As Spring approaches, celebrate the change of seasons with these family-friendly movies.
“Milo and Otis” (“Koneko monogatari”) (Japan, 1986)
An orange kitten named Milo befriends a pug puppy named Otis, and the two launch a year of adventure. After causing mischief on their farm, Milo and Otis wonder the countryside, becoming separated but uniting again in the Spring. The English version is narrated with warm humor by Dudley Moore. Rated G, but very young viewers could be scared by a scene where the two fight a bear and another where the cat jumps off a cliff. In both scenes, the animals are unharmed.
“My Neighbor Totoro” (“Tonari no Totoro”) (Japan, 1988)
Two sisters (dubbed into English by Dakota and Elle Fanning) move with their father to a ramshackle country house near their ailing mother’s hospital. They meet the marvelous creatures who live unseen in homes and forests, including a giant, roly-poly nature spirit dubbed Totoro. “My Neighbor Totoro” is a dream-like depiction of childhood, with lush Spring landscapes. Rated G, and while “gremlins” and “spirits” appear, these fantastic creatures are cute rather than scary.
“Hop” (USA, 2011)
A colorful animated romp, “Hop” follows the Easter Bunny’s son (voiced by Russell Brand), who’d rather be a drummer. He runs away, encountering a human, Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), who’s equally at odds with his family’s expectations. The two join forces to rescue the Easter Bunny’s legacy from a power-hungry chick, voiced brilliantly by Hank Azaria. Rated PG for mild, rude humor. Some scenes near the climax (such as characters being suspended in a pot above boiling liquid) might be scary for very young viewers.
“Bambi” (USA, 1942)
“Bambi” follows an orphaned deer as he grows to adulthood beside forest friends. This must-see Disney animation classic is filled with lush nature scenes and gentle humor. Rated G, but young viewers may be scared by the opening scenes, where Bambi’s mother is shot.
“The Secret Garden” (USA, 1993)
In “The Secret Garden,” British girl (Kate Maberly) returns to England from India after her parents die. On her reclusive uncle’s estate, she discovers a locked, neglected garden. With the help of a servant, she brings life back to the garden and also begins to unlock more of the estate’s secrets. Rated G, but the earthquake scene at the beginning might scare some young viewers.