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Ross Family Movie Challenge: 'Escape to Witch Mountain' vs. 'Oklahoma!'

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Every week EW’s Dalton Ross and his wife, writer Christina Kelly, have a… um, lively discussion about what movie they should watch with their two children (Dale, 12, and Violet, 9) that weekend. Now they make their cases publicly and you get to vote on the choices and decide how the Ross family will be spending part of their weekend. The power is in your hands, people. Last week, Dalton’s selection of ‘The Secret of NIMH’ bested Christina’s pick of ‘Fantasia.’ Read on and then vote for which film they should watch this week.

Dalton’s pick: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
It is my theory that children love nothing more than seeing movies about children with supernatural powers, so even though my selection this week may be a tad dated, I can’t help but feel Dale and Violet will still dig seeing another brother and sister duo, this one with the awesome Jedi-like abilities. I should say that the memory lines are a bit blurred between this 1970s Disney sci-fi family film and its sequel, Return from Witch Mountain, but I recall being generally down with the entire 1970s Witch franchise. (I can’t speak to the 1980s or 1990s remakes.).

Like many a kids’ movie, this one focuses on a pair of orphans having to outsmart nefarious adults. Stupid adults! Only in this case, the orphans have special powers and little-to-no-memory of where they and those powers come from. On the plus side, they get to tool around in a super-rad RV that they can make fly…with their minds! I remember as a young’un being scared simply by the title and the fact that in the opening credits silhouettes of the kids were being chased by ravenous dogs, but in truth, the whole endeavor is pretty tame. And Ray Milland and Donald Pleasence are great as the campy Disney bad guys. So here’s hoping you dear voters grant us a journey to Witch Mountain this weekend.

Christina’s Pick: Oklahoma! (1955)
Recently, the kids and I enjoyed a repeat viewing of The Sound of Music. I never get tired of it. Julie Andrews and her breathtaking voice, the dashing Christopher Plummer, the Baroness and her fabulous wardrobe — I’m so glad that my children seem to enjoy it as much as I do. A trailer for Oklahoma! on that DVD piqued my son’s interest. He has asked about it more than once. I was sort of surprised, but I figure, one good Rodgers & Hammerstein musical deserves another. I don’t personally consider this frontier musical to be on the sublime level of The Sound of Music, and it breaks one of my movie rules (Number 5. No cowboy hats). However, there’s some infectious singing and a good measure of dated sweetness.

I expect “I Cain’t Say No” to go right over their heads. Maybe at some point, when they are MUCH MUCH older, we can use it as a jumping off point to discuss the sexual double standard that once forced women to suppress their burning desire to kiss cowhands. Anyway, please vote for Oklahoma!  Otherwise, I may have to escape from Witch Mountain. On my broom.



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