G, 144 min.
Director: Ken Hughes
Writers: Roald Dahl, Ken Hughes, The Sherman Brothers (songs), Ian Fleming (novel)
Starring: Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Gert Frobe, Anna Quayle, Benny Hill, James Robertson Justice, Robert Helpmann, Heather Ripley, Adrian Hall
I grow more and more proud of my children every day. I have many reasons to be proud of my children, as many parents do. However, one thing that makes me proud of them is probably something that many parents don’t value in their children. They are extremely open minded about movies. I can show them a movie from any era, and they’ll watch it. This is not the case with many children. It’s not the case with many adults.
Now, this wasn’t always the case with my children. This is something you have to teach your children. They have to learn to appreciate films from different eras, just as anyone does. But when you teach them to appreciate the entire history of film so early, it sticks and fosters an appreciation and an open mindedness about many, many things in life.
Here’s an example. For last week’s Family Movie Night—the Family Movie Night is one of the keys to getting your children to appreciate films from any era—I gave the boys an option as to which movie we watched. I usually am pretty dictatorial about which movies they’re exposed to, but every once and a while I like to have them chose for themselves. I gave them three choices—the late 60s Dick Van Dyke musical “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, a recent Sutdio Ghibli anime “From Up On Poppy Hill”, and one they saw in theaters but are likely to want to watch again “Star Trek Into Darkness”. I fully expected them to go for the known commodity, “Star Trek”. However, one chose “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” without a thought, and the other was passionately excited about seeing the anime, which I cautioned him was a serious one severely lacking in explosions. He didn’t care, but eventually decided to go with the musical.
Now, I’d never seen “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and had no idea what to expect really. I had no idea whether they’d like it or not. Even as we watched it I wondered if it would lose their interests. It’s a little slower and longer than the family fare we’re used to seeing today. The movie has an intermission.
There were parts where I though it was losing them, but then one of them would ask a question or two about what they were seeing. My middle child, who couldn’t figure out how everybody knew the steps and lyrics to the song and dance numbers that were supposedly spontaneous, made my favorite observation. “How can they do that? They haven’t even met each other before. That doesn’t make any sense,” he shook his head. “But did you like it?” I asked. “Oh, Yes!”