If you like March of the Penguins
Illustrations by Tara Gorman
... 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.