Loved by adults and kids alike, James Bond was created by author Ian Fleming in 1953 but first became movie flesh and blood fifty years ago when, in 1962’s Dr No, Sean Connery sipped his shaken not stirred Martini and first told us that his name was “Bond. James Bond.”
More than five decades later and we have had 24 ‘official’ Bond movies (1967’s parody Casino Royale, and 1983’s Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again aren’t counted as proper Bonds by fans), with the latest, Spectre, now out in cinemas. Over those 50 years, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and now Daniel Craig have all romanced the ladies, killed the bad guys and delivered the cool quips as 007, and each have brought their own style and charms to the franchise.
Everyone has their favourite Bond – and favourite Bond movie – but if you’re a dad (or a mum) wanting to introduce your child (aged eight and over – kids below that age are too young for some of James’ exploits!) to the cinematic stories of a very British spy, which James Bond movie should you start off with? After all, the movies are aimed at adults, and some of them are pretty raunchy (Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp, who crushes men with her thighs in GoldenEye for example) and sometimes violent (most of the Timothy Dalton outings, for starters).
That’s where Movies4Kids comes in. Below are the four 007 movies that are most likely to excite, enthral and enchant kids (without having too much sex or violence to worry mum and dad). Do note that they are all ‘grown-up’ films aimed at the over-12s, so it is recommended (especially if they are younger) that you watch them first and decide for yourself whether they are suitable for your child/children before you let them watch.
The third James Bond movie is also one of the most memorable, with Sean Connery at his suave best (this is the one where he removes a wetsuit to reveal his tux underneath) as 007 and Gert Fröbe unforgettable as baddie Auric Goldfinger, who is best known, of course, for covering poor Jill (Shirley Eaton) in suffocating gold paint. Kids will love his manservant Oddjob, who can crush a golf ball with one hand and has a bowler hat complete with a deadly metal brim, and they’ll be on the edge of their seats during the scene in which Goldfinger attempts to cut Bond in half with a laser. There’s lots of classic spy stuff, too, and gadgets such as the ejector seat – just don’t snigger when the stunning Honor Blackman says her character’s name or you’ll have Junior asking: ‘Daddy, why are you laughing at Pussy?’
The Spy Who Loved Me (PG)
Even if you can’t get your kids to watch the whole movie, make sure they see the classic opening sequence from this 10th Bond movie (the third to star Roger Moore). It’s the one with the stunning downhill ski chase that ends with Bond flying off the mountain and his parachute opening to reveal a Union Jack flag. The movie also boasts the first outing for henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) who may scare the under-8s but will amuse older kids with his metal teeth and ability to survive attacks normal humans would not (he bites a killer shark!). They’ll also love baddie Stromberg’s underwater base Atlantis, the submarine car and Moore’s tongue-in-cheek performance as 007 (the final scene features Bond cosying up to Barbara Bach’s Anya and delivering the classic line – when asked by his superiors what on earth he’s up to – “Keeping the British end up, sir.”)
This isn’t a great Bond movie by anyone’s standards, but 1979’s space-themed Moonraker – made following the success of Star Wars – does include some great effects (it was nominated for a Visual Effects Academy Award) and a fun, futuristic plot kids will enjoy. After a space shuttle is hijacked mid-air, it’s up to 007 to investigate and he discovers bad guy Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), henchman Chang and fan favourite Jaws are behind it all. Worth watching through all the sci-fi silliness for a superb stunt on the cable cars of Sugarloaf Mountain (during filming stuntman Richard Graydon nearly fell to his death) and the grand finale on Drax’s space station.
Bet you didn’t expect to see Skyfall listed here as a possible first Bond movie to take your young kids to! It’s true that the 21st century Bond, as played by Daniel Craig, is grittier than his previous incarnations, and features in more grown-up action movies to compete with films like the Taken and Bourne sagas. But the last 007 film is less dark than Craig’s other outings (Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace), and it features many of the ingredients than makes James Bond appeal to boys (and girls) of all ages.
There are great locations and adventures – including the edge-of-the-seat opening chase in Istanbul, and a jaw-dropping finale that I’ll say no more about so as not to spoil it – and one of the best baddies of recent years in the form of Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva, who comes complete with his own secret island. There’s humour, too (especially when Bond meets Ben Whishaw’s young Q) and a central role (at last!) for Judi Dench’s M, whose role as head of MI6 is called into question when a valuable hard disk is stolen that contains the real names of the Secret Service’s undercover operatives.
Yes, there is death and destruction, but no truly scary moments that should bother older kids (younger ones may flinch at Silva’s disfigurement, revealed late in the movie), very little blood, and no extremely sexy scenes or nudity to embarrass parents either (there’s one steamy shower scene, and a few swear words including one use of the ‘F’ word).
And do check out our review of Spectre, as it’s another great Bond movie to take the kids to.
There was a 1991 animated TV series called James Bond Jr (about James’s nephew) for kids but it is not available on DVD at present, although tie-in books are available second-hand. If your child does become a Bond fan, you can also introduce them to Charlie Higson’s terrific Young Bond series of books, that feature James as a teenager attending Eton College in the 1930s. The series begins with 2005’s SilverFin. The books are aimed at children over the age of 10.