This month’s selections include 2 for older movie watchers (age 10+) and 2 for younger movie fans.
Howl’s Moving Castle (2004): NOTE: I prefer the English language version of this movie that includes actors like Jean Simmons, Billy Crystal, and Christian Bale.
Hayao Miyazaki is the greatest creator of animated films since Walt Disney. His movies are very popular with Kids Corner listeners, and this is Kathy’s favorite. This fantasy is the story of Sophie, a plain young girl who works in a hat shop. She is put under a spell that turns her into a very old woman. Howl is a mysterious wizard. His castle (which moves!) is protected by the fire demon Calcifer (voiced by comedian Billy Crystal), who is also under a spell. Their country is involved in a stupid war. This is a beautiful and creative movie. Miyazaki’s images include amazing flying machines. Rated PG.
Secondhand Lions (2003): Walter (Haley Joel Osment) is a shy troubled young boy with a very irresponsible mother. She drops him off to live with a couple of old uncles in Texas. She believes stories that the uncles are hiding a fortune, and she wants Walter to find the money for her so she and her abusive boyfriend can steal it. I told you she was very irresponsible! Instead, Walter finds a family by living with these grizzled old varmints. Walter learns the story of his uncles’ exciting past lives of adventure. We live through the adventures as the uncles’ stories unfold. This movie has adventure, an old lion, and lots of meat (which the uncles love to eat). Kids 10+ will love seeing Walter’s quest to find happiness and security in life. Rated PG
The Muppet Movie (1979): The first time anyone ever heard “The Rainbow Connection” was at the beginning of this movie, sung by Kermit the Frog accompanying himself on the banjo. It’s a magical moment that time cannot diminish. This is the first movie the Muppets ever did, and it’s full of silly jokes and guest appearances by people who were famous at the time. Some of them are even still famous today, like Steve Martin and Big Bird. All the Muppet movies (Christmas Carol, Muppets Take Manhattan, etc.) are worth discovering as a family. There is something for every member of the family, from romance to comedy to great songs. Rated G
The Music Man (1962): This movie shows up a lot on Turner Classic Movies, and I watch it every time. This is a musical about a cheat and faker named Harold Hill who comes to the town of River City, Iowa to pull a scam on the citizens. He tells them the only way to keep their sons from getting into trouble is to put them in a musical band he will create. Harold Hill is the one who gets more than he bargained for when he falls in love with Marian the Librarian. There is a lot of great music and dancing in this movie. If you like old fashioned stories, you will love this. If you like movies that have little kids in them, you will enjoy watching young Ronnie Howard (who grew up to direct movies!) as Winthrop, Marian’s troubled little brother. Rated G