But I just realised over the past few months that the occasional trip to the cinema makes for a great family outing. It's comfortable, what with online booking and Uber, and the kids love it, and hey, I must admit - I think I enjoy the movies we watch almost as much as them. I have also noticed that these movies for kids nowadays actually make for really decent overall entertainment.
While I'm thinking that this year I'm going to have to be more disciplined about my writing and therefore will cut back on the movie thing, I look back fondly at some of the films we saw over the last year. And just because I feel like writing a one-or-two line summary of what we thought about it, I'm going to do so!
In no particular order but however they pop into my head now, they are -
The Jungle Book - I remember being really impressed by the animation in this film - very life-like. The Mowgli character was very likeable too, although I wouldn't call the kid the greatest actor in the world. We all went for this and enjoyed it - I would have liked the music to be a little more pronounced in the movie, but the reinterpretations were pretty good.
Zootopia - what a great film this one was! It brought about the subtleties of bias and discrimination in a really clever way. This has to be among my favorites, although I really don't know about whether it would pull me in for a second or third watch.
Nil Battey Sannata - Peanut and I both have fond memories of this one because it was the only movie that just the two of us went for - wait, until one more later. Still, I was advised that if you have a daughter, go ahead and take her for this film, so I did and she really liked the movie a lot - and is still fond of 'Maths me Dubba Gul' as a song. I personally thought it was mildly overrated and predictable but still enjoyed it.
Moana - another great animated film. I thought the singing in this movie was pretty stellar and I really liked that the main protagonist wasn't this pretty princess but a rather daring and feisty daughter-of-the-chief. But my favorite character in the movie was the demigod Maui, and my favorite song is 'You're Welcome' - the one that he sings when Moana first meets him in her quest to 'restore the heart of Te Fiti' and save their land.
Kung Fu Panda 3 - the children loved this film, but I really thought it was Meh. They laughed throughout. Of course, it may have also been that I was traumatized by the fact that I had lost Pickle in the mall (for about three minutes but that's enough). More about that another day, but I resolved never ever to take 10 kids to the mall for a birthday celebration by myself.
Storks - So Storks was also one of the watchable, fun and eminently forgettable films of 2016. Much like Kung Fu Panda 3 according to me.
Trolls - Ah, much better. Trolls also featured some really great music and animation. I quite like Justin Timberlake's voiceover for the grouchy troll Branch, and Anna Kendrick's singing. 'True Colours' was the discovery of that month for me, and I even performed it as a duet with Nikhil, my guitar teacher yesterday.
Dhannak - very sweet as a movie, a great story, and again, the music is very nice in this movie but hell yeah, those two child actors - especially the girl who played Pari - amazing. I connected with her right from the beginning of the movie to the end, and the fact that this was both predictable and unbelievable as a film was more than made up for by just how endearing the two children are and the way that their bond as brother and sister is showcased in the film.
Ice Age 3 - yeah, frankly, I don't remember a thing about this one, so I guess it's kinda in the Kung Fu Panda/Storks category for me.
Pete's Dragon - I do remember the storyline of this one vividly. It's a decent film and the children really liked it a lot - but this was one movie that I remember actually getting bored by, which really didn't happen in the other cases. Sweet, warm, nicely made but nothing stellar.
Finding Dory - it lacked the magic of Finding Nemo somewhat, but then it was centered on a character played by the lovable Ellen Degeneres so that kind of made it one of the better films of the year for me. I liked this one.
The Good Dinosaur - I actually like this movie a lot but the kids seem to have enjoyed other films more. They found it sad that Arlo lost his dad ( this is not a spoiler - it happens really early in the film) but I was very taken by the little boy 'Spot' and how he behaves so much like a puppy - except when he's being a ferocious little tiger.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them - now we're talking! This was a GREAT watch. I loved the special effects, and I loved the main characters in the film and how they were cast and developed. The nervous, distracted and very focussed Newt; the No-mag ( Muggle) Mr. Kowalski -and of the two sisters, I really liked Queenie. The entire thing about setting story in the Wizarding world in America and the references to Hogwarts and characters we are familiar with thanks to the Harry Potter series. JK Rowling really has created her own parallel universe and we are lucky to be part of it. I bought the screenplay and thought it was okay ( only a million times better than that Cursed 'The Cursed Child' - but found myself wishing it had been written as a proper book)
Dangal - you may notice it's one of the only three Hindi films in this list ( would you call it Hindi, it's more Haryanvi perhaps). I'm not (at all) a fan of Aamir Khan, but I have to say I was totally, totally captivated by this film. We all went for this one, Vijay included, and enjoyed it from beginning to end. The casting and the acting and the dialogues and the music ( we have had some GOOD music in the movies in this list) was all really great, and the story in the film about grit and determination and girl-power, all good. The only slight issue I had with this film is that the part where Aamir Khan's youth was shown seemed too limited and short to me, so it felt as if something was missing there - but that's a small price to pay for an overall brilliant film. I think for me, it may have even competed with Fantastic Beasts, and that is really saying something. The masterstroke here is that the final match was handled on the strength of the main protagonist alone, and it's not like she 'owed' anyone anything for it. (Not that there is anyone left in this country who hasn't seen Dangal, but I've tried to be vague about it here to avoid a spoiler!)
So that's it. That's how many of my weekends were spent last year. I'm really very keen to cut back on the movies in 2017. (Not doing too well on that, saw 'Sing' today and it was just about decent, ha ha ha)
How about you? How many of these films did you catch in the last year? What did you and your kids think?