Family Movie Nights: Hugo, Tintin, War Horse

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Movie night is a pretty big deal around here. It started back in the days before we ever had cable or even the internet. We were a no-TV family for about ten or twelve years.

For the longest time we didn’t have a TV set or video player.When it was just the two of us, it was no big deal. And when FishBoy14 was a babe, it was no big deal. But, right about the time our oldest turned four and FishBoy11 was a toddler, I was pregnant with our third child and just plain exhausted.

My mother-in-law gave us a hand-me-down, old school, tv/vcr combo. We still have some of the first movies that she bought us. Lyle the Kindly Viking is still a favorite. And I’m on the verge of dejunking our vast VCR collection that is now about ten years old.

Back in those days, we limited any and all screen time, meaning the lot of us watched one movie once a week on movie night, usually on a Friday or Saturday evening when we were home without company.

Today, it’s still a weekly ritual for our family. Since we don’t watch TV on a regular basis (outside of hockey season), movie night is still a big deal. We pop corn and gather in the living room to watch a movie together. I’m always amazed at the conversations that grow from these screenings.

Nowadays we usually pick up a movie from Redbox. There are multiple locations nearby, and we like being able to get the Blu-Ray version and turn on the subtitles. (Yes, we’re old.) I can reserve the movie online and send hubs to get it on his way home from work. They almost always offer free rental codes for some reason or another, but it’s pretty cheap anyway. If you use my link to reserve online, we’ll both get a free movie rental, too.

Sometimes we stream them from Amazon or find something decent on network television. The finding something decent, however, can be tricky. Recently, we have watched some great, GREAT movies — as well as some duds.

Here are some of the winners:

Hugo – We rented Hugo via Redbox which meant that we had a full 24 hours to watch it. I almost wish we had watched it twice. It was really good. Set in post-World War I Paris, the film follows a young orphan boy named Hugo who lives in the train station. He is fascinated with machinery and clocks, having been taught the trade by his father.

He has a strange robot-like contraption that his father found abandoned in a museum attic. He’s intent on restoring this robot. The movie’s mystery surrounds this goal of his.

The Adventures of Tintin – Another Redbox rental, we did end up watching Tin Tin twice. Hubs didn’t join us the first time round for some reason. And we liked it so well, we thought he might enjoy it, too. So we happily watched it again before it had to go back.

I remembered the Tintin comic books from my year living in France. They had been quite the rage in 1992. My kids loved the film. As did I.

This animated adventure film is well done cinematically — and the voices are fabulous, featuring Andy Serkis from Lord of the Rings as the Captain.

I was surprised that the film had a PG rating — for alcoholism and drunkenness. It’s a fair warning, just not one that you usually see. Alcoholism plays a key role in certain character’s choices and such. Obviously, this is good food for discussion with your children, depending on age and temperament.

War Horse – I received a copy of this movie to review. It tells the tale of a horse and his boy who become separated upon England’s entrance into World War I. The boy’s father has sold the horse to the army. The boy vows never to forget him and promises the horse that they will someday be reunited.

The film follows the horse’s journey as he is in possession of one army and then another. Regardless of whose “side” he’s on, the horse finds the people who truly love horses, who create a bond with him, and who help him survive.

Hubs thought it was cheesy. But, I like cheese sometimes. Made me cry.

What’s a favorite movie you’ve seen recently?

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  1. Thanks for your recommendation on Tin-Tin. After reading this, we picked it up at Redbox. My two bigger kids LOVED it! I’m so glad you pointed us in that direction. 🙂

  2. Jessica, Happy bday (mine was the 24th and I know that yours is soon after!) I always listen when you are talking books and movies 😉 Thanks! So, this past weekend we saw (from the library) The mighty macs based on a true story from 1972 🙂 involving a women’s basketball team…great family friendly movie!! We loved it!! Happy Day! ~C

  3. We loved The Invention of Huge Cabret, as well as the movie. We own both. We haven’t seen War Horse yet, but that’s good to know about the “cheese” factor. I’ll check in to see where we are with the book, and then I’ll add it to our move night list.

  4. i watched the Tintin movie and actually loved it. I remember my brothers loving the comics and me finding them so boring ;). i thought the movie depicted a lot of what went on in the comics so i wasn’t surprised with the drinking and actually found it quite humourous 😉

  5. We loved War Horse! Got it through the local library for a week and watched at least 4 times. Had some great discussions about WWI and how it went from the calvary era to modern warfare. Also, just to note, we watched through our TV Guardian DVD player. There were a few lines, maybe five, blocked out. But it was still a very good film. And we also have all of the Sherwood Films!

  6. We listened to the audiobook of War Horse, which definitely deepened seeing the movie. While I won’t watch it with my kids (my oldest is five, and not really scared by much, but animal suffering crushes him), the book was well done, family safe and made the movie that much better.

  7. My kids are a little older but they both loved Facing the Giants and Courageous. We have watched them several times and they can quote both of them. They have good Christian messages in both of them.

  8. Our family loved all those movies. My son now has been watching the Tintin cartoons available on Netflix streaming. He also enjoyed watching Youtube videos about the puppetry of the War Horse play. Although it’s not new, both my kids have been loving watching Fantasia.

  9. I just wanted to add that the movie Hugo is from the Caldecott award winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. It is a novel told mostly in pictures. It is my pet peeve when people go to see movies and sometimes don’t realize that the book came first. I’m a book person. 🙂 I think your children would love this book as a read aloud, if you haven’t read it already. I know you’re a book person, too.

    1. Yes I am a book person! 😉 I have that book in my Amazon cart for a kiddo’s birthday. Thanks for making that point!