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Ross Family Movie Challenge: 'Time Bandits' vs. 'The Secret of Kells'

Everett Collection; GKIDS

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, 10) that weekend. Now they make their cases publicly and you get to vote on the choices and settle the argument. The power is in your hands, people. Last week, Dalton ‘s pick of School of Rock rocked Christina’s selection of Spellbound. Read on and then vote for what film they should watch this weekend.

Dalton’s Pick: Time Bandits (1981)
Dwarves. Time travel. A minotaur. Someone called the Supreme Being. Someone else called Evil. No wonder I wore out my VHS copy of Time Bandits when I was a kid. Now it’s time to see if the film holds up or if I just had awful taste in movies as a child.

Directed by Terry Gilliam, Time Bandits tells the tale of a boy named Kevin who joins in league with six dwarves who are using a magic map to travel through time and steal riches. Their boss, the Supreme Being, wants the map back, but so does an Evil sorcerer named…Evil. Along the way, Sean Connery shows up as a king, and John Cleese, Ian Holm, Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall make appearances as well — although most exciting for me as a kid was seeing Kenny Baker outside of his R2-D2 outfit. Dale is a huge fantasy nut so this should be right up his alley. And many of the effects (like the giant coming out of the water with a boat attached to his head) still seem cooler to me than some of the modern-day CGI that can be seen at the local multiplex. (Whether my kids will feel the same is another matter.) My only hesitation about picking this movie is that I don’t want Dale and Violet to get any ideas after seeing Kevin’s parents literally explode at the end. Hopefully they both realize that is a bad thing.

Christina’s Pick: The Secret of Kells (2009)
I seriously had such a hard time picking the movie that won’t win this week. Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, and I like all holidays to have a cinematic tie-in. Also, St. Patrick’s Day is important to the family I was born into, and I have done a poor job of passing down the culture to my children. My parents were practically covered in shamrocks and swinging from the rafters while Irish traditional music played and corned beef simmered on the stove, but aside from baking Irish soda bread and letting the kids watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade on TV, I’ve done nothing. It’s pathetic, really. There’s so much catching up to do. So I cued up the Chieftains and narrowed my choices for this weekend.

They’ve already seen one of my favorite movies ever, The Secret of Roan Inish, even though it lost to Galaxy Quest in an early RFMC. First, I considered The Quiet Man, a 1952 movie starring John Wayne. He plays an Irish-born retired boxer who returns from America to farm. Pros: Gorgeous scenery, and John Wayne’s character reminds me of my father’s best friend, who was also a former boxer and recently died. Cons: I don’t love the plot, which centers on a misunderstanding about a dowry, and there are some questionable behaviors, such as excessive drinking and borderline domestic violence. Next. Once is such a sweet love story with great music by stars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Pros: I personally love it, and I haven’t seen it since it came out. Cons: Liberal use of the F-word. I don’t really mind that, but my husband is a bit of a prude in that regard. Third, The Commitments, a fun movie about some Irish guys playing American soul in Dublin. Pros: It’s a feel-good film based on a novel by Roddy Doyle. Cons: It’s American music they are playing, but when you are seeing an Irish movie, you kind of want to hear Irish music.

I finally settled on The Secret of Kells, an animated film set in medieval Ireland that tells a fictional story about a young boy who helps with the creation of The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the Bible. I’ve never seen this film, which was nominated for an Oscar. That’s surprising since 1) my name is Kelly, 2) I made a point of viewing the Book of Kells on a 3-week finding-my-Irish-roots trip through Ireland, and 3) the movie makes reference to Celtic mythology, an early obsession of mine. The creators of the film are French, Belgian and Irish which, I imagine, gives it an interesting Frenchy/Irishy/Belgiany flavor. So, vote with me this week. If not, May you all go to hell and not have a drop of porter to quench your eternal thirst. That’s an Irish curse I found on the internet.


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