Posts Tagged ‘ Disney ’

Five Life Lessons We Can Learn from Shrek

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

It’s easy enough to take a kid’s movie at face value. Typically, “does this safely entertain my child and keep him out of trouble for a while?” is the vital question we need to answer before dropping the DVD into the player.  But it doesn’t hurt to think a little deeper about what our children are actually learning from these movies that they watch, then watch again, then again until you can quote the movie yourself (whether you like it or not). So, with that in mind, I recently did this with my sons’ perennial favorite, the Shrek series. And I say the series because literally anything that includes the green ogre somewhere keeps them enthralled. Shrek 1-4, Shrek the Halls Christmas special, a cameo on Game of Thrones, you name it. They love it. So anyway, here are the lessons it reinforces for me.

  • Your best friend doesn’t mirror you, they balance you

As evidenced by the seemingly off-kilter friendship between the hot-tempered Shrek and the gleeful Donkey, most of us will come to realize that our best friend is someone who not only accepts us for our faults, but brings something to the table that we need. Donkey reminds Shrek to look on the bright side of life, while Shrek provides Donkey the sense of family and companionship he’d always craved. Win-win.

  • You and your spouse must accept each other at your “ugliest”

Potentially my favorite lesson from the Shrek movies. I grew up used to “fairytale” endings like in “The Little Mermaid” or “Beauty and the Beast” where the beautiful girl ends up with the beautiful, perfect man. In “Shrek,” it’s the exact opposite. And it’s far more realistic. Shrek and Fiona ultimately find beauty in each other’s physical imperfections, so much so that Fiona ends Shrek 2 with the line, “I want the ogre I fell in love with,” opting to keep Shrek as he is, while being given the option of keeping him “handsome.” It sends a message to children that, when choosing a partner, it’s never, ever all about looks. And if you have to change who are you completely, you’re with the wrong person.

  • If you want the prize, do the work

The extremely unlikeable Lord Farquaad tries getting others to do his work for him by holding a tournament to determine who will save Fiona from the castle, naturally so he can marry the princess and become king. When Shrek steps in, does the dirty work and falls in love with that princess, we are reminded once again that there are no shortcuts (pardon the pun) to success (or love).

  • You will sacrifice some of yourself when you have a family (but it’s worth it)

The Shrek series, while giving parents plenty of reasons to chuckle with mature jokes or references that sail over our kids’ heads, has a way of entertaining children while also reminding adults of what’s important in life. In “Shrek Forever After,” the final installment of the series, Shrek is bitter about not being the intimidating monster he used to be before he’d fallen in love and started a family. But after striking a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, he learns the hard way that what’s in front of you is more important than what’s behind.

  • Sometimes, we don’t even know what’s best for our own kids

In Shrek 2, The King and Queen of Far, Far Away  (aka Fiona’s parents) meet Shrek for the first time, and it’s the typical “in-laws aren’t thrilled with the dud their daughter has brought home” type of comedy. The Queen is much more tolerant of her daughter’s unexpected ogre husband, but the King is disgusted by him, insulting him at every turn. And it’s all based on the fact that his daughter didn’t follow the path that he had laid out for her. To be fair, he truly did think that locking her in a dragon-guarded castle until Prince Charming rescued her was for her own good. And that should serve as a really extreme euphemism for how we treat our own kids. While we will always want to protect them, sooner or later we need to accept that they’re old enough to make their own decisions. And ultimately, they know what will make them happy better than we do. I don’t expect this to be easy.

My 4-year-old, Antonio, with his buddy on the Hollywood Walk of Fame


Do any of you notice lessons in movies your kids watch that you hope stick with them? Tell me about them in the comments section below! And while you’re at it, check out my appearance on last week’s HuffPost Live, discussing parenting mistakes and my article on Disney’s first same-sex couple!

As always, thanks for reading.

Check out the 50 Best Movies for Kids!

Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting

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Disney’s Same-Sex Coup: Too Much for Kids?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

It’s become a hot-button issue in America. But Disney has introduced its very first same-sex couple on their program “Good Luck Charlie.” My initial reaction was that they likely did it as a publicity stunt, as a means to attract attention and a slew of new viewers whose interest would be piqued by such a daring move. But now I think it’s something much more than that (or at least will ultimately be). I think it’s the beginning of a gradual paradigm shift in our culture, where gays and lesbians will not only be accepted in the workplace and in the public eye, but in the innocent, naïve eyes of children.

Now, I know at least some of you are gasping at such a thought. Especially if you grew up in a staunchly religious household, you might perceive homosexuality as “wrong” or “sinful” and you defiantly wouldn’t want your child to be exposed to it. And if that’s the case, I have some unfortunate news for you: Your children are going to be aware of homosexuality whether you like it or not.

The sad fact is that there will be parents who discourage or even forbid their children from watching “Good Luck Charlie,” hoping that by shielding their kids’ eyes from a gay couple that they’ll grow up to be “normal” and “straight.” Well, I have another piece of news for them. Seeing gay couples is normal in our society (unlike Sochi, which apparently has no gay couples at all). Whether you “agree” with the lifestyle or not, it is happening and your child is going to see it sooner or later. So, the better solution, from my perspective, would be to prepare yourself for that inevitable question. In fact, here’s something you can tell them…

“Honey, not all families are the same. Some have only one parent, some have two daddies, some have two mommies. You’re lucky you have two parents who love and take care of you. And SO ARE THEY.”

Leaving aside the point that being gay is a victimless lifestyle, children who have intolerant, close-minded parents will grow to be intolerant, close-minded people themselves. And the greatest disservice we can do to our kids is by instilling in them the very same blind hatred that we harbor.

Put another way, averting our child’s eyes from something we perceive as “offensive” or “inappropriate” only serves to intensify their curiosity about it. When I was 10, I was caught red-handed paging through my father’s Playboy magazine (Vanna White edition). I’d been curious about naked women for some time and was thrilled to have evidence of it right there in my very home! Unfortunately, once I got caught, those magazines were moved high up on a shelf where I couldn’t reach them. And the only thing my father told me afterwards was, “I don’t want to see you doing that again.” Surely, he was trying to do the right thing. But without so much as an explanation of why seeing a woman without clothes was “bad,” all I wanted to do was seek out more of the same. Which I did. I had a friend with a much older brother who was able to supply me with as many Playboys as I wanted. It was absolutely no big deal to him, since he was constantly surrounded by it. Eventually, it became no big deal to me, too. I still enjoyed it, mind you, but once exposed to that, nothing was unusual about it. The ironic thing about this is that same friend of mine ended up being gay. I’m sure someone will find a way to blame this on the Playboys.

Unfortunately, our country treats sexuality as obscene but violence is sensationalized on the news every night. Happy gay couples are seen as offensive yet miserable straight couples are not. It’s a sad fact we all have to navigate as parents. But if you’re asking me how I feel about my sons seeing same-sex couples on television? As long as that couple doesn’t teach my sons that hitting their father in the groin is funny, I’m completely and wholly fine with it. Besides, I’m much more offended by terrible script-writing.

Please join the conversation by adding a comment below, or by tweeting me @JoeDeProspero. If you disagree with my stance, at least have the courtesy to think before posting. Thanks for reading!


* Photo courtesy of

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Hubby’s Movie Nominated for Oscar!

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Just a quick post to share the exciting news. Wreck-It Ralph is nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. However, we probably won’t be going, as Phil wrote the screenplay. Most likely it will just be the director (good friend Rich Moore) and producer Clark Spencer.

Nevertheless, it was an exciting piece of news to wake up to.

Golden Globes are Sunday. And, similar to the Oscars situation, Phil won’t be going.  However, we are going to one of the official post-award parties. Which doesn’t start until 9 pm–which is right around my bedtime. But it’s great, really. I mean, who wants to sit in an uncomfortable theatre when you could watch the awards from your couch, all dressed up, with babies and a cat drooling on you?

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Fia Friday: Halloween and more…

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Just a fun, light post of our Halloween here in LA.

We had friends who came in from Brooklyn for the Wreck-It Ralph premiere and got stuck because of Hurricane Sandy. More kids=more pumpkins to carve!

Yup. That’s Fia’s Dad (below). My husband. Looking, well, very Jack White.

Our friends who actually loaned us our costumes! John, Henrik and Jenny Strauss.

Fia at her preschool Halloween party with friend Cece…and her little brother Emmett the cutest pumpkin of all!

She was a butterfly….



With best friend Teddy comparing candy bags…

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Wreck-It-Ralph! My Husband’s Movie! A Must See!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012


Okay, I’m biased, but the movie Phil has worked on for over 3 years is officially out this weekend. Wreck-It Ralph hits theaters Friday afternoon. Phil’s credits include Story By and Screenplay By.

When I saw the movie a few weeks ago, I was truly blown away by the complexity of the story and the worlds that he created. There are Wreck-It-Ralph posters all over this city. Every time we pass one, Fia yells, “Look Mama! It’s Wreck-it-Ralph! Daddy’s movie!” I love that she will always have this as something her Dad did, starting when she was in my belly.

Fingers and toes are crossed for a stellar box office weekend. I’m thinking for all those going stir-crazy in your homes back east, this is a perfect break from it all! So if you have nothing else to do…grab your kids, your friends, your spouse, and go! It’s a four-quadrant movie, which means it appeals to all audiences. And in case you’re wondering, the reviews are stellar. A.O. Scott of the NY Times gave it 5 out of 5. Magnificent!

And just in case you needed a garbage can on the beach in Santa Monica…we have one for you!

Or, if you need entertained on the NYC Subway (pre-flood/Hurricane)…

My cousins at Disney World last week… yes, there are Wreck it Ralph bags! And all sorts of other crap things. Come on! It’s Disney! What did you expect?

Should you ever want to pixelate your face….


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