Movie suggestions for a toddler

We’re looking to expand the range of films we can watch with our daughter, who is three and a half. This is all on DVD, she doesn’t have the attention span for a cinema yet. We’re big movie fans and we’re trying to give her the love, but it’s a long struggle.

Our main issue is that she is very very sensitive to mild peril - we’re among the few people I reckon check the content-type warnings the UK licensing board gives out! Her absolute favourite film is Madagascar, and she took about 3 goes through before she would watch the whole thing without us skipping any sections. She can reduce herself almost to tears with panic if there is a suggestion of danger. She also likes Finding Nemo, but again she’s only just adjusted to watching the whole thing, and she still won’t watch the pre-title section where we see what happens to Nemo’s mum. She also has real issues with watching people break rules, so if a character takes something that doesn’t belong to them, for instance, she gets very upset.

Other things we’ve tried her with:
[li]Ice Age - my husband and I had both forgotten the essential story arc of that one, and boy that was a mistake! She saw maybe 20 minutes in total.[/li][li]Shrek 1 and 2 - not too bad, but she had problems with some of the princess changing scenes, and she still refers to Shrek as ‘that alien’. She thinks that ogres are bad and can’t really get over that. She did ok with these two, but she isn’t keen to watch them again.[/li][li]Disney *Little Mermaid *- we lasted about 15 minutes into it, skipped half of that, and that was under sufferance. She hated it. [/li][li]*Wallace and Gromit *- we’ve tried a couple of those and she finds the ‘wrongness’ of them disturbing.[/li][li]The Gruffalo - she hated it, and she’s not keen on the book, but she was in a group of kids she loves who all loved the film, so she put up with it.[/ul][/li]
She has a very vivid imagination and she’s smart enough to see some implications of some of the things she sees on screen. She’s quite literal in her interpretations of things, too - I’m not sure if that’s just 3 year olds in general. I’m not trying to force her into unpleasant experiences, but I do want her to be comfortable with other films and for her to learn that she is safe with us while watching. I’ve got two real objectives: to expand our repertoire (if only for my own sanity - I wasn’t keen on pigging Madagascar the first time, never mind the thirtieth) and introduce her to more stuff that will make her happy, but also to help her develop an understanding of what’s real and what’s not, and of narrative, I guess. That sounds a tiny bit pretentious I realise, but I hope you know what I’m getting at. :slight_smile:

Some background if it helps: I’m British, her father is Australian, she’s both; it doesn’t matter if it’s animation or live action; she will do something for hours if she’s absorbed; she loves under the sea creatures and (recently) dinosaurs; we’re not religious in any way; I’ve got Mary Poppins on our rental queue and I’m fresh out of ideas!

Suggestions? Experiences? Help?

My Neighbor Totoro is very sweet and gentle. The only slightly perilous part is near the end where the littlest girl decides to go by herself to visit her mother in the hospital and there a frantic search to find her. However everything turns out fine in the end.

That’s quite a quandary! I was going to suggest some of the older Disney films but it’s the peril that makes the stories interesting. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bambi (!), Dumbo, Fantasia, Pinocchio. It’d be easier to come up with a list that wouldn’t be right for her. :slight_smile:

How about Babe?

Oh … my wife just suggested a few more:

Blue’s Big Musical Movie – No peril at all and the songs are fun even for an adult.

In terms of Disney movies both Robin Hood and The Jungle Book are pretty low on the peril scale. Both have comical villains who are easily defeated. And, of course, the Disney version of Winnie the Pooh is also completely peril-free.

Thank you both - those are great suggestions. Don’t know why we hadn’t thought of Babe, that’s a perfect one to try in particular. She likes Blue’s Clues on the TV too, so that will help.

And AuntiePam - I know! This is my problem. Round my way, we call mild peril and its resolution… a plot :slight_smile: I’m hoping we’re weaning her onto it gradually.

Again - thanks both and we’ll give those a go.

My 3 year old loves Ponyo.

It’s a very simple story and frankly not a lot happens but for some reason he’ll sit through it. Personally I find it a very sweet movie and I enjoy it as well (which is important since I have to watch it again and again and again…)

My 4 year old has loved the Toy Story movies for a couple of years now. Barbie and the Diamond Castle is also a favorite. She gets upset when there are “mean” people in the story, so the older Disney movies aren’t an option now. She’ll watch Spongebob Squarepants and iCarly, even though she’s a little young for those.

Monsters Inc is a great movie and even though she is scared of bad people, she enjoys that movie too which is great because I enjoy it too.

I don’t know if you have access to any Max and Ruby 1/2 hour episodes, but my little girl loves that show. She can pay attention if it’s under a half hour at this point. But I think her first theater experience will be in June for Toy Story 3. I hope we don’t pay all that money for a 1/2 hour of viewing though!

I’m not sure about that one… I first saw it as an adult and as a new mother and it just about destroyed me at that bit. But it might have been new parent hormones doing it to me. It is a lovely movie for a bit later on though.

My 2 1/2 year old loves Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Up (though he hides during the first scene when the dogs are hunting Kevin). As a parent, I do remarkably well with the repeats of both of those, Cloudy for its humor and Up for its emotional play.

His favorite by far is Spongebob Squarepants. We have many episodes on DVD and he can watch them for hours. Strangely, we haven’t seen the movie yet. When we return to the States in the summer, I’ll be looking for it.

My 4 year old LOVES Spongebob, I always have at least 8 episodes on TiVo, but that’s more for me since she’s happy to watch the same one over and over…and over and over.
My other suggestions would be Tinkerbell or Cinderella, A Twist in Time. Cinderella might be a bit much for her based on what you said, but I think Tinkerbell would work.
Oh, and as much as I hate to say it, I think most of the Barbie movies would work, they’re pretty tame, but pretty entertaining for a toddler.

What about some of the Sesame Street versions of stories? I know there is something like CinderElmo or some such thing. My kids have just come out of the no-danger phase…mostly. The Lion King is still right out for them.

Also, there are episodes of The Backyardigans on DVD. Those are generally filled with awesome.

I’ll also nominate this movie. Very age appropriate.

It was the hormones. Nothing is tough in that movie. I mean, the Mom lives, doesn’t she? It’s not that serious or sad at all.

And this was my other nomination. Get Ponyo. :slight_smile:

Cool - some of these I have never heard of, but we’ll start looking for them. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was also on my rental queue based on little more than the title, so good to hear that may work for her. She does love the Backyardigans as long as the stories aren’t about ghosts :slight_smile: ( When she was almost 2 she had flu and she and I spent a day or so just lying about on the bed, drinking milk and feeling sorry for her. The only thing she wanted to do was watch tv - the date? PIGGING OCTOBER 31ST! aaaaaaaaargh! there was not one thing on any of the kids tv channels that she could safely watch through to the end!)

By sheer coincidence Babe was on one of the movie channels this afternoon. She watched about an hour of it before she lost interest, but she wasn’t scared particularly, so I have high hopes for that one.

Thanks all for the suggestions and any more would be welcomed. I’m resigned to the inevitable Barbieness too!

My 6-year-old has always been sensitive to mild peril. We own most of the Disney and Pixar DVDs but I can’t get him to watch most of them because “they’re too scary.” So here are some movies he liked when he was 3:

The Aristocats
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Wiggle Bay (or anything by the Wiggles)
some parts of Fantasia and Fantasia 2000

Also favorites, but with a teeny bit of peril:
101 Dalmatians
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie
The Cat Returns

He wasn’t 3 when we saw it, but Ponyo was enjoyed by all and not scary in any respect.

LOL … my 12-year-old son finds The Cat Returns unbearably creepy. It’s something about the idea that the girl is slowly turning into a cat that freaks him out. My 10-year-old daughter loves the movie, but she can only watch it when her brother is out of the house.

My little girl is about to turn 3. She doesn’t seem to mind peril so much, but she does ask a lot of questions about it.

One of her favorite movies is Marley and Me. No peril, just a dog being a dog. There are only two iffy things about it: one is the scene where the neighbor girl is stabbed by her boyfriend, which happens off-camera; John and Marley just show up afterward and help her, but you do still have to explain, “What happened to that girl?” The other is that, of course, Marley dies at the end, peacefully, of medical problems of old age.

Another favorite, for some reason, is The Muppets Take Manhattan. Again, no real conflict that I can think of; the major stumbling block for the heroes is when Kermit takes a knock to the head, gets amnesia, and disappears for a while.

Her favorite TV show right now is Oswald, which is very casually-paced and conflict-free. For me at least, it’s a whole lot more pleasant than Spongebob, which is pretty loud and frantic at times.

These DVDs hold toddlers attention the best. Adults sing the tunes too!

Wonder Pets

**Cloudy ***is *fantastic, but there are some scenes that might upset her, so I’d watch it first if I were you. There’s one where our hero has decided that he’s a failure, so that’s a sad scene, there’s another where he’s got some misplaced anger at his dad, and of course there’s the big finale that involves a bee sting and much mayhem, along with a guy turning into a chicken. I think she’d enjoy it, but it might be worth vetting it first. My four-year-old niece loved it (and so did I and Mr. Snicks).

Sesame Street is always wonderful. Do you think that the Penguins of Madagascar cartoon might work? It involves the four penguins from Madagascar (obviously) and their hijinks at the zoo. There’s a lot of caper-like storylines, but I can’t think of anything genuinely upsetting. And Mort and Julian seem like they’re kid faves. Of course, I’m entirely the wrong age, too.

Good luck!

My daughter loved Toopy and Binoo, I would check them out for sure, it’s not as grating as I found Max and Ruby

My three year old goes through a “no peril” phases too. The aforementioned Max & Ruby and Backyardigans have been big hits. M&R is a bit difficult for adults to watch, though. Ruby is a real 5-letter-word-starting-with-B-that’s-not-Bunny sometimes; you can’t help but wish she’d just shut up and listen to Max for once.

Backyardigans is pretty darn infectious, though. The dancing is fun, the music is great, everything is pretend, so there’s no real peril, and they’re just so darn cute.

The other one that is extremely low on the peril-o-meter, but I hesitate to even mention it is Little Bear. She loves it, but man oh man is it boring.

Thus far the only “movies” she’s sat through are the 80 minute or so Dora and Diego specials. As long as it’s not one with a “bad guy” other than swiper. (That guy with the cape that turns into animals freaked her right the heck out, as did the short guy who locked up all the musical instruments or somesuch.)

We’d love to share some disney or pixar with her (she loves the princesses), but all the best ones have very scary moments.