This weekend's box office went to American Sniper hands down. But besides that film there was one other triumph that graced the screens of cinemas nation wide. I'm talking, of course, about Paddington: a film that pleases children but also gives adults something to think about and laugh about.
Adults have been coming out of screenings of Paddington absolutely charmed, in no small part thanks to Ben Whishaw's terrific performance as the Peruvian bear. But what also generates appeal with adults is the fact that the humor and drama transcend what a mere children's film can do. For instance, Mr. Gruber's story about escaping Germany during World War II is a good example of where the film could have just said that Gruber was sent away, just like Paddington. With the added detail, the film becomes more relatable on a historical level.
Which got me to thinking, what other kids movies out there have been runaway hits for adults as well? You'd think it'd be hard to fill a list of ten other films besides Paddington that cross the kid/parent boundary, but thanks to the list below, you'd be wrong.
Stuart Little is a film about adoption, a subject that's about as easy to talk to children about as childbirth. Yet the 1999 film manages to explain the core concept of adoption in a way that makes it easier for parents to talk to their children about. While the kids are focusing on the storyline of George and his brother Stuart, parents can follow the plot of Eleanor and Fredrick, the Little parents who just hope their sons can get along and live like a family. For kids, Stuart Little is about accepting your new sibling into the family; but for adults, it's about waiting for that beautiful moment when your children become inseparable.
Beauty And The Beast
Disney's animated films aren't classics on a fluke, as they're geared towards all ages from the start. Using timeless tales that children are just hearing and adults have heard for decades before, Disney films have always been a common ground for families to enjoy. Beauty And The Beast is the best example of that formula, as it was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. With absolutely beautiful animation, a healthy dose of farce and musical charm, as well as a tale old as time; anyone can watch Beauty And The Beast and take away something that they loved from the experience.
Meet The Robinsons
Another film about adoption, Meet The Robinsons is a little more madcap with its plot than Stuart Little, but still offers a lot to talk to children about. More importantly though, the film is about following your dreams and never giving up... something we all need to feel good about, no matter how old we get. With an emphasis on science, and owning up to the consequences of the past, Meet The Robinsons uses slapstick humor and adventurous thrills to keep parents invested in a story that reminds us that family is one of the greatest achievements of all.
Moving away from the family themed stories, we have Babe - the Academy Award winning story of a pig who finds his talent in herding sheep. Mad Max director George Miller's sensibilities are equally adept to entertaining audiences in both adult oriented films, as well as children's films like Happy Feet that have a very strong message. However, Babe has always endured as the best example of Miller's ability to give the kids a talking pig picture, while giving adults a dark and layered fairy tale that includes murder accusations, a death in the family, and a farmer doing a jig for a pig. Babe is a storybook film that includes enough reality to weight down the whimsy, thus appealing to even the most serious adults in the room.
Like George Miller before him, Danny Boyle has almost perfected a split personality when it comes to his film career. One moment he's terrorizing Cillian Murphy with infected Londoners in 28 Days Later, the next he's telling a story about two sons who have very different ideas of how a million pounds could change their lives. One son pays for bodyguards and friends, the other tries to be a modern day saint by spreading the wealth. Other than the obvious elements, you could flip this movie on and not even know that it was a kids' movie, as it looks and feels as serious as any of Boyle's previous elements. The big difference is, that attitude just happens to be in a PG rated confines in Millions.
For most of the first act of Wall-E, the protagonist engages in a dialogue-less love story with EVE, the sleeker future of robotics that have surpassed Wall-E's capabilities. Yet without words, the two still share a love that's real enough that it didn't need any words to make itself known. As if the emotional content wasn't rich enough, Wall-E also has a message of environmental and society responsibility that resonates with the adult audience, as well as warns the next generation. Wall-E works as a beautiful love story, as well as an ecological call to action.
Wallace And Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
Much like Paddington, Wallace And Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit is a film that banks on quintessentially British humor. The difference between the Michael Bond adaptation and Aardman's finest work in years is the level of seriousness that the film engages in. Wallace And Gromit is a franchise that has always built on adventure and farce, and Curse Of The Were-Rabbit is the biggest farce the famous duo have ever engaged in. At times a monster movie throwback, and at other times a fast paced romp that engages in a dog fight with a coin operated plane, Wallace And Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit is something that adults who like to laugh would have no problem sitting down to enjoy.
Out of all of the Pixar directors working today, Brad Bird is the one that gets what it's like to be an adult in the audience of a kids' movie. It shows in his work, and no picture shows it better than Ratatouille. While we can hear Remy and his thoughts, the human world cannot. This doesn't stop him from controlling young chef Linguini, thus using him as a surrogate to become a culinary wunderkind in the French restaurant scene. Despite the fanciful premise, there is a realistic ending to the proceedings that still makes way for a happy ending. A film that's a feast for the eyes, as well as the heart, Ratatouille is probably Pixar's finest film that tells a grown up story in a younger medium.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the movie your parents weren't sure they should have showed you when you were a kid, but you're glad they did. Released in an age where the "anything animated is for kids" mentality ruled, the classic film of "greed, sex, and murder" depicts a scandalous affair as a game of paddy cake and takes the plot of Chinatown, but puts Mickey Mouse and friends in the crosshairs. It's not totally dark, as there's a lot of trademark humor and cartoon characters to keep the kiddos entertained. If you want your children to grow up to love film noir stories, then Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the perfect gateway film.
Hugo, while being a story of an orphaned boy who goes on an adventure, is also at its heart a celebration of cinema. Martin Scorsese's follow up to Shutter Island, of all films, is heartwarming and kid friendly, but ultimately celebrates the filmed medium of entertainment that it exists in. Hugo is also a war story, talking about how film stock was sacrificed for the war effort, as well as giving Sacha Baron Cohen his most heartfelt role ever as the station inspector who was wounded in World War I. Celebrating the magic of cinema, but lamenting the tragedy of war, Hugo is much more than the children's book that inspired it.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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