It is somewhat fitting that the thirteenth entry in my fantastic adventures series is a bit of a troublemaker. The classic character Dennis the Menace made his live action film debut in 1993 in the film Dennis the Menace. The story branches out a bit from the Sunday comics and centers around Dennis’ hometown, which is known for its safety and security, being visited by a jewelry thief. Dennis, up to his usual pranks, ends up being kidnapped by the thief, who instantly regrets taking such a bratty kid hostage. You also get great interaction with Dennis and Mr. Wilson, as Dennis plays most of his pranks on the unsuspecting Mr. Wilson.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Aside from having a lot of fun watching Dennis’ pranks unfold, your kids will learn quite a few things along the way. Dennis learns that pranks have their consequences, and may even hurt the people you care about.
This film is a great way to introduce your kids to the great comedy of Walter Matthau. It is all family friendly fun that will have your kid laughing for days.
Another great teaching moment in this film deals with running away. I’m sure every kid has had at least one serious thought of running away from home. After Mr. Wilson gets upset at Dennis for pulling one too many pranks, Dennis runs away from home, only to be kidnapped by the evil, scary looking jewelry thief. The scenes with the jewelry thief (brilliantly played by a creepy looking Christopher Lloyd), may be a bit scary for the youngest kids in your home, but your youngsters will be too busy laughing at the jewelry thief and what Dennis does to him, that they will enjoy every moment of the film.
Out of all of the entertaining and tense moments in this film, the touching scenes between Dennis, Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Wilson are the ones that really stand out above the rest. They are heartwarming, truthful and a great way for your kids to see the value of friendships and loved ones.
I 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.
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.
Looking for a good book series to read with your kids?
Check out this delightfully imaginative and just a bit creepy series, The Books of Elsewhere by Jacqueline West.
Highly recommended. I will be reading these all very soon and will post them up in my Fantastic Adventures Series as soon as I’m done!
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!
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.
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!
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
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!
During the month of October I will be bringing you the best Fantastic Adventures in Family Entertainment for the spooktacular holiday, Halloween! Check back all month for spooky stories safe for the entire family!
The first fantastic adventure for Halloween: Hocus Pocus. This film was only mildly successful when it came out in 1993 and to this day it is a very divisive film. However, it is one of my favorite Halloween movies and a great family friendly movie, so I will be presenting it. The story focuses on three witches who were burned at the stake for their evil deed of stealing the souls of children in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693. Right before they died, they cast a spell on a black flame candle that once a virgin lit the candle on the full moon before Halloween, they would rise once again. Fast forward 300 years to 1993 and a young high school boy named Max Dennison lights the candle to impress a girl. The three witches rise again to steal the souls of little children.
Max, his (hopeful) girlfriend Allison, and Max’s little sister, Dani must stop the evil Sanderson Sisters before the sun rises on November 1st in order to prevent the sisters from coming back permanently. Of course, the hard part for Max and company is that it is Halloween night and none of the adults or authority figures believe them! I will not spoil the ending, of course, but you can expect much hilarity, adventure and creepy Halloween spooks.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Max is every bit the aspiring young hero for middle school aged boys, with just the right amount of disobedience and knowing when to do the right thing. He is also an especially good role model for any big brothers who have little sisters to take care of. Max learns throughout the movie and teaches your kids at the same time. You can beirresponsible and have fun, but there will be consequences. You can hate your little sister for being a burden, but you’re going to do everything you can to protect her when things turn ugly. And lastly, you can try to impress the cute girl at school all you
want, but you’re not going to win her over that way.
The little girls in your family will wish they were in Dani’s shoes from the very beginning. Dani is lovingly portrayed by Thora Birch, who really steals many of the scenes in this film. She is strong-willed and won’t stop tormenting her big brother until she gets her way. Your little girl will be going on the adventure with Dani, reveling in a night of witches, zombies and magic that all seems fresh and real. She even gets a talking cat as her companion through the film. Another plus, just when Dani is getting too scared – and maybe your little girl, too – her big brother swoops in and comforts her. It is a perfect lesson in sibling relationships. Just enough rivalry, but in the end it is compassion that wins the day.
Of course you can’t mention this film without talking about the witches themselves – the Sanderson Sisters. They provide most of the comedy throughout the film, mostly having to do with being from 1693 and being awoken in 1993. The elementary school is deemed a “prison for children” (your kids will agree with that), a man dressed in a devil costume is mistaken for the real thing, and the entire concept of Halloween being a night of young children dressing up as creatures is quite upsetting to them. Bette , Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker play the creepy yet kooky witches to perfection with just the right amount of terror and humor. If these three witches do not get your kids excited about all things Halloween, then there is not much that will.
There are Halloween decorations abound, zombies, talking cats, creepy cemeteries and picturesque Salem settings, which really bring that cold Fall feeling to the film.
The entire movie itself is one long, grand adventure that never lets up and teaches very important lessons along the way, all the while building your kids’ love of Halloween.
Rent it on Amazon Instant Video, Watch it on ABC Family this month, or Buy it on DVD or Blu-Ray at your local store.
10 years is a good length of time to re-evaluate a film and include it in my list of current and lasting family adventures for two reasons. One, your kids either saw this movie when it came out and are now teenagers and too “cool” to watch this movie, or, two, your kids were not born yet and maybe you were unaware of, or forgot that this movie came out. This is the most contemporary piece of my series so far, and I am going to try to present more obscure and, perhaps, a bit older items, as the current popular kid shows and movies are reviewed and presented all over the web. I would like to use this series as a tool for introducing your family to experiences you may have passed over or never heard of. With that said, I present Scooby-Doo (2002).
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of Scooby-Doo and his pals. Most people fondly remember the cartoon of the 1960s and ’70s. I am presenting the 2002 movie version not because it is the best Scooby-Doo story, but because it is the most accessible for your kids. As a child of the 1980s, I was able to enjoy the reruns on Saturday mornings, but kids of today require something a little more flashy and stylized to keep their interest.
This live action version of Scooby-Doo introduces the characters of Mystery Inc as they are at the tail end of their careers. They are frustrated with each other and split up. They all get invited separately to the latest summer hot spot, Spooky Island, where they reluctantly share hellos and ponder as to why they were all secretly brought back together. It isn’t long before the gang realizes that something fishy is going on the island, and they all decide to investigate. Without giving too much away, the gang must put aside their differences and band together to solve the mystery, finding along the way that they really do work well together and that they all miss each other and wish to reform Mystery Inc.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Scooby-Doo himself is always a fun character, and the kids will get a lot of laughs from a talking dog. The CGI version of Scooby still holds up very well and your kids won’t have to ask why Scooby looks like a man in a suit or a puppet.
The sets range from bright and colorful to dark and scary, as the gang ends up in a haunted house at one point in the film. The haunted house scenes in particular are a lot of fun and will remind your kids of a spooky ride at a carnival, which only heightens the sense of adventure. Even pretending to be in a carnival ride sparks creativity and imaginative thinking, and that is a very important factor in child development.
Also, you will be entertained by the various adult references in the film that will completely fly over your kids’ heads. There is something for the parents in this one, as well.
Talking dogs, spooky haunted house rides and bright, colorful imagery will help fuel your kids’ imaginations and hopefully get them outside to play “make believe” after the film is over.
Fantastic Adventures, Writings , and Other Musings