On Her Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

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.)


Anonymous Melanie said...

My kids (boys age 3 1/2 & 5) love "Milo & Otis" and pretty much any IMAX movie. I love Netflix for the huge selection of IMAX movies for our enjoyment!

4/03/2006 10:43 PM

Blogger momofalltrades said...

I second Secondhand Lions. Wonderful film, one of our favorites. Fly Away Home is another one that's really great.

4/03/2006 10:44 PM

Blogger Jeana said...

"Because of Winn Dixie"
"Fiddler of the Roof"
"Love Comes Softly"

We have some movies from Feature Films for Families that are good.
"The Story Lady," "Rigoletto," and "Seasons of the Heart."

And my son's favorite movie is "Remember the Titans."

4/04/2006 3:58 AM

Blogger Regina Clare Jane said...

Well, I love The Trouble with Angels- I almost became a nun because of that one! Just funny enough to keep you entertained but serious enough to make you think! Great for older pret-teens and young-ish teens.

4/04/2006 5:23 AM

Blogger Stephanie said...

"Ever After"
"Cool Runnings"
"The Three Muskateers" (Disney's Version)
"Jack and the Beanstalk" with Abbott and Castello

4/04/2006 5:27 AM

Anonymous Lauren said...

Alfonson Curan's The Little Princess, The Secret Garden (Hallmark Hall of Fame edition), The Iron Man, Follow that Bird (the Sesame Street movie), and I completely second Fly Away Home. OH! And Little Women with Susan Sarandon.

4/04/2006 5:32 AM

Anonymous Jane Payne said...

Just found your blog a few days ago and have loved it! Great job, great comments.

Here's another dozen or so titles that we love:

Horatio Hornblower (A&E series)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
October Sky
Life is Beautiful--foreign film…you’ll have to read it to small children ;)
Calamity Jane
The Karate Kid
Pure Country
Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
The Rookie
The Man from Snowy River
Unsinkable Molly Brown
The Fighting Sullivan’s (one of our all time favorites)
The Other Side of Heaven

4/04/2006 5:50 AM

Anonymous shannon from rocks in my dryer said...

We've been enjoying watching the Indiana Jones trilogy together recently, though there a couple of scary parts that require some eye-covering.

Also, "Summer Magic" (Disney), "Beethoven", and "The Boy Who Could Fly". Plus, of course, "ET".

4/04/2006 6:08 AM

Blogger kate said...

One of our all-time favorites that we watched until the tape wore out: "The Electric Grandmother." It's fantastic! Also, "Mary Poppins," "Pollyanna," and the original "Parent Trap" with Hayley Mills as the twins.

4/04/2006 6:32 AM

Blogger kate said...

i recently came across your blog---it's a great breath of fresh air.

we love "emmet otter's jugband christmas." it's a classic.

4/04/2006 6:33 AM

Blogger Gabriela said...

I love Sound of Music, my kids love watching Little Rascals. Can't wait to check out the comments at the end of the day to compile a list! Thanks!

4/04/2006 6:53 AM

Blogger smartmama said...

love old movies and foreign films-

mad hot ballroom

4/04/2006 6:57 AM

Blogger owlhaven said...

Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Brandy and Whitney Houston, The Real McCaw, Princess Diaries, the Eloise movies.

Mary, mom to many kids who are watchers of many (somewhat carefully selected) movies

4/04/2006 7:04 AM

Anonymous Paige said...

Wallace and Grommit--the Wrong Trousers. Hysterical for adults or children. We have watched it countless times.
Joseph, King of Dreams, and the Prince of Eygypt are also great

4/04/2006 7:04 AM

Blogger owlhaven said...

Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Brandy and Whitney Houston, The Real McCaw, Princess Diaries, the Eloise movies.

Mary, mom to many kids who are watchers of many (somewhat carefully selected) movies

4/04/2006 7:05 AM

Blogger Painter Beach Girl said...

Off the top of my head at an instant notice:

The Man in the Moon with Reese Witherspoon

Charlotte's Web

Little House on the Prairie (on DVD)
The Waltons (on DVD)

Spirited Away

Black Stallion (originals)

Because of Winn Dixie

4/04/2006 7:22 AM

Blogger Gabriela said...

Ok, one more my kids love, Cheaper by the Dozen

4/04/2006 7:46 AM

Blogger Eleisha said...

Hallmark makes many movies for families...I really like 'The Borrowed Christmas'. http://pressroom.hallmark.com/HHOF_movie_list.html

Also other greats are 'While you Were Sleeping' (Sandra Bullock)--older teens, adults.
Anything Veggie Tales.

4/04/2006 7:47 AM

Blogger Leah said...

My daughter loves the Land Before Time series, all my children love Three Trees (a story of 3 trees that do not become what they had dreamed of, but instead something wonderful.)
I especially love Oliver and Company

4/04/2006 7:47 AM

Blogger jessica said...

"Harvey" B&W film staring with Jimmy Stewart (my 3 yr old requests it)

"My Neighbor Totoro" Animated film by Hayao Miyazaki (director of "Spirited Away," which I also recommend), but it has just been released by Disney in an English-language dub, so a marketing circus can be anticipated I suppose

"Sense and Sensibility" directed by Ang Lee, staring Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. Great dialogue and humor without being crude like so much of film is today

4/04/2006 8:02 AM

Anonymous Seafoam said...

I don't think anyone has mentioned
In Search of the Castaways with Hayley Mills. That's a good one!

4/04/2006 8:15 AM

Blogger brooke said...

Many of my favorites have already been mentioned so I'll just add "The Neverending Stroy." Both I and II. We all could use a Valcor.

4/04/2006 8:23 AM

Blogger Bek said...

I second the Veggie Tales movies. They are cute and an adult watching it doesn't want to rip their skin off.

My daughter also likes Shriley Temple movies. They are kind of cheesy, but she enjoyes them.

Another favorite in our house is Darby O'Gill and the Little People...it is an old one w/ Shaun Connery and it is about Lepruhans

4/04/2006 8:36 AM

Anonymous mom on a wire said...

"The Electric Grandmother"
"The Red Balloon" (Le Ballon Rouge)

4/04/2006 8:44 AM

Blogger Liz said...

Napoleon Dynamite anyone?

(sweet skills)

4/04/2006 8:58 AM

Blogger Lei said...

We all loved Winged Migration and Mad Hot Ballroom (suggestion of Les)... we are also huge fans of Fantasia, Wizard of Oz, Annie.

4/04/2006 9:25 AM

Blogger Nettie said...

A Rabbit one for Easter: "Harvey" with Jimmy Stewart.

4/04/2006 9:34 AM

Blogger Goslyn said...

I really like Homeward Bound and the Disney live-action version of The Jungle Book.

That movie rocks rocks rocks.

4/04/2006 9:42 AM

Blogger melnel said...

Swiss Family Robinson
Robinson Crusoe (w/ Dick Van Dyke)
Anne of Green Gables
Sarah, Plain & Tall (Hallmark)
Land Before Time (The first one!)

4/04/2006 10:08 AM

Blogger Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

Not that we haven't seen them 80,000 times but I like the clean/funny LDS films that have come out the last few years - I'll slap "The RM" into my DVD player anytime.

I also love the Muppet movies - the original, Great Muppet Caper, and Muppets' Christmas Carol are my favorites. Ditto the '60s Disney movies (Swiss Family Robinson, Hayley Mills), and musicals. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" is a fun one.

4/04/2006 10:24 AM

Blogger Chilihead2 said...

Many of the ones we love are already mentioned, but one I did not see yet is Darby O'Gill and the Little People. This is a fantastic movie. And who can resist a young Sean Connery?

4/04/2006 10:25 AM

Anonymous Emily said...

I was going to suggest Thoroughly Modern Millie--I LOVED that movie as a kid. another family favorite is called The Happiest Millionaire, it was one of those musicals from the 60's

4/04/2006 10:38 AM

Blogger Kelli in the Mirror said...

What a great idea!
We love Singing in the Rain, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Music Man.

4/04/2006 11:08 AM

Blogger Beth said...

My four-year old loves "Peter Pan" with Mary Martin as Peter. I can't stand it, but she can't get enough of it! She watched it about 12 times in one week. She has even learned some of the songs and dances from it.

4/04/2006 11:10 AM

Blogger momofalltrades said...

Also, try the Liken the Scriptures series from Deseret Book. Bible stories told with funny songs, they're really clever and my kids really like them.

4/04/2006 11:28 AM

Blogger Bobita said...

I have heard multiple "hoo-rah's" for Fern Gully...and I think there are some sequels...

Also, my kids (all of whom are very sensitive to anything scarey...my son actually WALKED out of the theatre during Finding Nemo!) really like the Pooh movies: Piglet's Movie, The Tigger Movie and Roo's Springtime movie.

I LOVED reading the suggestions/comments from all! This is such wonderful information for a mom to have!

Thanks to you, Daring One!

4/04/2006 11:32 AM

Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve said...

"The Legend of Johnny Lingo!" I can't believe no one's mentioned it yet. Gorgeous scenery and while the storie's a bit different from the original church video it's still cute and satisfying. ^_^

"Kiki's Delivery Service" by Hayao Miyazaki. Also "Spirited Away" but I'm not sure if it's too big for DYM's question.

"Princess Bride"
"Ever After"
"Secondhand Lions" -- I second that! For the older viewers, pay attention to the comics "drawn" by the main character at the end. They'be by Berkley Breathed, the guy who did Bloom County!

"Whale Rider"

"The Parent Trap" with Haley Mills. I rented this so many times as a kid that my older brother put his foot down and refused to get it for me anymore.

4/04/2006 11:33 AM

Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve said...

One more! "Hook!" with Robin Williams. Cute, lots of fun and a great message. (C'mon, Peter Pan choosing to grow up because he wanted to be a father? How much more family-friendly can you get? ^_^)

4/04/2006 11:38 AM

Blogger jenny said...

My boy loves the older movies like Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson. That being said one of his favorites is Miracle about the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team.

We've recently seen Black Beauty, which was very good. And The Iron Giant was a big hit here for awhile.

We're working our way through the Little House on the Prairie series on DVD and my kids LOVE them. It's our standing plans for a weekend night. Take out dinner with Laura & Mary.

4/04/2006 11:41 AM

Blogger Tigersue said...

The Court Jester, What's Up Doc, Charade, A Christmas Carol, Driving Miss Daisy, The first Herbie Movies, The Apple Dumpling Gang, If A Man Answers, (I wish that one was available on DVD, I have only seen it because my inlaws were wise enough to tape it.), The Best Two Years and Monsters Inc.

4/04/2006 11:45 AM

Blogger Carrien said...

MOst of these have already been mentioned but I'll give them a second vote.

The Black Stallion
THe Black Stallion Returns

Prince of Egypt-my 4 year old would watch this every day if I let him and it's a great one for this week and next since Passover is almost upon us.

Homeward Bound

Hidalgo-I have to skip forward through the Wounded Knee scenes for the kids but the rest is fine

Nausicaa of the valley of the wind
PRincess Mononoke
Howl's Moving Castle
Also by Miyazaki
well just about everything by him we love(Except Dragonflies is NOT for young children, Maybe teen. THe Characters die of starvation in post war Japan.)

The Princess Bride

Chitty-CHitty Bang bang

Swiss Family Robinson

Quigley down under
Man from Snowy River

Disney's animated version of Robin Hood
We also love all things Veggie tales.

That's all I can think of right now.

4/04/2006 11:48 AM

Blogger Journey Mama said...

I love Fly Away Home, Whale Rider, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, Harriet the Spy, Corrina Corrina, and I'm not sure because my kids are still little, but older kids may like documentaries like Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom.

4/04/2006 11:50 AM

Blogger The Daring One said...

You guys are giving the greatest ideas! You keep reminding me of favorites old and new and here's another I'd like to add:

Matilda - we LOVE this movie. I think it's one of Dan's top 10 movies of all time and I love it too.

4/04/2006 11:54 AM

Blogger Karen said...

When I was in grade school my family rented the series (one by one) called Five Mile Creek about an Australian family who runs a backwoods stage coach station. We LOVED it. I think it was by Disney. I rarely see them in video stores but I'd love to find them again someday.

I've bought some of the old Our Gang videos. So cute.

My Dog Skip is another favorite.

4/04/2006 12:01 PM

Blogger Aunt Murry said...

I have always liked

"Wide Awake"
"Billy Elliot"
"The Emperor's New Groove"
And who could forget "Goonies"
"The Never ending Story"
"Dark Crystal"
I think I was the only person in the world who liked "Osmosis Jones" what a great way to earn about germs!

Oh, I could go on and on!!!

4/04/2006 12:17 PM

Anonymous Steven P Burns said...

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or just about any Frank Capra film
A Man for All Seasons
Anne of Green Gables
Behind the Waterfall
The Other Side of Heaven
Superman (1977 Christopher Reeve)
My Fair Lady
Any Charlie Chaplin, Three Stooges, or Laurel & Hardy
A Little Princess (there are various versions)
A Raisin in the Sun
The Muppet Movie (or any other Jim Henson production)
The Music Man
Dr. Doolittle
Kiki's Delivery Service
Disney's animated Robin Hood -- especially if my wife is around to do her Prince John impersonation.

4/04/2006 12:50 PM

Anonymous sarah hart kingston said...

How about "Koyaanisqaatsi?" There's no dialogue, but totally captivating cinematography and great music by Philip Glass. Anyone of any age will love it. "Back to the Future," and "Karate Kid" are old favorites. "The King of Masks" was fabulous. Another of my sons' favorites is "Johnny English," which has a tiny bit of crude humor, but is otherwise pretty funny. Also, they love the Mr. Bean collection.

4/04/2006 12:55 PM

Anonymous Richard Downey said...

Family favorites:

Who framed Roger Rabbit
Jason & the Argonauts
King Kong (1933)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Disney)
The Incredibles
Singin in the Rain
The Iron Giant
Journey to the Center of the Earth
To Kill a Mockingbird

The Searchers (Daring Young Mom knows this)


The Godfather (a totally different kind of a "family" movie)

4/04/2006 1:49 PM

Blogger momof3busyboys said...

Some of my favorites:
The Wizard of OZ
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Grapes of Wrath
Fried Green Tomatoes
Steele Magnolias
My kids favorites:
All 4 Home Alone movies
The original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka
Most Valuable Primate
Most Extreme Primate
Charlottes Web
Double Teamed??( It is a Disney Channel Original movie about twin sisters who play basketball, not sure if I have the correct title.)
The Erica Enders story( Another made for disney channel movie, I can't remember the title.)

4/04/2006 2:53 PM

Anonymous JYukaR said...

for anyone 11ish+ "the chorus" a french movie (color, recent/the last few years). same premise as Mr. Holland's Opus but WAY better.


4/04/2006 3:14 PM

Blogger Susie Q said...

Little Secrets. It's fabulous.

4/04/2006 3:24 PM

Blogger HLH said...

Oh 2 of my favorites form my younger days:

The Quest
The Young Sherlock Holmes

Oh and just about ANY Shirley Temple film.

4/04/2006 4:05 PM

Blogger Jessica said...

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

4/04/2006 4:59 PM

Blogger Lisa M. said...

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.

4/04/2006 5:45 PM

Anonymous Mom on the Gulf Coast said...

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...

4/04/2006 6:00 PM

Blogger ABC Momma said...

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.

4/04/2006 8:25 PM

Blogger Amy A. said...

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

4/04/2006 8:34 PM

Blogger elliespen said...

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 Dick van Dyke), 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...)

4/04/2006 10:17 PM

Blogger MrsWndr said...

"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.

4/05/2006 11:04 AM

Anonymous Lisa said...

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

4/05/2006 11:40 AM

Blogger Sandra said...

My kids LOVE "Milo & Otis". It's a really cute movie. :)

4/05/2006 12:56 PM

Blogger bon said...

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

4/05/2006 2:32 PM

Blogger bowersita said...

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

4/05/2006 10:12 PM

Blogger momofalltrades said...

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.

4/11/2006 11:11 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home