Monday, January 16, 2012

Top 10 Kids Movies With a Green Theme

So a few days ago my husband and I were discussing movies made for kids but with a green theme or a peace theme, and it made me realize that I so often write about what we as parents can do but not what we can let our kids do. There are many kids movies out there with really deep great themes and adding them to your households movie collection is a great thing you can do with our kids. So i decided to make a list of the top 10 movies I feel are just wonderful. They are not in any order of importance though.. all ten are great in their own way.

10. Happy Feet
This movie came out in 2006 and was a Warner Bros. production. The main story is about a little penguin who feels out of place since everyone has a song but he has a dance. So right there you already have themes about acceptance, and being different. However the green bit comes in later. Humans are over fishing where the penguins live and the famine is blamed on the main character Mumble because he is different. He sets off to find the real cause of the famine. He ends up being brought to a zoo where he dances and dances frantically to get the attention of his human captors. He is released into the wild with a tracking device on him. The humans are lead back to the penguins home and when they get there the whole flock of penguins is dancing. The humans film it and broadcast the footage worldwide. The government bans fishing in Antarctica. I loved this movie when I saw it the first time. I cried tears of joy at the ending.

9. The Iron Giant
This is a film that came out in 1999 and was also a Warner Bros. production.  While the story is not directly about being Green, it is about peace and stopping war which is a really important theme to teach children. The Iron Giant is a war machine. Where he came form is not known.. but I always believed he was from outer space. However his builders built him too well and instead gave him a soul. He befriends a small boy who teaches him that "No good soul dies", that "he is not a gun", and that he can be a hero "like Superman". It is set in the middle of the cold war when everyone in America had itchy trigger fingers. The villain of the piece is a corrupt FBI agent who talks the army into invading a small town in Maine and hunting down the robot. The robot thinks the army men kill the young boy so he goes a bit parental and tries to blow them up. The boy recovers in time to stop him but not before the corrupt agent tells  the missile commanders to fire on the robot who is standing in the center of town. The army men and the townspeople all realize they have mere minutes to live. The agent tries to escape but the army general stops him and tells him he can die like a good soldier. The Iron Giant quickly realizes what is happening, tells the boy to stay and not follow him and then flies up into space to stop the missile. The last thing he says before the bomb explodes is "Superman". I am tearing up just typing it, because I defy anyone to not cry during that movie. It is so richly written and has such a deep message that no matter how many times I see it I still cry.

8. Fern Gully
Fern Gully came out in 1992. I am not sure who produced it. This was a movie with strong environmental themes. A young man working for a demolition crew cutting down the rain-forest  gets shrunk to the size of tiny fairies who live in the rain-forest. He has to help them fight off a dark spirit that is helping the deforestation and destruction of the once great rain forest. He learns about their way of life and about the ecosystems within the canopy. One of the main characters is a bat who has been experimented on by humans in a lab and is a bit messed up because of it. So that clearly is teaching children about the dangers of lab testing on animals. The young man, Zak, helps to stop the evil spirit and the deforestation and the fairies can live in peace again. As a child I loved this movie. It isn't the best movie ever written but it has a strong core message.

7. Wall-E
Wall-E came out in 2008. It was produced by Disney Pixar. This movie is set in the future after a time when humans polluted the planet  so badly that the survivors had to move out into space. They are told that they can return when scouter droids find any signs of life on Earth again. However the ship they have lived on for generations has been keeping them passive and dumb. They have reverted to large baby like blobs. In just a few generations the humans left float around on computerized hover chairs, they never walk or move their bodies, and they are cared for completely by robots. This was set up by the president when the left because he was convinced lie would never return to the planet. However life is found by a small robot named Wall E and through a romance with a scouter droid and a weird sort of battle for the future of humanity the humans return to the planet. They start to work again, walk again, and plant the little green plant in the ground. In the end you are shown that a rebirth comes to the earth as humans now more self aware return to the planet. Not only is this movie heart warming but it is a scary look at our near future.

6. Over the Hedge
This movie came out in 2006 and was produced by Dreamworks. It is a movie about how the encroaching human populations are driving away or killing off the wildlife that once lived there. A group of hibernating animals awake in the spring to find that their home is not just "Over The Hedge" from a booming suburb. So since they have no food they have to try and steal human food from the houses. This is a very real story told in a cleaver way. Many people find that wildlife have tried to return to the homes they once knew and a very real war has been taking place. I liked this movie a lot when it came out. It showed this war from the perspective of the animals. Just last night my husband and I were watching a show "Infested" which talks about the tragedy of living in a house invaded by wildlife, yet if we really think about we are the invaders... they are just fighting back.

5. The Rescuers Down Under
This movie came out in 1990. It was a Walt Disney Production. It is about poaching. The villain is a poacher who is after a large beautiful and endagered eagle. So when a young boy tries to save the bird the poacher fakes the boys death and kidnaps him. Two little mice (The Rescuers, first introduced in a previous Disney movie in 1977) set off to rescue the Eagle, the boy and take down the evil poacher. This movie is great and teaches kids so much about not poaching, and about protecting endangered species.

4. The Lorax
This movie technically has not come out yet (due for release in March of this year) but there was a classic version that came out when I was a kid, and of course there is the book so I feel I can speak to the content even not having seen this version of the movie. The Lorax is Dr. Suess' tale about a creature named the Lorax who speaks for the trees and tries to protect them from the greedy Onceler. The story is told from the perspective of the Onceler who tells the tale of how there used to be beautiful trees there when now it is only a desolate empty lot. The onceler cuts down all the trees to make his product which is something no one really needs and he grows his small shop to a factory and the Lorax asks him to stop. He also pleads to stop because the onceler is producing toxic goo from his factories which is further damaging the environment. Dr. Suess always has a great message but his one was always one of the best.

3. Free Willy
This movie came out in 1993 and was a Warner Bros. Production. While I personally find this movie nauseating.. that may have had more to do with the sappy 90's ness of it, the bad acting of the main kid and the annoying Micheal Jackson music. The underlying theme about freeing an Orca and saving the whales from whaling vessels is one that we can all like. This movie will be one that when my son is a bit older I will be happy to sit down and watch again so that i can explain to him about whaling and how detrimental and horrible and wrong it it.

2. Bambi
Bambi came out in 1942 and was produced by Walt Disney. This one is an oldy but a goody. The theme is about the ecosystem within the forest and the unity of all the animals who live there. There are strong anti hunting themes when Bambi's mother is shot and killed by a hunter. Later a forest fire is started by the humans and the animals must escape that. The theme is clear, even back in the 40's we were beginning to see the error of our ways.

1. Captain Planet

This was not a movie but instead was a show, but was so great I felt I had to include it. Captain planet came out in 1990-96. This show followed  group of teens who each had a power ring that when they combined would bring about a superhero called Captain Planet who who help them protect the planet from pollution, litter, deforestation, and toxic waste. This cartoon had a lot to do with my childhood. I greatly recommend letting your little Greenie watch old reruns of it if you can find them.

So there you have it. My list of the top ten eco friendly or anti war themed movies/shows for kids.

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