Whether the small humans in question are your own, friend’s, or extended family members, there is a good chance you will need to find a sit-down kind of activity, to keep the little ones in contained area. Although we do not condone some parents’ practise to put a kid in front of a screen and let it “entertain itself”, there are good stories out there, the kind you can share with them and enjoy even as an adult.
Have you gone through all of the classics – A Little Mermaid, Spongebob Squarepants, Finding Nemo, Save Willy, etc.? We prepared a list of perhaps lesser-known tv shows and movies that aged well since the 90’s (and some more recent). You may know them, but maybe we’ll surprise you with a few.
Around the World with Willy Fog
A classic tale of science fiction genius Jules Verne re-imagined starring a varied group of characters, or should we say – critters? From mice to squirrels, cats, dogs and of course, Willy Fog himself – a lion. All of them in dashing costumes and with quirky personalities make for a fun, colourful ride around the world. There are sailboats involved, too. This is a great way to introduce kids to the works of J.Verne. And if they like it, you can tell them that now, people can sail around the world in less than 41 days!
Moomin (TV series, 1990)
This animated tv version of Tove Jansson’s stories is difficult to find these days, but if you get your hands on it – don’t let go! There were 104 episodes in total, but nor all of them were translated from original Japanese version. Other versions of Moomin’s stories were made over the years, but we picked this one for its light-heartedness, even with sophisticated plots and weird characters (c’mon, Hattifatteners are cool!). There are episodes with aliens, comets, witches, magicians, ghosts, but we would especially recommend “The Discovery of a Wrecked Ship” and following two episodes, “The Lighthouse” and “The Day Lighthouse Lit Up” – all nautical in nature. Anything Moomin related is worth checking out, and you will be pleasantly surprised by complexity of some parts. This one doesn’t dumb it down for children, instead it teaches them about nature, friendship and family in an unconventional but honest way.
Atlantis: The lost Empire
Disney released several nautical creations into the world, however you should know about this one. It could be considered B-class feature in Disney department, but its popularity was growing as the years went on. It is credited with being first science fiction animated feature in Disney’s canon. You most likely already know the main story of the city of Atlantis. This instalment brings a kind of Stargate “vibe” to the whole thing, and we love it! Although lost in its time, today it is beloved by many.
Ghibli Studio movie by Hayao Miyazaki – you already know what’s up. Get ready for some amazing visuals and a captivating story inspired by mythical creatures and great forces of nature. The story is way too complicated to describe here, but in short – a magician lives underwater in a submarine, he has many daughters (they somewhat resemble fish) with Goddess of Mercy and one of them wants to become human, she escapes, meets a human boy, becomes friends with him, gains magical powers, uses them, causes natural disaster and so on, so forth. Animation is beautiful, the storytelling is tailored to children and there is a happy end, so don’t worry – the success is practically guaranteed.
Help! I’m a Fish
This little Danish-German-Irish gem is one of those movies that can easily get lost in the sea of movies about people turning to fish, or fish turning to people. It’s worth the watch if you and the children (remember – we’re doing this for the kids) want to see some fish-themed movie that is a little different. It directly goes into climate change talk and rising water level predictions, which one of the characters – Professor MacKrill, plans to solve by developing a serum to turn people into fish – to survive on the Earth in the future. Yeah, well…it’s kind of cool, don’t you think? The animation is well-made and very cute. Overall a good choice to have tucked somewhere for later use, even if you don’t feel compelled by our description.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!
This stop-motion piece follows a group of wannabe pirates whose captain enters a competition for the Pirate of the Year. They struggle to prove themselves until they stumble upon SS Beagle and manage to capture Charles Darwin himself. Darwin discovers the last Dodo bird onboard their pirate ship and comes up with a plan of his own. This movie is a fun spin on history, with its portrayal of a famous scientist and other historical figures, such as Queen Victoria. The clay-mation style is very pleasant and something that is still popular, even in the world of very advanced digital animation. Combining pirates, extinct animal pets, real history and not-so-real history should mean a happy kiddo, if that kiddo likes pirates at least a little bit. If not – we do not recommend it – the cheesy piratey style is present, but we don’t mind it – someone else might.
Another Disney movie, this time inspired by “Treasure Island”. It’s quite different than the original, though. There is treasure, but space pirates took it to another level with their old-timey sailboats powered by solar-sails. If you loved the book by Robert Louis Stevenson as a child, and did not see this movie, we recommend you watch it even without kids onboard. Steampunk enthusiasts should also appreciate attention to detail and a great addition to the genre.
We hope this list will help you and the kids will enjoy the screening, perhaps on a foggy, rainy day on anchor, or whenever there is not much to do outside. Sick days are also a great opportunity to distract them from discomfort and make them feel cozy onboard.