The Iron Giant (1999)
Warner Bros. The Iron Giant is an animated feature based on Ted Hughes’ 1968 novel, The Iron Man. While the film was considered a box office failure, it later became a family cult classic thanks to home releases.
Set during the Cold War in 1957, the film centres on a young boy named Hogarth Hughes, who discovers and befriends a gigantic metallic robot fallen from outer space. With the help of a beatnik artist named Dean McCoppin, Hogarth attempts to prevent the U.S. military and Kent Mansley, a paranoid federal agent, from finding and destroying the Giant.
The Iron Giant will surprise you and the kids with its fragility and tenderness in portraying an alien, metal-eating robot. Voiced by Vin Diesel, the Iron Giant is bound to become a family favourite character. Get a signature edition of this movie classic from takealot.com featuring two new scenes and remastered sound.
Once Upon a Forest (1993)
Climate change is unfortunately a reality which confronts children as they learn and grow. Introducing them to the concept can be difficult, so why not start off the conversation with an animated feature? Once Upon a Forest addresses the issue of deforestation through the eyes of four furlings – the name given to the anthropomorphic animal children of the film.
Abigail,the woodmouse; Edgar, the mole; and Russell, the hedgehog must risks their lives to save their friend Michelle, the badger from a dangerous man-made poison. They embark on a perilous journey to find the ingredients needed to brew a healing tonic for Michelle. To the Furlings astonishment, they discover that not all humans are out to destroy the forest. They also learn that if everyone plays their part to save the forest, everything will turn out alright.
Teach the kids a valuable lesson with this delightful film. While it may not be a visual masterpiece, the characters are endearing and the message powerful. Get yourself a copy from loot.co.za.
Henry Selick’s Coraline is stop-motion animation at its very best and most scary. (Selick is the esteemed director behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.) Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s 2002 children’s adventure novel of the same name, Coraline is brilliantly crafted by Laika Studios.
Coraline Jones is a curious and somewhat obnoxious pre-teen. When she and her family move to Ashland, Oregon, Coraline is determined to find herself an adventure. However, Coraline gets much more than she had bargained for when she discovers a tiny door in the living room wall. Leading her to an alternative universe filled with mysterious delights and an Other Mother, this door becomes Coraline’s escape. But, things are not what they seem and she must ultimately fight her way back to the real world.
Coraline is the perfect alternative animated film for young adolescents with a dark, twisty side. Featuring a tenacious female protagonist, clever songs and great voice overs from the likes of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, it’s a must-see. You can pick up a DVD boxset featuring Coraline, as well as Laika’s equally creepy ParaNorman from loot.co.za, or stream it on Netflix.
My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
Ma vie de Courgette; also titled My Life as a Zucchini is a Swiss-French stop-motion animated comedy-drama. This highly intelligent film has been nominated for a number of international awards, and holds a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite its frivolous name, My Life as a Zucchini deals with a range of serious issues including abuse, alcoholism and bullying. Nevertheless, it remains at its core a film for children and young adults. Icare, or “Courgette” as he prefers to be called, accidentally pushes his drunken mother down the stairs, causing her death. He is taken under the wing of a police officer, Raymond, who places him in an orphanage. Courgette struggles to find friends at first, and is bullied by Simon a long-time resident of the orphanage. However, Simon and Courgette form an unlikely bond upon the arrival of Camille, a quietly pretty girl with a few dark secrets of her own.
My Life as a Zucchini is a touching and joyful ode to children who have had to face the realities of adult life at a young age. If you are unable to find a copy of the film, get in touch with The French Institute of South Africa. Their DibuKids Movie Club has hosted screenings of this magical film in the past. They also screen other great alternative animated movies twice a month on a Wednesday evening.
Persepolis is an animated, semi-autobiographical film based on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel of the same name. It tells the story of a young girl, Marji, who flees her home country of Iran, to escape the violence and persecution of the burgeoning revolution in the 1970s.
Persepolis is both visually stunning and thought-provoking. While it is intended for adult audiences, teenagers may also find great joy in watching it. The female hero is immediately relatable, as she struggles through insecurities, bad relationships and loneliness. Switching between past and present, the film draws you into Marji’s story, which is filled with moments of childhood innocence, teenage angst and adult remorse.
Persepolis is a great movie for moms and daughters to bond over. You can purchase it from Apple iTunes or Google Play Movies.
The Little Prince (2015)
If you haven’t picked up by now, I am a huge fan of stop-motion animation. The Little Prince is just another one of those wonderful alternative animated movies for kids which uses the art of stop-motion, combined with computer animation, to tell a heart-warming story. Based on the 1943 novella of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince encourages children to dream and tell stories.
A young girl discovers the joy of storytelling and friendship when she meets an old aviator who tells her the tale of the Little Prince. When the aviator falls ill, the girl must fly his plane into space to find the Prince. There she uncovers a planet inhabited by workaholic adults, quite similar to her tyrant of a mother. The Little Prince is now all grown up, but with the help of the girl, he recovers his memory as well as his younger self. The little girl is ultimately reunited with her mother, as they both learn to balance work and dreams.
If you and the kids haven’t seen The Little Prince yet, get right on it! Get yourself the DVD from takealot.com
Revolting Rhymes (2016)
Revolting Rhymes is a multi award-winning South African film produced by Triggerfish Animation. This animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s fairy tale anthology for children will delight family members young and old. Bringing Dahl’s quirky characters to life in vivid colour and sound, Revolting Rhymes is a feat for South African animation.
See Dahl’s dark but comical take on Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf and The Three Little Pigs take form. The filmmakers have also been praised for their references to illustrator Quentin Blake’s iconic drawings in their animations.
Revolting Rhymes is available to stream on Showmax.
Do you know of any other alternative animated movies for kids? Let us know about them!