Our picks for the best family movies
If you like a great family movie, we've got a suggestion -- 40, in fact. All the films here were selected for their appeal to both kids and parents, then grouped with similar classics your family may already love. Finding a new favorite for family movie night has never been easier!
If you like Tangled
... for its spirited female lead, try:
Kiki's Delivery Service: This anime feature film from award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki tells the tale of an adventurous young witch who uses her broom-flying skills and spunk to start a courier business. In the process, she discovers the thrills of independence—and a little something about herself. Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
Mulan: Inspired by a character from a 4,000-year- old Chinese legend, Disney's girl-warrior is as fierce and engaging as any modern- day heroine. This animated epic has one of our favorite sing-alongs, the ironic "I'll Make a Man Out of You." Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
If you like Miracle
... the feel-good, hard-hitting sports movie, try:
Radio: Cuba Gooding Jr.'s moving performance as a developmentally challenged man who helps out a high school team anchors this gridiron drama. Rated PG. Ages 10 and up.
Remember the Titans: Based on a true story, this drama about a newly integrated football team in early 1970s Virginia stars Denzel Washington as the take-no-guff coach. His rousing speech at Gettysburg before a key game hits harder than a linebacker. Rated PG. Ages 10 and up.
If you like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
... for its family-meets-alien story, try:
Harry and the Hendersons: When a family brings home a Sasquatch encountered on their camping trip, they learn that the beast has a heart as big as his feet. And he's a vegetarian, one of many sweet surprises. Rated PG. Ages 7 and up.
The Iron Giant: This sci-fi film about a boy hiding a huge alien robot in 1950s Maine is a gripping allegory about the politics of its time. The 'bot speaks few words, but the expressive animation renders him anything but mechanical. Rated PG. Ages 6 and up.
If you like Ghostbusters
... because it's a lot more silly than scary, try:
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken: Don Knotts is at his goggle-eyed, goofy best playing a small-town typesetter investigating a haunted mansion. The scariest part? Trying to explain to your kids what a typesetter is. Not rated. Ages 7 and up.
Young Frankenstein: This Mel Brooks - directed horror movie spoof is so hilarious it's nearly impossible to pick a favorite bit, but we giggle every time we see the monster sing "Puttin' On the Ritz." Rated PG. Ages 10 and up.
If you like Despicable Me
... for its comic crime scenes, try:
Arsenic and Old Lace: With its rowdy slapstick and rat-a-tat dialogue, this 1944 black-and-white romp remains a fun watch for kids. A hilariously frantic Cary Grant plays the nephew of two spinsters who poison the wine of gentleman callers. Not rated. Ages 8 and up.
The Great Muppet Caper: Kermit the Frog and his felted friends land in London to solve the mystery of some missing jewels. Yet the real gems are the musical numbers: the gang sings on bicycles, and Miss Piggy makes an Esther Williams - style splash. Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
If you like Harry Potter
... for its magical elements, try:
Stardust: Based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, this fantasy laces the action (a race to find a fallen star, played in human form by Claire Danes) with a dose of humor. Scene-stealers include Robert De Niro as a pirate on a flying ship. Rated PG-13. Ages 11 and up.
Willow: George Lucas's story features a dwarf who teams up with a hunky swordsman. Their cheer-worthy quest? To save a baby princess from a conniving queen. Rated PG. Ages 9 and up.
If you like Home Alone
... for its slapstick comedy, try:
Big Fat Liar: Frankie Muniz, as a compulsively fibbing teen, and his pal are out for truth (and revenge) after a movie producer steals the boy's class paper to adapt for the screen. Rated PG. Ages 8 and up.
A Night at the Opera: The Marx Brothers hit many a high note as they take on society snobs in this droll black-and-white classic. Not rated. Ages 6 and up.
If you like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
... for its sweet story, try:
Dumbo: The tender animated tale of a little elephant with enormous ears packs a powerful antibullying message. Rated G. Ages 4 and up.
The Gruffalo: A mouse in search of a nut must outsmart predators in this sumptuously animated, Oscar-nominated short film. Rated G. Ages 3 and up.
If you like Indiana Jones
... for its thrilling action and adventure, try:
The Adventures of Tintin: Director Steven Spielberg imaginatively adapts the famous Belgian comic about a globe- hopping boy reporter, filling the screen with animated chase scenes and virtually nonstop action. Rated PG. Ages 8 and up.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad: The pre-CGI special effects in this iconic, thrill-filled swashbuckler were groundbreaking for their time. Favorite scene: Sinbad and a skeleton duel up a spiral staircase. Rated G. Ages 7 and up.
If you like March of the Penguins
... for its terrific wildlife photography, try:
MicroCosmos: Minimal narration and extreme close-ups let kids really focus on this film's stars: the insects. Beetles battle; a mosquito hatches; and a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
Winged Migration: Shot on seven continents, this beautifully photographed study of the avian world explores the mysteries of our feathered friends' survival and seasonal treks. Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
If you like Mary Poppins
... for its wacky magic, try:
Bedknobs and Broomsticks: Angela Lansbury stars as an apprentice witch caring for three children in WWII England. Hands-down high point: the trippy rides on the flying bed! Rated G. Ages 6 and up.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: A dopey professor, played by Dick Van Dyke, invents a flying car with cool gadgetry that kicks this musical fantasy into high gear. Rated G. Ages 6 and up.
If you like The Wizard of Oz
... for its make-believe land, try:
The Neverending Story: A boy escapes into a book to help a kingdom in danger. While the effects enchant, it's the young hero's faith in the power of story that supplies the real magic. Rated PG. Ages 7 and up.
The Wiz: It doesn't get any cooler than this: Diana Ross as Dorothy, Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow, Lena Horne as Glinda, and Richard Pryor as the title mystery man. The funky score is equally engaging, with "Ease On Down the Road" the standout. Rated G. Ages 6 and up.
If you like Shane
... because it's an action-packed, family-friendly western, try:
Rio Bravo: There's some- thing for everyone in this gunslingers' story. John Wayne swaggers as the sheriff trying to keep the bad guys from springing their buddy from jail; Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson add drama (and good looks); and Walter Brennan brings the laughs as the sidekick, Stumpy. Not rated. Ages 8 and up.
The War Wagon: Kirk Douglas and John Wayne bump barrel chests as former enemies out to rob a heavily guarded armored wagon. Not rated. Ages 8 and up.
If you like The Sound of Music
... for its kid-friendly musical numbers, try:
Annie: In this energetic adaptation of the comic- strip-turned-Broadway- musical, Aileen Quinn plays the Depression-era waif and belts out a mean "Tomorrow," but Carol Burnett steals the show as the orphan-wrangler, Miss Hannigan. Rated PG. Ages 6 and up.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: This hip version of the musical is distinguished by a glittery, multiethnic cast. We love the duet "Impossible/It's Possible" sung by pop star Brandy as the scullery maid and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother. Not rated. Ages 5 and up.
If you like Star Wars
... but want more humor in a science-fiction movie, try:
Galaxy Quest: This space comedy cheekily spoofs its Trekkie roots while still delivering some genuinely impressive sci-fi effects. Alan Rickman, as a Shakespearean actor in the Spock-like role, gets the biggest parental laughs. Rated PG. Ages 8 and up.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: You don't need to be a fan of the satirical book series to appreciate the quirky jokes and imaginative creatures in this cosmic quest to find the meaning of life. You'll find plenty to laugh at, including John Malkovich as a groovy guru who worships a nose. Rated PG. Ages 8 and up.
If you like To Kill a Mockingbird
... for its heartfelt drama, try:
Fly Away Home: The uplifting tale of a girl who plays Mom to a flock of orphaned geese offers powerful themes of hope and healing, love and loss. Rated PG. Ages 8 and up.
Secondhand Lions: Michael Caine and Robert Duvall are fantastic as two crotchety but caring old men put in charge of their young nephew. Rated PG. Ages 9 and up.
If you like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
... and want more adaptations of Roald Dahl books, try:
Fantastic Mr. Fox: With George Clooney voicing the dashing vulpine lead, it's no surprise that the humor in this heist story is on the sly side. The animation details, such as the utterly realistic whiskers and fur, add to the fun. Rated PG. Ages 7 and up.
James and the Giant Peach: This gorgeously surreal, animated tale evokes Dahl's dark tone yet glows with succulent color. The image of the fuzzy fruit being lifted on silken threads by scores of seagulls is just as Dahl describes. Rated PG. Ages 7 and up.
If you like Ratatouille
... for its unusual friendship, try:
Harvey: James Stewart charms as a mild-mannered tippler who is best buds with an invisible rabbit six foot three and a half inches tall. Released in 1950, this tender, black-and-white film still has much to say about belief and acceptance. Not rated. Ages 6 and up.
My Neighbor Totoro: Another anime classic from director Hayao Miyazaki (see Kiki's Delivery Service on Page 1), this film sends two sisters on a soaring adventure with a giant, Buddha-bellied forest spirit. Rated G. Ages 5 and up.
If you like The Lion King
... because it's an animated wildlife tale, try:
The Jungle Book: The sumptuous handcrafted animation and catchy songs make this, the last animated film that Walt Disney supervised, a true "bear necessity." Rated G. Ages 4 and up.
The Wild Thornberrys Movie: Eliza Thornberry can talk to animals—a handy skill to have when your parents produce a nature show and you live with a chimp. Vibrant animation distinguishes this cinematic adaptation of the popular TV cartoon. Rated PG. Ages 6 and up.
Wondering if a movie is right for your family?
For details about a film's content, go to imdb.com (click on the movie's "Parents Guide") or commonsensemedia.org.