There are just some films that kids have to watch in the theater with fancy 3D glasses or on a widescreen HDTV (fully-equipped with surround sound, of course): Avatar, How To Train Your Dragon, Hugo, etc. No exceptions. Watch them on the big screen in measly 2D or at home on that 20” TV and the experience just isn’t same.
But—and get ready for this—there are some movies kids should definitely watch that are only available on VHS. No shiny disk to insert. No surround sound. With all the fancy-fresh distractions of 21st Century technology, we’ve pretty much forgotten about these great, entertaining, original, nostalgia-laden flicks.
First on the list of VHS-only movies to intoduce to your kids is John Korty and Charles Swenson’s Twice Upon A Time. How could your child’s eyes never experience the wonder of this 1983 flick? First of all, it was the first animated film produced by George Lucas (yes, that George Lucas). Second, it’s a pretty big deal in the stop-motion world for using a cutout animation style the filmmakers called “Lumage.” The translucent pieces are moved around on a light table which produces stunning (yes, I said stunning) depth and texture, and almost a stained-glass effect. Last but not least, the plot. Twice Upon A Time’s story is worth all the extra effort of hooking up the old VHS player and fast-forwarding through that almost never ending anti-piracy PSA. Stated simply, the movie is about stopping the evil Synonamess Botch, ruler of the Murkworks, from unleashing nightmare bombs into the cosmos. Dialog is LOL-funny, storyline and characters never fall short, and it’s completely original… completely.
Still not convinced pulling out that antique VCR for the kids is worth it? Well, shame on you. For one, I thought you were a true nerd; for two, how about I entice you with a film you (and the kids) really can’t say no to: Mother Goose Rock N Rhyme. Shelley Duvall as Little Bo Beep, Jean Stapleton as Mother Goose, Little Richard as Old King Cole, Cyndi Lauper as Mary (who had a little lamb). The list of insanely interesting celeb matchups goes on. And who wouldn’t want to see Bobby Brown as one of the Three Blind Mice.
The uncut version of the film (parts were removed for the TV) isn’t just rhymes and 90s-style remixes of fairytales. The storyline focuses on the disappearance of Mother Goose and the Mother Goose characters that are suddenly vanishing from Rhymeland—it’s up to Little Bo Peep and Gordon Goose to crack the mystery. You and your nerdy child don’t have to love nursery rhymes to appreciate this funky-fantastic film, but there’s no way you both can’t appreciate a star-studded cast dressed up in a movie they’d much rather forget.
But if your child is looking to achieve Beatles-status at school, they’ll need a VHS tape that teaches them skills to win the hearts of other kids on the playground. The Smothers Brothers: Yo-Yo Man is definitely one of those films your child will look back on in 10-15 years and say how much it changed their life (after all, everyone’s a sucker for “Walk the Dog”). Yo-Yo Man is a how-to video that teaches your wee one to become a yo-yoing guru and achieve the advanced “state of yo.” Seriously. Since these crazy toys have a tendency of going in and out of style in the nerd world, after watching and practicing with this flick, your kid will be ultra-ready for when the next yo-yo craze comes to town.
So who said VHS is dead? With flicks like these, we’re in for a worldwide revival.
Got any cool VHS-only faves you think every nerdy child needs to see?