Posted on October 2, 2015
Grow up?! NEVER! Watch movies? Always!
One of the best times here is MOVIE NIGHT! So, it was with great delight that I was able to chat with Suzette Vale, the author of the new, INTERACTIVE WORKBOOK (!) geared to kids (and big ones too..) called 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up ! We love the book here and have been working our way through the movies on the list-and there are a bunch I’ve never seen-which floors me, because my one class in undergrad was almost a film appreciation class!
1.How did you choose the movies for the book?
Admittedly, narrowing the list to 101 movies was rather daunting! Logically, I started by asking my own grown kids to make a list of their favorite films. Of course, I didn’t expect to see some of the films they listed: “Hercules,” “The Emperor’s New Groove,” or “Pocahontas.” All great films, of course, but it made me think that I needed a more formal strategy. After that, I researched lists of children’s films that already exist: the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, the British Film Institute, and the National Film Registry. Cross-referencing the movies on these lists helped me reduce it from thousands to hundreds of movies. I also consulted websites and books by film critics I respect like the late Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin and Nell Minow (Movie Mom). This all sounds a lot easier than it was. It took hours and hours of reading! Finally, I contacted Nell Minow and she graciously looked over the list and offered me her valuable opinion about it!
- Why are these movies so important to see before we “grow up?”
Not all the movies in this book are “important” per se, some are a significant part of our pop-culture, while other movies in the book are mainstream films that have a special place in our culture – merchandise, attractions, Halloween costumes, and some of the movies are even shown in classrooms. However, a movie like “Toy Story” is very important because it introduced us to the first full-length feature film entirely in CGI, and this film changed the animation industry forever!
- Define “grow up”
Becoming an adult at 18 is commonly held as the moment a child grows up. Then there are those, like Peter Pan, who refuse to grow up! Joking aside, watching these films through the eyes of a child allows the magic of these movies to take place. It’s this aspect that we’re trying to address with the term “grow up.”
I hope the following anecdote will help illustrate my point.
I won’t soon forget feeling awful after telling a 9-year-old boy that I had done a voice over for a “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon. I showed him the short video of the cartoon first, and then I asked him if he knew that it was real people speaking in the cartoons. He looked at me with the biggest eyes and blank stare which told me he didn’t know what I was talking about. So I showed him the video taken of me at the Nickelodeon Booth at Comic-Con this year. I stood with headphones and a microphone (talking as Michelangelo) with Rob Paulsen (who voices Donatello)standing next to me. Of course, after seeing both the humans and the cartoons saying and sounding the same, he got it. “How cool!” he said. And that made me feel better about spoiling his magic.
- When you were thinking about including documentaries, Why Super Size Me versus Bowling for Columbine? (Publisher is mentioned here)
It was simply due to the “R” rating of “Bowling for Columbine” that kept this and many other worthy films off the list; the publisher excluded all “R” rated films from the book. I also selected “Super Size Me” because the rate of obesity of children in this country is alarming, and I couldn’t find a better way for kids to get the message about making better food choices than this film. I recall the day my daughter came home after watching this documentary in middle school and declared, “I’m never eating junk food again!” That was music to my home-cooking mom ears!
- We love that you included foreign films, such as Life is Beautiful and My Neighbor, Totoro. Was there any extra criteria to get a foreign language film on the list?
There are so many fantastic foreign films that I thought would be great for kids to see, but most of them are a little obscure in our culture. The foreign films I selected are, for the most part, award-wining foreign films that crossed over into American cinema. Limiting myself to these types of films also made the selection process more manageable. Imagine the bounty of films each country in the world has to offer! In reality, there are only a few films that are able to transcend borders and reach people in other parts of globe including the USA.
- You included some historically questionable movies on the list-like Pearl Harbor. Why? What was the reasoning behind a movie that was so widely critically panned for its historical inaccuracy being included in the book next to amazing Oscar winners?
101 Movies is not simply a list of award-winning films, though “Pearl Harbor” did win an Oscar. This book attempts to have a broad variety of movies which not only entertain, but also have some value in watching them. “Pearl Harbor” has inaccuracies, as many historical films tend to do, because filmmaker’s are allowed some artistic liberties. Furthermore, this particular film was not billed as factual or as a historical account of this moment in time. But it does, however, offer a look into what it might have been like to be alive on that infamous day in history!
- The workbook format was really exciting! What was the thought behind making it more of a workbook style book versus a compendium/guide?
I wish I had come up with the idea for the interactive workbook, but I didn’t. The publisher came up with the idea of making this an interactive book – which I thought was brilliant! I simply executed this aspect of the book according to the publisher’s guidelines.
- The Co-Pilot was excited to see movies that I watched at his age. Was there an effort to have movies that parents may have loved at different ages pop up on the list? (I’m an 80’s kid, so seeing The Karate Kid on the list-and the ORIGINAL version made me all giggly.)
I’m so glad that the Co-Pilot noticed that! Yes, of course I made an effort to give parents a chance to be cool for their kids. “The Karate Kid” is an iconic film, and for us 80s kids it taught us a thing or two. Speaking of learning, I was impressed to find out that Elisabeth Shue took time off her studies at Harvard to film this. She was LaRusso’s girlfriend, Ali Mills, and it was her film debut!
Also, what’s more 80s than John Hughes, right? “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink” also made the list! There are plenty of movies in this book you can introduce to your kids, and add your personal experience while watching with them. Oh, and please tell the Co-Pilot that like in “The Karate Kid,” doing chores is a good thing. *wink*
- Which one of the 101 movies is your favorite, and why?
This is a tough question, and it’s often asked. It’s impossible for me to name a single favorite movie out of the 101 in this book. I can tell you that there’s only a few I’ve watched several times because they’re special or nostalgic for me: “Mary Poppins,” “The Lion King,” “Star Wars,” “Aladdin,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Harry Potter,” and “Iron Man” have top-shelf billing in my home!
- Were there any movies you wanted to include, but didn’t make the 101 cut?
There were many movies that had to be left for another possible book. “Hairspray” and “Grease” are good examples of films everyone loves, but didn’t earn a page in the book. I’m sure you can name a few films that you think should be in this book, too, and you have your reasons for thinking they have merit. Movies do this to us. Some touch us deeply, while others may make us disagree over the point or the plot. But one thing is consistent about films: they let us escape from our reality for a couple of hours and introduce us to places, people and things we couldn’t have imagined before watching them!
Thank you, Suzette for answering our questions and even making my 80’s heart squee with gladness!
So. are you intrigued? This book is a lot of fun and the real deal! Want your own copy? Win one right here!
Here’s what you do:
Leave a comment telling me the one movie you’d put on your 101 Movies list and why…and we’ll pick a winner to receive their own copy on 10/9, just before the Co-Pilot and I leave for New York ComicCon!