Category Archives: Fantastic Adventures

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: All I Want for Christmas

All-I-Want-for-Christmas-1991-movie-coverAll I Want for Christmas is a 1991 film about a young boy, Ethan, and his sister, Hallie. Their parents divorced one year ago right around Christmas, leaving the kids longing for their family to get back together. It isn’t until Hallie goes to see Santa (“the real one. At Macy’s.”) that Ethan sees how much his sister really wants their parents back together. The two hatch a scheme to get their parents alone together on Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Will it work, or will it drive their parents even further apart?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: For some reason, a young Thora Birch keeps coming up in my movie reviews. I guess it’s because she was such a great child actress. Once again, she turns in an adorable performance as the innocent, yet intelligent, little sister. Ethan Embry plays a convincing and caring older brother.
This film deals with two major issues. The first is the big brother, little sister bond. Your kids will certainly learn a thing or two about how to take care of their younger siblings. Ethan is constantly watching over Hallie and making sure that she is safe. In one scene, he distracts her from hearing another argument between their parents. He watches over her andMSDALIW EC007 makes sure that she does not run off alone in New York city. When she inevitably does, he drops everything he does, puts himself at risk, and runs to go find her. It is a great lesson for all of the little ones in your home.
The second issue is divorce. In 1991, divorce was still a sticking point that rarely got attention in family films. Today it is more accepted and commonplace to see the topic discussed openly in family entertainment. If you have yet to discuss the topic with your kids, this is a great place to start. It portrays the kids as content and still being kids, goofing off and enjoying life, but it also shows the private side of the kids’ lives and how the each deal with grief. Ethan watches old family videos and cries, while Hallie takes the more naïve approach of asking Santa to get them back together.
Finally, this film is not all sad stuff. There is a lot of action and adventure. When the kids try to get their parents back together, the hatch a fun plan full MSDALIW EC012of pranks and little white lies. There are runaway mice, towed cars, diverted cabs and a late night dinner at the family diner. All in all, it is a grand scheme worthy of The Parent Trap and it will have your kids laughing and on  the edge of their seats.
The film also provides some great Christmas scenery: a white, wintry Christmas tree, falling snow and trips to Macy’s.

All I Want for Christmas is available to own on DVD, or rent it from Amazon.

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: Rankin / Bass TV Specials

rudolph2I am fairly certain there is not a kid out there who has not seen at least one of these TV specials. These puppet based Christmas shows cover all of the classic stories. Rudolph, Jack Frost, Santa Claus, Frosty and more! Without further ado, I shall skip the summaries and dig right in.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The stop motion puppet animation is timeless and give the shows such a whimsical look that they will stick in your kids’ heads for the rest of their lives. This will help establish your kids’ first sense of Christmas. As soon as they see these images they will instantly be reminded of Christmas cheer.rudolph
The storylines of all of these shows are all full of positive messages and great teachable moments. As always, it is best to open a dialogue with your children after watching or reading anything, and these specials really bring out the best of the human spirit.
Each of these specials will take your kids on a fantastic adventure filled with daring, danger, excitement and good old fashioned holiday cheer. My favorite, A Year Without a Santa Claus, deals with the scary thought of what would happen if Santa couldn’t make it out to deliver the gifts! It is great plot points like these that will have your kids enthralled.

Do not miss these specials! Check local listings, as they are almost always on TV around Christmas. You can also buy them on DVD. The-Year-Without-a-Santa-Clause_RankinBass-Productions_jpg

Fantastic Adventure Christmas Edition: The Polar Express

polar-expressMost kids are familiar with the lovely book by Chris Van Allsburg, but lesser known is the somewhat recent film adaptation by Robert Zemeckis.  The film adds several elements to the story, including multiple characters, intriguing plot points, and dialogue that fits right in with the book. The story revolves around a boy and his journey on the Polar Express on its way to the North Pole to see Santa Claus.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The animation is top of the line technology, as all of the actors actually look and act like themselves due to stellar face and movement recognition software.
The story is filled with adventure as it follows around a group of kids. Not only will your kids be excited for the adventure, they will relish the fact that this journey is from the point of view of kids. They will be hoping and believing that they can go on an adventure just like this one.
Perhaps the best reason to watch this movie with your kids this Christmas: They will undoubtedly believe in Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas the-polar-expresscheer after watching this film.
Overall, it is a fun film filled with a lot of action sequences and a heartwarming and inspiring ending. Make a batch of hit chocolate and settle in one the couch for an unforgettable adventure.

Fantastic Adventure #12: My Teacher Fried my Brains

My next entry into my Fantastic Adventures series is the delightfully fun and bizarre book My Teacher Fried my Brains. The first day of seventh grade was probably the worst day of Duncan Dougal’s life. He knows that things are really bad when he finds an alien’s hand in a dumpster and then gets plugged into an alien brain fryer! Can Duncan find out which of the four new teachers in his school is an alien before his brains get fried to a pulp—or before the aliens try to fry the whole planet?

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The first thing that will interest your kids is the title. The very concept of a teacher being a bad guy is instantly intriguing to the young mind. After all, teachers are the ones that make us do homework, go up and do stuff in front of the whole class, and generally make kids’ lives a lot of work.
Once your kids learn that the teacher is actually an alien, well then that just seals the deal. Just wait until your kids come home from school one day and tell you all about how they saw Mrs. Micer’s hair move and eyes come out from underneath. Your kids will spend the next several months looking for signs of extraterrestrial life from their teachers. What fun!
The story itself is full of action and adventure, as the main characters sneak around the school during off hours, invade the faculty lounge, and come up with crazy schemes to oust their alien teacher.
With just the right amount of creepy, alien fun, action, adventure, and plot twists, My Teacher Fried my Brains will be at the top of your kids’ all time favorite list and will have them using their wondrous imaginations to find out if their teacher is an alien. The possibilities are endless!

Buy it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/My-Teacher-Fried-Brains/dp/1416903321/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353823083&sr=1-10&keywords=my+teacher

Fantastic Adventure #11: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers / Power Rangers Samurai

The next entry in my Fantastic Adventures in Family entertainment series is a two-parter. The classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the current Power Rangers Samurai. I present both of them because they are essentially the same show, one being updated for today’s youth and the other a more classic approach for kids of the 1990s.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted in the U.S. on Fox Kids Network in 1992 and quickly became the most popular children’s television show in history. It focused on five “teenagers with attitude” who were chosen by Zordon to fight against the evil Rita Repulsa. These teenagers were given special power morphers that allowed them to transform into multicolored rangers and battle Rita’s evil monsters using enhanced strength, magical weapons and giant vehicles, known as zords.

Fast forward to the present day, and Power Rangers Samurai is the current iteration of this television franchise. The storyline of Samurai is essentially the same. Five teenagers who are pure of spirit are chosen to fight the evil that threatens to take over the world. They use special powers, magical weapons and giant zords to save the day, just in a modern tone that reflects how kids think, talk and behave today. Which version you show your kids depends on a few factors that I will highlight below.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Super powered heroes. Monsters. Martial Arts. Good vs. Evil. All of these are perfect fodder for engaging the minds of children.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Power Rangers Samurai deal with several concepts. One is the power and importance of teamwork. Both of these shows go out of their way to showcase what teamwork is all about. MMPR does it in a corny, yet educational way that at times seems a little preachy. Samurai achieves this through more subtler messages. Their morphing call is “Friends together. Samurai forever!”, and most of the storylines revolve around obstacles that can only be overcome with teamwork.
Both shows deal with a lot of martial arts action. The original was even banned in some countries due to the “violent” content. As a result, the martial arts action was toned down and became almost cartoon-like in later seasons of the show. Samurai starts off with less martial arts and treats it in a very serious manner with clear lessons that it should only be used in self defense against the bad guys.

Scary yet humorous villains are the norm on Power Rangers.

Power Rangers as a concept is very imaginative in and of itself. Your kids will instantly pick a favorite Ranger based solely on what color his or her suit is when morphed.
The various monsters throughout the series are all so obscure that they are sure to get the imagination of your kids soaring. With a little encouragement, your kids will be designing their own monsters for the Rangers to take down.
Not only will the martial arts action get your kids interested in learning all about it, they won’t be able to wait until the end of the episode to get out into the front yard and try out all of the cool moves they saw on the show.

With a combination of positive team building, action, adventure, fantasy and even humor, the Power Rangers television series are sure to have something that pleases everyone in the family.

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Casper

In the 1990s it was very common for older cartoon shows from the 1970s and 1980s to be released as theatrical movies. Casper was released in 1995 and is based off of the television cartoon show. The main plot of the story revolves around a house haunted by a group of mischievous ghosts. There is one ghost, Casper, who doesn’t like to scare people and is treated as servant by the other three ghosts he is “living” with. Furious that her late father only willed her his gloomy-looking mansion rather than his millions, Carrigan Crittenden is ready to burn the place to the ground when she discovers a map to a treasure hidden in the house. But when she enters the rickety mansion to seek her claim, she is frightened away by a wicked wave of ghosts. Determined to get her hands on this hidden fortune, she hires afterlife therapist Dr. James Harvey to exorcise the ghosts from the mansion. Harvey and his daughter Kat move in, and soon Kat meets Casper, the ghost of a young boy who’s “the friendliest ghost you know.” But not so friendly are Casper’s uncles–Stretch, Fatso and Stinkie–who are determined to drive all “fleshies” away. Ultimately, it is up to Harvey and Kat to help the ghosts cross over to the other side.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Casper is a fun film to watch around Halloween as it deals with ghosts, a creepy old mansion and lots of crazy antics. There is plenty of humor to keep your kids entertained. Seeing ghosts flying around is surely going to get your kids in the mood for Halloween and is a great way to get their imaginations opened up and ready to create. The special effects still hold up very well to this day and will have your kids believing in ghosts.
There is also a great lesson in friendship and relationships between Kat and Casper. Christina Ricci plays the young Kat, who immediately befriends the misunderstood ghost, Casper. Not only is this a great teaching moment about how it is okay to be different, it is also an introduction for your preteen on relationships and those new feelings that may be springing up about the opposite sex.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of fun antics in the film that will get your kids wishing they were at Disneyland. A moment that comes to mind is the chair ride that Kat’s dad discovers. This is a fun little interlude that lightens up the mood and gets the energy level in the room up.
Lastly, there are a lot of fun moments with the other “villain” of the movie, Carrigan Crittenden, who will stop at nothing to get the treasure map. She gets picked on by the ghosts and is usually at the wrong end of all of the pranks, including getting electrocuted and having her hair stand up on end! It is small moments like these that your kids will remember, and you can feel good about them laughing at the cartoony violence, because it is happening to the “bad guy”, who always walks away unharmed (until the end).

Casper is available on DVD.

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Garfield’s Halloween Special

Today’s Halloween adventure is a blast out of the past. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure came out in 1985 as a television special and was titled Garfield in Disguise. This story focuses on Garfield and Odie’s strange trip around town while on the hunt for candy. Naturally, Garfield wants all of the candy in the neighborhood for himself, and will do anything to get it. He begrudgingly takes Odie with him in order to collect more candy. Just when Garfield thinks he is done trick or treating, he spies an island off the coast and decides to try his luck over there. On the island, Garfield and Odie enter a creepy and creaky old house inhabited by a small, wrinkled old man who tells them the story of the cursed pirates who buried a treasure on the island and return every Halloween to claim it. Horror and hilarity ensue!

The ghost pirates!

Why it is a fantastic adventure: In the beginning of the cartoon, Garfield begrudged Halloween and would rather sleep. It isn’t until he watches a cartoon clown on TV that he realizes that he is missing out on all the candy. What kid can’t relate to that? Candy is definitely the universal language of kids everywhere. If you watch this on Halloween, this opening sequence will get your kids excited for trick or treating later in the night!
Garfield runs to the attic to concoct a costume. He goes through many different ideas: A rat, bat, old man, nerd, ghost, and eventually settles on a pirate. This sequence is a great kick starter to get your kids brainstorming about different costumes. After the excitement of trick or treating is over, Garfield and Odie head off on a boat to an island where they enter the haunted house. This is where the fun really begins on this spooky Halloween adventure. While the old man is telling the story of the ghost pirates, there is a great little animation of pirate ghosts creeping from under the floorboards and into the house. It is a frightening scene for young kids, but this being Halloween and all, it is entirely appropriate. It is a great way to get your kids spooked for a night of tricks, treats and just plain old fun.
In the end, Garfield lets the ghost pirates keep their treasure that is hidden in the haunted house. This is a good lesson about possessions and what is right and wrong to take. People hand out candy to you, and that is okay, but taking something from someone else is not okay.
The program ends on a high note with Garfield sharing his candy with Odie (another great lesson) and collapsing off to sleep after a grand adventure.

Garfield’s Halloween Adventure is available to stream for free if you have Amazon Prime, or rent if you do not have Prime: http://www.amazon.com/Garfields-Halloween-Adventure/dp/B0083GPSYQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351548026&sr=8-1&keywords=garfield+halloween

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost

The next stop on our Halloween tour: Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost! This animated movie came out straight to DVD in 2001. Like most Scooby-Doo movies, this one revolves around a mystery. In this case, there is a witch’s ghost tormenting the citizens of Oak Haven, a sleepy little town where famed Horror writer Ben Ravencroft goes to write his books. Ben Ravencroft runs into Scooby and the gang after they solve a mystery at a local history museum.
once Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred arrive in Oak Haven, they immediately begin to investigate the suspicious behavior of the mayor. The gang is skeptical about the Witch’s ghost being real , but once they see it for themselves will they believe in ghosts? Join the spooky adventurers as they try to solve the mystery of the Witch’s ghost!

Fred, Daphne and Velma with Ben Ravencroft

Why it is a fantastic Adventure: This movie is one that I view every October to get me into the Halloween and Fall spirit. The town of Oak Haven has a picturesque New England Fall setting: brown leaves, barren trees, a small Main Street where everyone knows everyone, and even a re-creation of a Puritan village. If you live in parts of the world where the weather doesn’t change much and Fall doesn’t really happen, this is a great way to get yourself and the kids in the proper Fall mindset.
Along the way, the gang meet a group of gothic witches who are in the rock band, The Hex Girls. This trio provides a few songs in the movie (which are actually pretty good) and help keep the kids entertained through the somewhat plodding mystery story.
Scooby-Doo provides the majority of the movie’s laughs, whether he is scarfing down a gigantic sandwich, begging for Scooby Snacks, or trying to churn butter in the Puritan village. He also provides crucial entertainment value in a story that is somewhat dark for a kids’ Halloween adventure.
On that point, the ghost in this movie is real. She is not someone dressed up in a costume to be de-masked at the end. She has a real thirst for revenge and will do anything to get her way. She brings pumpkins to life and turns them into evil jack-o’-lanterns that try to eat Scoobyand the gang. This is also a great way to get your kids’ imaginations soaring and get them creating and

Imagination running wild!

thinking out of the box.
The plot deals with witches, Wiccans and warlocks, and provides a safe introduction to the topic of real life witches- Wiccans -that you can elaborate on later if you so desire.
The mystery plot is a lot of fun and will keep your kids guessing until the end, especially since the witch turns out to be real (but who was behind the other part of the mystery, and why was the mayor being so suspicious?). There are plenty of eerie locations to keep up the Halloween vibe: abandoned mills, forests full of dead trees, a cabin shrouded in an eerie fog.

Overall, Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghostis a great atmosphere setting movie with a fun mystery and a few teachable moments and imagination igniting ideas for your kids. Watch and get ready for Halloween!

Available to purchase on DVD from your favorite retailer!

The Hex Girls introduce your kids to great music and modern witches!

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Berenstain Bears go on a Ghost Walk

The Berenstain Bears are a popular series for both parents and kids because it teaches great life lessons, helping the parents approach difficult subjects. This Halloween edition has a similar theme, in that it teaches about dressing up for Halloween and why being scary is okay. When Papa Bear gets to design a haunted house for the school’s Ghost Walk at Halloween, he decides that it’s going to be the scariest Ghost Walk ever, with every frightening thing he can possibly use. Mama Bear is concerned that he might be going too far, especially since this event is for young children, but Papa is having too much fun to take her warning seriously. Then, a nightmare of his own causes him to reconsider.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: As mentioned above, the book teaches about Halloween and the appropriateness of the scary costumes, decorations and evil creatures shown on TV.
It is a good chance for parents to have a great conversation about Halloween costumes and what is appropriate. Of course, the level of that appropriateness is up to each individual parent. The illustrations also allow for your kids to open up their imaginations and really get into the different aspects of dressing up for Halloween. it is a great way to help them kick start costume ideas.

Fantastic Adventures Halloween Edition: Disney’s Halloween Treat

The next stop on our Halloween adventures: Disney’s Halloween Treat. This 45 minute video was released in 1982 and was a mainstay on the Disney Channel through the 1980s and part of the 1990s. Unfortunately, it no longer airs on broadcast television. But, you can find it on YouTube in seven parts. Link will be at the end of the post. This Halloween special centers around Disney villains, creepy stories with your favorite characters (Mickey, Huey, Dewy and Louie, etc.), and there are clips from some obscure Disney cartoons not seen since the 1970s.
They all feature creepy settings, vivid characters and perfect family Halloween thrills. A talking jack-o’-lantern introduces each story which include such creepy scenes as dancing skeletons, Donald Duck hiding from a rampaging gorilla, the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment from Fantasia, the wizard’s duel from Sword in the Stone,  and even a clip of the Headless Horseman chasing down poor Ichabod.  These are just a few of the great segments you will find in this video.

Why it is a fantastic adventure: Halloween is always a special time when you are a kid (and it should be when you’re an adult, too). This is one of those rare videos that can both frighten children while also making them howl for more when it is all over. It has just the right amount of “scare” and creepy imagery mixed with the pleasantness of Disney.
The truth is, we all love being scared. Your kids will be on the edge of their seats as they await whatever creepy creature is awaiting them in the next segment. It offers the thrill of being scared with the safety of the Disney brand.
If your kids love Halloween and all the creatures that go along with it, then they will definitely enjoy this video. there are creatures of all kinds.
This is also a great moment for your little kids to teach them what Halloween is all about. There may be scary and evil creatures, dark settings and spooky stories, but in the end it is all about having fun while being scared, getting and eating candy, and dressing up as your favorite creature or character. Of course, there is also a greater reason for Halloween, which you may share with your youngsters (but most of them won’t be ready to understand it), the remembrance and celebration of lost souls: relatives, ancestors, and all loved ones.
In the end, Disney’s Halloween Treat is a fun adventure for the entire family with some great scary moments, classic Disney characters and a great representation of all that is good about Halloween.

You can watch Disney’s Halloween treat in seven parts on YouTube. Start here: http://youtu.be/ASuuZejf8VE