Saturday, April 15, 2017

But I Digress...Egg-citing Easter Movies

By Cat

Easter is a fun time of year. Spring is in full swing with all the colors and new growth that comes with it. Kids are excited that school is winding down towards summer, and it’s generally the season for many field trips. Those celebrating Lent are usually excited to be able to stop eating fish on Fridays and to have whatever they’d given up for the last 40 days within reach again. Then, of course, there’s the Easter Bunny and all the eggs and candy goodness. It can get to be a bit of a madhouse between family and community activities.

If you’re finding yourself staying in for a more low-key celebration, the kids need a distraction while the Easter Bunny hides all the goodies for an egg-hunt, or you’ve already run yourself ragged and just need something entertaining to unwind with; I’ve compiled a list of movies that might just fit the bill. These are mostly family movies; though there are a surprising number of Easter related horror movies out there. That's just not my mood of the moment. This, like the St. Patrick's Day list, is by no means a complete run-down of all the Easter movies out there, but it does give a good variety from whimsical to serious religious drama.

I hope you enjoy this selection of movies that fit the spirit of the season, if not the holiday.

10 - Watership Down (1978)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes
Director: Martin Rosen
Actors: John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham Cox, Roy Kinnear
Genre:  Animation, Adventure, Drama
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: A group of rabbits flee their doomed warren and face many dangers to find and protect their new home.

This movie is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. It's based on the novel by Richard Adams and follows that material rather closely. Even though this is a cartoon movie about bunnies, it is not something that would be good for very small children. Certainly at the time the movie was made, and for some time since, this animated film has been considered to be the most violent PG-rated animated film ever made. Bunnies can kick some tail when they need to. Needless to say, the grim visuals of these talking rabbits locked in mortal combat and other harrowing scenarios isn't your standard Saturday morning cartoon fare. Even so, the animation is gorgeous, the story is compelling, it's got a great soundtrack, and even has some comedy sprinkled in. It might not be a movie centered on the holiday, itself; it does feature one of the most iconic symbols of the Easter season.

9 - Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Mel Stuart
Actors: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, Roy Kinnear
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Musical
Rated: G
More Information Here.

Blurb: The story of Charlie Bucket, a little boy with no money and a good heart, who dreams wistfully of being able to buy the candy that other children enjoy. Charlie enters into a magical world when he wins one of five 'Golden Tickets' to visit the mysterious chocolate factory owned by the eccentric Willy Wonka.

Oh how I love to listen to Gene Wilder (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, See No Evil Hear No Evil) sing "Pure Imagination" while strolling through a candy wonderland. While not strictly an Easter movie, Willy Wonka's chocolate factory is the stuff of every candy-loving kid's dreams. While I didn't find the more recent remake horrible, there's still nothing that beats a true classic. This movie was pure magic.

8 - Zootopia (2016)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Trust The Dice Review

Blurb: When an otter mysteriously disappears from the animal city of Zootopia, a rabbit police officer teams up with a fast-talking fox to set things right.

You guessed it! Here's another film featuring a rabbit in the primary lead role. Easter isn't a central theme here, but it's a wonderful family movie with a great message. It's a more recent addition to the long list of favorites in my household. Check out our review with the link above!

7 - Rise of the Guardians (2012)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Peter Ramsey
Actors: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world.

While Rise of the Guardians doesn't focus solely on Easter; it is a prominent part of the plot. I absolutely adore the character concepts behind the Guardians of Childhood, and have already seen this movie many times with my daughter.

6 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription, HBOGo
Director: Andrew Adamson
Actors: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Liam Neeson
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion.

There are some Easter parallels that can be drawn within the plot of this movie. The books that this film and the others in its series are based on have roots in faith. If you’re not looking for that sort of thing, it’s still a wonderful and fanciful tale of magic and adventure!

5 - Risen (2016)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Actors: Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth, Cliff Curtis
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: In 33 AD, a Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of an executed Jew rumored to have risen from the dead.

This movie is often looked at as the unofficial sequel to the next movie on this list, The Passion of the Christ (2004). While I haven’t yet seen either movie, I’ll buy that reasoning since that film explores the events leading up to the crucifixion and this movie takes a look at what happens after – from a different perspective than we usually see.

I think it’s a fabulous idea to frame the film from the viewpoint of the Romans rather than point-of-view sources such as Apostles or those referenced as close to Jesus in the Bible.

If you’re looking for a more serious movie with a theme that explores ‘the reason for the season,’ then this might be for you!

4 - The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Mel Gibson
Actors:  Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Maia Morgenstern
Genre: Drama
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: Depicts the final twelve hours in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem.


This one’s fairly self-explanatory. The movie takes a look at the first half of the Easter story, which takes place on Good Friday – the journey to crucifixion. Setting aside the controversy that swirled around this film from its director or casting; it looks to be a gritty realistic look at those pivotal twelve hours that are at the core of the Christian faith, and the basis of this holiday.

Keep in mind, though, while deciding whether this is a family experience or not, that when I say gritty; it’s said that there is much in this movie that is downright brutal and cringe-inducing to watch. The cinematography was purposefully a bit ‘in your face’ with depicting this story, so it might not be for small audiences or the feint of heart.

If you’re on board, though, maybe make a double feature of it with the prior selection and then let us know if the pairing really does seem like it could work!

3 - It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video
Director: Phil Roman
Actors: Todd Barbee, Melanie Kohn, Stephen Shea, Linda Ercoli, Lynn Mortensen, Jimmy Ahrens, Bill Melendez
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Rated: Unrated (Trust the Dice Rating: G)
More Information Here.

Blurb: The Peanuts gang prepare for Easter in their own clumsy ways.

(Trailer includes Charlie Brown Valentines Special from DVD launch. Easter is 2nd in the video.)

Does this one really need explanation for why it's on this list? It's a Peanuts/Charlie Brown holiday special! Snoopy and the gang bring their typical antics to the Easter season. Can we really ever get enough of these? I know I can't. It's a solid choice for all ages if you can get your hands on it!

2 - Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo (2004)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Directors: Saul Blinkoff, Elliot M. Bour
Actors: Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom, Jimmy Bennett, Peter Cullen, David Ogden Stiers, Kath Soucie, John Fielder
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Rated: G
More Information Here.

Blurb: Roo is upset when Rabbit cancels Easter and declares "Spring Cleaning Day" instead.

It's the magic and nostalgia of Winnie The Pooh and his friends celebrating the season. This is another one that really doesn't need much fanfare for why it's on my list. It's adorable, for those growing up with these stories the characters feel like 'home,' and it's appropriate for all ages.

1 - Hop (2011)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Tim Hill
Actors: James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie, David Hasslehoff
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: E.B., the Easter Bunny's teenage son, heads to Hollywood, determined to become a drummer in a rock 'n' roll band. In LA, he's taken in by Fred after the out-of-work slacker hits E.B. with his car.

I absolutely adore this movie. It brings an imaginative and interesting twist to the idea of what life might be like for the Easter Bunny (and his family) - with a twist. There are heartwarming and hilarious moments galore! This film blends animation and live action seamlessly for a wonderful Easter joyride.

Bonus! - The 10 Commandments (1956)

Viewing Options: Network Television (ABC) 4/15/2017, Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Actors:  Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Vincent Price, John Carradine
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Rated: "Approved"
More Information Here.

Blurb: The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

While this movie might not directly depict Easter, since it's technically far before its historical time; it does present the story of Passover, which is part of the holiday season. It's an iconic tale that has long been an Easter tradition in many households. ABC usually airs this movie annually on Easter weekend, and this year is no exception. It will be showing on Saturday, April 15th, at 7 PM Eastern / 6 PM Central.

This was one of my favorite movies growing up. The sets are stunning in this sweeping old-Hollywood movie. I've lost track of how many times I've seen it, as my cousins and I would request this VHS to be played just about as often as some kids watch Disney movies. (Maybe not THAT much, but close!)

I leave you with a final thought for your holiday preparations, much in the way game show and talk show hosts throw out that last little tidbit to "help control the pet population - have your pets spayed or neutered." 

If you're considering purchasing a live animal as part of your Easter celebrations; such as a bunny, chick, or duckling - just please keep in mind that it is a commitment for the lifetime of that animal just as with any other pet. All too frequently, people get the adorable fluffy critters in the spirit of the season but find themselves ill-equipped to handle the dietary, veterinary, and other needs of the animals and they get abandoned or die before their time. Those little chicks become chickens all too quickly, and even the ducklings are full grown within 30 days.

A former neighbor of mine had given their kid a bunny for Easter and the poor thing got stuck outside in a hutch with little shelter from the elements. It was alone and miserable, and I was helpless to save it. (We called the appropriate authorities and their inspection deemed the conditions just enough on the side of legal that they couldn't take action.)

Whatever you choose to do to celebrate the Easter season (if you do), we hope you have a fun and safe weekend!

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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