One day, I’ll have kids (though not soon enough for my mother), and I think about the things I’ll get to do for them, besides adorning them in adorable onesies and showering them with all of the stuffed animals. What I look forward to the most is re-experiencing some of my favorite (age-appropriate) movies with them: watching them laugh at the same jokes, hiding their faces during the scenes that also scared me, and crying, oh god, crying.
Here are the first five I might pick (I’ll save Eternal Sunshine for their first break-up):
1. My Neighbor Totoro
I recently rewatched the Hayao Miyazaki classic in theaters, starring Japan’s answer to Mickey Mouse, and it was just as delightful as I remembered it being. Who wouldn’t want to take a nap on a ginormous woodland creature who’s as heavy as he is dainty (just look at him twirl on spinning top), and who can call up a flying cat bus with rat headlights? Which is to say, I’d finally have an excuse to get this Totoro bed.
2. A Little Princess (the one directed by Alfonso Cuarón in 1995)
A story of riches-to-rags-to-riches, the humble and strong Sara is a great role model for little girls (and Mexican film directors, I guess). The moment where her father doesn’t remember her gets to me every single time I watch it, while the scenes where the man next door sneaks into the dark, rundown attic bedroom, where Sara lives in after she becomes a servant at her own boarding school, and brings her daydreams to life with a recreation of India makes me uncontrollably smile. I’d even pass down my worn and torn copy of the book that I scribbled little notes all over.
3. Beauty and the Beast
My favorite film from the Disney Renaissance. As a kid, I wanted to be Belle, the perfect spokesperson for reading and dreaming who can be admired by boys and girls alike. As a kid AND as an adult, I NEED THAT LIBRARY.
4. The Phantom Tollbooth
I’m fascinated by mediums that twist learning on its head. You don’t realize you’re learning, but you are! (I think I read that in a museum brochure once.) The Phantom Tollbooth’s slightly trippy transition from live action to animation makes you feel like it could actually happen to you. It reminds me of a series of writing books I was obsessed with, where a group of friends went on adventures and learned about grammar, but I cannot remember the name at all. I want my son or daughter to have vague recollection of books inspired by movies, too.
Another darker children’s movie, with a take on being brave, Coraline Jones is the kind of adventurous child I’d want, maybe without some of the angst from the beginning. It doesn’t hurt that the stop-motion is gorgeous, and that it’s one of the few films to make good use of 3D (Future speech: “Kids, don’t ever pray for a 3D revival.”). Plus, there’s the talking cat.
The first movie Nadia Chaudhury remembers seeing in theaters with her father was Ghostbusters II.