Good Family Movies Even Mom and Dad will Enjoy

Good family movies let you tap into the simple joy of watching a movie together. This is a pastime that can be enjoyed any time of the year, but especially on those lazy days when being together is all that counts. Unfortunately, depending on the age of your children, finding something that's appropriate for a family movie night can be a challenge.

Musicals
Some classic family movies are musicals. The Sound of Music and Grease are both excellent choices. Grease sails through the '50s, when teens were just learning to assert themselves. While Grease is a classic family movie that is loved by just about every 'tween or teen female on the planet, some scenes include sexual references, drugs and illegal car racing. Olivia Newton-John's sudden transformation from good girl into greaser to get her man's attention may also raise a few eyebrows.

Movies with a Message
Some classic family movies incorporate lessons that should be followed by all. Very often, the movie's message is one that society does not want to hear or chooses to ignore.

  • Remember the Titans: The lesson woven into this movie is that children should be taught that hard work is a necessity, and that racism should not have a place in our society. Based on a true story, the film stars Denzel Washington as a coach who takes over a mixed-race football team. Racial tensions and slurs are prominent in the early stages of the film, but the team triumphs in the end, showing that teamwork is more powerful than the prejudice they encounter.
  • Forrest GumpSpanning some 30 years of American history, Forrest Gump, played by the incomparable Tom Hanks, is a character with a small IQ but a big set of values and an even bigger heart. It's a good jumping-off point for discussing the history of the '60s, '70s and '80s, but it comes with its share of dark moments, including story elements that deal with child abuse, the Vietnam War, drug abuse and the AIDS epidemic. For kids over 12 and their parents, this film can be the start of a great conversation about what life was like when the parents were growing up.

Disney Movies
Disney movies are usually masterfully created, with plenty of family moments and cute characters that your children will love. Disney is guilty of weaving sexual innuendos into their children's movies. While these messages are usually over the heads of youngsters, adults will catch and understand their meaning, as will older children, which can be a flaw. It's wise for parents to view Disney movies, even cartoons, before children are allowed to see them.

  • Pinnochio: Disney's version of the classic fairy tale about a puppet who wants to be a human boy displays all of the hallmarks that made Disney a leader in children's animation. You won't find much double-entendre or adult situations in this film. Instead, you'll get impressive animation, memorable characters and Jiminy Cricket singing, "When You Wish Upon a Star."
  • Wall-E: Pixar's computer-animated films manage to avoid many of the adult themes and jokes while still providing plenty of entertainment for adults. This film plays out like a silent movie, as it tracks Wall-E's quest to be with the robot he loves. Some well-presented social commentary will keep adults engaged, while kids of any age will appreciate the action. Even young children who don't have a large vocabulary will be able to follow the story and enjoy it.

Fantasy Movies
Magical worlds, heroic characters and good special effects never fail to entertain children. For parents, there's the thrill of revisiting films that you may have seen as a child or a teenager. Although some aspects of these films may look dated today, their stories still provide great entertainment.

  • The Never Ending Story: Filmed in 1984, The Never Ending Story is about Bastian, a young boy who eludes school bullies by escaping into a book called, The Never Ending Story. In the book, the land of Fantasia is threatened by the existence of The Nothing, which is eating up Fantasia and all of its creatures. As Bastian reads, he is literally thrown into the story and becomes the only hope of saving Fantasia from extinction. There are some scary and heartbreaking moments in this film, which is one of the few children's films to feature the death of a heroic character.
  • Willow: Filled with magic and all manner of fairy creatures, this Ron Howard film is appropriate for children 8 years and older. In the film, a dwarven creature named Willow finds a human baby that can end the reign of an evil sorceress. Willow needs to return the baby to its human parents before the sorceress can kill it. Produced by George Lucas, this film features many of the adventure elements and quality special effects that were seen in the Star Wars films. It has some scary moments and scenes of swordplay and violence, but nothing too bloody or frightening. The film shows how even the least likely can become heroes by believing in themselves and doing what's right.
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Some of the best family movies are movies about families, including classics such as The Swiss Family Robinson and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The family movie guide is designed to help parents choose movies that are appropriate for their children.

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