DVDs and Blu-Ray best kids movies of 2009

As the parent of a 6 year old, I’ve spent a good amount of time in cinemas this year and we’ve seen most if not all of the major kids films released in 2009. Therefore I thought it might be handy to give you my brief reviews and views on what are the best kids or family movies of 2009 which are going to be available to buy on Blu Ray or DVD for Christmas. I’m going to review them from my point of view as a parent, and from the point of view of my son, as in whether he enjoyed it or not, and whether I think it will stand up to repeat viewings at home.

These aren’t in chronological order, I’m just adding these as the come to me:

1. Marley and Me.

Marley and Me was a strange film. In fact I would go so far as to say it was a two parallel films which might have been clever had they both worked. On the one hand, Marley and Me was a movie for middle aged men approaching or post mid-life crisis. It dealt with issues such as men losing their independence when entering a relationship, the difficulties of juggling work and home life, and issues about having children and families. I have to say, it handled these issues very well and as a grown up film, I thought it was pretty good and Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston were both excellent. However, the movie had been marketed as a goofball family comedy revolving around a big silly dog, Marley. My son and I had seen the trailers for the movie whilst watching other films at the cinema (I can’t remember exactly which ones, but probably the likes of Hotel for Dogs, and Monsters Versus Aliens – for which see below). The trailer focuses on the wacky antics of the dog and his owners. In reality, what you get is the adult themes as explained above, intertwined with Marley being the constant in the couple’s relationship and all goes well until the last half hour when oh my goodness, it turns into one of the most harrowing and heartbreaking movies of all time, making Kes seem like an episode of Dancing on Ice. Marley gets old, and ill. Eventually he has to be put to sleep. That’s bad enough you might think, except it isn’t. It’s much worse. You are forced to watch each member of the family giving their heart breaking goodbyes to their old friend as he loses the fight for survival, culminating in Wilson being there as the lethal injection is administered to put Marley to sleep. And it doesn’t even end there – you then have the utter despair of all the kids reading out their eulogies to the now dead Marley at the family funeral for the poor pooch. My son was in tears (as were most of the audience) and was actually quite angry about the fact that the film was so sad. I would never have taken him to see it had I known what it was really about and felt very guilty at having forced him to endure it, along with the difficult issues for young children such as death. Amateur psycho analysing aside, I would say that it definitely is NOT a film for young children. I’m not sure if it’s even a film for older teenage children.

So, the rating (out of ten):

Dads score: 8

Sons score: 1

Repeat watchability: 2

Average: 3.6 out of 10.

Worth buying Marley and Me as a kids Christmas present? Definitely not. (Worth buying for Dad though!).

Marley and Me is based on a book of the same name of course (and there are other Marley books in the series) and the book is also worth checking out.

2. Hotel for Dogs.

Hotel for Dogs was a far better proposition. A couple of teenage orphans in foster care are forced to take extreme measures when their dog needs somewhere to stay. They have to hide him from their awful (but superbly played) foster parents and stumble upon a big old disused hotel (obviously dreamt up before the property boom of the 1990’s when every spare inch of empty ground seemed to get converted into at least 20 flats). I won’t spoil the story for you but it involved the two kids, their social worker, their foster parents, and most of all, a large array of dogs whom the kids save from the pound (and extermination) with the help of some other kids who work at the local pet store. It’s a really good film and one of our favorites this year. We actually saw it twice at the cinema and I had no problem with that myself!

So, the rating (out of ten):

Dads score: 9

Sons score: 9

Repeat watchability: 7

Average: 8.3 out of 10.

Worth buying Hotel for Dogs as a kids Christmas present? Definitely YES.

3. G-Force

G-Force came out fairly recently in both 3-D and 2-D versions. Sadly our local cinema doesn’t support 3-D so we ended up watching it in normal vision. I must admit I was sceptical about G-Force being much good. We had seen the trailers which looked quite funny, but I had a feeling it might be a bit of a one trick pony. Happily I was wrong though. G-Force traces the exploits of a group of specially trained guinea pigs (hence the G) along with a techno genius Mole, who are handled by a (naturally) slightly eccentric but brilliant government payrolled scientist. When the government “feds” decide to terminate his funding, the trainer is desperate to get his team to solve a major crime in the making. Again, I won’t spoil the story, but it’s great fun with excellent characterisation and good human acting as well. Very enjoyable.

So, the rating for G-Force the movie (out of ten):

Dads score: 8

Sons score: 9

Repeat watchability: 7

Average: 8 out of 10.

Worth buying G-Force as a kids Christmas present? YES. We also have the PSP game and that’s very good as well. I can’t comment on the other formats but chances are they’re equally worth getting. Bit tricky for very young kids though.

4. Aliens in the Attic.

Aliens in the Attic was another summer holidays release. It features aliens who land on earth during a “meteor shower” at a house containing two holidaying families with an odious boyfriend in tow with a device that allows them to use people as remote controlled devices. And that’s, er, about it really. It was slow to get started and actually was something of a one trick pony. It seemed to be strangely retro set as if it was trying to claim an ET type place in movie history (kids with Activision video game t-shirts on etc. and retro hair cuts) though it also featured the internet so obviously wasn’t supposed to be set in the 1970’s. Didn’t really work for us. We both got bored very quickly. The story was poor, and the aliens were like little annoying crazy frogs.

So, the rating for Aliens in the Attic (out of ten):

Dads score: 3

Sons score: 3

Repeat watchability: 3

Average: 3 out of 10.

Worth buying as a kids Christmas present? Definitely NO in our view.

5. Monsters Versus Aliens

Monsters Versus Aliens was another film that came out in 3-D and again, we didn’t get to see it in 3-D. It featured lovely big animated characters and basically revolved around three “monsters” who had been taken off to live in a government scientific lab (including a lady who had been struck by a meteor affect on her wedding day which turned her into “Ginormica” a massively tall woman – all in proportion, it wasn’t a cake attack). They were sent out in a last ditch attempt to conquer a large alien body that the military had been unable to destroy using conventional weaponry. Again, plot spoilers withheld. However it was a good fun romp, well made and entertaining enough. However, we didn’t think it would stand up so well to repeat viewings. It was definitely worth seeing once, but I don’t think it would get hammered on the DVD player in our house.

So, the rating for Monsters Versus Aliens (out of ten):

Dads score: 7

Sons score: 8

Repeat watchability: 5

Average: 6.6 out of 10.

Is it worth buying Monsters Versus Aliens as a kids Christmas present? Maybe (but it’s definitely worth seeing once). More of a yes than a no! There are also lots of Monsters Vs Aliens toys available if your little darlings were particularly impressed by the movie.

7. Up!

Up! is the latest from the Disney Pixar stable and we were lucky enough to get some preview tickets to see the movie in full 3-D in Leicester Square several months ago. It beautifully animated (using computer graphics of course) and the 3-D was effective, but probably not essential in my view. It’s a lovely story about a man who is about to be put into residential care. Having previously worked as a balloon seller with his late wife as a younger man, he decides to embark on one last journey to find a place (Paradise Falls somewhere in South America) they had both dreamed of visiting as young children, but had never got round to. He sets off on the morning of his departure to the old folks home by launching thousands of helium filled balloons tied onto his house which lifts it up and away towards adventure. Once in the air, he discovers a young “Wilderness Explorer” called Kevin who had been on his porch at the time of life off, and the two of them bond whilst having their adventures. It’s a lovely film, though I couldn’t help feeling that there was a little something missing from the story. A lot of story time is dedicated to not very much happening, and I felt that it ought to have been a bit more profound or involving, though I can’t quite put my finger on why that should be.

So, the rating for Up! (out of ten):

Dads score: 9

Sons score: 9

Repeat watchability: 8

Average: 8.6 out of 10.

Worth buying Up! as a kids Christmas present? Definitely YES.

8. Ice Age 3. Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

The third part of the Ice Age series, and I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought part one was good, part two was OK but not very exciting. As it turned out, I was right to be wary. Ice Age 3 had a fairly dull plot involving a search to recover a lost friend (Sid) who had skulked off due to being usurped in the affections of a big mammoth by the imminent birth of the mammoths first child. Sid himself adopts three dinosaur babies after stumbling across their eggs, but is then abducted by their mother who comes in search of them. Sid is taken to a prehistoric dinosaur jungle, and the others have to (naturally) find him and then all get back out. I’m not sure why it didn’t work for us but it didn’t. I know it’s aimed at kids, but it was predictable and rather boring. There are some funny bits, but the struggle between Sid and his new female friend over an acorn was funny for 5 minutes but seemed to pop up every 10 for the entire film.

So, the rating (out of ten):

Dads score: 5

Sons score: 6

Repeat watchability: 3

Average: 4.6 out of 10.

Worth buying as a kids Christmas present? No, unless your kids are completely into the Ice Age movies. That concludes my round up of the top kids movies of 2009.



Source by M Thomson