5 Types of Childrens’ Films To Avoid (Unless You Want Screaming, Bored Children)
by Susie Felber
But I’m here to warn you that there’s a fetid swamp of sucky movies that will soon cross your path, and you need to know how to navigate the tricky waters of long-form media pitched at little ones.
TV will probably be your first clues that things are funked up, but you probably don’t expect to like kids TV. And so when you find a program that’s awesome for kids on the tube, like my current faves: Sofia The First, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Phineas and Ferb — it’s all icing.
But movies are a bigger investment of your time and money. So here’s your handy dandy guide to bad kid movie red flags.
1. The Live-Action Talking Animal Genre
Ever hear of A Talking Cat?! starring Eric Roberts or Tommy and the Cool Mule featuring Ice-T as a hip hop mule? Well now you can, because my kids and I viewed them and dished about the experience on an episode of Proudly Resents, the cult movie podcast. Check out Toddlers Talk Bad Movies to listen now. There’s even a bonus video on the page which shows that even a three-year-old knows a terrible movie when she sees one.
2. The Disney Mockbuster
If you have Netflix, chances are you’ve seen these and gotten a bit dizzy wondering what the hey was going on. Kiara the Brave, Tappy Toes, Chop Kick Panda — you get excited until you realize those aren’t movies you thought you wanted to see… but what are they? I actually turned on The Frog Prince — which looked like Disney’s The Princess and the Frog — and my eyes started burning from the terrible animation and my ears — the script was worse.
Wikipedia explains the mockbuster as: a film created with the apparent intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and is often made with a low budget. Most of the time these films are created to be released direct-to-video at the same time as the mainstream film reaches theaters or video outlets.
3. The Too-Violent Animated Blockbuster
I love love love the big animated usually in 3-D kids movies. Can’t get enough. Rio, Wreck-It Ralph, Toy Story and all its sequels. I’m thrilled my oldest can finally give me an excuse to see them in the theater without shame. But sometimes an animated movie has too much freaky violence. I adore slapstick so I’m not talking about any physical mania… but even though Despicable Me 2 broke box office records, I totally hated the weirdly violent scenes. Like the part where Gru’s date gets a dart in her butt and slammed into a trunk and left for dead on her porch for no discernible reason — not one kid in the theater laughed and I was just left peeved off.
4. The Too-Artistic for Kids To Appreciate Kids Movie
The Dark Crystal, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Any kids movies that feature a director trying to stretch, Meryl Streep and “critical acclaim” are ones you want to avoid if you’ve got actual kids. Chances are they’ll be freaked out, or worse, start whining, “I’m boooorrred!”
5. Sequels that Never Should’ve Been Born
Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2? Return to Oz? Smurfs 2? Oh and let’s not forget The Neverending Story 3 — make you want to jump out a window and some, like Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace, make you want to jump into a time machine to wrench the camera out of George Lucas’ hands.
PS The picture you see up top is of my son on set of Mario Kart: The Movie – Official Trailer. It’s not a real movie, just a parody of a terrible movie idea made by some clever kids, but as it’s gotten over 19 million views — Hollywood show be knocking any day now, right? [Editor's Note: I thought they already made a Mario Kart movie.]
Words and images by Susie Felber