Well it’s been a while since I last gave advice about how not to scare the shit out of your 2-year-old, and we’re on to the task of not scaring the shit out of your 3-year-old.
Toy Story Series
Now, kids aren’t going to get the angst of toys that are afraid they’ve outlived their usefulness and might get thrown in the trash. At least 3-year-olds won’t. You, however, will feel intense guilt about every toy you’ve ever given or thrown away.
Toy Story 1. Those creepy tortured toys and sadistic neighbor. That is pretty scary, yo.
The toys are clearly horror movie allusions, with music to match. Not cool, Pixar.
Toy Story 2. Oh noes, it’s the chicken-man, who acts as antagonist, but not out of malice toward the toys, as he simply a person who thinks of them as inanimate objects and is not aware that he holds their fate in his hands. The peril there is far less dramatic, with no horror movie aspects.
Toy Story 3. There’s an actual toy villain (oh noes, an evil pink bear) who at one point acts as a jailor.
Fortunately, most of the scare factor in Toy Story 3 (which is, I think, the scariest of the movies) affects the parents and goes right over the kids’ heads. Toward the end of Toy Story 3, there is a scene of “staring inevitable death in the face” which would be scary to kids that are old enough to understand it.
At the very end of Toy Story 3, all parents will be blubbering like sentimental idiots. And their kids will be staring at them like “I don’t get it. WTF, Mom.”
Twig’s Reaction: She loves all the movies and is totally oblivious to any sad or distressing elements that might keep Mom up at night. She loves the little girl in Toy Story 3.
Political power is at the heart of every Shrek villain. Really, not joking. On to the scary?
Shrek 1. Farquaad (who is quite creepy in a sleazy-nerdy sort of way) threatens with imprisonment and performs cookie torture.
The dragon is momentarily scary until she becomes totally cuuuute.
Shrek 2. The main tension here is whether fairy godmother can con Fiona into marrying Prince Nice-hair. Um, yeah, horrible.
Shrek 3. Prince Nice-hair is back and wants to take over.
There are some tense moments when he might have Shrek and/or Justin Timberlake killed, but Timberlake wins with logic and reason. DAMN YOU, TIMBERLAKE!
Shrek 4. Rumplestiltskin AKA “Curly Toed Weirdo” (do not google search for “curly toed weirdo”) attempts to erase Shrek from existence.
It’s like It’s A Wonderful Life with witches. Who are kind of scary. But not that bad.
Twig’s Reaction: The Shrek Series is appreciated using a very simple test:
Is there a baby ogre on screen? (y/n)
No baby ogre? Ok, is Puss In Boots on screen? (y/n)
No puss either? Sigh. How about Donkey? (y/n)
If all the answers to the above questions are “no”, Twig has wandered away from the television before you finished reading the questions.
One would think that jumping out of closets and scaring was, in fact, scary. Not so. It’s pretty mild. The monsters are harmless and loud.
I mean… THIS is your Abominable Snowman:
Except Salamander boy here is scary:
His dastardly scheme to kidnap kids will scare the shit out of your kid… if she’s old enough to understand it. Twig was not.
Twig’s Reaction: “It’s the girl with pigtails, JUST LIKE TWIG!”
“Girl in costume!”
What can I say? They fixate on what they want to see and ignore a lot of the rest.
Chipmunks (1 and 2)
This is very important. Are you ready to accept that your child might think that these chipmunks are squirrels, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, or another type of rodent? OK, then let us continue.
There’s very little peril in either movie. Mostly adults being disappointed in the shenanigans of the rodents…
… popularity (and football) versus family…
… mild school bullying…
..and at the end of each movie, putting said rodents into cat carriers/cages (from which they escape/are rescued). Oh. Noes. Oh right, there’s also an eagle. 30 seconds of peril from that one.
Twig’s Reaction: Singing is fun. Girl chipmunks are fun. Not really that interesting to her. She disapproves of the horrible messes the chipmunks make.
You’ll be pleased to know that there’s really no peril here. The rat cooks. The humans whine about restaurant ownership or getting poor food critic reviews. There’s some “chasing with carving knife” nonsense, but it’s not really that serious.
Now, Shorty does kidnap our little rat friend, but he kidnaps him for planned use of his cooking skills, not for death purposes.
Twig’s Reaction: “Rat cooking! He wash his hands. Rat make soup! Rat make salad! Rat make dessert! Rat under the hat!” Yeah, she loves it. And anyone who makes dessert is totally awesome to Twig.
Gotta love this one.
The minions really make this movie.
I mean, they’re so freakin cute!
They’re like the best office workers ever.
OK, so they smack each other around a bit. They’re probably setting a TERRIBLE example for your child.
Ok, focusing back on the cute…
Right, peril. So, uh, the slightly inept i-villain (no really, all his gadgets are Steve Jobsy) …
…kidnaps the kids and the peril is that they might fall out of a plane. Gravity is srs bzns. The most ruthless villain ever.
That’s pretty perilous, but… less scary to a kid than an actual evildoer.
Twig’s Reaction. Like I said before, kids see what they want to see. Twig calls it the movie with the “three girls”.
She’s excited when the girls put on tutus and dance. She immediately catches on that Gru is “the daddy” even before he realizes he’s the daddy.
She objects to the minions hitting each other because everyone knows you’re not supposed to hit. But she loves the minions. A lot.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Yes, I put this one last because everyone has been impatiently waiting for Twig’s assessment of PANDA MOVIE 2.
And, as mentioned before, there are flashbacks to BABY PANDA.
I mean, is there ANYTHING cuter than that?
Po came to be (gasp) adopted (I know, his dad is a goose, you didn’t see that coming) because bad things (TM) happened to his birth parents. Fortunately, that happens off-screen. The parents get it. The kids don’t. Plus, it’s done in drawn animation style, causing children to become instantly bored until the computer characters reemerge on screen.
The villain peacock fights dirty. He doesn’t just use fists. He uses a freakin glaive.
And then there are the KNIVES! Ok, they’re like feather-knives. But still knives. Which, in my book, is totally cheating.
But I don’t seem to recall any blood, so that’s cool. As seen above with Po’s father being a badass, he has minion wolves who are scaryish, but they don’t have knives that I recall.
Twig’s Reaction. Twig loved this movie so much. We’ve seen it twice now, and leaving the theater at the end is a major ordeal with much protesting.
Next up: Mr. Popper’s Penguins (to be viewed July 1)