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I am a member of Netflix #DVDNation. This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are of course, my own. #ad 

14 years ago, I lined up my first movie from Netflix. It was The Phantom of the Opera (2004) one of my all-time favorite movies. As a kid who grew up on the outside of things, and with scars splayed all over my face, I have always easily identified with the Phantom.

So, with 20th Anniversary special Netflix’s 20th Anniversary here, I wanted to watch something in the same vein. A love story, but one that I could identify with (which is never going to be something like Roman Holiday).

I chose The Shape of Water.

The Shape of Water

A 2017 movie by one of my favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro. The Shape of Water is a love story about a mute cleaning lady and a humanoid aquatic creature from the Amazon. So, you know, right there it bagged all the unrealism I crave!

I wanted to see the movie because, besides being by Guillermo del Toro and besides being a love story, it really pissed off a lot of people in the disability community. I wanted to see why it pissed off so many people.

The Setting

The movie is set in the ’60’s, between this awesome living space above a theatre (seriously, how cool would it be to live there?!) and a government experiment facility. Elisa is the mute main lady. Here is the trailer:

The Shape of Water: Trailer

This is clearly del Toro’s work, right? All the murky-dark weird artsy-ness that I love him for.

The story is about a mute cleaning lady, Elisa, whose two best friends are another cleaning lady (who is black, played by Octavia Spencer) and a man she is neighbors with (who is gay, played by Richard Jenkins). There you have it: the disabled, the black and the gay: the perfect trifecta of the outcast minorities without rights in the 1960’s!

The trio join forces to rescue the Amphibian Man from the experiment zone, because Elisa and Amphibian Man have somehow fallen in love. They accomplish their mission in a rad heist, then again when the “bad guy” catches up with them.

That’s all I’m going to tell you about the story – if you want more, see it for yourself! Let’s talk about the disability and other pieces now though. I think those are worth dissecting.

What Was Good About The Shape of Water

Some people were pissed off because Elisa felt like an outcast, less than a full-human. She falls in love with Amphibian Man because, she says, “does not know what I lack or how I am incomplete. He sees me, for what I am, as I am.”

This was criticized as meaning that the movie was a sending a message to us (disabled), telling us that we are not whole.

I didn’t get that message, personally. I felt like Elisa was clearly saying she didn’t feel complete or whole, and that she loved him for how he made her feel. I understand that, I can relate to that. I know for myself that feeling complete or proud of my physical self and my disabilities takes an act of consciousness. My own personal “overcoming” is always in overcoming what our culture has told me about myself; not in overcoming my disabilities themselves.

Feelings of Being Incomplete

I think there are a lot of people without disabilities that feel incomplete, and the role of love for feeling that vacuum is pretty common. It’s all over the place in Western popular culture: you meet “the one” who somehow fills this void inside and makes one “complete.” People say, “my better half,” because without that One, they are incomplete.

Am I right?

That being the case, I think one of the reasons why The Shape of Water was so compelling to non-disabled people was precisely because it speaks to that sense of the incomplete. With so many people without disabilities identifying with that, they connect to that message almost viscerally.

… About the Monster…

I  did not feel, as Kim Sauder suggests in her blog post that the movie connects us with monsters, or that The Shape of Water is suggesting that we should be hooking up with monsters.

I felt that the movie was painting a pretty clear picture that Strickland (the “bad guy”) was the real monster in this piece, and that through otherness, we can find affinity.

I agree with that completely. There is a strong thread of understanding that laces us all in marginalized, discriminated, oppressed communities. We’ve walked in similar shoes and we understand what it feels like to have stones thrown at you because of something you do not have control over (be it the way you walk, the color of your skin, physical difference, sexual orientation or whatever else).

I also really liked how sexual Elisa was. I thought that was pretty radical, to be honest: WOW, a sexual mute leading lady?! I’ve never seen such a thing! I’m so used to disability being portrayed at sexless and ugly; her beautiful body and the sexuality of her body was, I thought, a powerful statement.

the shape of water disability and deaf experienceWhat Was Bad

Elisa was played by a hearing, speaking woman who studied ASL for this role. Sigh. PUH-LEEEEEEZE. I’m so sick of non-disabled people taking on disabled roles! And don’t give me any of that malarkey about how the role would need to hear or whatever; this was a role that a d/Deaf person should have had; not a hearing, speaking person (it’s funny for me to write that actually, because the ASL sign for “hearing” looks like “speaking”).

NO: I’m done with it. No more excuses, yo.

Nyle DiMarco showed you all how a Deaf man can dance flawlessly on Dancing With the Stars; let more from our community show you how we can flawlessly imitate a hearing person while we express ourselves in OUR OWN LANGUAGE.

 

To be clear: sure, the actress who played Elisa (Sally Hawkins) did a great job. She is dyslexic but does not identify as a person with a  disability. She worked hard to learn the ASL for this movie, and she learned her words well.

But it is not okay for these roles to be going to people outside of the communities that they represent. “Blackface” would be unthinkable now. Unfortunately, this hasn’t carried over to the disability spectrum and that needs to stop.

What Was Compelling About The Shape of Water

Themes of otherness, incomplete hearts being fulfilled by love, vulnerability and tenderness were what I think made this movie compelling to audiences. Guillermo Del Toro wielded his expert artistic flair through the film, creating captivating, stunning imagery, evocative sets and costumes. It was gorgeous, and gorgeous is compelling.

This movie did not make me go, “a-ha!”, it didn’t make me think of things in a new way. It was just an interesting story with superb visuals. That might be, in and of itself a reason for some people to watch it, and if so, I hope you love it.

other alternative love stories:

I can’t imagine anyone not being a member of Netflix already, but if you aren’t, you can get a trial month for free  here, at the 20th Anniversary special. Lots of fun movie stuff going on there too (quizzes, prizes, etc).

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Funniest Family Friendly Movies of All Time

Funniest family friendly movies of all time: we all need a handy-dandy list to turn to when we forget what once made us laugh, right?

I’ve made this list “family friendly” which means that the bulk of the movies I’m recommending are really kid movies. I have to do this because I’m a mom and I almost never get time to watch movies on my own; for me, it’s watch with the kids or not at all.

These are the ones that I think are funny.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally watched. Please read my disclosure page for more info.

Funny Kid Movies

Minions.

Minions is our family’s go-to funny movie. We have watched it a million-billion times and it never gets old. It’s easy, hilarious, non-offensive and light.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is a bit of a satire and the humor is kind of edgy. It always makes us laugh.

 

Despicable Me 1 & 2

Despicable Me 1 & 2. We love them. I guess it figures, since Minions is our go-to movie. But yeah, we can watch Despicable Me 1 or 2 over and over and not get tired of it. The jokes are classic to us, and Mack loves Victor’s dance moves.

 

Storks

Storks made us laugh. It’s not particularly deep, but we aren’t looking for that. We’re looking for funny, and we laughed.

 

Enchanted

Enchanted was a winner – it was frothy and princess-y enough to hold Moxie’s attention, battle-prince-y enough for Mack and with a fun enough story line to make Micah and I laugh.

A Simple Wish

A Simple Wish. Mack and Moxie don’t like this movie much, but Micah and I die of laughing when we see it (in a holy-cow, ‘nooooooo!‘ kind of way). It’s hilarious and awful. Awfully hilarious.

The 3 Amigos

The 3 Amigos: 8-year old Micah’s on the fence about this (a little too slapstick for him) but my husband Mikey and I love it!

 

Finding Dory

Finding Dory is funny and doubles as a disability-awareness movie. Win-win for our family. We love it, along with Finding Nemo (of course! Nemo!!!!)

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3 are all super funny, with lovely life lessons woven in the tight story threads. All 3 kids love it, which is saying something, because there is no frothy-princess-y stuff in here.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story – Christmas or not, this movie always makes me laugh. My kids seem like they are just laughing at watching me laugh (more than laughing at the movie itself). Whatever floats their boat, it works. I love this movie.

Rio 1 & 2

Rio 1 & 2. I personally like Rio 2 more than Rio 1 – I think it’s funnier and the music is awesome. But Rio 1 wasn’t a slouch of a movie either – my daughter Moxie likes Rio 1 better. Watch ’em both if you haven’t already – they are both funny and your kids will love them (but if you have to choose, I’d say go for Rio 2).

Shaun the Sheep & Timmy Time

Shaun the Sheep is a TV series and a movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t say if it’s any good, but the TV series is the kind that is so funny that it has you rolling around, crying. If you sign up for Amazon Prime (Try it for free for 30 days here), you get free shipping and bunch of stuff in addition to access to Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time.

Zootopia

Zootopia – I was torn between adding this or not. It’s funny, yeah, but it’s also really deep. It’s a powerful movie that I think I’d recommend more as an introduction to getting kids to think about race, privilege and social justice more than as a movie to sit down with and laugh-your-cares-away. You know what I mean? So, if you are looking for a funny movie with a little more to chew on, this one is for you.

Book of Life

Book of Life isn’t the funniest movie out there. I think it qualifies more as “mildly amusing and light-hearted.” It’s also a hit with all 3 of my kids and the soundtrack is the best-loved one after Moana.

Movies That Are Iffy For Kids: Use Your Discretion

Rat Race

Rat Race. This movie makes me laugh. Full stop. Super funny, not particularly deep, but funny.

 

Office Space

Office Space. Anyone who has ever worked in an office has to love this movie. It’s ridiculously on-target with every little annoying detail an office has ever offered to it’s workers: the boss, the copy machine, “flair” – it’s awesome.

Airplane!

Airplane! – hey, don’t hit it. It’s a classic!

 

The Naked Gun

The Naked Gun. If we have Airplane, we have to include The Naked Gun. The Naked Gun was my brother and my own favorite movie for a long time, along with the Police Academy series.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is a fantastic non-thinking movie. It’s the one you put on to space out with, having checked your brain in at the door.

This is accompanied by all of the Ace Ventura movies.

That's it

I’m going to stop here, before I get too carried away with more movies.

The point of this was to give you a handy list of funny movies that you can watch with your kids, because it’s almost impossible for you find the time to watch anything without them, right?!

Pop one in and laugh a little.

(and add your own favorites in the comments)

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Funniest Family Friendly Movies of All Time: 2017 Edition

Funniest family friendly movies of all time: we all need a handy-dandy list to turn to when we forget what once made us laugh, right?

I’ve made this list “family friendly” which means that the bulk of the movies I’m recommending are really kid movies. I have to do this because I’m a mom and I almost never get time to watch movies on my own; for me, it’s watch with the kids or not at all.

These are the ones that I think are funny.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally watched. Please read my disclosure page for more info.

Funny Kid Movies

Minions.

Minions is our family’s go-to funny movie. We have watched it a million-billion times and it never gets old. It’s easy, hilarious, non-offensive and light.

The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie is a bit of a satire and the humor is kind of edgy. It always makes us laugh.

 

Despicable Me 1 & 2

Despicable Me 1 & 2. We love them. I guess it figures, since Minions is our go-to movie. But yeah, we can watch Despicable Me 1 or 2 over and over and not get tired of it. The jokes are classic to us, and Mack loves Victor’s dance moves.

 

Storks

Storks made us laugh. It’s not particularly deep, but we aren’t looking for that. We’re looking for funny, and we laughed.

 

Enchanted

Enchanted was a winner – it was frothy and princess-y enough to hold Moxie’s attention, battle-prince-y enough for Mack and with a fun enough story line to make Micah and I laugh.

A Simple Wish

A Simple Wish. Mack and Moxie don’t like this movie much, but Micah and I die of laughing when we see it (in a holy-cow, ‘nooooooo!‘ kind of way). It’s hilarious and awful. Awfully hilarious.

The 3 Amigos

The 3 Amigos: 8-year old Micah’s on the fence about this (a little too slapstick for him) but my husband Mikey and I love it!

 

Finding Dory

Finding Dory is funny and doubles as a disability-awareness movie. Win-win for our family. We love it, along with Finding Nemo (of course! Nemo!!!!)

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3

Kung Fu Panda 1, 2 & 3 are all super funny, with lovely life lessons woven in the tight story threads. All 3 kids love it, which is saying something, because there is no frothy-princess-y stuff in here.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story – Christmas or not, this movie always makes me laugh. My kids seem like they are just laughing at watching me laugh (more than laughing at the movie itself). Whatever floats their boat, it works. I love this movie.

Rio 1 & 2

Rio 1 & 2. I personally like Rio 2 more than Rio 1 – I think it’s funnier and the music is awesome. But Rio 1 wasn’t a slouch of a movie either – my daughter Moxie likes Rio 1 better. Watch ’em both if you haven’t already – they are both funny and your kids will love them (but if you have to choose, I’d say go for Rio 2).

Shaun the Sheep & Timmy Time

Shaun the Sheep is a TV series and a movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t say if it’s any good, but the TV series is the kind that is so funny that it has you rolling around, crying. If you sign up for Amazon Prime (Try it for free for 30 days here), you get free shipping and bunch of stuff in addition to access to Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time.

Zootopia

Zootopia – I was torn between adding this or not. It’s funny, yeah, but it’s also really deep. It’s a powerful movie that I think I’d recommend more as an introduction to getting kids to think about race, privilege and social justice more than as a movie to sit down with and laugh-your-cares-away. You know what I mean? So, if you are looking for a funny movie with a little more to chew on, this one is for you.

Book of Life

Book of Life isn’t the funniest movie out there. I think it qualifies more as “mildly amusing and light-hearted.” It’s also a hit with all 3 of my kids and the soundtrack is the best-loved one after Moana.

Movies That Are Iffy For Kids: Use Your Discretion

Rat Race

Rat Race. This movie makes me laugh. Full stop. Super funny, not particularly deep, but funny.

 

Office Space

Office Space. Anyone who has ever worked in an office has to love this movie. It’s ridiculously on-target with every little annoying detail an office has ever offered to it’s workers: the boss, the copy machine, “flair” – it’s awesome.

Airplane!

Airplane! – hey, don’t hit it. It’s a classic!

 

The Naked Gun

The Naked Gun. If we have Airplane, we have to include The Naked Gun. The Naked Gun was my brother and my own favorite movie for a long time, along with the Police Academy series.

Dumb and Dumber

Dumb and Dumber is a fantastic non-thinking movie. It’s the one you put on to space out with, having checked your brain in at the door.

This is accompanied by all of the Ace Ventura movies.

That's it

I’m going to stop here, before I get too carried away with more movies.

The point of this was to give you a handy list of funny movies that you can watch with your kids, because it’s almost impossible for you find the time to watch anything without them, right?!

Pop one in and laugh a little.

(and add your own favorites in the comments)

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