Family-friendly and kid-friendly movies with a good message are becoming ever harder to find. “G” rated movies are a rarity, even from Walt Disney Studios – which once defined the genre. “PG” rated movies are hit or miss – they might be appropriate for children, or they might not. Worse yet, today’s “PG-13” rated movies look too much like older “R” rated films, illustrating the “ratings creep” phenomenon identified in a 2004 Harvard University study.
What is a parent to do? We designated conservatives are here to help with a new feature on this site: Movie reviews for kids by kids! To help the designated conservative parents among our readers, we are planning to periodically post reviews of new theatrical releases and new movies on DVD authored by a crack team of under-18 reviewers.
Our first review is of “Bedtime Stories” – a brand new movie from Adam Sandler that opened in wide theatrical release on Christmas Day 2008. With Adam Sandler, it’s hard for parents to know whether they’re going to get “50 First Dates” or “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” – so this review should be a big help for parents looking for something to do to get their stir-crazy kids out of the house during Christmas break:
BEDTIME STORIES is a new movie about a guy named Skeeter (Adam Sandler) who tells his niece and nephew (Laura Ann Kesling and Jonathan Morgan Heit) bedtime stories. Skeeter discovers that the stories come true in real life; at least the parts that the kids add.
The way the movie began was unexpected. It started with Skeeter and his older sister Wendy (Courtney Cox) as children living in a small hotel their father Marty (Jonathan Pryce) owned.
However, Marty wasn’t a very good businessman, and soon he had to sell his hotel to Mr. Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), a wealthy investor who tore it down and built a larger one in its place. Skeeter’s father let him buy the business only because Mr. Nottingham promised that he would let Skeeter run the hotel when he grew up.
Skeeter grew up but didn’t get to run the hotel. Instead, the only job he got was the hotel repairman. When Mr. Nottingham decided to build a huge new hotel, Skeeter thought that it was his chance. When he found out that his rival, Kendall (Guy Pearce), was picked instead of him, he was angry.
Once Skeeter realized that the bedtime stories came true, he started trying to manipulate the stories in a way that would allow him to beat his rival. It didn’t always work out the way he wanted, but the results were always very funny!
The movie captures what Skeeter calls “the things that kids know and adults have forgotten,” which is the unrestrained and unlimited power of the imagination.
Bedtime Stories is appropriate for little kids, and would be good for all ages, both children and adults. On a scale from one (worst) to five (best), we give this movie 4 sodas.
Our second review is of “Speed Racer“ – a 2008 release that didn’t fare well at the box office, and which is now out on DVD:
SPEED RACER is a new movie about a family that loves car racing and their struggle to stay independent racers. As a little kid, Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) watched the race where his older brother Rex (Scott Porter) died. When he is older, Speed uses this memory as motivation to finish races.
Our older brother’s favorite part was at the beginning when Speed was racing the ghost of his older brother. Rex was the one who set the record for the fastest race ever. Near the end of the race he was driving on the straightaway and Rex’s ghost was next to him. At the last second Speed decided to hit the brakes so that he ended up one second behind Rex’s record, out of respect for his brother’s memory.
Along with a terrific story, the special effects in this movie were absolutely amazing. This is not racing like you see on TV. It’s all about controlled spins and flips to get in front of everybody else.
We liked how, in the midst of all the action, there were quiet moments where you really saw what was going on in Speed’s head and how important his family was to him. Speed had to make many hard decisions about his future and the future of his family. He worked hard to make the right choices.
This movie is also very funny, like when Speed’s younger brother and his pet chimp pretend to fight and it looks like Japanese animation. The best part is that this movie is good for all ages – the only scary part for little kids might be some explosions.
If you have trouble with motion sickness, then you’ll want to know that Speed Racer is as good as the best roller coaster we’ve ever ridden on. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best) sodas, we give this movie 5 overfull sodas. Don’t miss it!