...your children will probably adore the ''Narnia'' DVD (even if you don't). Plus: Reviews of a ''Sesame Street'' DVD, the return of Ramona Quimby, and more

By EW Staff
Updated April 05, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Phl Bray

”Narnia” DVD: Perfect for kids, if not for parents

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
(DVD, Walt Disney/Walden Media, $29.99
When I saw C.S. Lewis’ classic fantasy unspool on the big screen last December, I found the 140-minute movie to be painfully interminable, glacially paced, and stunningly confusing. Then again, I’m a childless 30-year-old, so I’m really not the target audience of this fairy tale about four siblings who bide their time during the Battle of Britain exploring an elaborate world they find in a mysterious closet. But I wanted to give the movie another try, and looking at it on DVD — and trying to view it, in this case, from a child’s perspective — I can appreciate why the film became so instantly beloved by, well, everyone except me.

Narnia may just be the perfect children’s movie. With four protagonists — two boys and two girls, two younger and two older — there’s someone here for every kid to relate to. Issues of sibling rivalry, though not subtle, are handled with an understanding eye. Children are the main rulemakers and heroes. And imagination and game-playing are cherished over all. (I still think much of the film makes no sense, but kids watching at home probably won’t be wondering why, for example, Santa Claus pops in from nowhere — they’ll just be glad to see the jolly old guy.)

The film is rated PG, and there are a few moments when younger children might get scared. Some scenes are shot in an ominous darkness. A few of the many talking animals — particularly a pack of snarling wolves — inject the movie with a small dose of menace. The dastardly White Witch (Tilda Swinton) talks a mean game. And the death of a major animal character near the end of the film stands to bring tears, even if said passing is only temporary. Because, after all, this is Narnia — a place where the good survive, peace triumphs, and kids are kings. B-Joshua Rich
Recommended ages: 6 and up

Sesame Beginnings: Beginning Together
(DVD, Sony Wonder, $14.95)
The idea behind this series, in which kids get to see what Elmo, Big Bird, and Cookie Monster were like as babies, is brilliant: Children love to watch other children (okay, in this case the ”children” are little monsters) doing everyday things, like taking baths or reading books. What gives me pause is that the creators intend for parents to sit with their children as part of the learning experience. That’s fine if there’s only one pair of feet pitter-pattering around your house, but add a few more, and that ideal goes out the window fast. Still, nice intro and vocals from the singer Brandy. BEileen Clarke
Recommended ages: 6 months and up

Beezus and Ramona; Ramona the Pest; Ramona the Brave; Ramona and Her Father; Ramona and Her Mother; Ramona Forever; Ramona’s World; Ramona Quimby, Age 8
(HarperCollins; hardcovers $15.99, paperbacks $5.99)
Ramona, the world’s most vexing little sister, is back: Her creator, the fabulous Beverly Cleary, turns 90 this month, and in her honor HarperCollins is rereleasing all the Ramona books, adorned with snappy new covers. Who can forget the time Ramona took her green-haired doll, Chevrolet, to kindergarten show-and-tell? Or when she ruined big sister Beezus’ birthday cake by shoving her doll Bendix into the batter as it baked? Or the day she wore a ring made out of an earthworm to school? Here’s hoping these classics never go out of print. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 6-12

Wow! It Sure Is Good to Be You!
Book by Cynthia Jabar (Houghton Mifflin, $9.95)
Wow! reminds young girls how much their relatives love them, even if they live far away. With its sassy, smart text (”Somebody, somewhere, is thinking about you/ Keeps your picture in their pocket/ Misses your kisses”) and delightfully eccentric, colorful illustrations, Jabar’s book gently nudges self-esteem while it amuses. ”Somebody, somewhere, knows you’re cool-girl brave and strong/ With amazing talents. Why, even your short list goes on and on….” A-Tina Jordan
Recommended ages: 4-8

The Diary of a Killer Cat
Book by Anne Fine (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, $15)
Tuffy is, well, a typical cat: He’s a hunter. ”Okay, okay. So hang me. I killed the bird…. It’s practically my job to go creeping around the garden after sweet little eensy-weensy birdy-pies that can hardly fly from one hedge to another.” Much to the consternation of Tuffy’s owners, the bird is merely the first to go. There’s a mouse, and then — yikes! — the next-door neighbor’s beloved pet rabbit. Beginning readers ready for their first chapter books (second- or third-graders) will find this howlingly funny. And parents will probably laugh too. ATina Jordan
Recommended ages: 6-9

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

type
  • Movie
mpaa
  • PG
runtime
  • 140 minutes
director
  • Andrew Adamson

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