recess radio program

12/23/03
Last Minute Videos
    by John Cech

Brief Sound Clip

Ah, you know you're in for an adventure when dad takes the shortcut, like Chihiro's dad, in Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away. The family is moving and looking for their new house, when they end up instead at what they think is an abandoned theme park. But it's really a land of the spirits, and for them to get out again, it's going to call for Chihiro to push aside her whining and find the heroism whithin herself. Spirited Away is one of a number of excellent videos that are available for your children -- indeed, for your whole family -- this year, especially if you don't want to deal with the crowds and the expense of the multiplexes over the holidays.

If you missed it this past summer, or want to take the plunge again, there's Finding Nemo, which takes us down under for this underwater rescue movie about a little clown fish who gets scooped up by divers off the Great Barrier Reef and winds up in a dentist's fish tank in Sydney. Not to worry, though -- well, not too much. Nemo's not very adventurous dad (voiced by Albert Brooks) is on the way to find him, with a little help from an assortment of forgetful, fuzzed-out, and sometimes frightening new friends.

High energy special effects are the fuel of Spy Kids II: The Island of Lost Dreams the next installment of the saga of the Cortez siblings, Carmen and Juni, from the writer-director, Robert Rodriguez. It's clever send-up of action movie genres; great fun to watch, and with more than just flash at it's core.

One of the most remarkable films of the year is the documentary Winged Migration which reviewer Jeff Shannon wrote is "as close as any of us will get to sharing the sky with our fine feathered friends." And, unlike most of the other films that take our collective breaths away, it doesn't need special effects to do it.

And last but certainly not least, don't miss the amazing film from New Zealand, Whale Rider, about a present-day Maori girl named Pai, who becomes, against all the odds (especially the ones set against girls), the new leader of her tribe.

Copyright 2003 John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."