Older fantasy movies for a small child
March 7, 2019 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I am acquainted with a seven year old who got very into The Last Unicorn. What else would she like?

The child and her mother are fairly up on modern things, like The Dragon Prince. I'm looking for older films that are child-appropriate and not too politically terrible*. The Hobbit seems to be acceptable and we are familiar with Miyazaki.

The child likes "band of teens train to be ninjas"-type anime and standard children's cartoons. I think a story should have a strong adventure element to attract her.

*We had a little talk about how it's not okay that Mommy Fortuna and her assistant are the only people in the movie with non-Anglophone-world accents, for instance, but there's still a lot to like about that movie.
posted by Frowner to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe The Neverending Story?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:52 PM on March 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

posted by the milkman, the paper boy at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2019 [9 favorites]

The Dark Crystal is a little scary but really good.
posted by gideonfrog at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

They've done Avatar: The Last Airbender, right?
posted by foxfirefey at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

The Flight of Dragons was another one that I really liked as a kid.
posted by gideonfrog at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

posted by I claim sanctuary at 1:05 PM on March 7, 2019 [12 favorites]

I wonder if they'd be into The Secret of NIMH.
posted by Aleyn at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2019 [15 favorites]

At the same age I loved The Sea Prince And The Fire Child, a bit harder to find these days but might be a hit. Older Ghibli movies, if you haven’t already worked through those?
posted by Stacey at 1:13 PM on March 7, 2019

I will second The Flight of Dragons - that was my absolute favorite movie at that age - and round out the Rankin-Bass trio by saying that I also loved their animated movie of The Hobbit. (Their Return of the King, not as much.)
posted by darchildre at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Secret of NIMH was 100% my favorite movie and book at that age.
posted by Flannery Culp at 1:21 PM on March 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

If you're familiar with Miyazaki, which of those does she like?

If she can hang with the violence and tragedy in something like Princess Mononoke that widens the possibilities.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:26 PM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

A series rather than a movie, but as a child who adored The Last Unicorn and Labyrinth I also was absolutely obsessed with the The Storyteller. It's still so good!
posted by DSime at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2019 [10 favorites]

The kid and I watched the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad films & Jason and the Argonauts with enthusiasm. He couldn't get past the fact that the Kraken has nipples in the original Clash of the Titans to actually enjoy it. Though it did produce some funny conversations - "Is it like a reptile mammal hybrid or was a human?" Secret of NIMH has an edge of darkness which might be difficult for some kids.
posted by Ashwagandha at 1:32 PM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Warriors of Virtue is fun (kung fu-fighting kangaroos!) and appears to be available in full on YouTube.
posted by Lexica at 1:33 PM on March 7, 2019

Not a direct recommendation, but Common Sense Media is a good resource to gauge the appropriateness of movies and often calls out politically terribleness (either directly in the "WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW" box or in the reviews).
posted by hankscorpio83 at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Girl who Leapt Through Time and The Prince of Egypt come to mind (for specific values of fantasy). Pan's Labyrinth might be too old but also might not be (graphic violence / some language).

Some TV shows she might like -- Princess Tutu and Over the Garden Wall. OTGW is bingeable as a movie anyway. She-ra (the netflix reboot) has a strong "band of friends" element.
posted by snerson at 2:20 PM on March 7, 2019

nthing Flight of Dragons and The Hobbit, which also have bangin' folk soundtracks!

I too was obsessed with the Secret of Nimh at that age. I think it's a great movie, but maybe give it a little screening first as it seems like kids nowadays are a little more sensitive and it has some very intense animal experimentation stuff.
posted by cakelite at 2:20 PM on March 7, 2019

At that age I think I was really into Watership Down, though I think a parental advisory applies, as it has a focus on death and has some violent images that creeped out a lot of people.
posted by eirias at 3:48 PM on March 7, 2019

Princess Tutu leans on and subverts a lot of the same fairytale tropes as The Last Unicorn. Some dark themes but no gore. Vision of Escaflowne is another anime classic, though I don't remember if the violence level is enough to be worrisome.

The Black Cauldron is fairly dark and IMO not as good as the Prydain books, but if she likes the movie, then hey, she has a new book series to read.

Return to Oz is probably too scary for 7, though most of the people I know who saw it near that age LIKED the movie; it just also gave them nightmares.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:22 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh my God don't let a seven year old watch Pan's Labyrinth. Or Watership Down.

Hilda the Netflix animated series is perfect, however.

Steven Universe also.

She might like the Netflix reboot of Voltron. Not fantasy but lots of ninja skill teamwork.

But seriously. Hilda is chock full of magic and adventure and mysterious creatures. I would start there.
posted by emjaybee at 6:32 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh and if we're talking books also, the Borrowers series was very much my jam.
posted by emjaybee at 6:33 PM on March 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

One more thing, I realized I went away from your request for older movies. But here's the thing; most older kid media is terrible. Sexist, patronizing, badly paced and acted, often shockingly racist. Sometimes just flat boring.

The age we live in now is the BEST ever for kid shows and movies. It would be perfectly ok to take a pass on older stuff. Most of it doesn't hold up.
posted by emjaybee at 6:39 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I just watched Mary and the Witch’s Flower on Netflix. If this 7-yo could handle The Last Unicorn, I think she’d enjoy Mary.
posted by epj at 8:42 PM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My favourite movies as a kid:

The Last Unicorn
Neverending Story
The Rats of NIMH
The Hobbit (the animated version)
The Rescuers
The Witches (Roald Dahl)
The Dark Crystal
Return to OZ
The Princess Bride (will probably require some conversation re: political terribleness)
Watership Down (which yeah, is not for the faint of heart)

Kid-friendly shows I watched as an adult:

Studio Ghibli & Miyazaki movies
James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl again)
Cardcaptor Sakura (anime tv series/movies)
Big Fish (Tim Burton)
Alice in Wonderland (the 2010 Tim Burton version)
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton again)
Steven Universe
She-Ra (reboot)

* I also really liked the Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones movies as a kid, but whooooo boy are they ever problematic.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 10:25 PM on March 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

When my sister was a little bit older than 7 she really got into a TV movie Voyage of the Unicorn- it's been a while since I've seen it though.
posted by freethefeet at 1:10 AM on March 8, 2019

For older animated stuff, you should try The Point; it's pretty available online. (Also, Yellow Submarine comes to mind, but it has been a while since I've seen it.)
posted by gudrun at 5:01 AM on March 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

Eragon (2006) and Dungeons and Dragons (2000) are my double feature for all things Jeremy Irons extolling about knightly honor and basically chewing all the scenery. And it's fun to watch him be a hero/mentor in one and a villain in the other without breaking stride.

Dragonheart (1996) for a scaly Sean Connery and a pipsqueak David Thewlis (don't bother with the others in the series).

On rewatch the other day, I can't recommend Dragonslayer (1981). It's just not as good (damsels in distress, sexist attitudes, a waste of Ralph Richardson's lovely acting skills).

If you need more Orcs and Elves, Curse of the Dragon Slayer (2014) could work. I would watch it first for content (violence, some harrowing scenes). More in the Lord of the Rings vibe than the Hobbit vibe (books).

No dragons or wyverns or unicorns or such, but A Knight's Tale (2007) is a nice bit of escapist fun. Again, a preview would be in order for adult relationships and some language.

We might need a contest between Peter Postlethwaite (Dragonheart) and Paul Bettany (A Knight's Tale) for the loyal and enthusiastic booking agent.
posted by TrishaU at 6:31 AM on March 8, 2019

I loved the The Last Unicorn, and also very much loved these:

Ronja Robber's Daughter

The Secret of Kells

Krabat (haven't seen the movie, but the book it's based on is one of my favourites in the genre)

Fantaghiro - The Cave of the Golden Rose
posted by sohalt at 7:44 AM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was obsessed with The Last Unicorn as a kid!

Also loved the animated movie All Dogs Go To Heaven
posted by forkisbetter at 6:40 PM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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