Welcome to the Read That Again! guide to children's film, cartoons and videos for younger viewers. Looking for good movies that won't warp their little brains too badly? Here are a few of our faves...
This page covers the letter "M."
By the way, we're always looking for new stuff to watch... If you have recommendations, please feel free to write and tell us about your favorites.
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"Mad Monster Party"
An awkward oddity from the Rankin-Bass people -- the same folks who made all those TV specials such as Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty The Snowman. This feature-length film was actually a theatrical release, but it used the same kind of "animagic" stop-motion animation as their television shorts. The story includes all the major, brand-name monsters of the Universal Studios and other vintage films -- Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, the Mummy, Dr Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man, the Creature From The Black Lagoon and others, all drawn to a mysterious island at the invitation of Dr. Frankenstein (played by Boris Karloff) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (C+)
(Walt Disney, 1964)
This sly spoof of superhero comics is a real winner. Told from the viewpoint of the bad guy, a flambouyant but hopelessly star-crossed, blue-skinned evil genius named Megamind whose nemesis, Metro Man, has managed to trash him for decades while still posing for his publicity shots. One day, though, the tables are turned, and Megamind finds himself on the winning side for once: now what's he gonna do?? Two great comedic talents emerge in this top-notch kiddie flick: Will Ferrell gives Megamind a truly loopy, geeky charm, while David Cross is incredibly fabbo as his outlandish sidekick. (Side note: Minion is kinda similar to Cross's role as a sarcastic robot helper in the sci-fi eco-epic Battle For Terra... has he been typecast as some kind of wiseguy ghost in the machine?) Anyway, we saw this one in the theatre, loved it, bought the mega-disc home video and love that too. It's a fun, funny movie with a touchingly sentimental core... The sequel bonus short, "The Button Of Doom," is also a real hoot. Highly recommended!! (A+)
"Meet The Robinsons"
(Walt Disney, 2007)
An amusing tween-genius/time travel wish-fulfillment fantasy pic about a boy named Lewis who is a super-genius but also kind of weirdo loner and an orphan to boot. He's never quite able to connect to normal folks (other than his loyal best friend) and starts to get discouraged that his life is going nowhere, despite all his best efforts. That's where the time travel comes in. Urged on by a mysterious figure from the future, Lewis builds a time machine and starts wreaking havoc on the time stream, with unpredictable results, and plenty of gadget-filled hilarity. The characters didn't stay with me, but the movie was fun -- a good one for techno-geeky kids and nerds-in-training. Oh, and Lewis does figure out how to fit in, after all! (B)
"(The Best Of) Mr. Peabody & Sherman, v.1"
(Classic Media, 2005)
One of the great delights of going back through a bunch of old, classic children's cartoons is rediscovering the adventures of the didactic, time-traveling, genius-level canine named Mister Peabody and his human sidekick, Sherman. Originally featured on the Rocky And Bullwinkle show, several Mr. Peabody episodes are now collected on this DVD... It's a great, goofy show with a historical premise: Peabody and Sherman start to wonder about some long-ago topic, then hop into the Wayback Machine, pull the lever and travel back in time to meet General Custer or Julius Caesar and watch history unfold. Well, actually they usually give history a little nudge: Mr. Peabody invariably makes some suggestion to a vexed or befuddled historical icon that enables them to fulfill their destiny. Complex issues of causality and messing with the time stream seldom seem to concern him -- his biggest worry is usually about which terrible pun will Sherman make at the end of the show. Like its companion feature, "Fractured Fairy Tales," Peabody & Sherman expects a certain level of knowledge from its viewers: you can't get the jokes if you didn't pay attention in school. But you can definitely enjoy the show! I always liked seeing these short bits as they were originally intended, as part of the R&B managerie, but it's fun having them all on their own, free-standing disc, too... Either way, it's classic material. (By the way, in case anyone out there is paying attention, I'm ready for Volume Two!) (A)
Ace bunny killer. A computer animation landmark and one of the greats of the genre, due to the imaginative script, and multilayered, visionary design. Truly great stuff. Great performances by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, lots of groovy monsters to look at and clever reality-bending flights of fancy. I remember seeing this one in the theater in Emeryville (Pixar's hometown) and the studio had donated a life-size model of Sully to stand in the lobby, blue fur and all. That was cool, but the movie was cooler. You know what I'm talking about. (A+)
"The Muppet Show, Season One"
(Disney/Buena Vista, 2005)
"The Muppet Show (Season Two)" (DVD)
(Disney/Buena Vista, 2007)
Hey, look what I got (my kid) for Christmas! It's... The Muppet Show!! Yahhhh-h-h-h-h-hh-h-h-hh!! Both my wife and I remember watching this as kids (hey, has anyone seen my cane? It was just here a minute ago...) and we were psyched when our kid also latched onto Kermit, Fozzie and the gang... We started by checking it out from the library, but when it was clear that the show was a hit, I decided to go for it and bring the box set home. I went for Season Two because the first season was a little shakier... They were still finding the show's rhythm, and the celebrity guests were sometimes a little, um, weak -- Connie Stevens, for example -- though by Season Two the guests were a lot more hip and happening. Steve Martin was fun, and Elton John's episode was a real gas. (The Don Knotts episode sucked, though...) Other than a lame and anachronistic, tacked-on rock video by Weezer, this 4-DVD set is pretty awesome. Anybody know when Season Three comes out? (A+)
"The Muppet Show, Season Three"
(Disney/Buena Vista, 2008)
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