Monday 30 August 2010

Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience... and pimples. ~ J.M. Barrie

Okay. I have not outgrown my kid movies phase. I literally vow to keep watching them and enjoying them till I am dead and buried/incinerated/lost forever in an ice glacier. The reason why I love them is because it gives so much joy and hope, and that too in such a pure form so as to leave the viewer with satisfaction and memories. The innocence of the children is what sets it apart from most films about grown-ups. Also I guess they must be amongst the most difficult types of films to make, with kids and all. So here’s my tribute to them.

•     Home Alone 1 and 2- Could there ever have been a cuter kid than Macaulay Culkin? I think not. His two adventures, the first being left home alone and the second being lost in the huge city of New York are absolutely amazing. Kevin McCallister’s wit and courage keep him safe, especially from the two evil crooks Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. Oh how I love this film. Chris Columbus’ excellent ability to make mesmerizing kid movies and John Hughes’ genius made these films what they are today. There are very few (deeply disturbed) people who do not like these films. The sense of freedom that Kevin experiences and how he is able to completely torture the grown-up bad guys is just awesome! We also love Kevin’s huge and oblivious family, the ‘tough’ bad guys who get hit with bricks on the face, electrocuted, burnt, pecked upon by hundreds of pigeons and they just don’t give up, and obviously the old man in the first film and the pigeon lady in the second. And who can forget Tim Curry’s evil Grinch face in the in Home Alone 2?

•     Baby’s Day Out- Another John Hughes classic. I often talk about how I never got over Jack Dawson from Titanic and Jess Mariano from Gilmore Girls…but I never got over the baby in this film too. How incredibly brilliant is this film? A millionaire baby who is kidnapped but just because of pure childish joy escapes from his kidnappers living out the adventures in a book his nanny, none other than SATC’s Cynthia Nixon, used to read to him while his kidnappers get into trouble everytime. The various situations the baby and the kidnappers, led by Joe Pantoliano, get into are unforgettable- the gorilla scene, the park scene and obviously the construction scene. And the baby, with his “Boo Boo!” and “Tik Tok” and everything else he does is so infinitely adorable, you can’t help but love him!!!

•     Kindergarten Cop- I love it when big tough men do “sensitive” roles. How sensitive exactly? Enough to take care of an entire kindergarten class. Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger (this spelling was in my laptop’s dictionary btw) plays a cop who has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher in order to catch a criminal whose son is in his class. When brawn meets bawling bubbling 3-4 year olds, you can count on hilarious consequences. I honestly think it’s one of the most ingenuous films because it is absolutely amazing to see this huge man take care of kids who are like a tenth of his size. The kids are all very sweet; my personal favourite being the precocious boy whose father was a gynecologist. Schwarzenegger too is absolutely convincing in this part action-part comedic role.

•     Little Rascals- This is probably the epitome of delightful, adorable kids that can be put together in a film. This film is EPIC cute. It’s a story of chauvinistic 4-5 year boys who run the “He-Man Women Haters Club” except one of the co-founders Alfalfa falls in love with “hottie” Darla. It is absolutely lovely to see this little kids understanding the dynamics of a gender-based world. The lines in this film are classics, like “The way you fill my heart I’ll fill your face”, “What’s the number for 911?” or when a snobby kid comes to town to vie for Darla’s attention and introduces himself by saying “My father owns the oil refinery” and Darla says, “That’s why you’re so refined” and Alfalfa adds, “And so oily.” GENIUS! The kids with the hair-sticking out Alfalfa to super pretty Darla to brilliant Uh-huh are so so cute that you just want to eat them up ( which happens to be one of the most disturbing phrases ever invented).

•     Up- What an enchanting film! I think after many instances people give of true love like Romeo and Juliet, Elizabeth and Darcy, Rick and Ilsa, Antony and Cleopatra, Tony and Maria, Jack and Rose, Joel and Clementine, one should put Ellie and Carl of Up in such a list too. I think more than any of these actually, their story is the actual dream. It’s a story of lifelong love, and what one does after their better half passes on. This is a magical film and makes us realize that why animation still matters so much in this world, and in that of cinema. The image of a colourful house floating in the air with the help of thousands of helium balloons could never have been as effective if it wasn’t a cartoon film. Carl’s adventure to go to his and Ellies’ dream destination in Paradise Falls in South America along with nosy, clueless and down-to-earth Ralph is incredible. There with a rare species of bird who Ralph aptly names Kevin and a talking dog Doug, Carl gets to have a fantastic journey even in his old age. This film also shows that the key to a kids movie is not to be a kid mainly, but to be one at heart.

•     Peter Pan- “All children grow up except one.” I love this story. The enchantment of Neverland, the mischief of the Missing Boys and the evil of Captain Hook, altogether with the hero Peter Pan make one of the most famous children tales of all time. After watching this film, I couldn’t help but wish to be Wendy and fly away with Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, all the way to Neverland. It’s sort of the dream to never grow up, and stay a child forever. As a species I think we are obsessed with such characters and people, whether it is an unnerving fixation with immortal vampires or hero-worshipping all the “good who died young” like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, Kurt Cobain and Heath Ledger. Peter Pan stands out to both adults and children because it fills us up with wonder and excitement- to visit Neverland and see pirates and Indians, to find out about fairies and mermaids, to see the good battle the evil. Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Jason Isaacs – are all amazing in this film.

•     Stuart Little- A kid is a kid even if he is a mouse. I mean forget Oliver Twist, it was Stuart Little who had a hard time fitting in. A most unbelievable tale about a family who decide to adopt a good honest mouse as a kid brother for their only son, and how they all fall in love with each other, true family style. Also don’t forget they have a furry white cat Snowball as their pet. Snowball’s jealousy and stray-cat connections spell doom for ‘little’ Stuart and the Littles, but family and love overcome all obstacles. This film has to be close to everyone’s hearts. This film is also, as far as my memory takes me, the first one I ever cried in, in the scene when Snowball tells Stuart that his family didn’t love him.  I love Michael J. Fox , Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Johnathan Lipnicki and Nathan Lane who voices Snowball.

•     Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory- Yes I love the classic more than the modern adaptation. It’s the whole deal with chocolates and Roald Dahl that makes this film magical. I love the Oompa Lompas in this film! And their songs; Deep Roy gives me nightmares. This film too is the dream. Which kid in the world does not want to win a trip to a highly elusive and expert chocolate factory? Everything, from the excitement of the finding of the Golden Tickets, to the Chocolate Room, to the evil spy- is so much fun to watch. Also though I worship Johnny Depp, I love Gene Wilder as the slightly crazy and immensely talented Willy Wonka. This is the cult classic, and though the new adaptation is closer to the book and directed by one of my most favourite directors Tim Burton, something about the classic just makes it better.

Notable mentions would be Mary Poppins (I was never a Sound of Music fan), Home Alone 3 (he wasn’t Macaulay Culkin), My Girl (NO DEATHS OF CHILDREN), The Good Son (awesome but creepy), Pan’s Labyrinth (it’s too different and tragic, brilliant no less, to be in this list) and Harry Potter (he grows up).

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