Wholesome films to make you feel like a child again

This opinion is rated ‘G’ for general audiences 

All right, picture this: you are midway through a long semester and you have just completed a miserable day. You received a test back that didn’t go as well as you had hoped, work was an onslaught of crabby customers and your roommate left their dishes scattered around the apartment AGAIN.

Suffice to say, you are mentally and physically exhausted. You have been utterly defeated. However, there is a solution to this kind of overwhelming defeat. What you need is what I call the “Tactical Adolescence Retreat.”

Now, this maneuver comes in many different forms, but it is simply whatever can help you check out of reality for a bit and recapture some other time.

For some, a nice walk in the park does the trick. For others, reading a classic book or playing some old school video games is the solution. However, if you are like me, nothing takes you back to a simpler time in your life than breaking out the VHS player and taking a nostalgia trip through some childhood favorites.

So, join me on my journey as I take a look at some classics from my own childhood. Perhaps one of them will help you with your own Tactical Adolescence Retreat.

Harry Potter

This entry is somewhat cheating the original premise, as it covers an eight-movie franchise.

However, if you can honestly say you’ve been able to watch ANY of these movies without having to fight the temptation to load the next one up immediately, then I’ll count these as individual movies.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

This is the young adult film franchise that spawned the very concept of the young adult film franchise. There is a reason this is the founder and standard of that film genre.

In these films, you’ll find a wondrous world of magic unlike any story has presented before. On top of that, these films were paced in such a way that my specific age group was 17 right when Harry was off to have his final showdown with Voldemort.

We grew up with these characters. If the magic of these films were limited to just those who had grown up with them, I wouldn’t be nearly as convinced of their appeal.

However, I have a personal story with them. When my youngest sister was born, I was already 12. By the time she was 6, I was out the door. I missed out on growing up with her outside of holidays and family get-togethers.

So when she found my old collection of books and got hooked on the same journey to Hogwarts I did about a decade prior, it was one of the first genuine connections we were able share even though we were miles apart.

That is a magic that simply cannot be reproduced.

‘The Incredibles’

I don’t think anyone can dispute the grasp that Pixar has on our collective childhoods. Since the release of “Toy Story” back in 1995, this studio has been batting a thousand.

According to CinemaScore, all 20 of their feature films have received an audience reception rating of at least an A minus.

Even on their off days (looking at you “Cars 2”), Pixar is still untouchable by the likes of DreamWorks or Illumination. That is a true juggernaut of the industry.

So, why do I see “The Incredibles” as the best of the bunch? The short answer is that superheroes are cool, and if you don’t agree with that, you can fight me.

This movie is great not because it strives to be a great children’s movie, but it instead opts to be a great family movie. There is literally something here for everyone to enjoy.

From the sleek retro setting to the cast of absolutely fantastic performers and the solid plot line, this is a movie that oozes passion and creativity.

In their first shot at the superhero genre, Pixar managed to make a compelling villain alongside fully developed characters. That is something even Marvel struggles with 10 years into their cinematic universe (with notable exceptions, of course).

This is truly a film for all ages.

‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’

Back in the late 1980s, Tim Burton was on a hot streak coming off a very successful Batman film series.

However, by the early 1990s, his vision left Gotham City, and his gaze drifted toward an idea so bizarre I’m surprised he ever managed to get a studio to back it. I’m grateful that it did because the brilliance of this film cannot be understated.

As a child, this was a doorway into a world of creepiness that I found myself unable to pull away from. Looking back, I can appreciate the value of quality in using stop motion animation to give the film an extra dose of an unsettling nature.

Not only was there a marketing genius behind having a movie celebrate two distinct holidays, making it commercially viable from October to December, but I’m pretty sure this film single-handily gave Hot Topic an endless supply of merchandise.

Pretty impressive for a 76-minute long film.

‘The Hobbit’ (1977)

Long before New Line Cinema managed to turn J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy classic “The Hobbit” into a three-part monstrosity of greed and half-baked story threads, Rankin/Bass Productions, of stop motion Christmas movie fame, managed to turn the beloved classic into a 78-minute monstrosity of flat characters and rushed storytelling.

However, when I discovered this back in 1998, I didn’t see the shortcomings of this film — I saw my first taste of adventure. I believe this is mostly due to the superb animation of Topcraft, which would become Studio Ghibli.

I considered not adding this movie to my list, as I’m sure a total of maybe five readers have seen it, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut it. Every child has that one movie they grow a borderline obsession over, where they enter a trance-like state the second it gets popped in that doesn’t break until the credits stop rolling. This movie was that for me.

The obsession didn’t stop at this film, though. Once I realized the movie was based off a book, and that book was part of the greatest fantasy universe ever created, I was off to the races.

I will never forget the sheer excitement I felt when I was told they were making a live-action version of the sequel, “The Lord of the Rings.”

However, those are PG-13 and contain content slightly too graphic for the wholesome issue of the Spectrum. I’ll save it for another day.

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