The more I write this column the more cynical I get about movies, and truthfully that becomes disheartening because I love movies. But it's hard not to think that movies by and large were better in the past. My wife thinks I'm becoming a crotchety old man even though I should still be several decades away from that moniker. But, dag nabit!, movies were better when I was a kid. Case in point: the fantasy genre. Sure there have been some great fantasy movies recently, most notably THE LORD OF THE RINGS and HARRY POTTER flicks, but there just doesn't seem to be a lot of variety. Plus, aside from perhaps the first couple HARRY POTTER movies, none of those were really intended for little kids.
So let's travel back to that magical decade when fantasy movies for kids of all ages were plentiful: the 1980s. Here are some good and still enjoyable films from that genre.
A little bit Alice in Wonderland-ish, this one's about a girl who wished trolls would take away her baby brother (who hasn't wished that at some point?) and when trolls actually take him away, she has to go rescue him. Starring a weird David Bowie and a cute Jennifer Connelly, add in some Jim Henson puppet creatures and you're in for a good time.
THE DARK CRYSTAL
An elf-like creature has to find a missing piece of the dark crystal in order to restore balance to the universe. Another film with creatures from Jim Henson, and a precursor to Fraggle Rock, if you ask me.
THE NEVER ENDING STORY
A kid finds/steals a mysterious book and when he starts to read it, begins to realize it might not be just a story. This was one of my favorites growing up.
A plucky dwarf, with the help of a sword-wielding Val Kilmer, must protect a baby from an evil queen.
This one stars a pre-nuts Tom Cruise as an elf that must undertake a quest to save a kidnapped princess (the lovely Sloane Peterson) as well as the last of the magical unicorns from the clutches of the Lord of Darkness (not Voldemort).
THE PRINCESS BRIDE
A classic fairy tale about Westley's search to find his Buttercup. Full of great characters, weird creatures, sword fights, and of course, Andre the Giant.
Three young misfits turn an old carousel car into a makeshift spaceship and blast off for an amazing journey.
A bunch of dwarves take a young boy on a crazy adventure through time. A few years ago for some reason this movie came up when I was talking to a co-worker. He was so flabbergasted that I hadn't seen it, the next day he brought in his copy. And then after I watched it he was just as flabbergasted that I didn't like it as much as he did.
RETURN TO OZ
It's now six months after the tornado and Dorothy insists Oz is a real places, so naturally she's sent to a mental hospital for electroshock therapy. Of course she ends up back in Oz and, with a new group of oddball friends, has to save the Emerald City. A vast improvement on the original, if you ask me.
FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR
A missing boy reappears after eight years not having aged at all, and it's somehow linked to an alien that sounds suspiciously like Pee-wee Herman.
So, parents, instead of taking your little ones out to see the latest mediocre kids films, why not just rent one of these instead?
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Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.|
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