Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Top 10 Kids DVDs to Own That Won't Annoy the Crap Out of Parents

(It's the most joyous time of the year. That time when we stop what we're doing. Take some time off work. And make lists in order to prove how smart we are.

Today's list: Top 10 Kids DVDs to Own That Won't Annoy the Crap Out of Parents)

If there's two things we love doing on this blog, it's making lists and giving parenting advice, and we are amazing at both. In that vein, I'm here to offer some crucial advice to you, my goof readers, who are either a parent, thinking of becoming a parent, or becoming a parent without thinking about it. I'm offering you the Top 10 Kids DVDs to Own That Won't Annoy You to Death.

Let me be clear: this is VERY different than Best Kids Movies or something like that. That's a totally different list. On that list, you'll end up with stuff like the Lion King or Fox and the Hound. Both are fine movies, but I'm telling you: you do NOT want these movies to be a permanent fixture in your household. Lion King may be great the first three, four or even ten times you watch it. But after a while, you're wishing Whoopie Goldberg would have just killed Simba like Scar asked halfway through the movie so you don't have to suffer through the Elton John songs coming up in the second half.

You see, if your kids are like my kids (and they ARE: all kids are the same until the age of 5. The exact. same) they'll want to watch it every single damn day. And you might let them, say, once a month, watch it. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY VIEWINGS THAT ADDS UP TO OVER THE COURSE OF A CHILDHOOD? A fucking lot, that's how many. And it's loud! My God is it loud! There's roaring, lightning, thundering herds, all of which made it memorable in the theater, but makes it a fucking headache at home. Trust me parents, rent The Lion King, own the DVDs below.

In order to be scientific about this list, we're employing a five category system. Each category rates from one to ten with ten being the platonic ideal, one being Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame with the volume turned all the way up.

Here are the five categories.

1) Rewatchability, like 300 times. Like I said, it's one thing to think a movie is good the first dozen times though, but will it still be enjoyable after you've seen it a million times? The first four times I watched Fox and the Hound I cried. It was my favorite movie. Now I detest it with my very core. I don't cry at the end anymore because Tod and Copper can't be friends anymore. And I'm starting to think that the main male character using the word "female" as an insult might be slightly chauvinistic. These are the things you pick up after watching a movie over and over.

2) Quiet! There is nothing worse than a kids movie that gets loud right as you and your spouse are starting to argue about who has to scrape the crud off the baking pan. Here's a made up stat: 70% of all divorces stem from it being too damn loud in the house. If you don't enjoy saying, "Will you please turn it down?! I'm trying to read!" then you want a movie that ranks highly in this category.

3) Educational/Sociological Benefits. OK, we figure there should be some sort of benefit to the kid watching this movie a million times. Maybe it teaches your kids how to read, how to behave, or about Christianity via talking vegetables, but it probably should be somewhat beneficial since your kids will be watching it so many times. But I promise you: no Baby Einstein videos appear on this list.

4) Parent enjoyment. Believe it or not, there are some kids DVDs that parents could like! You might even sit down to watch said movies with your children instead of taking a shower while your children are preoccupied.

5) Children enjoyment. Almost forgot this one. Seeing as they are kids DVDs, they should probably enjoy them. Otherwise, I'd probably just be listing a bunch of Nova specials in this list.

Alright, now that we have the groundwork straight, let's get to The Top 10 Kids DVDs to Own That Won't Annoy The Crap Out of Parents.

10) Wall E.
Rewatchability: 4
Quiet!: 8
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 5
Parent enjoyment: 6
Children enjoyment: 4
Total:
27

It won an Oscar after all, didn't it?

9) Thomas the Tank Engine
Rewatchability: 4
Quiet!: 10
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 5
Parent enjoyment: 2
Children enjoyment: 6
Total: 27

Thomas the Tank Engine is on this list only because it's so fucking mild mannered and yet it still keeps children rapt in attention. And there are a million DVDs so you should be able to find some on the cheap. Never mind that it's sort of brain numbing and slightly terrifying (their mouths don't move!). There is a caveat here: Thomas the Tank Engine merchendise is EXPENSIVE. I'm not sure why PBS has to run a fund-raising drive when they can milk this cash cow for all it's worth. $75 for a Thomas Lego starter set?? Like hell I'm pledging!

8) The Adventures of Milo and Otis
Rewatchability: 6
Quiet!: 7
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 4
Parent enjoyment: 3
Children enjoyment: 8
Total:28

The entirety of the Rewatchability factor is that Dudley Moore narrates.

7) Arthur
Rewatchability: 4
Quiet!: 5
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 7
Parent enjoyment: 8
Children enjoyment: 8
Total: 32

This is an awesome show. Really it is. It's very adult-themed as well. There's one where Buster's single mom starts dating a guy. There's one where D.W.'s favorite TV show gets canceled. It's stuff we all go through, kids and adults.

6) Wallace and Gromit
Rewatchability: 6
Quiet!: 6
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 5
Parent enjoyment: 8
Children enjoyment: 8
Total: 33

There should be a bonus category for claymation, but maybe that's built in to the Children Enjoyment category. I think children are amazed at claymation. "It's just like my toys, but they're moving and talking somehow!" For the record, I'm kind of amazed as well.

5) Curious George
Rewatchability: 6
Quiet!: 8
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 6
Parent enjoyment: 7
Children enjoyment: 8
Total: 35

Want your kids' movie to be enjoyable for parents? I'll give you three ingredients and you won't go wrong: 1) Jack Johnson soundtrack, 2) narration by William H. Macy, 3) Will Ferrell as the lead voice. That movie will be sitting on my shelf as soon as it's available.

4) Shaun the Sheep



Rewatchability: 8
Quiet!: 10
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 2
Parent enjoyment: 8
Children enjoyment: 8
Total: 36

There's no dialog! Nothing! No stupid voices or shouting or anything! It's just sheep getting into silly situations! Our kids love it. I love it. And you can get it as a two-pack with Wallace and Gromit. What are you waiting for???


3) The Fantastic Mr. Fox



Rewatchability: 10
Quiet!: 8
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 4
Parent enjoyment: 9
Children enjoyment: 7
Total: 38

OK some would call this cheating since it's not on DVD yet and I couldn't possibly have seen it 300 times. But I swear I will watch this movie as often as any Wes Anderson movie. And I rewatch Wes Anderson movies a lot. I'm sort of speculating on the Children Enjoyment factor (as opposed to my otherwise crack research of arbitrarilty assigning it a number) because Girl Supercomputer was enthralled ... at the movie theater. I think it'll be marginally less enthralling for children at home when I'm not forcefeeding her popcorn and the digital stereo is turned up so loud her teeth are chattering.

Tied for 1) Planet Earth



Rewatchability: 10
Quiet!: 7
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 8
Parent enjoyment: 10
Children enjoyment: 4
Total: 39

Yes, we have our first every DMS list tie! I guess that's what happens when you go about things hack-scientifically. Anyway, Planet Earth is awesome and everyone should own it. But make sure it's the David Attenborogh narrated one! The US version is narrated by Sigourney Weaver! Capable, but nowhere near as entertaining as an old British guy. You'll not the only weak spot is the apparent lack of Children Enjoyment, however, this is relative. Kids like it, but if you give them the choice of watching Planet Earth or, say, Dinosaur Train, of course they'll say Dinosaur Train (seriously, Dinosaur Train is the most simple and brilliant fucking idea ever. What do kids like? Dinosaurs! And trains! I got it! A show about dinosaurs who go on trains! It's called Dinosaur Train!). But that's why, as parents, you have to dictate what they watch. And kids, you're watching alligators eat wildebeests!

Tied for 1) My Neighbor Totoro



Rewatchability: 9
Quiet!: 7
Educational/Sociological Benefits: 6
Parent enjoyment: 8
Children enjoyment: 9
Total: 39

It's a Japanese animated movie from the same guy that made Spirited Away, except it won't frighten your children. It's one of the few childrens movies that isn't at all condescending. There's actually pauses between the action and there isn't a constant barrage of french horn and strings in the background. In other words, it's an actual good movie. The only downside: it's out of print and you have to get it secondhand at a ridiculous cost on ebay. So we just constantly rent it from the library over and over again. And frankly I think someone else in Fort Collins has that same idea. Whoever it is, STOP PLACING A HOLD ON MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO! That's my gig!

So to all you parents, wannabe parents, or just gonnabe parents, here's your X-mas DVD shopping list.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post is beyond awesome. I am always wondering what to do and what not to do so I will follow some of these tips.

Anonymous said...

Very useful message