Movies For Candied-Up Kids

By  · Published on November 1st, 2016

Dear FSR

Post-Halloween is hardest on the parents.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

Halloween has come and gone but my kids are still going to be hopped up on sugar for the foreseeable future. What movies will shut them up, put them to sleep, or at least be bearable as they demand to see it again and again?

They get so mean when they’re sugar cranky.

You’re my only hope.


Sugar Daddy (Not Like That)

Dear Sugar Daddy,

Here at FSR we’re munching on candy, cleaning up the costumed refuse left at the party, and trying not to anger our raging hangover. So, in many ways, rowdy children are as unwelcome here as in your home.

We understand, however, that the spooky month of Shocktober has passed but for many the sugar high lingers. Now, in my experience, anyone working with children (babysitters, daycare workers, nannies, teachers) knows that you have to engage them with quality or there’ll be total anarchy. Nothing starts a cacophony of catcalls like an obviously (note that word “obviously”) bad movie. It turns into a mini Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I know a coach that tested out dozens of movies on six-year-olds until finding the one she’d use for the next decade. Why? Because it kept the kids quiet. And, perhaps not entirely serendipitously, these movies tend to be pretty good.

So let’s dive into some recommendations:

A Shot in the Dark

The best of the Pink Panther movies, silly accents and slapstick tumble and roll over a (basically) meaningless plot that will distract but not bore your children. Peter Sellers hops, flops, and karate chops with the best of them while the supporting cast is at the top of their game. There’s also a nudist colony with strategically-placed items covering the offending body parts, which is always fun.

The Lego Movie

Ok, hear me out. So you’ll lose your sanity to the incredibly catchy song “Everything is Awesome”. So be it. The upside is your kids will watch an intensely smart, funny, heartwarming movie that moves at the same hummingbird-heart pace as they do. If any movie meant for kids deserves to be addicting, it’s this one.

The Incredibles

It’s superheroes! Before superheroes became needlessly gritty and dark, that is. A regular, loving family supported by the best score Pixar’s ever done (and no songs for the kids to chant at you, yay!) and some excellent voice acting. The kids save the parents and have (arguably) much cooler abilities – which may prepare them for a few Halloweens down the road when the sequel has finally come out.

Home Alone

What better way to move kids along from Halloween than to distract them with the next big gift parade? Christmas movies can creep up just as incessantly as store decorations, so it’s easier just to lean into the process. The constant movement and, well, violence of this child MacGyver well keep kids glued to the screen and you scanning your home for booby traps.

Chicken Run

It’s got “run” in the title, which will hopefully help transfer all the potential and kinetic energy from your children into the film itself as they sit and watch. Maybe that’s what people mean when they say a movie is “absorbing.” Regardless, Chicken Run is one of the best stop-motion movies of all time which has a lot to do with its impeccably paced and detailed chase scenes. This might inspire a few burgeoning vegetarians – the chickens are cute, ok? – but it’s enthralling enough to calm the chaos.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

If none of those solve your problem, why not try using this feature-length threat?

Wishing you many uninterrupted hours of sleep,


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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).