My Top 5 Movies About Moving House

Moving, moving, moving. Everyone around me seems to be moving house at the moment, myself included. So with just a couple of weeks to go before I embark on my 10th move in 10 years (seriously) I thought I’d take a look back at some of the best movies that involve moving home in the hopes of trying to fool myself that my move will go better than some of these!

5) Inside Out

insideoutA beautiful film that follows the personified emotions inside the head of Riley, a twelve year old girl as she makes the tough move from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Along the way Riley has to deal with feelings of isolation and fear as she makes her way in a new school, a new house and no moving van with all her home comforts. All whilst also pining for her old life that she loved so much.

Not only is this a movie about how sadness can be an important emotion and is integral to being happy again, but also about the art of mourning the past and being able to move forward.

4) Footloose

foortloost
Don’t tell me this doesn’t turn you on?!

So, you’ve just moved into small town America from The bright lights and wind from Chicago only to discover that these red neck hicks have banned dancing! What do you do? You start a dancing rebellion, of course! Well, that’s what Ren McCormick  did!

With his fancy city dancing and new fangled cassette Walkman Ren (Kevin Bacon), brings down the tyranny of the two left footed and really rather dour Father Shaw (John Lithgow), Moore and all the kids danced in the streets.

It’s a perfect cheesy 80s movie with the soundtrack to go with it. It’s so lovable and ban so silly you can’t help but get caught up in it all and by the end you’re dancing with the best of them!

 

3) BeetleJuice

beetleuiceAdam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) are poltergeists stuck in their quaint farmhouse. Despite their best efforts to spook them away, The Deetzes will not move. In their desperation to get rid of this vile couple they employ the services of one Beetleguese, a human exorcist to do the job for them. They end up making friends with Lydia, the daughter whose interest in the ‘Strange and unusual’ allows her to be able to see Adam and Barbera.

Beetlejuice manages to marry up dark comedy and horror in a unique way. One of Tim Burton’s earliest films, it’s full of his visual style and slightly warped sense of humour (anyone who commits suicide is doomed to be a civil servant for their afterlife). It’s a great warning for anyone moving into an old house, you never know, it could be haunted!

2) Coraline

coralineOne of my favourite films, ever. Coraline Jones is a feisty young blue head. She and her parents move into an apartment in a kinda creepy looking flat. Her parents, busy working all the time leave Coraline to explore the grounds and meet the new neighbours. Her adventures bring her to the Other Mother, who tempts Coraline to sew buttons into her eyes by showing her the magical and perfect alternate world she could be inhabiting. 

It’s glorious stop motion animation combines with it’s reluctance to talk down to kids to create a wonderful world that is filled with both beautiful wonder and darkest nightmares all at once.

With a kick ass lead character who can fight for herself and stand up for what is right, this is a great story for young girls. It is also a great story about exploring new places and learning new things, and perhaps that if something appears too be good to to be true, maybe it is.

 

1) Toy Story

toy-story
Woody has the cold, dead eyes of a killer

One of the greatest films ever, revolutionising not just CGI animation but how kids films are perceived by the wider public.

In this classic tale of jealousy and betrayal Woody, the rootinest tootinest sheriff in town, starts to get green eyes when a shiney new Buzz Lightyear appears on the scene taking over as the coolest toy in town. A mishap makes it look like Woody got rid of Buzz on purpose, so he goes on a quest to bring Buzz back into the fold, the clock is set, as they need to make it back before the moving van takes Andy and his family to their new home. Culminating in a tense and very emotional scene as Buzz and Woody try to catch up with the van.

This was the first feature length offering from Pixar, and it was an instant success. It’s revolution in CGI animation intrigued audiences, but they took it into their hearts because of the amazingly well developed and lovable characters and universal themes that we can all identify with, even if they are played out by toys.  

Finger crossed I don’t end up with creepy Other Mothers, ghosts or a fight between the toys!

My Top 5 Animated Movie Villains

We all love a good hero, but they cannot exist without a great villain to hate.Without  a villain a hero is just some jerk beating people up over nothing. So, we have villains to fight against and to teach us that greed and being evil is bad.

Although I firmly believe that not all animation is for kids, for the purpose of this list I have decided to concentrate of kids’ animation, so I can hark back to all those times I pooped my pants in the living room watching a movie (sorry Mum, you washed those knickers like a pro!)

I’ll warn you now, there are spoilers contained within!

5) Ursula – The Little Mermaid

UrsulaTheLittleMermaidShe was probably the first real villain that I ever encountered as a little whippersnapper. The Little Mermaid was my first ever VHS and I watched it all the time.

Ursula just looks evil from the start. As soon as Ariel drops on by to sell her voice and change her species so Prince Eric will fall in love with her (seriously though ladies, don’t change who are just for some man, Prince of not) we can sense Ursula’s evility. She’s all in black, she’s got some kind of weird thing going on with her hair, she has, quite frankly an amazing bosom. She lives in a sea cave thing full of withered twiglet looking things with eyes. Have you heard her laugh? It’s the most typical evil laugh you’ve ever heard!

I have to admit I don’t really remember being scared of Ursula, but I do remember being mesmerised by her and the way she used to slither about with her wayward tentacles. Even when watching it as an adult the grand finale with the gazillion foot tall Ursula is pretty disturbing, especially when she laughs as though she’s a vinyl recording of a creeping seaside laughing man played at the slowest possible speed.

4) Dr Facilier – The Princess and the Frog

dr facilierYou could be forgiven for not having a clue who Dr Facilier is, even if you’ve seen The Princess and the Frog. No one calls him by his name in the movie.

This guy is so scary the townspeople of New Orleans don’t even use his name, either that or they don’t think he’s interesting enough to bother learning his name. They refer to him as The Shadow Man or sometimes The Voodoo Man.

Dr Facilier uses his shadow friends from ‘the other side’ to hatch a plan to take over the whole of New Orleans to… Harvest their souls, or something.

This guy is both awesome and a total scumbag in equal measures. He has one of the most impressive musical sequences in modern Disney memory with the Friends on the Other Side song, where he makes himself look like a total badass with all the magic he needs right at his fingertips. He’s whispering green stuff here and there, he even appears to turn into a sugar skull at one point

He put on this big show so everyone knows how hard he is only to later on show himself to be a snivelling snot weasel worse than that kids in school who hung out with the bullies, but only had the guts to agree with what the head bully had to say.

 

3) Judge Doom – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

judge doomYou remember this guy, he broke your heart when he dissolved the squeaky shoe in that green goopy stuff. Never have I had such emotional attachment to a bright yellow and red clown shoe. *wipes a single tear from eye*

This guy was creepy as hell. As the human Mayor of ToonTown he reigns with fear thanks to his disgust for Toons and their whimsical nature. With a cool and collected demeanor He delights in torturing any Toon that dares to break any of his stringent rules with ‘The Dip’ (the aforementioned green goopy stuff).

judge doom toonHowever, after getting steam rollered during the finale, he reveals himself to be Toon, the very thing he hates the most. As a Toon he switches from the cold and calculated psychopath type to more of a maniac killer profile. He starts spouting daggers from his eyes, he develops springs in his feet. Most disconcerting of all his voice ascends to a shrill squeak as he admits to the murder of Bob Hoskins’ brother.

Whichever Judge Doom you get, Human or Toon, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

 

4) The Raptors in the Kitchen – Jurassic Park

raptorsI know what you’re thinking, they don’t count, they were interacting with live actors, in a live action setting. They were designed to look as realistic as possible. Technically, they were animated, so they totally count.

 

You’ve got to be careful who you say raptors in the kitchen to. If they’re in their late 20s you might just trigger a latent case of PTSD. Those demon dinos struck fear into children of all ages in the early 90s and most have still never gotten over the ordeal.

Unlike the onslaught of might and power from the T-Rex, the raptors are sneaky and were willing to play the softly softly catchy monkey game, they even learnt how to open doors to get at their prey. Doors! I bet a T-Rex couldn’t do that with it’s comically small arms.  

The great camera work from Spielberg really puts you in the action. It makes you feel like you are in the kitchen with those two annoying twerps trying to avoid not only a violent and wild creature, but a clever one. Giving thousands of children nightmares for years to come in the process.

 

1) The Other Mother – Coraline


other mother goodThe Other Mother, for me, is one of the creepiest little mo’fo’s out there. The others on this list have been evil from the start, their intentions were clear. You knew Ursula and Dr Facilier were not really concerned with helping poor unfortunate souls. You knew dinosaurs were only out to eat what they can.

The Other Mother though, although she might look a little weird with those button eyes, she starts out as being the ever loving matriarch. She provides Coraline with a caring environment filled with all the delights her heart desires including delicious food, a colourful garden and attentive parenting.

One day The Other Mother offers Coraline the chance to stay in the alternative realm forever on the condition Coraline sews buttons onto her eyes. Coraline senses something is afoot and declines, angering the other mother and revealing her true colours.

the other motherGradually The Other Mother morphs into her real form and the magical house reveals itself to be a prison for the ghosts of other children who were more willing to have buttons sewn onto their eyes.

Why is The Other Mother the worst? She pretends to love you, she lures you in with delights and kindness only to pull the rug from under you as she delights in stealing your life essence. Always beware of something that seems too good to be true.

If you can think of any other great animated villains, from a kids movie or not, leave a comment.

 

 

My Top 5 Stop Motion Animation Films

I love animation. I love that it can take you to worlds and places you could only ever see in your dreams. It’s not constrained by real life and as such can create places that can be as normal or surreal as you like.

It can take you to an island where it rains food, you can go on a trip in a yellow submarine, you can dance with beasts and go on a magic carpet ride. You can even go down a magical rabbit hole into Wonderland. The only limit is your imagination (and artistic skills).

Animated films and TV shows have brought delight and wonder to children and adults everywhere and in this list I am choosing just 5 of my favourite movies animated using stop motion techniques.

Stop motion has a special quality to it, because it’s filmed using real puppets that are painstakingly moved centimetre by centimetre with a picture taken after every move you can feel the love and dedication that is poured into producing them. It also makes it more tangable than other forms of animation. There ar fantastical images happening on the screen, and yet, it all feels real. Perhaps because at some point, somewhere it was real. Even if it is a little on the small side. This is why stop motion is my favourite animation method.

So, without further ado here’s number 5!

5) Alice (1988, PG, 86mins Dir. Jan Svankmajer)

alice mad hatter

This film on our list is also the only one to incorporate live action into the animation.

An adaptation of Alice in wonderland, Alice was brought to life by czechoslovakian animator Jan Svankmajer. It brings forth a much more dark and disturbing version of alice white rabbitWonderland than previous adaptations had portrayed. It follows a live action Alice in her adventures down the rabbit hole. Gone away are the bright coloured and friendly characters. In their place we get characters that seem dangerous and confusing. The puppets are often found objects re-purposed for the film. Even using a real stuffed rabbit for The White Rabbit. Wonderland itself looks like an old house where any child could wander and find any manner of strange things.

All this give Alice a unique feel and mood, and is often cited as one of the great films about childhood, discovery and the loss of innocence though I’m not sure I would let a child watch this. Even with the PG certificate I feel that it would be a little too disturbing for young children.

4) Mary and Max (2009, 12, 92mins Dir. Adam Elliot)

mary and max

An amazing film about a friendship between a man with Autism in New York and his pen pal. A lonely little girl in Australia.

Mary and Max is one of the most beautiful and emotional films you will ever watch. While the colour palette has been deliberately kept to browns and greys to reflect the lives of the two protagonists, this film is anything but.

You’ll laugh out loud at some of the childish musings of Mary (Toni Collette) and you will cry at the tragedy of Max’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman) life.

mary and max meetIf there was ever a film that could be described as a roller coaster of emotion, this is truly it. It’s about finding a partner in loneliness and making your way in a world that perhaps doesn’t accept who you are. 

The design and animation is beautiful, and the soundtrack will have you humming The Penguin Cafe Orchestra for weeks. One word of caution, this is rated 12, and like Alice, it is not really intended for children.

 

3) Chicken Run (2000, U, 81mins Dir. Peter Lord & Nick Park)

chicken run poster

No list about stop motion is complete without at least one Aardman entry. I decided to go with Chicken Run, because it was the first feature film they produced. I remember going to the cinema to see it with my family, and everyone enjoyed it. Even when watching it back now it really stands the test of time.

chickensThe story is essentially The Great Escape, but with chickens. It sounds absurd when said out loud, and it’s this slightly eccentric absurdity that makes this work so well. The humour is daft British through and through and the voice performances from the cast are great and really help to make the chickens characters that you feel for and are with every step of the way.

You can tell that this is an Aardman production, the chickens have the iconic Aardman mouth made famous from Wallace And Gromit, and the humour is so British there may as well be a bowler hat floating at the top of the screen the whole time.

Gather the family round one Saturday night with some popcorn and you are all guaranteed a good time.

2) Coraline (2009, PG, 101mins Dir. Henry Selick)

coralie top

Based on a novella by Neil Gaiman this animation was brought to life by the animator Henry Selick, who also brought us such delights as James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone.

This is one of several films released in the last few years that really hits the sweet spot in being great for kids and adults alike.

coraline other motherIt is full of magic and wonder at the start when Coraline explores the alternate world she finds in a small door in the living room. However the film takes a much darker turn when Coraline’s wishes for a more attentive family come with a caveat she’s not so happy with. Her ‘Other Mother’ who has constructed this alternative world of amazing feats and characters, wants to sew buttons in her eyes. Coraline revolts and has to fight for her life against the ‘Other Mother’.

This manages to balance the magic and the darkness perfectly, and whilst this might be a little too scary for younger kids this will give slightly older children (and adults) a great thrill when the dreams start to crumble and Coraline isnt so sure what to believe anymore.

I’m fairly certain this has had a helping hand from our friend CGI to create some of the special effects, but you will be honestly amazed at some of the shots and the scenes that the animators were able to create with puppets and cameras. It is truly breathtaking.

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993, PG, 73mins, Dir. Henry Selick)

 

nbc

This is the first stop motion film I remember truly falling in love with and helped to inspire my love of all things stop motion.

Everything is great about this film. The characters, despite being mostlly monsters from Hallowe’en Town are all relatable. We’ve all felt like Jack, no longer content with what surrounds us, and in need of something new to explore. Sally, also desperate to escape and help Jack all she can.

salyThe songs are just wonderful, all of which were written by Danny Elfman, there’s an array of different musical styles and are all sing along-able. From Jack’s Lament on the curly hill to Ooogie Boogie’s song in his lair of dirty tricks.

Then there’s the  design. I first saw this when I was 6 years old. I am now 28 and even now I can watch it and still spot something new. There’s so much detail put into it, you can see every line in the field with the curly hill, you can see all the small, insignificant details and the minor background characters given the same attention as the stars.

The animation itself may seem a little clunky and not as swish as some of the more modern stop motion films, but for it’s time it was very pioneering. It was the first film to use a metal ‘skeleton’ in the puppets to keep them in place.

This_Is_Halloween

Even the story and the tone was quite brave at the time, though Disney are now quite proud of NBC and include it in their merchandise in their stores at the time they tried to distance themselves from it by releasing it under the Touchstone label they created for more ‘adult’ content. Now it is considered a classic of children’s movies and animated movies.