A trip to the movies is supposed to be a fun form of family entertainment, but finding a film that appeals to children and adults alike – and contains subject matter that is suitable for all ages – can be quite the challenge for today’s parents.
Throw in substandard sequels (I’m looking at you Ice Age 4) and Hollywood’s escalating penchant for using its family films as mere marketing vehicles (just see last year’s partnership between The Lorax and a certain Mazda SUV), and it’s difficult to know what kind of movies are right for family audiences.
What Are We Supposed to Watch?
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a time and a place for those Hollywood films. Even shiny 3-D blockbusters with plots that don’t make sense (Cars 2 anyone?), outdated gender stereotypes (every Disney movie ever made), and massive marketing campaigns (think Happy Meal toys) can be good for a few laughs. I’m not ashamed to admit that Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is probably one of my favorite movies ever made.
Stop judging. It’s that damn weasel, Buck. He gets me every time.
As a mom, though, I find myself wanting to also introduce my kids to films that, well, offer a bit more.
The movies that come out of Hollywood might be entertaining (and I’m all for the two hours of peace and quiet they provide for me), but let’s not kid ourselves – they aren’t likely to teach any valuable lessons, or inspire a deeper understanding of the world around us.
Fortunately for St. Louis parents, the Saint Louis Science Center offers many films at its OMNIMAX Theatre that will.
Flight of the Butterflies
In the past year, my kids and I have seen several different films in the OMNIMAX Theatre, and we’ve enjoyed them all. Most recently, we had the opportunity to check out Flight of the Butterflies, and once again, we weren’t disappointed. Even my 4-year-old son – who isn’t exactly known for his patience and cooperation in public settings – was mesmerized by the film's awe-inspiring scenery.
And by mesmerized I mean he whispered all sorts of questions just a little too loudly and forced me to remind him at least a thousand times of the other people in the theatre who wanted to watch the movie in peace. But his questions were all about the butterflies, and he was clearly engaged by the action unfolding on the screen, so I couldn’t be too upset.
After all, he’s 4. Asking questions is what 4-year-olds do.
Flight of the Butterflies tells the remarkable true story of scientist Dr. Fred Urquhart, who spent 40 years studying the migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly and trying to pinpoint the exact location of their secret winter hideaway (which he eventually found in Central Mexico).
Throughout the film, hundreds of butterflies dance across the screen above you, and thanks to innovative MRI and micro-CT scans, you also get a front row seat to the monarch’s evolution from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly (which was hands down my kids’ favorite part).
Yet despite so many breathtaking images, it is the simple story of Dr. Urquhart that makes Flight of the Butterflies a film truly worth watching.
Not only did his creativity, perseverance, and unwavering dedication to his work yield important results for the scientific community, but his story also serves as a valuable real-life reminder that dreams are worth chasing, and that just one person really can make a difference.
These, I think, are lessons worth sharing with our children – and they're lessons that a talking weasel will never truly teach them.
Flight of the Butterflies premieres at the OMNIMAX Theatre on Friday, January 18, 2013. Running time is about 45 minutes. Ticket prices are $9 for adults and $8 for children and seniors. For more information, visit www.slsc.org.
By Alyssa Chirco, SmartMama blogger for SmartParenting
Alyssa Chirco is a St. Louis freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for St. Louis Kids, she is Contributing Editor for Parenting Squad, writes regularly about parenting and family for Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act, and firmly believes there are few problems in life that cannot be solved with a good margarita.
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco
It's the food truck event that started them all! Local food trucks gather for an evening of friends, fun, live music and plenty of great food at Sauce Food Truck Fridays. St. Louis' favorite mobile restaurants will be dishing out fresh fare and local brews in Tower Grove Park.
With the help of ten truckloads of sand, The Magic House's backyard will be transformed once again into a beachfront park for the popular Sandcastle Beach exhibit. Sandcastle Beach opens May 26 with a Kick Off to Summer event that includes ice cream, the Bubble Bus and a dance party!
Catch a movie or two at the Saint Louis Science Center's OMNIMAX Theater, where films are shown featuring the IMAX with Laser. This state-of-the-art theater provides the sharpest images, unmatched sound quality and 40% greater color range than traditional theaters. The five-story, 80-foot-diameter dome will fill your entire field of vision providing a truly immersive experience. Opening May 24: The Little Mermaid: The IMAX Experience.
Visit the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park and see a star show to experience the largest artificial sky in the Western Hemisphere. Star shows are lead LIVE by one of the Planetarium's educators, creating a new and tailored experience for every audience.
At this free art program for ages 3-6 the focus is on the process of making art rather than the finished product. Both in-person and virtual sessions are offered.