Speaking of children's movies, I recently saw Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo, and I have to say that it was absolutely delightful. No creepy heads were chopped off, no mothers being shot, there visits to prison, and there was no Insane Asylum involved.
The film was an updated version of the classic story of The Little Mermaid, and it was beautiful in the sense that everyone in the film seems to accept that the magic of Ponyo and her family exists. I think that not a lot of animators take advantage of the suspension of disbelief that persists within this genre, but Miyazaki creates a world in which anything is possible and in doing so breaks the divide between animation and real life. In his doing so, we are sucked into that world, and so while I was watching Ponyo turn into a little girl, I completely believed that it could happen. The thing I loved about it was that the mother, Lisa, accepts it too! A lot of children's movies (like Return to Oz) put this barrier between adults and children that allows children to believe and adults to not believe (in whatever the movie happens to be promoting). Yet, Ponyo made it completely natural for magical things to happen and for everyone to accept them.
Another thing I loved about the movie was the animation, which was drawn by hand. It has a softness and smoothness that Disney used to have before they discovered the use of computers. The attention to detail is astounding, and I found myself watching every inch of the screen so that I wouldn't miss anything. And I mean anything. The pictures are so fluid that upon watching I breathed a sigh of relief at not having to watch something created on a computer. It gets tiring, you know? It's nice to know that I'm looking at, well, art. Moving art, that is.
The only thing that disconcerted me was the ending. It came too quickly, and you'll understand what I mean if you watch the movie. I won't give anything away, but I was expecting more conflict. I have read the original story of The Little Mermaid, and I was interested in seeing what direction this story would take (knowing that it is a children's film, however, you can easily guess). I also didn't like the song. I mean, please, I GET what mood I'm supposed to be in after watching. I don't need the main characters singing.
Anyway, I've said my bit, and if you haven't seen this movie. Go see it. It will restore your faith in animation. AND there are no exploding fiery pumpkins.