Lately I’ve been getting kicked in the head. Every night. It started very suddenly, and the explanation I get from the source is, “Mine room is scary,” or “mine bed is scary,” or “[that item that happens to be in my line of sight right now] is scary.” I have no idea what sparked this sudden bout of fraidy-cat-ness in my toddler, but I’m starting to get sick and tired of it, and am now on the alert for anything that might add to his anxiety. I know, as with all things toddler, he’ll outgrow this stage soon enough. In the meantime, here are 7 movies I’m banning from our house …
1: An American Tail
Poor little Fievel! The tiny, beloved hero is emigrating from the Old Country to escape the cat pogroms when he’s washed overboard and separated from his family! He finds himself alone and scared in a dark, completely unfamiliar place (that’s populated with cats). Talk about fear of abandonment.
Are you hoping to reinforce your child’s separation anxiety? Just started daycare? Moving to a new house? Unless you want to be cruel, maybe wait a couple of years to watch this otherwise heartwarming classic with your little one.
This was not originally created for a young audience, but in the past 70 years, watching this classic has become a rite of passage for kids. Mostly, it’s fun and a good introduction to classical music. But at times it can be nightmare-inducing.
Certain scary sequences include: bold, intense, often downright scary music; wild, confusing animations; fiery gargoyles; flying carcass-spirits; the pits of Hell; household objects that come to life and spiral out of control; hundreds of mice.
If you can get a toddler to understand (and be cool with) all that, you can sleep in my bed.
3: The Secret of Kells
This movie was nominated for an Oscar a couple years ago and deservedly so. Its artistry’s incredible; the storytelling’s captivating. However, the ethereal beauty and mature tone make it tough for a very young child to grasp. It’s a haunting Irish story that comes from religious folklore. There are scenes with menacing wolves with glowing red eyes. The primary antagonists are the pillaging Viking hordes, who burn down a village and then hack its terrified inhabitants to death. There’s an eerie pagan monster in the woods. Having said that, this is a movie that grownups will be glad they’ve seen — with other grown-ups.
4: The Fox and the Hound
Let me preface this by saying this is one of my top three favorite childhood movies. That being the case, I’m not quite sure how to explain it to my 2½ year old. I could try this: “You know how Mama takes you to preschool and then goes away? It can be scary and sad when someone you love is far away. But you know that I always come back when school is over. Well, this story is kind of like that, only when the doggie comes back, he will HUNT YOU DOWN. See, Tod is a fox and Copper is ‘a hound dog,’ and they can never socialize. Learn to be the bigger man, my son, and love thine enemy. That way, you can guilt the doggie into your debt, and you just might survive.”
5: Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Though it’s a tongue-in-cheek story, and much of the edgy, British humor is aimed at grownups, the whole “Were-Rabbit” aspect can be unnerving for the younger viewers. The shadowy metamorphosis of the title creature is accompanied by some pretty sinister music, which I can hear in my head as I write, and yeah, it’s heavy. Also, the villain shoots cute little bunnies with some sort of crazily disproportionate safari gun. If your child likes bunnies (and really, who doesn’t?), she might be upset by mean Victor and his big, big, gun.
This is a good movie for a slightly older kid. While you wait for that to happen, you can/should happily share the W&G shorts (or Chicken Run!) with your tot instead.
Right. Have you seen any of the advertisements for this movie? I’m not sure why anyone would think it was an appropriate movie for very small children, but in case your own eyes have been replaced with buttons, let me help you see why it’s not.
The heroine loses her family, gets trapped in a creepy-yet-enticing parallel universe with a spider monster, AND EVERYONE’S EYES ARE REPLACED WITH BUTTONS. If your child has never suffered from night terrors, this is a surefire way to introduce them into her night time routine. Also, her naptime. Also, her waking hours.
7: Babe: Pig in the City
You know what would be a terrifying mash-up for anyone under the age of, say, 10? Those two movies.
If your child loved Babe (even the sad and scary parts), do not assume that he will feel the same about the sequel, too. The original film is charming, but this one is just … it’s dark, man. The city streets are mean. The villains are cruel. The adorable animals are snatched away and tortured. Unless your little one’s vocabulary includes the word dystopia, steer clear of this one until he is old enough to understand it.