Archive for the ‘Wednesday Movies’ Category

Movie Wednesday: Mary Poppins

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Movie Wednesday: Mary PoppinsThis vintage Disney melmac plate is part of a set that was released as original
movie merchandise that accompanied the film in theaters (Grannies Kitchen cc).

Fifty-two years ago, a film arrived in cinemas that would go down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Based on the novel of the same name, Mary Poppins (affiliate link) tells the story of a mysterious woman who flies by umbrella into the lives of the Banks family. With their father busy at the bank and their mother committed to the Suffragette’s Movement, Jane and Michael need a nanny to look after them, and Mary Poppins is just the woman for the job.

Mary and her friend Bert the chimney sweep take the children on the adventure of a lifetime, into a world of singing penguins and tea parties on the ceiling, magical merry-go-rounds and staircases made of smoke. They discover the fun in tidying up a nursery with magic, journey into chalk pavement drawings, and explore the rooftops of London. But the children’s harassed father doesn’t entirely approve of magic and fun, and when he loses his job at the bank it will take all of Mary’s powers to make everyone happy again.

A true giant among family films, Mary Poppins is a timeless classic that’s so packed full of color and fun that it’s impossible not to enjoy!

Discussion Questions

  • The writer of the original books, P.L. Travers, discussed the film with Disney while it was being made. She wasn’t pleased with the finished product, feeling that the songs and animated sequence were unnecessary. Do you agree with her?
  • What do you think the film’s message is? Maybe strive to be happy? Give to charity? Don’t be afraid of chimney sweeps?
  • Dick van Dyke’s performance as Bert was well received, but his attempt at a Cockney accent was considered poor. Do you think that matters? Should Disney have cast an actor with a real Cockney accent instead?
  • Out of the many songs in the film, which is your favorite and why?
  • Which of the characters do you think changes the most during the film? Give examples of their character arc.
  • Is it true that Mary Poppins helps everyone? Explain.
  • Mary and Bert have a close friendship, but do you think they have stronger feelings for each other than they acknowledge? Do you think the film would be better or worse if they had a romantic relationship?

Practically Perfect Ideas (all optional!)

If you want to make your movie experience even more supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, you might try one or two of these ideas.

Dress in Costume

  • lace gloves
  • hat with a sprig of quirky flowers
  • big purse or carpet bag
  • umbrella
  • “chimney sweep” equipment (a duster could work!)
  • black eye shadow for soot

Serve Special Treats

Create Sidewalk Art

After the movie you might invite kids to create their own sidewalk chalk art like Bert does. And if you’d like to make your own sidewalk paint, here are instructions.


P.S. Our summer online movie discussion club starts July 25th. The theme: Magnificent Horses!

Movie Discussion Club


Movie Wednesday: Paddington Bear

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Paddington Bear Movie Wednesday

Paddington Bear is one of the best ­loved characters in children’s literature. The story of the bear from Darkest Peru who came to Britain with a suitcase, a battered hat and a label saying, “Please look after this bear,” has captured the hearts of millions since the first book was published in 1958.

In the 2015 movie adaptation (affiliate link), Paddington arrives in modern ­day London one cold winter in the hope of finding a new home. And that’s exactly what he finds with the friendly Brown family. But life is never going to be simple when you have a bear living with you, especially when there’s an evil taxidermist after him…

The film has a stellar cast, a witty script, snow, pigeons, a high point in the Natural History Museum, a beautiful message of acceptance and hope, and lots and lots of marmalade. It’s a fantastic film for the whole family. Give it a go!

Discussion questions

  1. If you’ve read any of the original books, how do you think the film compares to them?
  2. Paddington is a CGI character, but all the humans are played by live ­actors. Do you think that works? Why or why not.
  3. Paddington says, “A prudent bear always carries a spare marmalade sandwich under his hat in case of emergencies.” Do you think a marmalade sandwich would come in use in an emergency? What would you need in an emergency?
  4. The bad-­tempered Mr Curry doesn’t like Paddington and wants to get rid of him, but he is horrified at the idea of Paddington being stuffed. Does this make him a good person or not? Explain your answer.
  5. While the original books don’t have any villains, the film does, in the form of Millicent the taxidermist. What are your thoughts about the addition of a bad guy?

Paddington Bear statue in Peru

Paddington Bear statue in Peru. Photo taken while visiting Johannah!

For a little something extra you might try one or two of these ideas:


Gummi Bears!

Marmalade Muffins

Easy Homemade Orange Marmalade

Adorable Paddington Bear Cupcakes


Paddington Bear made from a toilet roll (much cuter than it sounds!)

Paper plate Paddington

Many more fun ideas!

Movie Discussion Club
Top image by Jespahjoy (cc cropped, text added)

Wednesday Movie: Coraline

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Movie Wednesday: Coraline

If Alice in Wonderland was rewritten by Roald Dahl and Edgar Allan Poe and made into a film by Tim Burton, the result would be much like Coraline (affiliate link). This film begins with a doll being taken to pieces by hands made of needles, and if that’s too creepy for you, then this film is going to be too much.

Coraline is bored. She’s just moved to a dusty old house with her parents, who are too busy to pay her much attention. It doesn’t look like anyone’s idea of fun. But then she discovers a doorway into another world where everything is colorful and magical. Her parents are always happy and jolly ­­ and have shiny black buttons for eyes.

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novella of the same name, this is possibly the creepiest children’s film ever made, a dark fairy tale that sends a shiver down your spine without actually terrifying you. It’s also funny, inventive and a beautiful stop­ animation, a style of film that’s rare in this age of CGI. Look out for the cherry trees with blossoms made of painted popcorn!

Discussion questions

1. Would you like to travel to an alternative world? What things do you think would be better there? What things might be darker or scarier? Explain.

2. The film took longer to make than a CGI film would, as it takes such a long time to animate individual so many models. Do you think it pays off? Why or why not?

3. Coraline is offered what seems like a perfect life, if she has buttons sewn over her eyes. What would you give up in order to have the perfect life?

4. What do you think of scary stories? Do you enjoy being scared, or do you prefer light­hearted stories?

Also, movie time can be simply sitting down and enjoying a film together. It doesn’t need to be any more than that. But if you did want to add a little something extra to the experience, here are some fun ideas:

Oreo Button Cookies

Constellation Cupcakes

Coraline Cake

Coraline Costumes Simple / Elaborate

Movie Discussion Club

Coraline image by Alessandro Bonvini (cc cropped, text added)

Wednesday Movie: Chicken Run

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Movie Wednesday: Chicken Runby Brave Writer student and intern, Finlay Worrallo

The British animation studio, Aardman, is best known for using stop-motion clay animation techniques featuring Plasticine (a soft modeling material) characters. Wallace and Gromit are of course their most beloved characters, but they’ve made many other animations, and Chicken Run is one of the best.

At first glance it simply looks like a comedy about talking chickens, but there’s much more to it than that. This is a story about the bravest, most determined gang of chickens ever, committed to escaping the farm they live on, which is actually more like a prison camp.

Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy, the farmers, might sound like pleasant people, but they’re actually villains of the most fearsome breed. When they build a gigantic machine for turning chickens into pies, all the chickens are in big trouble. It seems their only hope is an American rooster named Rocky, who claims he can fly…

Chicken Run is a funny, warm, and adventurous film. And remember: all of it is done with nothing but plasticine!

Discussion questions

  1. Is Mr. Tweedy a bad man, or is he bullied into bad behavior by his wife? Explain.
  2. Rocky spends most of the film pretending he can fly. Should he have told the truth from the start? Why?
  3. Did the movie change your view on eating chicken?
  4. Do you think the film would work in any other form ­­ CGI animation, live action, cartoon? How would it be different to the plasticine animation?
  5. Could any scenes be improved? How?
  6. Do you feel at all sorry for the Tweedies? Do they deserve to lose their entire livelihood?
  7. At one point Babs says, “My whole life flashed before my eyes! It was really boring.” What would you make of your life if you saw it all in one go? What parts were boring (or exciting!)?

Chicken Run is available through Amazon (aff link): Chicken Run

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

Also, check out our online Movie Discussion Club! Kids are so excited about discussing movies that they don’t even realize they’re writing!

Movie Discussion Club

Wednesday Movie: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Movie Wednesday

The 1971 movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, isn’t your run-of-the-mill children’s film. Based on Roald Dahl’s bestselling book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s a psychedelic mix of color and chaos, shadow and songs. When Charlie, a boy from a poor family, wins the chance to visit the world’s most famous chocolate factory with four other children, he has no idea what a spellbinding, spooky, and surprising day he’s in for.

Leading the children throughout the factory is Mr. Willy Wonka, who’s every bit as strange as the rooms on the tour. Magically brought to life by Gene Wilder, he’s got a glint in his eye and a lilt in his voice that are more than a little unnerving.

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is a doorway into a world where sweets grow on trees, geese lay golden eggs, and gobstoppers last forever. But it’s a dangerous world for the unwary.

Despite the fact that it’s 45 years old this year, the film is every bit as vivid, joyous, and thought-provoking as when it first came out. So give it a go if you haven’t seen it!

Discussion Questions

  • The four children who explore the factory with Charlie are depicted as highly unpleasant, but do you think they deserve what happens to them? Explain your answer.
  • Roald Dahl didn’t like the film at all, partly because he thought it focused too much on Mr. Wonka and not enough on Charlie. Do you think that is true? Why or why not.
  • If you’ve read the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, compare the film to the novel. See how many differences you can spot.
  • Was hiding golden tickets in chocolate bars the best way to find a new factory owner? What might you have done differently if you’d been Willy Wonka?

Also, see that bar of chocolate in the graphic above? The photographer notes that Prestat of Piccadilly is one of London’s oldest chocolate shops, and that Roald Dahl referred to Prestat as “the great chocolatiers.” Could that have been the chocolate he had in mind when writing Charlie & The Chocolate Factory?

Image by Martin Cooper (cc cropped, tinted, text added)

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a free copy!

Movie Discussion Club