Child's media expert names his top ten picks.

By Kenneth M. Chanko
October 05, 2005

Five-Star Family DVDs 1 - 6

1. E.T.

(Universal Studios Home Video, PG, ages 6 and up)

This 1982 film is the ultimate boy-and-his-pet story. While the DVD extras are nice, it's the magic touch of Steven Spielberg that makes the movie sublime.

2. Where the Wild Things Are... and Other Maurice Sendak Stories (Scholastic Entertainment, ages 3 to 8)

This beautifully animated version of three Sendak classics is one of the finest made-for-video children's titles ever produced. The DVD includes a Spanish version of Where the Wild Things Are.

3. The Yearling

(Warner Home Video, ages 6 and up)

Based on Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this often-neglected 1946 movie tells the poignant story of a poor farm family in 1870s Florida. A fun DVD extra is the Oscar-winning 1946 Tom and Jerry short, "The Cat Concerto."

4. Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition

(Disney, G, ages 3 and up)

The smart heroine, brilliantly conceived songs, and to-die-for animation are among the many top-notch elements that make this Disney's best animated feature of the past dozen years.

5. The Chronicles of Narnia

(BBC/Home Vision Entertainment, ages 5 and up)

The best treatment of C.S. Lewis's seven-book fantasy series, this live-action version is an intelligent rendering of the tale of four British children in a battle between good and evil.

6. The Thief of Baghdad

(MGM, ages 6 and up)

One of the greatest adventure fantasies ever filmed, this 1940 Arabian Nights fable tells the colorful tale of an escaped genie and Sabu, the elephant boy. It's a wonderful alternative to the more sterile hardware and special effects of the most recent Star Wars movies.

Five-Star Family DVDs 7 - 10

7. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, 25th Anniversary Edition

(Disney, ages 2 and up)

Included are the peerless original 1960s animated shorts -- "The Honey Tree," "The Blustery Day," and "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" -- nicely woven together in storybook chapters. A true treasure.

8. Dr. Seuss: The Cat in the Hat Plus Another Seuss Story

(Sony Wonder, ages 18 months to 5 years)

This bare-bones read-along adaptation couldn't be more faithful to the good doctor's 45-year-old picture book. Let's hope Mike Myers's big-screen version of Cat, due next fall, is better than Jim Carrey's Grinch.

9. The Best of the Muppet Show: 25th Anniversary Edition

(Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, two volumes, ages 4 to 11)

Many of the hilarious highlights of those wacky but droll Muppets from the original TV series (1976-1981) can now be enjoyed on these two DVDs. The first volume features guest stars like Elton John, Julie Andrews, and Gene Kelly, while the second volume boasts Mark Hamill, Paul Simon, and Raquel Welch.

10. The Rookie

(Disney, ages 8 and up)

Possibly the best family-friendly baseball movie ever made, The Rookie is based on an inspirational (and near-miraculous) true story about a 35-year-old high school chemistry teacher who discovers he can throw a fastball in the 97-miles-per-hour range. And you don't have to be a sports fan: The film is as much about never giving up and following your dreams as it is about baseball.

Honorable Mentions

Need more can't-miss movie picks? Check out these 10 noteworthy DVDs:

1. Babes in Toyland (Disney, ages 4 to 11)

2. Bert & Ernie's Word Play (Sony Wonder, ages 2 to 6)

3. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (Nickelodeon/Paramount, ages 4 and up)

4. Lilo & Stitch (Disney, ages 4 and up)

5. Monsters, Inc. (Disney/Pixar, ages 4 and up)

6. Rugrats: A Decade in Diapers (Paramount, ages 4 to 11)

7. Schoolhouse Rock! Special 30th Anniversary Edition (Disney, ages 5 to 11)

8. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (DreamWorks, ages 3 and up)

9. Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White (Disney, ages 3 and up)

10. Watership Down (Warner Bros., ages 7 and up)

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