What makes a children’s film great? The cynic in us wants to say that it’s the fact that people have such low standards for them that they’re willing to flock to any mediocre piece of shiny crap that will keep their offspring’s attention. But really, films are never as magical as they are when you’re a kid, which is doubtless why the hot young things of edgy film are flocking to reclaim their childhoods.
At the Telegraph, SF Said explores what makes a great children’s film, which, we’d say, is that it shouldn’t condescend, and that it shouldn’t be afraid to be dark. Lord knows, Pixar’s films have been consistently amazing because they haven’t, despite their technical excellence, ever neglected dialogue or characterization. As a side note, the paper also offers a well thought-out list of the top 20 children’s films and a piece in which Benjamin Secher goes out to a London school to ask the kids themselves what they like.
Here’s a list we’d like to see: the supposedly for-children films that scared the hell out of you when you were young. For us the undisputed top pick would be the great Walter Murch‘s sole directorial effort, "Return to Oz," which we’re still a little frightened of. Jean Marsh‘s head howling "Doooooorooothy Gaaaaaaallllle"? Eek.
Anyway, on the topic of Pixar, Laura M. Holson at the New York Times and Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune both report that the fate of Disney rests on how well "Chicken Little" does â€” Holson because it will dictate the terms of any forthcoming Disney/Pixar negotiations, Caro because Disney sorely needs a hit after doing away with its (once hallowed) traditional animation department last year. Caro also talks to vet Disney animator Glen Keane about being brainwashed (or convinced, whatever) as to the benefits of CG animation for his planned "Rapunzel Unbraided."
Newell decided that essentially "The Goblet of Fire" was "a God-given thriller".
"I was explaining my idea of the story to Dan[iel Radcliffe], and he said, ‘What have you been watching?’ I told him, paranoid thrillers: ‘Three Days of the Condor,’ ‘The Parallax View,’ ‘North by Northwest.’ They’re all about people who don’t know what’s happening to them.
"I told him specifically to watch ‘North by Northwest,’ because there you are, it’s a sunny afternoon, you’re happy with your life, but suddenly stuff starts happening, and then you’re up against the bad guy, who had plans for you all along. That’s exactly what happens to Harry Potter in this book."
+ What makes a children’s film great? (Telegraph)
+ Top 20 children’s films (Telegraph)
+ But what do the children think? (Telegraph)
+ For Disney and Pixar, a Deal Is a Game of ‘Chicken’ (NY Times)
+ Can this chicken save Disney? (Chicago Tribune)
+ The making of a convert (Chicago Tribune)
+ I was so fearful of breaking the spell (Telegraph)