Throughout 2014, my seven year old daughter racked up just over a dozen trips to the cinema to see new releases. This was her biggest cinematic year to date and what has been noticeable more than anything has been her desire to push herself cinematically. She is now becoming bored and a little frustrated with her five year old sister’s standard U animated films and appears to be gravitating towards more advanced PG and live action films. This has been mirrored in her reading habits as well; she devoured the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and is now launching herself into the magical world of Harry Potter. While this evolution is still the first step up the certification ladder, it is climb which is fascinating to watch and and I hope guide.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, both of my girls seem to like everything they see and haven’t, as yet, actively disliked a film. However some of this is my own doing as I tend to steer them clear of any current releases which look ropey, but this year I decided to start pushing the boundaries a little with my eldest and started to challenge her to justify what she liked about the film and to start attempting to identify some themes.
This has lead to some great conversations as amongst the ‘well I liked all of it’ and ‘it was just so funny’, there has also been ‘I liked the way the family welcomed Paddington into their house’ and ‘Alexander must have felt bad about wishing bad things on his family’. While I am slightly biased, I was damn proud that she has started to pick up some basic themes and is able to articulate them, which bodes well for my goal of having her writing reviews before she is ten.
One way to really focus her mind was to encourage her to do her first top ten list of the year. She really threw herself into this and watching her struggle with what to leave out was quite unnervingly similar to my own end of year internal debates. She was able to quickly rattle off her favourite four films, but whittling down the rest took a little longer and and a bit of conversation. She appeared to be quite genuinely conflicted, though I knew she was on the right path when she decided, on her own and quite early on, that there was no place in her list for Free Birds….
Her final list is a reflection of her growing up, it contains six PG and four U films, with her top four all being PG. She has embraced films which have dealt (albeit gently) with grief, identity, guilt, consequences and social class, while also laughing hysterically at penguins driving cars.
So without further ado, here is the list, a seven year old’s view of 2014:
1. Big Hero Six – the clear winner in her mind and the only film we have seen more than once at the cinema.
2. Annie – No doubt influenced in part by her experiences of singing some of the more famous songs at school, but she was also really swept up in the story.
3. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – the film she has probably talked the most about since watching it. Also this was the first time that she was able to recognise an actor from a previous film.
4. Paddington – probably the film which lead to our best post film discussion.
5. Penguins of Madagascar – Utter hilarity the whole way through.
6. The Box Trolls – I was impressed as to how both girls handled this dark gothic tale which proves that children want and are able to be challenged by non-traditional animation.
7. Rio 2 – The only film I didn’t see with her which she saw with her Mum in an otherwise empty screening. I wonder if the experience of having a cinema to herself is the main reason this one makes the list.
8. Mr Peabody and Sherman – While she wouldn’t have got all the historical references she kept up well the multiple timelines.
9. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Like Big Hero 6, some substantial grief issues to deal with here, especially considering her attachment to one of the main characters.
10. Planes: Fire and Rescue – A more substantial film than the first which arrived at the start of the bush fire season, so leading to another topical discussion.
While I am still compiling my own end of year list, I think there is potential for a one crossover, and while not wanting to spoil the surprise, its probably not going to be Rio 2.
Roll on 2015, during which. much like my own father did with me in 1980, I will be able to take my children to see a new Star Wars film, a moment I expect parenting is simply made for.