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20 Best Movies for Families
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Goonies, PG, 114 minutes
If you're hosting a sleepover, you'll be a hero by turning on this action/fantasy about a cadre of adventure-seeking kids on the run, treasure maps, death-defying close calls and impaled skeletons. What we all remember and love about the Goonies is that they "never say die!" and their bond can't be broken. (Warning: it can be a bit scary, and there's some mild swearing. But we think it's safe for kids 10 and up.)
Pollyanna, G, 134 minutes
Hayley Mills in Pollyanna is one of Hollywood's most loveable child characters in film for a reason. An orphan sent to live with her rich Aunt Polly, she's unbelievably positive, and brings the town together in that way that makes you want to throw her up on your shoulders and cheer her name. (The town folk actually do this toward the end of the movie.) The flick oozes positivism, but in a non-annoying way, and is so tender that it will resonate with people of all ages. Don't miss other Hayley Mills classics, like The Trouble with Angels and The Parent Trap.
The Land Before Time, G, 70 minutes
Baby dinosaurs stressing friendship and cooperation may seem a little too much like Barney, but The Land Before Time wins over audiences of all ages, thanks to a suspenseful storyline, non-annoying songs and loveable characters. Littlefoot, a young, orphaned dinosaur, must make his way to the Great Valley in order to survive a plague, and in the process makes lots of dino friends and manages to tug at heartstrings with his brave little adventure. Warning: you may find yourself crying, so get ready to pretend there is something in your eye.
Newsies, PG, 121 Minutes
Set in 1899, this Disney Musical about a singing and dancing troupe of newsboys who strike when the price of their papers is raised 1/10 of a cent, isn't exactly historically accurate. But if your kids love music, they won't be able to turn it off. The soundtrack is full of toe-tapping tunes (many sung by the sweet, angelic voices of boys with heavy Brooklyn accents), and the plot is strung together with impressively choreographed song and dance. The cast includes Robert Duvall, Ann-Margret and a young Bill Pullman and Christian Bale, so there's something for you, too.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Not Rated, 90 minutes
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, more of a comedy than scary flick, is about a journalist (Don Knotts) who must spend the night in the creepy Old Simmons' Place and report about it. It's full of campy, typical scary-movie stand-bys (think black cats and secret corridors), and won't actually scare anyone. If anything, this movie's a great chance for you to catch Don Knotts in a non-Andy Griffith role.
Akeelah and the Bee, PG, 112 minutes
"It's full of great lessons on resisting peer pressure, true friendship, perseverance, and, in the end, how hard work can help you gain a lot more than the biggest trophy. Plus, Keke Palmer is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e, and when's the last time Laurence Fishburne made a movie you didn't like?" -Denene Millner
The Point, Not Rated, 74 minutes
This child-friendly musical, a tale about a boy with a round head who isn't allowed in the land of the pointy-headed people, has a non-conformist message that's too important to miss. The music, which you'll love if you're a Beatles fan—it's narrated by Ringo Starr—is so purely enjoyable, your kids will love it as much as you do.
The Sandlot, PG, 101 minutes
For a sentimental guy flick, try this '50s era film about a gang of boys and their summer of (innocent) mischief. It's the perfect time to reminisce about—and share—your own childhood hi-jinks. We also love the female equivalent (for older kids), Now and Then.
Spirited Away, PG, 124 minutes
There's a chance you could end up loving Spirited Away more than your kids—its captivating animation, complexities and surrealism make it one adults won't be able to get out of their minds. For that reason, some kids might be bored. But for older kids into fantasy, this flick, full of mythology, danger, haunts, imagination, and vivid imagery, will become an immediate play-it-again fave.
The Gods Must Be Crazy, PG, 109 Minutes
The Gods Must Be Crazy proves that silly slapstick humor is universal, even in the Kalahari Desert. This quirky story, which initially resembles an episode of National Geographic, follows the chain of events that ensues when African Bushmen discover a soda pop bottle that was discarded by a littering pilot. There's some mild violence and language to watch out for, but it's all for the sake of comedy, and of course, since this is a story about an African tribe, there are some bare butts and boobs. But you can relax—it's rated PG and friendly for most families.
Are We There Yet?, PG, 95 minutes
"I mean, it's Ice Cube. Being funny. And getting clowned. That, alone, is worth the price of admission. But it's also neat to watch the beginnings of what will eventually turn into a blended family, and the hijinks keep the kids in stitches."—Denene Millner
Blank Check, PG, 93 minutes
If your kids can't get enough of Home Alone, but you're getting tired of watching Macaulay Culkin, try Blank Check—it's about the hilarious hijinks that ensue when an 11-year-old fills out $1 million on a blank check, another kid's dream-come-true scenario. Lots of bad guys and corny laughs, but a fun time nonetheless.
The Watcher in the Woods, PG, 84 minutes
If you feel like going spooky—but not too spooky!—check out this Disney ghost story about two girls who move into an old mansion that's hiding some bizarre secrets. Frightening flashes of light and glimpses of the supernatural (including several flashbacks of a blindfolded little girl—yikes!) make it delightfully spooky for kids ten and up, and you may just jump in your seat, too.
Little Manhattan, PG, 84 minutes
Do your kids think romantic comedies are ewww? Try this one—the story of a little boy's first crush. The kids are sweet actors who don't overdo it, and there are themes that adults can relate to as well.
The Time Machine, G, 103 Minutes
For this budding science-fiction lover, this adaptation of H.G. Wells' famous novel is an all around treat. Eccentric inventor George (Rod Taylor) discovers a way to travel time, and ends up successfully launching himself into the future, which seems fine until George realizes the inhabitants of the new world are cannibals. The flick is a fun-loving, award-winning treat that brings up opportunity to delve into some serious topics with the kids. Can man control his own destiny? What power do we hold over the future? Would kids take a ride in a time machine if they could? What would they see?
Harvey, Not Rated, 104 minutes
Kids will love getting into classic film with this 1950 treasure, starring James Stewart. With a nice balance of slapstick (as does ensue when a grown man has a 6-foot-tall rabbit imaginary friend) and subtler grown-up humor, everyone will be laughing.
Wall-E, G, 98 minutes
If anyone can make a social commentary on population growth and the environment entertaining for kids, it's Pixar, and they deliver again with this creative, laugh-out-loud flick. Wall-E, the friendly garbage collector, is so life-like, he'll transfix you in ways you didn't think an animated character could, and the issues he deals with will engage you and the kids. Try not to cry too hard, though. (Someone's got to be the strong one.)
Chicken Run, G, 84 minutes
"This from the Wallace and Gromit studio is delightful, charming and full of British spit and vinegar. Laughs for all ages—a rare breed."—Michael Winks
Triplets of Belleville, PG-13, 78 minutes
"Yes, it's a French film, but there is no dialogue. It has music, intrigue, family loyalty and gangsters. Oh, and cheating in the Tour de France. Kids love it."—Michael Winks
Selena, PG, 127 minutes
"It's a beautiful love story—the love a father has for his children, the love the children have for great music and the love a country has for a singing sensation who died too soon. My daughters love the songs and every time they watch the movie, we're treated to at least two weeks worth of Bidi Bidi Bum Bum."—Denene Millner