Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Videos for a rainy day

Keep the kids entertained on those stormy days with films like ”Pinocchio,” ”The NeverEnding Story,” and more

Posted on

Rain isn’t the only calamity that forces a kid to stay home. Sunburn, poison ivy, or a reluctance to face teammates after striking out with the tying run on third may keep a child in-doors on a summer day. And videos can provide fast relief. The following selection (which omits excellent but obvious choices like E.T., Mary Poppins, or The Wizard of Oz) should get the family through anything but a major monsoon — or the world’s longest batting slump.

Anne of Green Gables (1985, Walt Disney; 199 minutes; Ages 9 and up)
From the red roads of Prince Edward Island to the honey and hardwood characterizations of, respectively, Richard Farnsworth and Colleen Dewhurst, this Canadian production, originally a TV miniseries, is sheer poetry. Megan Follows is smashing as Anne, the 12-year-old orphan sent by mistake to live with an aging single farmer and his sister (Farnsworth and Dewhurst) in turn-of-the-century Canada. Over several years, dreamy, scholarly, brave Anne wins over not only them but all the other adults who had been too narrow-minded to appreciate her. Every child who has ever felt similarly undervalued will love Anne, too. A+

101 Things for Kids to Do (1987, Random House; 800-722-3000; 60 minutes; Ages 6 to 10)
Ventriloquist Shari Lewis and her puppet pals serve up games, stunts, arts-and-crafts projects, magic tricks, tongue twisters, and the kiddie equivalent of smart-aleck gimmicks in a video that is more for doing than for viewing. Among the better bits: how to fold a square sheet of paper into a usable drinking cup (tried successfully by my daughters, 8 and 5), how to stick a pin in a balloon without popping it, and how to answer the riddle ”What animal can jump as high as a tree?” Each activity is numbered on-screen so it can be found again easily. A

The Elephant’s Child (1986, Random House; 800-733-3000; 30 minutes; Ages 5 to 9)
One of the first and finest in the Rabbit Ears Productions series, ”The Elephant’s Child” combines a classic story by Rudyard Kipling, a narrator (Jack Nicholson) who speaks slowly and slyly, as if letting you in on a terrific secret, a singer-composer (Bobby McFerrin) who raises scat to new heights, and expressive illustrations by Tim Raglin. Each picture fades into the next to give the illusion of animation. This Kipling story could just as easily have been called ”How the Elephant Got His Trunk.” Kids will identify with the little elephant whose elders spank him for asking so many questions and who returns the favor once he gets his new nose. A

Pinocchio (1983, Playhouse; 51 minutes; Ages 4 to 8)
It took no genius to cast Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) as the puppet Pinocchio in this Faerie Tale Theatre production — Reubens always has seemed three credits shy of being a real-live boy. But casting Lainie Kazan as the Blue Fairy was a master-stroke. Kazan’s character, zaftig and earthy, is called Sophia, the fairy of wooden objects, and she says things like ”Your nose, she’s-a gonna grow, capiche?” A couple of minor characters slow things down, but only a little. A-

The NeverEnding Story (1984, Warner; 94 minutes; Ages 9 to 12)
A sad and lonely boy mourning the death of his mother finds refuge from his problems, and from school bullies, in the pages of a wondrous book. Within the book, a child hero must save his kingdom, Fantasia, from the Nothing, a destructive force of hopelessness. The make-believe hero’s success depends on the boy’s reading the book and becoming involved. Imaginative puppet-like characters join live actors in contributing to a sense of adventure in this video, directed by Wolfgang Peterson (Das Boot). There are a few too many moments when nothing happens, but on the whole this is an intriguing movie that also emphasizes the thrill of reading. B+

Comments