.

    The main reason for putting any of these films on the list–they are films that you won’t mind watching again when kids ask to see them over and over.


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