There's a wonderful advantage to having small children when you're a big kid. You have a built in excuse to go see kid movies! Of course, kid movies aren't just for kids all that often, nor should they be. there ought to be something in any family film to entertain anyone in the theater. Both of the films that I've taken my little ones to recently have family entertainment in spades.
Toy Story 3 is exactly what the title tells you it is - the third (and likely final) installment in the Toy Story/Pixar movie franchise. Toy Story 3 is easily the best of the three films as it deals with all of the biggest issues that face us today - loss, desperation, loneliness, uncertainty and even death. All of this is accomplished through the plastic eyes and the synthetic fur of children's playthings. This Rev is inclined to call this film a can't miss. There are occasional scenes of peril that might be disturbing to children under five or six, but this is the best of what Hollywood has to offer as far as family films go.
Spiritually, there is depth here as well. In the beginning of the film, the toys feel rejected and/or neglected by Andy their owner and find a way to provide for themselves. Unfortunately, their provision turns out to be worse than ending up in the attic. In trying to escape, they almost end up incinerated (Hell?), before being reclaimed and recycled by Andy. This entire adventure could be considered as a metaphor for our experience with God. We feel ignored or neglected. We blame God. We strike out on our own only to find that our solution only leads to destruction. But God is gracious and finds an everlasting place in His heart for us, a place where we will always feel valued and important.
Despicable Me is a Universal Studios animated film about a villain trying to hold onto his status and dealing with three adopted little girls at the same time. It's cute. It's very funny. And, it's predictable. But that's OK. My kids liked this film more than Toy Story 3. I didn't think it was quite that good, but it is well worth the price of admission and suitable for all ages.
Spiritually, Despicable Me is all about love - the love of family, the love of friends, and the change that unrelenting, unconditional love can bring. It's familiar movie territory for children and adults. The curmudgeon who is transformed by the love of a child. Perhaps we've lived it; I have. Maybe that's why I enjoyed this film so much. It reminded me of many of the experiences that I've had as a foster parent. I also could not help but notice how this life-changing love from a child is so much like the love of God. God is often referred to as "the hound of heaven," pursuing sinful human beings with an unrelenting, unconditional love. This certainly appears to be the paradigm for Gru the film's main character. He adopts three little girls with the intention of using them to infiltrate his arch enemy's fortress. He ends up caring more about them than about any evil plans that he has. Ultimately, the girls change Gru's heart. Indeed, how much is the love of God like the love of a child?
So if it's raining or too hot or you're just looking for a little family entertainment this weekend, take in one of these two films. You won't be disappointed.