Fall Children’s Movies Draw on Books, Broadway, Cultural Beliefs

This fall, new releases aimed at children should also delight most adults. There are a couple I’ve been anticipating (including The Book of Life), and more I hope to see.

After culling through the new releases, I found a thread of similarity: Nearly all are rooted in the arts! Most of the children’s movies you’ll see in theaters in the coming months stem from books, Broadway musicals, and the beauty of cultural beliefs. 

If your kids love The Boxtrolls, gift them with the book on which the movie was based, Here Be Monsters!, the first in a series called The Ratbridge Chronicles. If they love Jamie Foxx in Annie, consider showing them the original 1982 film. The glory of these films is their potential to reveal pathways to other movies, books, musicals, and more.

The Boxtrolls, PG (Sept. 26)
Movies based on books are often the most engaging and well written. The Boxtrolls looks like it won’t disappoint. Based on the book Here Be Monsters!, the movie tells the story of Eggs (voiced by Isaac Hempstead-Wright), a boy named for the egg crate he always wears. The Boxtrolls—named for the boxes they wear like clothing—have sweetly adopted and raised Eggs in their home built beneath the streets of Cheesebridge. When an evil exterminator sets about destroying the Boxtrolls, Eggs must step into his role in the human world to protect his adopted, boxy family.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, PG (Oct. 10)
It’s likely you and your children have read the classic 1972 book by the same name. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day—the movie—is based loosely on that book, featuring Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.

Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) finds himself living through a terrible, horrible day. When he tells his family about what happened, they can’t relate; they all have good news to share, leaving Alexander wondering if bad days only happen to him. Soon though he finds out just how untrue this is, as he watches everyone—his mom, dad, brother, and sister—suffering through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

The Book of Life, PG (Oct. 17)
Rumors about a movie based on the sacred and beautiful Mexican celebration Día de Los Muertos have been circulating for a long time, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release.

Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration honoring those souls who have departed. Families make altars and place delicious, colorful offerings on them, and cemeteries are filled with flowers, candy, images of skeletons and skulls, and parades. Occurring near Halloween, it’s easy to assume Día de Los Muertos is just another spooky holiday, but it’s not. How to explain this to a child?

Producer Guillermo del Toro, who has worked on everything from Kung Fu Panda to The Hobbit films, is happily backing The Book of Life, a film based on his beliefs. Director Jorge Gutierrez, best known for his Nickelodeon TV series “El Tigre,” has partnered with del Toro to create a compelling film displaying the art and culture of their native Mexico. Ultimately a love story, “We called it The Book of Life because, for me, the movie is about life and joy and memory, and honoring memory, and knowing you can live forever when you have somebody that loves, and loved, you,” del Toro said in an interview with BuzzFeed.

Big Hero #6, Unrated (Nov. 7)
Produced by Walt Disney Animated Studios and inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, Big Hero #6 takes place in the fictional metropolis of San Fransokyo (a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo). Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) is a young robotics prodigy who, with his robot Baymax, uncovers a criminal plot and must pull together a team of inexperienced crime fighters—including Wasabi, Go go Tomago, Honey Lemon, and Fred. The film has already sparked much anticipation, and I know it’s going to be a huge hit come November.

Penguins of Madagascar, PG (Nov. 28)
In this Madagascar film, the Penguins get their—hilarious—due. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private are the best super spy birds in the biz, and they must overcome a super villain. Relying on fun, action, intrigue, and humor, Penguins of Madagascar is backed by some of the best actors in the business, from John Malkovich to Benedict Cumberbatch. A sure bet for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Annie, PG (Dec. 19)
Anyone who saw Beasts of the Southern Wild will remember the quietly strong (and Oscar-nominated) Quevenzhané Wallis. She stars as Annie in this Jay Z-produced retelling of the classic musical. Inspired by Jay Z’s 1998 hit song “Hard Knock Life,” the entire film has a hip-hop edge to it.

Wallis, or Annie, is a young, cheerful foster kid also tough enough to make it on the streets of New York. Left by her parents at a young age, it’s been a tough life with her foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz). Everything changes though when tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) makes a thinly veiled campaign move and takes her in. This makes Stacks believe he’s Annie’s guardian angel, but it turns out it might just be the other way around.

Paddington, Unrated (Dec. 25)
More movies based on books! From producer David Heyman (Harry Potter) comes the live-action movie Paddington. A young Peruvian bear (voiced by Colin Firth), Paddington loves all things British (thanks to his Aunt Lucy’s many stories about an English explorer she once encountered), and arrives in Paddington Station from Peru with nowhere to go. Traveling the city in search of a home, he soon realizes city life isn’t all he had imagined—until he meets the sweet Brown family who take him in after reading the label around his neck: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” Continuing his search for the explorer who so deeply impressed his aunt, Paddington catches the eye of an evil taxidermist, and it isn’t long before his new home—and existence—are under threat.

Andrea Fisher is a Triad-based writer, movie lover, and content specialist for Dish2u. She has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider. Read more of her work @andreafisher007.

Categories: Movies for Children