Newsies is a classic favorite from the early 1990s. I have to personally give the movie credit for exposing my stubborn little self to musicals… and liking it (**gasp!!**). The story is about a group of boys in New York City who worked as “newsies” selling papers on the streets at the turn of the 19th Century. Big newspaper moguls lowered sales prices for papers, angering the hard-working newsies who were negatively impacted by the lowered wages. Newsies is a great movie to teach your family about hard work, life in early 1900s America, and taking a stand against those with more money and power. A great underdog story, with fun music and choreography, Newsies will be an instant hit with your family! And you never know who you might spy singing and dancing along with the Newsie boys… Holy Christian Bale, Batman!
2. The Sandlot
Another classic from the early 1990s, The Sandlot will be another family favorite. The story tells about a group of boys in the 1960s who spend their summer having small-town adventures and playing on their beloved baseball sandlot. With lots of laughs and side stories, you don’t have to be a fan of baseball to like the movie. Your kids will see that you don’t have to be “popular” as a kid to succeed in life and that it’s okay not to fit expected gender norms.
“Baa, Ram, Ewe!”
No ham about it, Babe is among my top favorite family films of all time. From his unfailing politeness to his determination and loyalty, Babe is a little piggy with big heart. In the story, Babe is taken in by a mother sheepdog on his new farm. He soon finds that he has an unlikely ability to compete in sheepdog competitions… as the dog. Through his experiences, Babe teaches us to pursue our dreams despite what others say and that pure and simple kindness has the power to defy the odds against us.
“To live. To live would be an awfully big adventure.”- Peter Pan
Hook is without a doubt in fairies, my favorite film version of Peter Pan. This was a bit surprising to me when considering that Robin Williams doesn’t strike you as an obvious Peter Pan, but once the movie starts, you never question the character’s believability. Although there are plenty of pirate jokes, lost-boy adventures, and youthful imagination, perhaps the best part of the movie are the “happy thoughts” of love and family that fly throughout the film. Just grab a little pixie dust and your family will be off to Neverland.
5. Muppets Christmas Carol
“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”- Ebenezer Scrooge
The truly perfect retelling of Dickens’ iconic Scrooge tale, I almost refuse to watch any other movie version of the story. The characters are cute, funny, and, oddly, relatable. The music will stay with you all throughout the holiday season (and not in that annoying “12 Days of Christmas” way). If Christmas is part of your yearly traditions, you’d be pretty green to skip over this movie!
6. Shaun the Sheep
The Muppets just taught us otherwise, but Shaun the Sheep gives new meaning to “Baa Humbug”! A movie largely overlooked by many upon first being released, don’t make that mistake again. Shaun is a clever sheep with big plans who always unravels hilarious ways to solve the problems he creates. The stop-motion animation is a fresh change of pace for family films, and messages of love and friendship will have you feeling right at home on Mossy Bottom Farm. Ewe don’t want your family to miss out on this one!
7. A Knight’s Tale
“Change your stars and live a better life than I have.”- John Thatcher
A Knight’s Tale is worthy of the round table of films. William Thatcher, a squire, finds himself with an opportunity to pose as a knight himself in pursuit of his dreams. With his hilarious sidekicks to faithfully help him through it all, Will learns that sympathy and lowliness of heart can change your position among the stars. By way of caution, there are a few slightly more mature scenes in the movie and it’s probably best watched without young squires and maidens around.
8. Mrs. Doubtfire
Dude looks like a lady.
Another Robin Williams hit, Mrs. Doubtfire will not leave you wanting for laughs. A father under threat of losing visitation rights with his three children, Daniel Hillard takes things to the extreme by crossdressing as a kooky nanny. No doubt the family will love Mrs. Doubtfire.
“Where there is kindness, there is goodness. And where there is goodness, there is magic.”- Ella’s Mother
If you haven’t seen the most recent live action version of Cinderella, or even if you have, it’s a film very worthy of a grand ball. With just-right variations from the animated film, this telling of Cinderella depicts a young woman of strength, determination, grit, and an undying belief in hope and magic. While Ella teaches to “have courage and be kind” in all that you do, we also learn that pumpkins can become carriages, a mouse a horse… your heart’s wish can come true.
10. Finding Nemo
“Fish are friends, not food.”- Bruce
I don’t think any list of family movies is complete without Finding Nemo. From Dory the forgetful, English-reading, whale-speaking blue tang to vegetarian sharks, an unfunny, overly anxious clownfish, and a sea-sized love between a father and son, it’s hard not to get lost while watching Finding Nemo.
11. Darby O’Gill and the Little People
“Three wishes I’ll grant ye, great wishes an’ small! But you wish a fourth and you’ll lose them all!”- King Brian
Darby O’Gill seems to be adding a larger fan base of gold to its pot in recent years, but still remains somewhat unknown. If you haven’t seen it, quickly add it to your playlist. Darby is well known in his small Irish town for his story telling, so when he announces that he’s caught the king of the leprechauns, it’s not surprise everyone thinks he’s done one jiggy too many. An excellent movie to watch in the spring, but one that can be enjoyed any time of year, Darby O’Gill inspires to sacrifice the self for the love of those dearest to our hearts.
The iconic British book series about a bear from Darkest Peru figuring out how to adjust to life in London’s high-paced society. Although Paddington has a grizzly desire to “get things right”, he also has an unfortunate knack for finding trouble in even the most innocent of situations. But despite his misadventures, this duffle coat-wearing, marmalade-loving bear will warm your hearts with many giggles along the way.