Jack. Popeye. The Last Airbender. When a director of serious adult fare decides to helm a kid’s flick, let’s just say it doesn’t always end well. But with Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, based on Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Award-winning YA novel The Invention of of Hugo Cabret, coming to theaters this Wednesday, we at MM decided we’d rather focus on the positive. To that end, we present the three best kid’s movies directed by more “adult” directors. Disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments.
The Princess Bride (1987)
directed by Rob Reiner
OK, so the “serious” in “serious adult fare” doesn’t always apply to Reiner, director of such comedy classics as This Is Spinal Tap and When Harry Met Sally…. But most of his movies, while not laden with sex and violence from start to finish, aren’t exactly things that most parents would be OK with their young kids seeing (to wit: The deli scene in When Harry Met Sally…you know the one). But The Princess Bride—with its sword fights, adventure, miracles, revenge, true love (or “tru wuv”) and, okay, maybe a little kissing—is a movie that countless children have grown up with since it came out over 25 years ago. Furthermore, it’s an easy movie to love even after the onset of puberty. Unlike many of the kid’s fantasy movies that came out in the ‘80s (The Neverending Story, Legend, Willow… OK, most of the kid’s fantasy movies that came out in the ’80s), The Princess Bride has aged well, which is to say it hardly seems to have aged at all (the ancient-looking video came played by the Grandson in the opening scene being the most obvious exception).
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Prisoner of Azkaban is the fifth film by director Cuarón, who, prior to directing it, was best-known for his 2001 film Y tu mamá también, starring Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal as two teenagers who go on a road trip with an older woman (Ana López Mercado) and—well, let’s just say it’s not G-rated. Given the less-than-wholesome hijinks the trio of main characters get up to in Y tu mamá también, Cuarón seemed at the time an odd choice to direct the third installment of the world-famous Harry Potter series. But the unique visual style and semi-serious mood that Cuarón brought to Prisoner of Azkaban proved perfect for the adaptation of what was, at the time of its release, the series’ darkest book.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
directed by Wes Anderson
Anderson’s quirky visual style is one of the hallmarks of all his films, making him a perfect fit for adapting a Roald Dahl novel. After all, the best adaptations of Dahl’s books–Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and James and the Giant Peach (1996)—have shown that really doing Dahl’s original source material justice means embracing their inherent weirdness. With Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson was up to the task (see: Whackbat).