If you like Star Wars
Illustrations by Tara Gorman
... 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.