Quick: What animated movie opened 14 years ago, didn't set the box office on fire, but has since spawned a record eight sequels that have made the series the biggest-selling feature-length direct-to-video franchise in history? That's right, it's the hugely popular The Land Before Time, wherein Littlefoot, Ducky, Cera, Spike, Petrie, and the rest of the prehistoric gang perpetually journey to find safer environments and help others find their homes, encountering wondrous creatures (some of whom become good friends) and dangers that require teamwork and creative problem-solving.
There's always time for a dino ditty or two in these movies, and crooning the tune "No One Has to Be Alone" for this release is none other than Donny Osmond. "It's a good song for the storyline," says the 45-year-old Utah-based dad. "And it's a good song in general, because there are lots of kids these days from unhappy homes, or without families, and this song is saying that you can go out there, make friends, and create a nurturing family environment of your own."
Osmond, who has five boys (the youngest, a 4-year-old, is himself hooked on The Land Before Time), believes much of the popularity of the series stems from the fact that it represents good clean fun. "My wife and I are very concerned and careful about the programs that come into our house. We block TV stations we don't think are appropriate," he says. "But you have to practice what you preach. Kids are smart, so they'll pick up on it if you do things that are different from what you're telling them to do."
And for Osmond, that's even figured into his career choices: "I've been offered R-rated movies, and I haven't done them. I want to be involved in something my grandkids could be watching 10 or 20 years from now."
THE LAND BEFORE TIME: JOURNEY TO BIG WATER
(Universal, G, ages 3 to 10, 71 min.)
Copyright © 2002.