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Kid flicks: Today’s kids enjoy a mix of old and new movies

Becky LaVoie and her daughter, Juliana, 3, watch a movie in their north Fargo home. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO - Like many other little girls her age, 3-year-old Juliana LaVoie has been known to run around her backyard belting out “Let It Go” from Disney’s 2013 insta-hit “Frozen.”

But, unlike her pint-sized peers, she counts Beetlejuice, aka “the crazy monster,” among her favorite movie characters, right up there with princesses Elsa and Anna.

Mom Becky, 29, of Fargo, says she and her husband were ready to change the channel when 1988’s “Beetlejuice” came on, worried it’d give their daughter nightmares.

Instead, she was captivated by it.

“A few days later, it came on again, and next thing we know we own a copy and are being begged to watch it daily,” LaVoie says.

Juliana’s taste in kids’ movies is an example of how old has blended with new. Kids’ favorite movies are often a mix of ’80s and ’90s (or older) classics suggested by their Gen-X and -Y parents and “new classics” from the past decade or so.

Matt Bharu, a clerk at the 25th Street South Cash Wise Video, says he regularly gets requests for a combination of old (well, ’90s old) and new, like “Despicable Me” (2010) and “Aladdin” (1992), “How to Train Your Dragon” (also 2010) and “Cool Runnings” (1993).

The same applies to 29-year-old Cassie Verdi’s boys.

Her three sons, Olliver, 8; Ari, 4; and Desmond, 2, love their classics, namely, “The Sword in the Stone” (1963), but “Despicable Me” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (2009) are in the regular rotation, too.

So what do the new classics have to offer that the old ones don’t? Well, it depends on whom you ask, but LaVoie and Verdi agree they have better role models for girls.

“Women have extremely different roles in newer movies. Even when not the main character, they are shown as self-reliant, strong and capable individuals, rather than damsels in distress waiting for ‘true love,’ ” says Verdi, who recently moved with her family from Wheatland, N.D., to Brainerd, Minn.

In “Frozen,” Disney goes as far as to poke fun at its past (“You can’t marry a man you just met!”).

“Tangled,” another recent (2010) hit from Disney, is another favorite in the LaVoie household, and mom approves of the messages it teaches her daughter with every viewing.

“The classics focus on beauty and little else as a means to true love and happiness, whereas the newer ones like ‘Brave’ (2012), ‘Tangled’ and ‘Frozen’ show that taking ownership and being yourself is the way to happiness,” she says.

But, “princess movies” aren’t just for girls.

“Tangled” was the first full-length movie Jared Stoll’s 6-year-old son, Riley, sat through completely in one sitting.

“ ‘Tangled’ just caught his attention for some reason. I watched him pretty closely during the movie, and he was just fascinated and drawn in by the story,” the 35-year-old Fargo dad says.

Also, Verdi points out, villains are no longer portrayed as evil.

Now, they’re shown in a different light, she says, pointing to “Despicable Me,” “Megamind” (2010) and “Meet the Robinsons” (2007).

“Instead of evil, the villain is more often than not misunderstood or misguided, which teaches our kids not to judge someone so quickly,” she says.

Regardless, some classics withstand the test of time, like “The Princess Bride” (1987) and “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).

Stoll’s son will also sit through “The Princess Bride” and “Jumanji” (1995).

So why do those titles hold up?

“Well, I think for one thing, movies like that ring true because they don’t insult the intelligence of the viewer. They make the movie for the family, but they treat the viewer like a person rather some ‘dumb kid,’ ” dad says.

Stoll, a former video store manager, adds Pixar movies “Up” (2009), “Ratatouille” (2007) and “The Incredibles” (2004) to the new-classics list.

“I mean, we will have to see if they have what it takes to hold up as classics, but they all have excellent storytelling, and they all have wonderful acting and characters,” he says.

This summer, kids can watch several of what may become new classics at West Acres Cinema as part of Marcus Theatres’ Kids Dream Summer Film Series, or at the Fargo Theatre’s Kids’ Flicks Summer 2014.

This week’s pick at West Acres Cinema is “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.” Next up at the Fargo Theatre is “The Lego Movie.”

If you go

What: Kids Dream Summer Film Series

When: 10 a.m. Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays through Aug. 13

Where: West Acres 14, 4101 17th Ave. S., Fargo

Tickets: Tickets cost $2; popcorn and fountain drinks, $2.50. For a full schedule, visit http://marcustheatres.com

What: Kids’ Flicks Summer 2014

When: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesdays, June 25 through July 16, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 22

Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway, Fargo

Tickets: All seats $3, small soda and popcorn, $2. Full schedule at www.fargotheatre.org.

Meredith Holt

Meredith Holt is a features/business reporter for The Forum who covers topics in health, mental health, social issues, women's issues, arts and entertainment, food and more. She also writes a column on health and wellness, body image and media representationShe was a copy editor/page designer for six years prior to joining the features team in March 2012.

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