On my recent flight between Atlanta and Stockholm, the only movie choices were kid movies (Hotel for Dogs, Powerball Revolution). On my return trip, the offerings were adult films, albeit with an “adult content” warning preceding them (Duplicity, He’s Just Not That Into You). This experience made me think about U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler.
Almost two years ago, Rep. Shuler sponsored the Family Friendly Flights Act, which would require planes displaying violent in-flight entertainment to provide a child-safe viewing area for passengers under the age of 13. The act has yet to pass and only has a couple of months longer in play before it’s wiped off the books, which I reckon will happen given the other stuff Congress is hashing through at the moment.
Even so, I started wondering which kid movies I wouldn’t mind watching if I were stuck on a long flight in Shuler futurama.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite kid movies — ones I’d put down a book to watch on a flight. Some of these I saw first as a kid myself; some as an adult. But I’d watch any one of them again now — with or without my kids.
• Monsters, Inc.: Clever as hell. Who would’ve guessed the monster under the bed’s only doing his job and is as terrified of kids as they are of him? Plus, my son called me “Kitty” for a couple of years when he was little (possibly because I weaned him by bringing home two kittens to serve as distractions from my “nursies”). So I indentify with big blue monster Sulley, who fails in his work when a little girl refuses to be frightened by him and follows him around calling him “Kitty” for the rest of the movie. Kind of feels like my life on the big screen.
• The Incredibles: Kids and comic book geeks everywhere adore this movie. Plus, Elastigirl, as voiced by Holly Hunter, is the coolest mom ever. Even though it’s animated, there’s some violence, although no death, and some pretty scary scenes (plane with kids and mom on it gets blown up and they get dumped into the ocean in the middle of nowhere). Which of course brings us to the biggest problem with Shuler’s act — who decides which movies are appropriate and why? Are we willing to spend taxpayer dollars on a congressional family friendly flights committee? I’m not.
• Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: OK, this is a television special, not a movie, but my kids have only seen it on video. This one falls into the category of nightmare-inducing kid movie. The roar of the Adominable Snowman still makes me shiver. Also, there is no more lachrymose scene in television history than the one where the Misfit Toys lament the fact that Santa’s once again bypassed delivering them to loving kids. And Rudolph teaches us that essential lesson that even misfits and outcasts can succeed with perseverance, a little luck, and some Christmas magic.
• The Bad News Bears: I spent every summer of my childhood at a Little League field up the road from my house. I lived The Bad News Bears — with less profanity, but still in the days when the coaches wouldn’t think twice about swilling a beer between innings. In fact, given the fisticuffs, cursing and alcoholism, I’m not sure this movie would make the Shuler cut. But it’s a hilarious movie, and another one about misfits succeeding against all odds.
• Elf: The funniest Christmas movie ever made. Only Will Farrell could play a human who thinks he’s an elf. The ending’s cheesy as havarti, but it still makes me tear up. Warning: my son refuses to watch this film because the beginning’s so sad and scary. What’s sad and scary? Santa accidentally kidnaps a baby from the orphanage. Because, as my boy says, the nuns will be really worried about the baby. They may not be his real parents, but they love him, he says. He’s right, you know, though that never occurred to me the first five times I saw this movie.
Ultimately, while I would prefer for my kids not to see, say, Terminator Salvation, on an airplane, I think there are just too many variables to control for a kid-friendly area to work. Although as long as I’m not traveling with kids, I like the idea of everyone else’s kids being cordoned off in the back of the plane, preferably with their own bathroom as well.
So, any kid movies you’d be willing to put up with on a long flight?
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.