Wandering Through the Shelves. Play along by picking three movies that fit the weekly theme and telling us about them!
Well, color me stumped. I kept thinking of movies that I THOUGHT fit this category, only they turned out to be animated, or really for teens not kids, or some such. It's hard enough to make a good film for adults, but a film specifically aimed at children that adults would also enjoy? No mean feat, that. But I think I've found the answer.
A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuaròn, 1995) Maybe it's just because it was when I grew up, but the 90s were something of a Golden Age for family films. There were excellent versions of The Secret Garden and Little Women (directed by Agnieszka Holland and Gillian Armstrong) in 1993 and 1994 respectively, and then a year later there was this, directed by recent Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaròn. The story of A Little Princess is a bit trite (single father brings daughter to boarding school when he goes off to the army; father dies in battle, leaving the girl with no family and no money to pay for the school, and the Evil Headmistress turns her into a sort of elementary school-aged Cinderella, but she perseveres through strength of character and ability to tell stories), but the filmmaking and performances here are top-notch. Cuaròn showed such promise here - it's not hard to see the seeds of the auteur who made Children of Men and Gravity.
Babe (Chris Noonan, 1995) If you don't love this movie, there might be something wrong with you. Just saying. The story of a pig who becomes the world's greatest sheepdog through the power of kindness, Babe is just about the cutest damn movie you ever did see, and somehow manages to make live-action talking animals NOT creepy. Surely the film's Oscar-winning visual effects help, but the great vocal performances go a long way in that regard as well. James Cromwell and the hilarious Magda Szubanski lend perfect human support. In a just world, this would have won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1995.
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992) Words cannot express how much I love this movie. And while I would say it's more clearly aimed at kids than the previous Muppet movies, this one holds the exact same pleasures for adults as those earlier hits. Michael Caine makes for a wonderful Scrooge, the concept of Gonzo (and Rizzo) narrating the story as Charles Dickens provides tons of laughs, the Muppets are all perfectly cast, and the design of the ghosts is perfection. And of course, there are the delightful, tuneful songs.