by Caitlin Servilio
Whenever I take my nine-year-old brother, Rob, to the movies in our hometown, I come home from the theatre feeling slightly disappointed. From the recent onslaught of films about livestock (Barnyard, Chicken Little) to the stampede of movies about exotic creatures (Madagascar, The Wild) to the usual heap of remakes, sequels, and general Harry-Potter-ness, I haven’t seen very many children’s movies in recent years that I really enjoyed.
I don’t belong to that group of people who has to talk constantly about their own childhoods, I swear! The nineties were a fun time, but that doesn’t mean I harass little children with stories about how I had to walk uphill both ways to school carrying a huge bag full of Pogs.
I honestly do believe that the movies of my childhood, which were made in the late eighties and early nineties, have an innocent spirit of fun and humor and are far more original than those being made now. Frankly, if you were giving out a prize for originality, who would you give it to—a talking chicken, or a talking toaster? I know what I would pick. To prove my point, here are in no particular order my top four picks for the best movies of my childhood.
CAITLIN’S TOP FOUR PICKS FOR CINEMATIC GENIUS:
1. The Brave Little Toaster, 1987. This animated adventure follows the quest of several household appliances trying to find their old master (owner), who has grown up and left the house. A toaster, a vacuum cleaner, a desk lamp, and an adorable electric blanket are among this loveable band of contraptions braving the elements and each other. Their journey culminates in an intense junkyard scene when the master and the appliances must save each other from a malevolent trash-munching machine. An incredibly enjoyable movie, all around. (To see one of the musical numbers, go here.)
2. An American Tail, 1986. The story of Fievel and his family, mice immigrants from Russia, never fails to pull the old heartstrings. Fievel gets separated from his sister and parents on the journey to America, and arrives in the U.S. only to discover that the streets are not made of cheese, as promised. Can Fievel reunite with his family and help defeat the evil Cat Gangs of New York. The movie has great messages about tolerance and a soundtrack that includes James Horner’s “Somewhere Out There.”
3. Ferngully—The Last Rainforest, 1992. This environmentally conscious film follows the plight of Crysta and her compadres, fairies who live in the rain forest. The scary pollution monster, Hexxus, is trapped in a tree, so everything seems great until deforestation arrives in Ferngully. When tree chopping releases Hexxus, he runs amok, and Crysta must use her magical powers to stick him back in the tree. Great animation and songs, especially “Toxic Love.”
4. The Land Before Time, 1988. Littlefoot is a happy young brachiosaurus. Then his world is ripped to shreds as Tyrannosaurus rex brutally slays his mother. (I always cry at this part.) He and his friends must find the mythical land where his grandparents are waiting for him, and along the way they have to defeat the T. Rex. Featuring another of James Horner’s compositions, “If We Go On Together,” this movie has some strong messages about teamwork and the power of love.
That’s all I have room for, but if you’re interested in more movies from my childhood, check out Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Fievel Goes West, and especially The Great Mouse Detective!
(Promotional photo of The Brave Little Toaster courtesy of Hyperion Pictures.)
(A trailer for Ferngully—The Last Rainforest can be seen below.)
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