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
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)
The surreal world of Dr. Seuss's books comes to the big screen in the good doc's only screenwriting effort: A young piano-lesson-hating boy dreams he's trapped with 499 other kids to do a tyrannical music teacher's bidding. It's a trip even without the twisty, rubbery re-creations of the author's singular architecture. Not rated.
The Princess and the Frog (2009)
E.D. Baker's children's book—a sly riff on the Grimm brothers' tale about smooched amphibians turning into royalty—is relocated to the Bayou and rendered in bold, beautiful colors by Disney's animation team. More important, the studio that made Song of the South finally gives us an African-American princess, a lovely (and long overdue) addition to the canon. Rated G.
Why are there so many odd holes in the desert, and how does the juvenile detention camp—and one of its residents, Shia LaBeouf's framed teenager—tie in? The answer is slowly revealed in this surprisingly smart adaptation of Louis Sachar's popular YA novel, one that refuses to condescend to the material while keeping the story's fantastic elements intact.
Finding Nemo (2003)
Helicopter parents undoubtedly watch this Pixar entry through their fingers, but the adventures of a neurotic clownfish searching for his lost son halfway across the ocean not only contain a valuable lesson about letting children make their own mistakes; it also brings the family-friendly funny, thanks to Albert Brooks's nebbish hero and Ellen DeGeneres's forgetful-to-a-fault regal tang. Rated PG.
Bright Eyes (1934)
The original child superstar, Shirley Temple was never better than in this prototypical Temple-esque tale of a curly-haired orphan trying to live with her kindly pilot godfather. To watch the moppet perform "On the Good Ship Lollipop" is to witness onscreen precociousness at its finest. Rated PG.
A Christmas Story (1983)
Thank goodness Bob Clark's goof on Christmases past keeps delighting generations of starry-eyed youngsters and their parents: How else would children learn not to lick icy poles in the winter or know of the perils of Red Ryder BB guns? "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!" Rated PG.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Every budding genius who has felt like a misfit in a society that favors mediocrity will feel like this amazing, animated revenge-of-the-nerd story was made for them. We simply hope they won't follow the hero's example and make a machine that causes giant food to rain down from the sky. Run for your lives or grab your forks, people. Rated PG.
Curse of the Cat People (1944)
Don't worry: This semi-sequel to the Val Lewton--produced horror movie substitutes sensitivity for spookiness, and concentrates on a daydreaming young girl instead of feline monstrosities. In fact, it's one of the most poetic movies ever to deal with lonely children and the fascination of "imaginary friends." Not rated.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
He's sailed the seven seas, but can the legendary sailor defeat an army of mythological creatures and keep a magic lamp from falling into the wrong hands? Ray Harryhausen's peerless stop-motion animation provides vintage Saturday-matinee thrills; if you've ever wondered who'd win in a cyclops-versus-dragon fight, now's your chance to find out. Not rated.
While kids' movies were making pop-cultural references before this DreamWorks toon came out, none of them were quite as savvy as this ogre's tale in dismantling legendary bedtime stories—and in a way that kids would find both clever and funny. It's like a collegiate Postmodernism 101 course, only aimed at elementary-school students and with better fart jokes. Rated PG.