Films for families: The top 50 movies to watch as a family
From the high-flying Mary Poppins to an animated singing mermaid, Time Out Kids ranks the 50 best films for families.
Mon Aug 13 2012
After watching the latest kid-friendly films to grace the big screen this summer, we decided it was finally time to put together a list of the 50 best films for families. Choosing and then ranking the movies wasn't easy: As you'll see, a number of recent blockbusters that may already be in your family's regular movie-watching rotation made the cut, but some of our absolute favorites date back to as early as 1937. We also wanted to make sure that our picks included films for children of all ages—G-rated finds for the youngest movie watchers to YA books--turned--cult classics for tweens. Of course, since there were so many amazing films to choose from, we have no doubt that we may have missed some of your family's favorite flicks. We encourage you to weigh in below and let us know which titles you think should have been included. For now, though, click through our article of the top films for families and then schedule some family movie nights (with popcorn, of course!). There is, after all, nothing more exciting than watching one of your favorite films through your child's eyes for the very first time or discovering, together, a new-to-you treasured tale. Happy viewing!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Literature's greatest boy wizard is turned into one of the movie's most charismatic under-12 heroes (a tip of the pointy hat to Daniel Radcliffe) as J.K. Rowling's world of muggles, monsters and mystical goings-on at Hogwarts is brought to life on screen. Things will get seriously PG-13 dark by the time this eight-film series ends, but Chris Columbus's kid-friendly adaptation of book ones truly makes viewers of all ages believe in magic. Rated PG.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Maurice Sendak's classic children's book gets a pitch-perfect adaptation from Spike Jonze, who turns the spare story into a sensitive tale about loneliness, the power of imagination and the importance of knowing that love—and a hot dinner—will be waiting for you at home. We also dig those shaggy, sad-sack monster costumes. Rated PG.
Yes, it contains what may be the single most traumatic moment of any kids' movie, but the story of a young doe remains a prime example of Disney's ability to mingle sugary cuteness—we're looking at you, Thumper—with suspenseful storytelling. It's a movie near and "deer" to many viewers' hearts. Rated G.
The Goonies (1985)
A group of childhood friends, a treasure map, a scary (but ultimately sweet) giant named Sloth, thrills, spills, chills: This '80s adventure bears all of the hallmarks of exciting YA-lit drama and producer Steven Spielberg's brand of derring-do. Rated PG.
Rapunzel joins the Disney stable of princesses, only this young lady with the long, flowing locks isn't the passive type; she's adventurous, curious about the world outside her window and wields a mean frying pan. Disney's animation has rarely looked more gorgeous, and Alan Menken's raucous "I Have a Dream" number proves the old Mouse House magic still works wonders. Rated PG.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A perennial Christmas favorite, this fairy tale about a department-store Santa who claims to be the real Kris Kringle never ceases to bring the seasonal cheer. Edmund Gwenn makes for the perfect jolly old elf, but it's joyful nine-year-old Natalie Wood that exemplifies what the holiday is really about: faith in the kindness of your fellow man. Not rated.
Spy Kids (2001)
The family that spies together stays together: Robert Rodrguez's cartoonish blockbuster about two underage Bonds rescuing their secret-agent parents suggests that nothing bridges the generation gap like good ol' fashioned espionage. It's also filled with more imagination, wit and fun than 99 percent of its grown-up spy-movie peers. Rated PG.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Part warped Broadway musical and part My First Goth Party, this stop-motion animated gem—courtesy of the prince of goofy darkness, Tim Burton—watches as Halloween's witches, zombies and showtune-singing skeletons try their hand at St. Nick's regular beat. The holidays have rarely seemed so ghoulishly giddy. Rated PG.
Little Fugitive (1953)
A seven-year-old Brooklyn kid (who erroneously thinks he's killed his prankster older brother) wanders through '50s Coney Island all by his lonesome—and in one fell swoop, this delicate independent movie reminds you of how confusing, painful, wonderful and glorious childhood can be. Not rated.
National Velvet (1944)
The original girl-meets-horse movie, in which Mickey Rooney and young Elizabeth Taylor turn a wild gelding into a contender at the Grand National Steeplechase, remains a charming, quaint look at going for equestrian gold. It still goes down as smooth as its title. Rated G.