NPR talked about the onslaught of children's films at the box office lately on Day to Day last Friday and wondered about the quality control going on behind the scenes. They interviewed film historian Charles Solomon, who comments that the scarcity of animated and children's films used to make them an important part of a childhood experience, but things have changed. These days, the sheer amount of films pile on so quickly that before you blink, three different animated movies have been released at the box office. Suddenly you're buying everything from Flushed Away action figures to Over the Hedge video games, but your kids aren't getting the same messages and experience that you had when you saw The Rescuers for the first time.

It's no secret that kid's movies can rake in a ton of dough; the studios are busy falling all over themselves trying to make them. It seems like as more get churned out, fewer of them that have great stories and characters. They'll just market the hell out of them so that every box of cereal, kid's TV show, and billboard is plastered with images of the upcoming film and your children will refuse to eat anything green or brush their teeth until you take them to see it.

Now, I love animated films probably more than an adult should, but the problem is pretty rampant with the films aimed at children that are being released today, as we posted about previously on Cinematical. The trouble is that for every Spirited Away released, there comes a slew of films like Happy Feet, Barnyard, and The Ant Bully. These films took some critical hard hits, but they've made bags of cash (the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of Happy Feet has almost cleared $200 million already). Studios are more concerned with cranking out a product in a timely manner, even if it's sub-par and relies on fart jokes and recycled plots. As a result, quality children's entertainment is getting harder and harder to find. Parents may appreciate the fact that they can now take their kids to see a movie aimed at children almost any weekend now, rather than having to wait ... but at what cost?

What do you think, parents? Is the onslaught of animation worth the decrease in quality kiddie fare? Or is it enough just to be able to plunk your tot down for 90 minutes with a kiddie-pack combo, even if what they're seeing isn't quite up to the standards you remember from your own childhood hours at the movies?