Capsule Reviews of Timeless Classics for Kids

On vacation, we’ve spent a little bit of time indoctrinating Libby Lee into the canon of classic Disney. Not that it’s our religion, but more that it’s that thing that many parents do: showing your kids all your favorite childhood movies, so that they can be mildly impressed and you can see how well or poorly those “classics” hold up over time. So here’s a few:

  • Malificent — I know, not a classic. Saw it by accident. Happened to be on a channel and we lingered there too long. Terrifying to adults and children alike, but Libby Lee was entranced the entire time. A reminder that movies today leave almost nothing to the imagination, which is too bad, because Malificent portrays cruelty, betrayal and vengeance in expert detail. As evidenced by trying to explain to my daughter who cut off Malificent’s wings and why they did it. At least they give The Prince the boot.
  • The Jungle Book — Incites peals of laughter from a four-year-old. You don’t need more of a review except to add the golden words “Louie Prima.” A true classic.
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Ian Fleming + Roald Dahl = Why didn’t we hire a better editor? At 2:24, it’s full of greatness but somewhat overlong. Sally Ann Howe’s Julie Andrews to Dick Van Dyke’s Dick Van Dyke. In the incredible marionette dancing scene, LL insists that DVD is disguised as Michael Jackson. The Child Catcher elicited the most probing questions afterward (and an ensuing an explanation from me loosely themed “People” In Movies Aren’t Real.”)
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory — Impossibly great, impervious to the ravages of time. Because: Gene Wilder, Roald Dahl. Because: Veruca Salt, Violet Beauregard. Having (accidentally) seen the more recent Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, first, Libby Lee reasoned: “That was when he was younger.”
  • Peter Pan — Surprisingly racist and sexist, which wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t also kind of dumb. My memory of this classic was almost completely wrong. The crocodile is hilarious. I didn’t remember Captain Hook being such a psychotic pussy, though. It’s kind of fine because I don’t think kids movies should be actually terrifying (like Malificent). Peter Pan pretends to be scary sometimes, which makes a weird sort of sense. But it’s also kind of dumb. It’s hard not to want to smack Wendy. And Peter, for that matter. Really, most of the characters. Except that funny crocodile.

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