Tip Tuesday — Family Films

Today’s subject is close to my heart. I love families and I love great films. What I don’t like are huge marketing giants that tell our kids what to watch.

“This is my favorite movie because its main character is on the front of my Cheerios box, my flickering-light running shoes, and tattooed on My Little Pony’s butt,” drone the thousands of mind-numbed media-consuming children-bots.

Today I would love suggestions of hidden treasures, quality children’s or family films that teach, uplift and entertain and have not been marketed down our throats ad nauseam.

When I worked in the media department of a large public library with an amazing film collection, we’d often get questions like — “I’m getting a group together for a family gathering with people from ages 2-80 with various backgrounds and tastes. What movie could we all enjoy together?”

During my job interview, I was asked this question and I think I answered “Babe.” I got the job (Because who doesn’t like a good pig/sheepdog movie with singing mice?), but the truth is, if I knew the real answer to that question, I’d be making way too much money right now to be typing this myself. I’d have “people” to do that for me.

Here are some movies I’ve enjoyed that you may have heard of, but they’re definitely not in the same marketing universe as Finding Nemo or Chronicles of Narnia:

-Silent Films:
Bustor Keaton, some Chaplin, EARLY silent films like the Lumiere Brothers’ Actualities or Trip to the Moon by Méliès

-Animated short films from the National Film Board of Canada:
You do have to be careful and pick those that are appropriate for children, if that’s who’ll be watching them. Animated does not equal G-rated. Some favorites are The Man Who Planted Trees, The Sand Castle, The Cat Came Back, The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin, Getting Started.

-Animal documentaries that take you right into the world of the animals:
Winged Migration (Perrin 2001) and MicroCosmos (Nuridsany/Pérennou 1996) come to mind.
-Family-friendly foreign films for when your kids are old enough to read (I even have one friend who watches foreign films with her 5-year-old and reads the subtitles to her, although most of these would be more appropriate for older children and teens.):
Not One less (Zhang 1999), Children of Heaven (Majidi 1999), Beauty and the beast (Cocteau 1946), Wings of Desire (Wenders 1987)

-English Language:
The Winslow Boy (Mamet 1999), Whale Rider (Caro 2002), Babe: Pig in the City (Miller 1998), You Can’t Take it with You (Capra 1938), The Secret of Roan Inish (Sayles 1994), Secondhand Lions (McCanlies 2003), Marx Brothers Films(1930’s)

What great films have you seen that have not received crazy media attention, or at least not recently? (I’d love to be reminded of great family films from years past.)

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64 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Family Films

  1. Susie Q says:

    Little Secrets. It’s fabulous.

  2. HLH says:

    Oh 2 of my favorites form my younger days:

    The Quest
    The Young Sherlock Holmes

    Oh and just about ANY Shirley Temple film.

  3. Jessica says:

    The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, The Parent Trap, Pollyanna, the Herbie movies, Anne of Green Gables and Avonlea series, Horatio Hornblower, Steel Magnolias, Master & Commander

  4. Lisa M. says:

    We have really been hooked on the “Signing Time” dvd series, created by Rachel Colemen.

    The are children’s DVD’s set to music and with funny cartoon and real pictures that teach American Sign Language.

    I have a neice that is 6 and is tri-lingal. She speaks English, Spanish (tuaght at her very neat Charter School) and American Sign Language.

    These DVD’s are WONDERFUL, and fun. My teens even think they are funny.

  5. Mom on the Gulf Coast says:

    I have to go with Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer, “Summer Magic” with Haley Mills and Burl Ives, one of my all time favorites.

    And I’m sorry to say we read the writing on the My Little Pony butt, “Lilo and Stitch” is super-high on our lists and got heavy play even before kids. Granted it helps that we were living in Hawaii at the time…

  6. ABC Momma says:

    How about any of the Baby Einstein movies? They are captivating. My 4-yr-old still laughs at the puppets in Baby Mozart. We just bought Meet the Orchestra last week at Costco and my 7-yr-old is really interested in learning about the different instruments.

  7. Amy says:

    Here’s a list:
    7 brides for 7 brothers
    Mickey (A baseball movie by Grisham with Harry Connick Jr. Very Good!)
    Bells of St. Mary
    Original Angels in the Outfield.
    The Journey of Natty Gann
    The twelve dogs of Christmas
    Swiss Family Robinson
    The newest Live Action Peter Pan
    Old Little Rascals
    Frank Capra Stuff
    The Eloise Movies

    Oh, the list can go on. We really love the older Disney, Fred McMurray, type movies

  8. elliespen says:

    My family always loved the old Disney live-action movies, most of which are being gradually remade (case in point: last month’s “The Shaggy Dog,” which I refuse to see on principle). A lot of them have already been mentioned here, but one that is an absolute must-see that I haven’t seen on the list yet is Blackbeard’s Ghost. The hubby and I recently re-watched that and it still cracks me up every time. (“Don’t point that thing over here!” and “What are you trying to do, kill yourself?” “It’s a bit late to be thinking about that now, isn’t it?” are some favorite lines.)

    I also love In Search of the Castaways, The Absent-Minded Professor, Swiss Family Robinson, The Story of Robin Hood, Darby O’Gill, Freaky Friday (the original; although I also really enjoyed the Lindsay Lohan remake, surprise), Lt. Robin Crusoe USN (with **** van ****), etc, etc.

    I also enjoyed the Lindsay Lohan version of Parent Trap – better than the original Hayley Mills, I must admit, although I liked that one, too.

    And, while the story is laughably ridiculous and the main characters are rather bland, the supporting cast of “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (Disney animated from about 2001) is absolutely hilarious. You can’t help wishing they’d found a better movie to put these characters in. Worth watching just for them.

    Other classic family favorites include The Great Race (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon), the Marx Brothers, and Cary Grant, especially in “Father Goose.”

    (Okay… I watch too many movies…)

  9. Longos3 says:

    “Five children and It” is a really good one. Has charlie from the new willy wonka. I liked it alot and so did my 10 yr old nephew.

  10. Lisa says:

    I love the older Disney Films. One of my favorites is “The Happiest Millionaire”!

  11. Sandra says:

    My kids LOVE “Milo & Otis”. It’s a really cute movie. 🙂

  12. bon says:

    Wow! I can’t believe that I get to be the first to suggest “War of the Buttons”!

    We have a slew of DVD’s that we picked up from the dollars store that are collections of odd and old cartoons.
    “Casper and Friends”
    “Popeye and Friends”
    “Mighty Mouse”
    they are strangely popular with the 4yo. Plus she’s a big fan of E.T. and the old school Star Wars trilogy

  13. bowersita says:

    I watched Annie every time it was my turn to pick a video.
    Old Herbie movies,
    Flight of the Navigator
    Pete’s Dragon
    Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
    Mary Poppins
    The Secret Garden
    Anything Muppets
    It’s A Wonderful Life
    Absent Minded Professor
    Bedknobs and Broomsticks

  14. I wanted to add Paulie! I saw it al Walmart tonight and thought of you! It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but my kids loved it, it’s a really sweet story.

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