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KIDS FIRST! Top 100 Kid Films of all time
These are films for kids between the ages of 2 and 18 that KIDS FIRST! believes to have universal appeal, exhibit outstanding attributes in terms of their production values and portray values and have qualities that make them as applicable today as the day they were first released.
We know that media has the power to influence children, negatively or positively. The films on this list portray the values and ethics that we, as a culture wish to instill in our children. The idea behind this list is to provide a parent or caregiver with as much information as possible about the age appropriateness of a film, a brief synopsis, the key artists involved and any special audience issues it may address.
- 101 Dalmatians (1961, Disney, Animated, Family Adventure) The original charming animated canine adventure from Walt Disney. When the treacherous and dog-hating Cruella de Vil and her nasty henchmen kidnap Dalmatian puppies for their cherished spotted fur, it's up to the puppies' parents, Pongo and Perdita, and some brave farm animals, to free the caged canines. Though 101 Dalmatians has fewer songs than many of its animated Disney musical brethren, the essential musical number, "Cruella de Vil," is still a lot of fun. Based on the 1956 book by Dodie Smith, this Walt Disney animated classic spawned the 1996 live-action remake, as well as a sequel called 101 DALMATIANS II: PATCH'S LONDON ADVENTURE. A signature Disney film and one of the last to be made under Walt's supervision. A true perennial favorite with a simple story, cute puppies, and a good storyline. It moves a bit slowly at the outset but the evil Cruella de Vil, played by Betty Lou Gerson, injects energy with her maniacal driving, her outlandishly long cigarette holder and clouds of cigarette spoke. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- 101 Dalmatians (1996, Disney, Live-Action, Family Adventure) An updated live-action version of the Disney animated classic now set in modern day London. Fashion designer Anita and computer-game writer Roger meet, fall in love and marry along with their Dalmatians Perdita and Pongo. But the proud dogs' 99 puppies are kidnapped by Anita's boss Cruella De Vil (played by Glenn Close), who is stealing young Dalmatians to make a special spotted coat she has set her heart on. Enlisting the help of the British animal kingdom, Pongo and Perdita set out to find and rescue all ninety-nine pups from their fearsome captors and a hilarious and exciting adventure ensures. This updated version has those darn puppies looking cuter than ever. The scary Cruella de Vil's outrageous wardrobe alone is enough to love this version. But her behavior, on the other hand, enough to keep your youngest away, although, because she is so obviously wicked it provides a good demonstration of the difference between good and evil. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- A Bug's Life (1998, Buena Vista Pictures, Animated, Family Adventure/Comedy) A delightful computer animated gem from Pixar. A Bug's Life gives a close up view of a colony of ants is threatened by a gang of grass hoppers led by the evil Hopper. Flik, a common ant and misfit, has an uncommon vision when he tries to rise to heroic proportions by enlisting a band of circus fleas to help him defend his colony from the grasshoppers. This is a great movie, funny, beautifully animated, great characters and an engaging storyline. It is representative of the work that's made Pixar a household name. Directed by John Lasseter, the storyline manages to express the value the life - even for bugs. One of our child jurors commented, "I didn't know bugs were so smart." There are some scary scenes with the menacing grasshoppers and some verbal abuse which makes might make these scenes unsuitable for kids under age five. Be sure to sit through the credits, it's worth it. Recommended for ages 3-7.
- A Christmas Story (1983, Warner Home Entertainment, Live Action, Holiday, Family Comedy) A modern classic that celebrates the holidays thru the eyes of 9-year-old Ralph "Ralphie" Parker, who wants only one thing for Christmas - an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock! Along the way, he runs into opposition from his parents, his teacher, a pair of neighborhood bullies and even good 'ol Santa Claus himself. A variety of funny and memorable moments including Ralphie's dad receiving a hilarious a major award delivered to the house (much to his mother's dismay) and while Mom must keep the neighbor's hounds and Dad away from the Christmas turkey. All this while Ralphie continues to scheme and hope for his prized holiday present. This is a movie everyone can relate to; our recommendation is for ages 10 and up. The boy's situation is timeless and captures the essence of childhood in the 1940s or 50s. It raises issues about peer pressure, especially among young boys. The quirky family members are easy to relate to. It is based on the autobiographical novel, "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," by Jean Shepherd, who also narrates the film as the adult Ralphie. Be forewarned, it contains some strong language, some mild aggression and the idea of promoting a gun as a gift may be troubling in today's culture. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- A Little Princess (1995, Warner Bros. NR, Adventure Live-Action Fantasy) Another enchanting film based on a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden) about 7 year old Sara Crewe, who was raised in India by her affluent and adoring father. Sara goes off to New York to attend the same boarding school her late mother attended. Initially given a range of privileges because of her father's wealth Sara is soon crushed to learn of her father's death and a business catastrophe with one of his partners. Now penniless and an orphan, Sara clashes with the severe headmistress, Miss Minchin, who attempts to stifle her creativity and sense of self- worth. Undaunted, she befriends Becky, the school scullery maid tells her of her belief that "every girl's a princess." Things get even more interesting when a mysterious Indian gentleman moves on next door and takes a special interest in Sara. Beautiful cinematography, wonderfully acted, and great script that is an accurate adaptation of the classic book.The film offers complex messages about death, poverty and hope as well as a stunning female role model. Its fairy tale appeal is timeless. Its messages about compassion and friendship are enough to bring tears to your eyes. Some extreme images and issues - dead soldiers, Sara almost falls to her death, Sara's mother is dead, her Dad is presumed dead, and children are treated poorly - might make this unsuitable for youngest viewers. Recommended for ages 7 to 12.
- Akeelah And The Bee (2006, Lions Gate, Rated PG, Family Drama) A heartwarming film about how dedication and drive pay off for a young girl. Eleven year-old Akeelah Anderson's (Keke Palmer) life is not easy: her father is dead, her mom ignores her, and her brother runs with the local gang. She's smart, but her environment threatens to strangle her aspirations. When her school's principal threatens detention for her many absences, Akeelah participates in a spelling bee to avoid being punished. Much to her surprise and embarrassment, she wins and the principal asks introduces her to an English professor named Dr. Larabee (Lawrence Fishburne) to prepare for the more prestigious regional bee. As the possibility of making it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee looms, Akeelah becomes inspired and dedicated to winning. But she must first convince her skeptical mother to let her compete. She also must rise to the seemingly impossible level Dr. Larabee's has set and take on more experienced and privileged fellow spellers. Great family film with great values, story, great acting and a fantastic script. Keke Palmer's performance is fabulous as is Mr. Fishburne's. Though the storyline is somewhat predictable and some of the characters a bit shady, the "underdog comes through" message is a heart-warmer. Winner of KIDS FIRST! Best Feature and Best of Fest for 2006. Contains some mild profanity, intense family scenes, local gangs, an unwed mother and a joke about sexual harassment. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Aladdin (1992, Disney, Animated, Family Adventure) Aladdin won an Academy Award for The Best Animated Film in 1992 and it continues to be a winner. Aladdin is a street-urchin who lives in a large and busy town long ago with his faithful monkey friend Abu. When Princess Jasmine gets tired of being forced to remain in the palace that overlooks the city, she sneaks out to the marketplace, where she accidentally meets Aladdin. Under the orders of the evil Jafar (the sultan's advisor), Aladdin is thrown in jail and becomes caught up in Jafar's plot to rule the land with the aid of a mysterious lamp. Legend has it that only a person who is a "diamond in the rough" can retrieve the lamp from the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin might fight that description, but that's not enough to marry the princess, who must (by law) marry a prince. With memorable voices by Robin Williams cast as the Genie and several memorable songs. The genie is the best thing in this movie. Robin Williams' performance alone puts this on the "must see" list that will entertain you time and time again. The plot is typical fairytale fare with no great surprises and there are some violent scenes which can be frightening for kids under the age of 5. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Alice in Wonderland (1951, Disney, Animated, Classic, Family Adventure) A classic Disney animated adaptation of Louis Carrol's books Alice's adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Young Alice becomes bored one day and her mind starts to wander. She sees a white rabbit that appears to be in a hurry and she chases it into its burrow and enters the merry, topsy-turvy world of Wonderland! Memorable songs and whimsical escapades highlight Alice's journey, which culminates in a madcap encounter with the Queen of Hearts - and her army of playing cards! A most bizarre series of adventures begins. Features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont as Alice (and was also the voice of Wendy Darling in the later Disney feature film, Peter Pan) and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. Whimsical, magical adventure with great characters and a memorable score. The fantasy of the world down the rabbit hole is very surreal - entertaining for some, disturbing for others. There is delightful choreography of the dancing playing cards. Also, the Queen beheads several cards and calls for Alice's execution - too scary for the preschool crowd. Recommended for ages 6-12.
- Alvin And The Chipmunks (2007, FOX, Rated PG, Animated/Live-Action Adventure Comedy) Inspired by the popular music group and animated children's series, Alvin, Simon and Theodore, lose their tree home which is cut down and turned into Christmas tree for the lobby of Los Angeles-based JETT Records. As they escape from the tree they meet a frustrated songwriter named David Seville and despite a frenzied, house-wrecking first meeting, they impress him with their singing talent. Seeing the opportunity for success, Dave makes a pact to seek success with the trio's songs. While that ambition is initially a frustrating struggle with the difficult trio, their shared dream eventually does come true. But the success presents its own problems as a unscrupulous record executive named Ian Hawke plans to break up this happy family to exploit the boys. Can Dave and the Chipmunks discover what they really value amid the superficial glamour around them? Very funny movie based on the characters Ross Bagdasarian introduced in the 50s. Its nostalgia factor places it well with adult chipmunk fans and kids just seem to be just as enchanted. The CGI characters are adorable, each with their own individual characteristics. Contains some potty humor and suggestive lyrics. Recommended for ages 5-12
- An American Tail (1986, Disney, Animated, Family Adventure) Former Disney animator, Don Bluth and Steven Spielberg took a sad tale and made it enjoyable in this animated story about a young Russian mouse coming to America in the late 1800s. Young Fievel, however, is separated from his family upon his arrival in New York City, and he discovers to his horror that there are cats in America too (his father said there weren't). Great songs, (Oscar-nominated, "Somewhere Out There") lovable characters, and a storyline that addresses friendship, death and separation. Fievel is sweet and brave. It's filled with action and suspense and good messages about power, freedom , "America," and cats. Definitely has parts that are too scary for kids under five. Recommended for ages 5-10.
- Annie (1982, Sony Pictures, Family Musical) The heartwarming film takes the Tony award winning Broadway musical based upon the popular 1930s Harold Gray comic strip, Little Orphan Annie, to the big screen and stars Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, and Ann Reinking and was nominated for 2 Oscars. And Director John Huston's version burns a little place for itself in your heart. Carol Burnett's Miss Hannigan is wonderful, Albert Finney plays a brilliant Daddy Warbucks and Aileen Quinn plays a delightful and talented Annie. Though the storyline is 100 percent predictable, the energy of this musical in its non-stop music and dancing makes walk out of the room just a little lighter, singing the memorable song, "Tomorrow." Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Babe (1985, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Family, Comedy) A charming family film combines drama with comedy and adventure in this story about a pig who learns to behave like a sheepdog in order to save his place in the barnyard. The story revolves around a piglet won by a farmer at the county fair who is then adopted by a canine matriarch who teaches him the ropes of sheep-dogging. Babe is a model of goodness; there isn't a mean bone in his little porky little body. We can listen in on the conversations he has with the entire menagerie of farm animals through the magic of this film. All the animals are adorable in this charming story based on the children's book by Dick King-Smith. You may have seen animals talking in movies before, but make no mistake - Babe stands above the rest. The animals' lips are in sync with their lines and Babe is a model of goodness. Really, all the animals are adorable, particularly the singing mice who you have to see to believe. Nominated for many Academy Awards, and awarded "Best for Visual Effects." There are some frightening scenes - the slaughterhouse scene and the sheep who dies. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- Back To The Future (1985, Universal Studios, Rated PG, Science Fiction Adventure Comedy) The life of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is pretty pathetic. His family is dysfunctional, he's always late to school and he loves loud music. Marty's one true friend is the wacky Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd ) a mad scientist who builds a time machine out of a DeLorean. From there, Marty's humdrum life becomes literally a blast from the past as he is transported to 1955 where he meets the man who will become his father, but he's a bullied whimp, and his mother, who is a beautiful teenager. Marty has to get his parents to meet and fall in love or he will never be born but things get interesting when his own mother takes a romantic interest in this stranger from the future. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spielberg Back To The Future also won an Oscar. A wonderfully inventive film with a marvelous cast, great script and an excellent score. Great humor with clever and witty and memorable lines. It actually makes time travel make sense. The relationship between Marty and Doc make this film. Contains some bullying, mild profanity, some sexual situations and some racial slurs. Recommended for ages 8 - 14.
- Bambi (1942, Disney Home Entertainment, Family Animated) The animated story of a young fawn named Bambi, hailed as the 'Prince of the Forest' at his birth. Bambi makes friends with a bashful skunk named Flower, and a precocious rabbit named Thumper. . Bambi is a serious film covering the circle of life - from birth to death. It was the first Disney feature that animators made the characters more life-like than cartoon-like. Even after 60 years, Bambi's production values are impressive. There are scenes that are too intense for the youngest viewers - the pheasant is shot, hunting dogs attack Bambi's mate, Bambi is wounded, the forest fire becomes uncontrollable, and of course Bambi's mother is shot and killed in the first 15 minutes. That does takes place off camera but is something not to be taken lightly for kids under five. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Beauty And The Beast (1991, Disney, Animated Fantasy, Family Musical) Another hit animated musical from Disney, Beauty And The Beast remains one of the best known of the studio's films, and depicts on the timeless children's fairy tale about a beautiful woman kept in a castle by a horrific monster. Belle is a smart but bookish girl with an eccentric inventor for a father. One day he offends the Beast, who was once Prince Adam but was cursed into a beast by the Enchantress who saw no love for others in his arrogant heart. Belle boldly offers to take her father's place and while imprisoned in the Beast's gloomy mansion, slowly teaches him to love. Simply said - great songs, wondrous animation, strong story, wonderful sets and stunningly beautiful music. Angela Lansbury, as Mrs. Potts singing the title song is memorable. Belle's strength and character make her a true heroine. Alan Menken's score and Howard Ashman's lyrics are outstanding. This truly is Disney at its best! Nominated for Best Picture Oscar. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- BIG (1988, FOX, Rated PG, Family Comedy) BIG was directed by Penny Marshall and continues to warm hearts with this funny tale about staying young at heart. A young boy named Josh Baskin (Tom Hanks) half-heartedly makes a wish to be an adult from an old magical fortune-telling machine, but he is very surprised to wake up the next day in the body 30 year old! Josh tries to convince his mother he is still her son but she chases him away thinking he's an intruder. He finally convinces his 13-year-old best friend, Billy Kopecki, of the events that happened and the pair travels to New York to find the machine that can fix his wish. Josh gets a lowly data-entry job at the MacMillan Toy Company and develops a relationship with a toy executive named Susan. A series of funny events occur as Josh learns to get used to the adult world he always wanted to be part of. And he discovers it isn't all he originally thought it was. Would he still like to remain an adult? Hilarious film. Great direction by Penny Marshall and great acting - one of Tom Hanks' finest performances. His portrayal of a young boy in an adult body is completely believable and Josh's lack of adult social skills and childish personality contribute much of the humor. The scenes when Josh takes a job at MacMillan Toys are gut-busters. There are some sexual innuendos and adult situations. Recommended for ages 6 - 12.
- Cars (2006, Walt Disney Video, Animated, Family Adventure, Comedy) A rollicking, animated, automotive adventure where the cars are the actors - their headlights are their eyes, they have distinct personalities, jealousies, hopes, dreams and passion. Lightning McQueen is a cocky, rookie red race car. Speeding on his way to a big race, he crashes into Radiator Springs while racing through the sleepy town's dusty main street. Sentenced to community service, McQueen meets and slowly befriends Radiator Springs automotive residents including Sally, a snazzy 2002 Porsche, Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past, and Mater, a rusty but trusty redneck tow truck. McQueen learns the value of friendship and a lesson in cooperation as he learns there is more to life than trophies, fame, and sponsorships. John Lasseter's rendition of this NASCAR -type story is too much fun. He develops his characters and storyline that will have every young kid hooked on who did what. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- Charlotte's Web (2006, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Animated, Family Comedy-Drama) This wonderful film is based on the classic children's novel by E.B. White amd features a memorable cast of voices including Dakota Fanning who is delightful as Fern, Julia Robert's voice as Charlotte is just perfect, and the talking barnyard animals are fun. Wilbur is a young pig that learns about life's many wonders from a witty cast of barnyard friends including cows, sheep, geese, a rat, a horse, and of course a spider named Charlotte who teaches Wilber tender lessons about the cycle of life and the meaning of friendship. When "Some Pig" is woven into Charlotte's web, it brings a certain magic to the barn and suddenly, Wilbur becomes exactly that - "Some Pig." It addresses the topic of death, but in a very appropriate and non-frightening way when Charlotte's brood take her place in the barn. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Chicken Run (2000, DreamWorks SKG, Animated, Family Adventure) Entertaining for all the family from the brilliant animators at Aardman Productions (the creators of Wallace and Gromit). This cute story has comedic aspects, colorful claymation and brilliant dialogue that make it a classic. It's a comedic story of a group of chickens that are trapped on their farm and desperately want to escape. If they don't produce any eggs for the week, farmers Mr. and Mrs. Tweedy will have their heads. After every attempt, they fail and their time is running out. In the tradition of great prison breakout films like Stalag 17 and The Great Escape, it offers up great talking points for business, politics, assertiveness, persistence and teamwork. It also suggests looking for different ways to solve problems. The chickens are like real people, with good expressions and human voices. Recommended for ages 8-18.
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, MGM, Family Comedy Adventure) This is a quirky and funny film about an eccentric professor (played by Dick Van Dyke) that invents wacky machinery including a rather peculiar flying car. Despite his genius he can't seem to make ends meet. But the evil foreign government of Vulgaria resorts to all sorts of dastardly schemes to acquire it and a wild and funny adventure begins. The evil Baron Bomburst kidnaps the professor and his children and has designs on the car. But the professor soon finds that the Baron has declared children illegal in Vularia and he must save not only his amazing car but also the children of Vulgaria. The film was inspired by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, a children's novel written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming (James Bond novelist) for his son Caspar.The soundtrack alone makes the movie. It is simply wonderful. The story is slightly scary but predominantly warm and funny. Dick Van Dyke's performance is brilliant, fast-paced and lively. The style is somewhat dated, especially the special effects but it doesn't matter - it's appealing to kids. Recommended for ages 4 to 10.
- Cinderella (1950, Walt Disney Productions, Animated Family Musical) This beautifully animated classic Disney film belongs in every child's library. Fairytales last forever because of their universal appeal. Here we have the nasty stepmother, the evil stepsisters, the charming prince, and of course, the Fairy God Mother who comes to Cinderella's rescue. The Disney embellishments of dozens of little birds, mice and other animals helping Cinderella clean or dress are absolutely charming. Overall, the story portrays positive values, shows the beauty within and demonstrates that true worth can sometimes be over looked. Recommended for ages 4 to 12.
- Curious George (2006, Imagine Entertainment, Family Animated Adventure) Everyone's mischievous clumsy monkey gets the big screen treatment in this wonderful animated tale featuring voices of Will Ferrell, Dick Van Dyke and Drew Barrymore. When The Man with the Yellow Hat (Ferrell), who audiences discover is actually named Ted Shackleford, discovers that the natural history museum where he works is in financial trouble and museum director's son wants to turn it into a parking lot, he offers to bring back a mysterious idol from Africa that's guaranteed to pull in crowds. The idol is only three inches tall and far from spectacular. More importantly, Ted also brings back a lonely yet irrepressible and lovable monkey he names George. Together they set out on a fun-filled and wild adventure through the big city as they try to save the museum. This I truly a film that even your youngest kids can enjoy. Lacks the scary scenes and adult humor that are often included in current kids' films. Has a few slapstick moments and most importantly, a story line that kids can easily follow, great 2D animation bright colors and a terrific soundtrack by Jack Johnson. It rings true to the spirit of the books, and thankfully, George (Frank Welker) does not talk. Recommended for ages 2-12.
- Dr. Dolittle (1967, 20th Century Fox, Family Comedy) Dr. John Dolittle is a veterinarian that has the unique ability to talk to and understand animals. This 1960s era film features Rex Harrison as the loveable and eccentric Dr. Dolittle. He plays the role straight. You can't help but love every time Dr. Dolittle says good morning to all the animals. Although the music is corny, it's still appealing to kids who can relate to Dr. Dolittle fulfilling his dream. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who (2008, 20th Century Fox, Family Animated Adventure) Based on the timeless classic book by Dr. Seuss, the imaginative elephant Horton hears a cry for help coming from a tiny speck of dust floating through the air. Suspecting there may be life on that speck and despite his friends who think he has lost his mind, Horton is determined to help. Featuring a memorable cast of voices including Jim Carrey, Carol Burnett and Steve Carell, this is a faithful and hilarious adaptation of Dr. Seuss' classic book with outstanding talent, vibrant animation, nonsensical rhymes and expressive characters. Carrey's portrayal of Horton is charming. Thankfully, they didn't fall into the potty humor trap for this film which is refreshing. The film's message is about respect and having faith in things that can't be seen. The message, "a person's a person no matter how small" introduces kids to thoughtful philosophical questions. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000, Universal Studios, Rated PG, Live-Action Fantasy Comedy) Inspired by the famous holiday book by Dr. Seuss, audiences are introduced to a magic world called Whoville that is populated by the Who's who absolutely adore Christmas. Expertly crafted production with great music, costumes, scenery and cinematography. This classic Christmas story has built-in meanness by the Grinch counterbalanced by Cindy Lou Who - who has her own doubts about the holiday, believing that the true meaning of Christmas may have become lost amidst the holiday rush and the hubbub. The sets and costumes are outstanding, the Grinch funny and scary all at once. Ultimately it delivers a little magic that places it right in with other holiday favorites. Contains some crude humor. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982, Universal Studios, PG, Adventure) Elliot is your normal boy living in the suburbs, until he meets a lost little alien. Elliot befriends the alien and names it E.T. and tries to help him find a way to get back home. During his stay little E.T. learns about human daily life and the many comical incidents that occur every day. But the government also knows of E.T. and has its own plans. Elliot must race with his friend and E.T. to make a rendezvous with the spaceship before time runs out. A fantastic film for kids today that holds their attention and captures their hearts. From the spaceship's first landing to Elliot's discovering E.T. to the flying bicycle to E.T. phoning home - we're glued to the screen. Filled with charming moments, it is a story about love, innocence and friendship. It is wonderfully cast and written and, of course, won Steven Spielberg our admiration forever. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
- Elf (2003, New Line Cinema, Rated PG, Holiday Fantasy Comedy) Buddy (Will Ferrell) was a baby orphan who stowed away in Santa's sack one Christmas Eve and was raised by the elves of the North Pole. When it comes time to tell eventually him that he is in fact not an elf, Buddy is determined to go to New York to find his biological father, Walter (James Caan). Buddy's understanding of society is based purely on Christmas themes; fun, candy, and toys. Anything else is just not logical. As Buddy's and Walter's relationship gets of to a rocky start it eventually grows and each learns very valuable lessons from the other. Will Ferrell is charmingly funny in this role. His childlike behavior is believable. The scene when he climbs into one of the Elf's beds only to have his legs dangle over the side is hysterical. Another great title for Holiday viewing. Some mild profanity, rude humor and drunkenness. Recommended for ages 5 -12.
- Enchanted (2007, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated/Live-Action Family Romantic Comedy) A soon-to-be classic that delivers a very good message about love and how it differs in real life from fairy tales. The film begins in 2D animation, reminiscent of the classic Disney films. The beautiful damsel, Giselle, is discovered by a handsome prince who proposes marriage. Then, Giselle is pushed down a well by the evil stepmother and lands smack in the middle of Times Square as a real live person. Her fairy tale optimism and good nature run counter to the real world but somehow her ideas take hold. This film became an instant classic partly because it's so clever and partly because, "what young girl doesn't like a story about a beautiful princess?" Recommeded for ages 5 and up.
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986, Paramount, Rated PG, Comedy) Written and directed by teen autuer John Hughes, Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) is the master of pranks and high school shenanigans, and he's out to prove it in this comedy about "playing hooky" from school. He has the entire school believing that he's deathly ill, but his sister, Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) and his principal are convinced that he is faking. Go along with Ferris and his friends Cameron and Sloane on the best day off of their lives, driving in a Ferrari, going to a baseball game, singing in a parade and most of all, not getting caught.... or do they? This is a hilarious comedy that every teen relates to. Ferris' clever and quirky behavior is so improbable, that teens just love him. The fact that he outsmarts all the adults and suffers no consequences is paramount to the film but problematical on other levels. Great script, outstanding performances, great laugh and great message - "life goes by so fast, don't miss it." Contains mild profanity, car theft, lying, and presents kids as being smarter than adults. Recommended for ages 14-18.
- Field Of Dreams (1989 Universal Studios, Rated PG, Fantasy Family Sports Drama) Field Of Dreams is a film about baseball and its quirky impact on a small Iowa town directed and adapted by Phil Alden Robinson from the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. Farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice in his corn field tell him repeatedly, "If you build it, he will come." He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, upon which will appear the ghosts of some of the game's most controversial players such as Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players that banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out a reclusive baseball author named Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), who had once written about the golden days of baseball.to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field. The pair goes on a wandering road-trip in search of one of a ballplayer named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham who might have some answers. "Moonlight" may no longer even be alive but he might still be able to give the answers. The phrase, "If you build it, he will come" quickly became adapted into our vernacular and a theme for believing in something enough to go for it, even when it doesn't make sense. Joseph Campbell called this, "follow your bliss." Wonderful performances by Kevin Costner, Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones and a great script deliver a film that's about more than baseball - it's about dreams and faith. Love it. Share it with your family. Recommended for ages 8-15.
- Finding Nemo (2003, Walt Disney Pictures, Animated, Family Adventure) Finding Nemo is a Pixar-created film that took computer-generated animation to a new level with its dazzling marine life. From the colorful sea critters to the coral reef to the expansive ocean, the creators surpassed themselves in making this animated landscape look real. The funny and touching father / son adventure is something the whole family can enjoy over and over again without it losing its appeal. The story tugs at your heartstrings whether you're a kid or not. This film belongs in every kids' DVD library. Great performances by the voice cast including Albert Brooks, Willem Dafoe, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Elizabeth Perkins and more. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
- Finding Neverland (2004, Miramax, Rated PG, Adventure Historical Drama) Set in Victorian England film details the life of "Peter Pan" creator Sir James Matthew Barrie (Johnny Depp), and the events which led him to write the children's classic. After one of his early plays bombs, Barrie meets and befriends four young brothers and their widowed mother in the park. Over the coming months, Barrie plays with the boys daily and their imaginative games give him vivid inspiration for a play and a compelling new character that can never grow old - Peter Pan. Simultaneously, Barrie's friendship also deepens with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslett), the boys' mother, to the chagrin of his own wife Mary, with whom he spends very little time and eventually divorces, causing tremendous gossip. As Sylvia's health worsens, Barrie's tries to give the boys strength as he searches for a way to take his muse to Neverland. Fascinating film, based on the true story of Peter Pan's author. It explores Barrie's imagination and his relationship with the boy "muses." Beautifully acted and a surprising story. Romance without sexuality. There are some references to adultery and impropriety with young boys. Recommended for ages 12-18.
- Fly Away Home (1996, Sony/Columbia Pictures, Rated PG, Family Adventure) Amy (Anna Paquin) is a young teenager when her mother is killed in an auto accident. She goes to Canada to live with her father (Jeff Bridges), an eccentric inventor, aviator and naturalist whom she barely knows. Amy is initially miserable, still mourning her mother, until she discovers a nest of goose eggs that were abandoned when local developers tear down the local woodlands. Amy incubates them inside an old dresser within the barn and when the eggs soon hatch the goslings see her as "Mama Goose." In a few months winter will arrive and the young geese must go south. But they don't yet know how to fly and have no one to lead them there safely. With a pair of ultra-light airplanes modified by her father, and a theory that the geese will instinctively follow their "Mom," Amy and her dad find a way to help and form a new loving bond in the process. The trauma of a young girl losing her mother at a critical time in her life underscores the theme of this entire film. Overall, this is a charming, wholesome movie with powerful acting by likable characters. Without being overly sentimental, it shows how an estranged parent and a child can reconcile their differences. It offers inspiring insights into flight, migration, death and self-strength. Beautiful cinematography - particularly the final scene. The scene where the Mom dies is emotionally upsetting and there is one mild profanity. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Forrest Gump (1994, Paramount, Rated PG, Comedy Drama) A masterful film directed by Robert Zemeckis about a simple man named Forrest, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) who is an Alabama boy with a low I.Q., but a big heart. He starts out in life learning one of his biggest lessons from his childhood sweetheart, Jenny, (Robin Penn) and that was to run. Forest goes on to experience a seemingly endless series of some of history's most important moments. As the two grow up and apart, Forrest's life story includes the meeting of JFK, Nixon and Johnson and the infamous Elvis Presley, starting a successful shrimping boat and even being a Vietnam hero. Throughout all of these accomplishments, however, he never stopped thinking about his Jenny. Forrest Gump is a great family film showing exactly what Mrs. Gump (Sally Field) always used to say, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get." Even though it contains profanity, sexual situations and mild violence, the film makes such a profound statement about who is really "stupid" - a simple idealistic Forrest Gump or the rest of the world. Forrest remains morally upright through every situation while those around him fall. Stunning performance by Tom Hanks as well as the rest of the cast. Recommended for ages 13-18.
- Freaky Friday (2003, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG, Family Romantic Comedy) Great entertainment that moms and daughters will enjoy together. It's easy to criticize someone else, especially your parent. But, put yourself in their shoes and it's a different story! Tess Coleman (Jaime Lee Curtis) and her 15 year-old daughter Anna (Lindsay Lohan), have a typical mother-daughter teenage relationship; neither understands the other. One Thursday night they are at a Chinese restaurant arguing and wish that they could switch places so that the other one knows how it feels to be them. They crack open a fortune cookie go home, argue some more and go to sleep. When they awaken on Friday, they are startled to find that they have switched bodies and now have to be the other person until they can figure out what to do. As the day goes on they come to understand, respect and realize how much they love one another. But the problem still exists on how to switch back? Fast paced, great acting by Curtis and Lohan, good values and great directing. Watch it and laugh. It's pure magic. Some crude language such as "sucks" and "blows." Recommended for ages 8 to 12.
- Ghostbusters (1984, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Adventure, Action-Comedy) Three misfit parapsychology professors are booted out of their cushy jobs at New York City's Columbia University. Intrigued with ghosts and spirits they start a company called Ghostbusters and soon are on the tail of a variety of New York's menacing undead spirits. Things really get exciting when the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man threatens to destroy Manhattan! Stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver. Definitely a classic comedy of the 80s that holds up remarkably well. The script by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis is brilliantly funny, the cast outstanding and the direction right on target. Some would argue that this is one of the funniest films ever made. It is crazy, off-kilter and different. The special effects hold up well. It also has scary scenes which make it unsuitable for little ones under five. Recommended for ages 5 - 10.
- Grease (1978, Paramount, Rated PG, Musical Romantic Comedy) Set in the 50s, goody-two-shoes Sandra Dee (Olivia Newton John) and the leather jacketed leader of the "T-Birds" gang Danny Zuko (John Travolta) have a summer love that the two expect to be just that. But when Sandy's family decides to stay in America, she finds herself Rydell Hugh alongside Danny, but he's not the gentleman she fell in love with. He is the cool guy and has a "bad" reputation to maintain and can't be seen with a girl like Sandy. She tries to fit in with a group of female counterparts to the T-Birds, "The Pink Ladies", but her prim and proper ways done fit in with either clique. But somehow the two are still destined to be together. Sing along, do the hand-jive and have fun at a school where popularity seems to be the only thing that matters. The best thing about this 70s nostalga film is John Travolta's dancing. The storyline is predictable but the soundtrack is what really makes it an icon. Combine high school romance, comedy with great vocals by Olivia Newton John and John Travolta and you've got a keeper. Yes, the characters are shallow, particularly the women, and yes, there are some implied sexual situations and mild violence. It's for teens. Recommended for ages 12-18.
- Happy Feet (2006, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Computer Animated, Adventure)In the vast land of Antarctica lives a group of Emperor penguins that show their love by singing from the core of their hearts. But one very special penguin named Mumble (Elijah Wood) cannot seem to find his voice. Instead he finds rhythm in tapping his feet and dancing. His mother Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman), thinks this is cute but his father Memphis (Hugh Jackman) disapproves.' Mumble's gift of dance is finally blamed for the possible cause of their food shortage, which is in reality caused by nearby trawlers depleting local fish stocks. Mumble is exiled and must leave the colony but he soon meets a group of quirky adelie penguins - penguins small in stature, but fiercely loyal to those they call friends. Mumble's travels and mishaps eventually ends up in a penguin exhibit at a marine park, but scientists are trying to decode his dances and may have a surprising conclusion that affects all of us. Happy Feet ultimately shows that being different is not necessarily a bad thing to be. Cute, cute, cute! These penguins are simply adorable and the dance scenes remarkable. You will want a penguin of your own to take home. Great voice talent, fabulous animation, wonderful musical score. The Broadway style production numbers are cleverly adapted to penguins. Outstanding environmental message which should make everyone want to reduce, reuse, recycle. Some crude language, potty humor and scary monsters. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets (2002, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Fantasy Adventure) It's Year 2 at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are continue their learning, but the year doesn't pass quietly. Members of the school are scared and downright petrified as mysterious bloody writing begins appearing on the walls, revealing to everyone, that the mysterious chamber of secrets has been opened. It's said that only Salazar Slytherin's true descendent will be able to open it. The attacks continue, bringing the real possibility of the closure of Hogwarts. Harry and his friends are now forced to secretly uncover the truth about the chamber before the school closes forever and lives are taken. The impact of the Harry Potter books on young readers has been nothing short of a phenomenon. The movies, though filled with scary situations at every turn, have explored the imaginary world of wizardry in a brand new way. Wonderful performances and incredible computer generated animation, combined with humor and humanity have created an imaginary world that keeps you on the front of your seat. Scary, violence and some mild profanity. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, Warner Bros. Rated PG-13, Fantasy Adventure) Come with Harry, Ron and Hermione as they leave their childhood forever. Harry's name mysteriously comes up as an entry in a grand tournament between three wizard academies. Even though he is not yet eligible, Harry agrees to compete. Many questions are raised as he is thrust into the frenzy of the Triwizard Tournament, where he faces a dragon, evil water spirits, and a magic labyrinth. Will Harry make it out alive? And what of the other contestants? And of Ron and Hermione? Audiences will delight in the excitement, tension and drama in this fourth film of J.K. Rowling's masterful series. Audiences will delight in the excitement, tension and drama in this fourth film of J.K. Rowling's masterful series. Non-stop action moves this sequel along, fourth in the series, with its superb cast, excellent special effects, great music score and continuation of the magical world of sorcery. Plenty of frightening and graphic scenes and scary monsters, plus some mild profanity that warrant keeping your youngest away. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007, Warner Bros. Rated PG-13, Fantasy Adventure) The last film of the epic Harry Potter series by based on the by J. K. Rowling, The Order of the Phoenix sees Harry returning to Hogwarts to begin his fifth year after a lonely summer. And things are not good at the school. Their predictions about Lord Voldemort's return rebuffed, Harry and Dumbledore are persecuted by the Wizard authorities as an authoritarian bureaucrat slowly seizes power at Hogwarts. The Order of the Phoenix, a secret group sworn against Voldemort, uses an array of wizards and witches to combat Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic, also suspects that Dumbledore is using these claims of The Dark Lord's return as a means to over-throw him. So a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is appointed by the Ministry in order to spy on the events at Hogwarts. This new teacher/spy is Professor Umbridge and he is a strict disciplinarian, forcing a group of students, led by Harry, to form a secret club called Dumbledore's Army. A confrontation is destined to happen! Stunning special effects, even better than previous films. For Potter fans, this is definitely a must see and even for non-fans, it holds up well as a stand alone. Filled with frighteningly graphic scenes of fantasy violence, perilous behavior and mild profanity. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Fantasy Adventure) In the summer before starting his third year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe ) becomes fed up with his horrible aunt and uncle, and after accidentally inflating his visiting aunt Marge, he runs away. To make matters worse, a convicted mass murderer named Sirius Black, has escaped from the wizard prison at Azkaban and has a vendetta against Harry. Black is known as Lord Voldemort's most devoted follower, and he's after Harry to avenge Voldemort and finish the job. The school calls upon supernatural help against Black in the form of Dementors, but unusual things continue to put Harry in peril. Treachery and deception abound as allegiances shift and nobody is who or what they seem. Who's the real criminal? What is the real crime? Who is telling or knows the truth? A bit darker than its predecessors, the film continues in the same magical style. The many special effects continue to dazzle us. The actors have grown in their roles and in their bodies. Harry's voice is deeper, he's becoming a young man. There are many perilous situations and scary creatures for which youngest viewers might be tormented. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (2001, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Fantasy Adventure) has all the hallmarks of a timeless classic. Funny, and whimsical, with a message that good triumphs over evil, the book-based film draws the viewer into its supernatural world. The incredible fantasy includes witchcraft and wizardry in a way we haven't seen before. The boarding school environment is unique in the world of make believe. Note that there are scenes way too scary for younger kids but your older ones will be enthralled. They understand that this is not the real world but an adventure fantasy. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
- Hook (1991, Tri-Star, Rated PG, Action Adventure) Ever wonder what happened when Peter Pan finally grew up? Peter (Robin Williams) finally grew up and married Wendy's granddaughter and had children of his own. But he has forgotten his past and is now in the corporate world and barely has time for his own children. But when trouble arises in Never Land he must go back and he must remember. The evil Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) sure does. He kidnaps Peter's children and Tink (Julia Roberts) must bring Peter back to Never Land to learn how to fly all over again with the help of the Lost Boys. Peter must also remember how to love like a child again in order to save his own. A great family alternative to the classic tale of Peter Pan. Another Spielberg film and one of the best to explores the rather/son relationship. Great sets, great characters. Kids are always outsmarting the adults or even out-fighting them. Recommended for ages 5 to 12.
- Ice Age (2002 20th Century Fox, Rated PG, Animated, Fantasy Adventure) A computer animated comedy that gives a slightly different view of evolution. Many thousands of years ago, before the first ice age, a group of unlikely animals become friends and take on a journey to return a lost baby boy to the nearest human camp. Sid the Sloth (John Leguizamo), Manny the Wooly Mammoth (Ray Romano) and Diego the Sabretooth Tiger (Dennis Leary) have set out to find warmer lands, but along the way they must return a child that is being hunted by another pack of saber tooth tigers as revenge for humans hunting their pack. Ice Age gives a great lesson on tolerance of those who are different and the nature of friendship. You would not think these three diverse animals could or would come together in this great family film. Very fun to watch. It's smart, complex and silly with cool colors and fluid animation. This very original storyline demonstrates loyalty, friendship and bravery. Great dialogue and voice talent, good humor that appeals to adults but also is suitable for kids. Love the realistic animals - great expressions and movement. There are some dangerous and scary scenes, including the mother of one young child killed though it is off-screen. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006, 20th Century Fox, Animated, Fantasy Adventure)Manny the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger, and the hapless prehistoric squirrel/rat known as Scrat return in Ice Age: The Meltdown. The trio settles in a tranquil valley with other animals but soon realize that the glaciers surrounding them are holding back millions of gallons of water and are about to break. Their only hope is to get to the other end of the valley - and fast. Along the way, they meet Ellie (Queen Latifah), the last female wooly mammoth, who thinks she is a possum. She also brings along two friends in the form of her two possum "brothers"-- Crash and Eddie, a couple of daredevil pranksters and cocky, loud-mouthed troublemakers. As Manny contemplates being one of the last wooly mammoths he tries to convince Ellie that she is in fact a wooly mammoth and not an possum but the two just can't get along. But a larger problem looms and the group must trek on for salvation and have some fun times along the way. Well animated, compelling characters, witty dialogue, non-stop action, and lots of kid appeal, moreso than adults. Good environmental message. Some crude language, potty humor and perilous violence with very nasty looking villains. Way too scary for youngest viewers. Recommended for ages 6-12.
- Iron Giant (1999, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Animated Fantasy Sci-Fi Adventure) The Iron Giant is based upon the 1968 story, Iron Man by noted British poet laureate Ted Hughes. Set in the 1950s during the height of the communist scare, the film features a wonderful cast of voices including Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr., and Vin Diesel. One day an introverted nine-year-old boy named Hogarth Hughes makes friends with a massive alien giant robot that falls to Earth from outer space. He is seemingly gentile and also suffers a case of mechanical amnesia as he can't remember who or what he once was. Hogarth becomes his one true friend. Meanwhile, a paranoid U.S. Government agent named Kent Mansley arrives in town hot on the trail of the crashed machine and determined to destroy the giant at all costs. It's up to Hogarth to protect him by hiding him at a beatnik junkyard on the outskirts of town. Will Hogarth be able to keep his new friend a secret or will the government escalate the search to dangerous proportions and provoke the Iron Giant's terrible secret? This heart-warming, feel-good, child-centered parable from Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille, The Simpsons) delivers a message about anti-violence and hope. Although the Iron Giant didn't want to fight, when provoked, he does. There are some perilous moments that would frighten younger viewers, also some mild profanity and potty humor. Recommended for ages 6-12.
- It's A Wonderful Life (1946, Liberty Films, RKO, NR, Holiday Family) A classic holiday staple produced and directed by Frank Capra and stars James Stuart as George Bailey, who spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls. But on Christmas Eve he is broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan and the scheming of the evil millionaire, Mr. Potter to take over the town. His guardian angel in-training, Clarence, falls to Earth (literally) and shows him how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. George finally realizes he means so much to so many people. A classic film with great actors and great performance - particularly Jimmy Stewart's. Capra's direction of this film is legendary. It reminds us that everyone matters - no matter how insignificant we might feel. It also shows the importance of a loving family. It does have some disturbing issues, such as suicide which makes it more appropriate for older kids and adults. Recommended for ages 7-12.
- James And The Giant Peach (1996, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG, Animated Fantasy Adventure) James And The Giant Peach is inspired by a children's book by author Roald Dahl about a four-year old boy named James Henry Trotter who has had a happy life but is suddenly orphaned as a result of a bizarre and terrible accident - his parents are killed by a rhinoceros which has escaped from the London Zoo (although rhinos are, in truth, herbivores). He is sent to live with his two mean old aunts, Spiker and Sponge, who frequently abuse him. James's dreams of happiness dream come true when a stranger appears with a bagful of magic which changes insects into real life characters and causes an ordinary peach to grow to immense proportions. After daringly saving the life of a meek spider James ventures inside the giant peach and meets a most bizarre group of friends - all giant creepy-crawlies: the Centipede, Miss Spider, the Old-Green-Grasshopper, the Silkworm, the Earthworm, Mrs. Ladybird and the Glow-worm. These unlikely new companions will prove the key to James' freedom as they help him escape the tyranny of his two aunts and plan to float to New York atop the Giant Peach! Visually wonderful with incredible animation and morphing of live-action characters into animated ones. It has a surreal feeling that only director Tim Burton could pull off that completely transcends reality. James uses his imagination to get out of scary situations. Contains scenes that quite intense and too frightening for younger kids plus James' parents die in the beginning of the film. Recommended for ages 7-12.
- Jurassic Park (1993, Universal Studios, Rated PG, Live-Action, Animimatronics, Adventure) An exciting and sometimes terrifying film from movie mastermind Steven Spielberg about a new theme park that houses real dinosaurs created from preserved dino DNA. In order to open the park, Professor John Hammond has to prove that it is safe. So he invites his two grandchildren, a paleontologist (Sam Neill), a paleobotanist (Laura Dern), a mathematician/theorist (Jeff Goldblum) and of course his investors to visit for the weekend. And anything that can go wrong does as this exciting imaginative film takes off on a wild ride. A security breakdown occurs and the dinosaurs are loose! This action/adventure film introduced a whole new genre of special effects that offered are stunningly realistic dinosaurs never before seen in film. The animitronics and digital animation brought these characters to life. The storyline is original and has been replicated often since. Profanity and the children in peril scenes make this unsuitable for younger audience members. Recommended for ages 10-18.
- Lady And The Tramp (1955, Walt Disney Pictures, Animated, Family Adventure) A winning animated feature from the masters at Disney presents Lady, a golden cocker spaniel, who meets up with a mongrel dog who calls himself the Tramp. He is obviously from the wrong side of town, but happenings at Lady's home make her decide to travel with him for a while. This turns out to be a bad move, as no dog is above the law. A charming film about puppy love that blossoms into something more between two cute dogs. After 50 years, this Disney animated classic still holds its ground. Charming story, wonderful romance between the two dog leads, and spectacular music by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee whose singing stole the show. Some mild peril shown. Recommended for ages 4-10.
- Lilo and Stitch (2002, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG, Animated Adventure) Meet Stitch, genetic experiment Number 626, that has escaped from him home planet and lands on Earth; Hawaii to be exact. Stitch was created by Dr. Jumba Jookiba (David Ogden Stiers) who is put on trial by a galactic governing body for illegally creating creatures to cause chaos and destruction. Lilo (Daveigh Chase) is a lonely little orphan Hawaiian girl, whose only other family is her 21-year-old sister Nani (Tia Carrere). Lilo discovers Stitch and decides to keep him, thinking he's a dog. The mis-adventures of Lilo and Stitch are one-of-kind as Stitch learns to love and be part of the family, while Lilo learns responsibility. But eventually the Grand Councilwoman of the Galaxy discovers where Stitch is and wants him returned. Wonderful movie with a delightful story, a happy ending and good lessons. Beautifully animated, child friendly and witty dialogue and charming characters, particularly Lilo. Love the Hawaiian backdrop! Some gunfire, some drinking, scary monsters and the death of Lilo's parents. Recommended for ages 4-8.
- Madagascar (2005, Dreamworks Animation) A hilarious animated animal tale from the folks at Dreamworks. At New York's Central Park Zoo, a lion, a zebra, a giraffe, and a hippo are best friends and stars of the show. But when one of the animals goes missing from their cage, the other three break free to look for him, only to find themselves reunited ... on a cargo ship en route to Africa. When their vessel is hijacked, however, the friends, who have all been raised in captivity, learn first-hand what life can really be like in the wild. Very funny, fast paced, and well-animated. Excellent voice cast (Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith). Wonderful quirky scenes, such as getting onto a subway, to which urban kids can totally relate. It also offers lessons about friendship and loyalty. There are so few movies that are really suitable for preschoolers and this is one that truly entertains the youngest age group. Contains some crude language, sexual innuendo, cartoon violence and potty humor. Recommended for ages 3-8.
- Mary Poppins (1964, Walt Disney Productions, Rated G, Family Musical) The movie musical based on the Mary Poppins series of books written by P. L. Travers combines a fun and engaging story, catchy songs, and live action sequences skillfully blended with animation. Filled with heart and humor, it also features an Oscar-winning Best Musical Score and Best Actress performance by Julie Andrews. Set in the 1900s in England, Mary Poppins is a kind of classic nanny with super powers who flies through the sky in with her umbrella in response to a request by the Banks children and proceeds to put things right with the aid of her rather extraordinary magical powers before flying off again. This grand musical is as wonderful today as it was when first released. With great characters and a strong storyline, Poppins maybe be technologically somewhat dated, but it doesn't matter. It is magical. The subtle lessons that prevail change the lives of the entire family and the viewer. "You have to take the good with the bad...a spoonful of sugar helps." Recommended for ages 4 - 12.
- Miracle On 34th Street (1947, FOX, NR, Family Holiday Comedy Classic) A classic holiday film that continues to delight children and adults alike. Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) is a no-nonsense divorced Macy's executive who desperately searches for a new store Santa. She hires a kind but quirky old man named Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) who insists that he's the real Santa Claus. Despite reassurances by Kringle's doctor that he is harmless, Doris remains skeptical, especially when she has cynically trained herself, and her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy. But people at the store, especially Susan, begin to notice something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism. But skeptics remain, so Kris goes to court to try and prove it. Is he the real Santa Claus? This is truly a perennial family holiday film. Charming, great cast and well produced. Miracle On 34th Street so typically reveals society and daily life in the 40s. Kids today may not realize what an anomaly a divorced working mom was at that time. Divorce was rare and shunned by society. Natalie Wood plays a brilliant six-year-old. While some scenarios seem unreal, the story is so strong that it suspends reality. It really isn't about Christmas but about the role of fantasy and imagination in our lives. Winner of an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Monsters Inc. (2001, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated, Family Adventure) Visually stunning, this animated film from Pixar takes a twist on the traditional idea of monsters - with monsters being afraid of children. In a city of monsters called Monstropolis, life centers around Monsters, Inc., the city's power company. James Sullivan and his coworker/best friend Mike Wazowski are two of the many monsters that work for the company, which generates power for the city also inhabited by monsters. Power is generated from the screams of children, which is produced by scaring them in their sleep. Chaos happens when the real world interacts with the monsters' in the form of a 2-year-old baby girl who accidentally sneaks into the monster world with Sulley one night. They name her Boo and must to send her back before anybody finds out, including two evil villains that have their own designs on Monstropolis. Features a memorable cast of voices including John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Mary Gibbs and James Coburn. Filled with humor, high energy and a running supply of gags, this film is a masterpiece of animation and a true delight. It has created monsters that even your littlest will find cute and cuddly. There is some potty humor but overall, it's safe even for your youngest. Recommended for ages 3-12.
- Mulan (1998, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated, Family Adventure) A Disney model of perfection, with visuals inspired by Chinese paintings, wonderful music and great performances. Mulan is a gorgeously animated retelling of an ancient Chinese folktale about a young Chinese maiden named Mulan. When her ailing and feeble father is called to war, Mulan disguises herself as a man and goes in his place. Mulan's ancestors know of the switch and to prevent it, they send a tiny disgraced dragon named Mushu. But he is impressed by Mulan's dedication and sense of honor and agrees to help her save China and the threat of the invading Hunns. Nominated for an Oscar and features the voices of Pat Morita, Eddie Murphy and Donny Osmond. The inspirational story harbors a lot of humor dispersed throughout thanks to Eddie Murphy's performance. Thematic topics include family unity, working hard, honor and fighting for what is important. It offers a look into traditional Chinese culture. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Nanny McPhee (2006, Universal Studios, Rated PG, Family Comedy) After the passing of his wife, prim and proper English gentleman Cedric Brown cannot seem to control his 7 children who continue to disobey their nannies and cause them to quit. Nanny McPhee (played by Emma Thompson) shows up just in time to help him, however, she looks very haggard and has warts on her face. The children are immediately turned off and try to figure out how to get rid of this nanny. But little do they know that Nanny McPhee has magic powers when she stomps her cane on the floor. She gradually begins to transform into a beautiful nanny as the children learn their lessons and become more self sufficient and caring. For Nanny McPhee when you do not want her, but need her, she will stay; When you no longer need her, but want her, she must go. Delightful portrayal by film star, Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay. Offers fun entertainment while delivering a message about how naughty children can become nice. The idea that Nanny McPhee makes a transition whenever the children behave slowly creeps up on you. Recommended for ages 5-10.
- National Velvet (1944, MGM Studios, Rated G, Family Romantic Comedy/Drama) This classic film, based on the novel by Enid Bagnold, about a boy, a girl and a horse propelled Elizabeth Taylor to stardom. Mike Taylor (played by Mickey Rooney) is a bitter and headstrong English ex-jockey angry about life following a serious accident. A notation in his father's journal leads him to wander into the quiet English country-side home of the Brown family. The youngest daughter, Velvet, has a passion for horses and when she wins the spirited steed Pie in a town lottery, Mike decides he might yet still love for horses, and a certain girl! Horse-lovers will be thrilled with this Oscar-winning film. Most importantly, it shows healthy, loving family interactions and excellent female role models. The horse and race scenes are stunning as is the cinematography of coastal England. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Night at the Museum (2006, Fox Studios, Rated PG, Family Adventure Comedy) Ben Stiller plays Larry, a single father who can't seem to keep a steady job. He ends up working the night watchman shift at the Museum of Natural History, but he is about to find out it's not a normal night shift, and this is not a normal museum. Three old guards about to retire give him the inside scoop. A golden tablet has the powers to bring to life all of the wax figures in the museum. While he fights with a crazy monkey, speaks to a figure from Easter Island, and fends off Mongols and the Roman army, he also gets the chance to speak with Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) and many other characters as they come to life. And one night as the three old guards break in the Museum to steal the magic stone, Larry organizes the historic characters to help him foil the criminals and save the museum. This is a comedy for the entire family. Delightful mix between Jumanji and Harry Potter, though not as scary as either of those. It delivers good messages about courage and self respect. There is also a sub-text, about learning history that Larry makes good use of. Robin Williams' portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt is hysterical. Ben Stiller is believable and laughable. Contains some crude language, potty humor and slapstick violence. Recommended for ages 5-10.
- Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Adventure Comedy) Paul Reubens brings his eccentric and quirky character to life in this feature film as Pee-wee Herman goes on a big adventure when his beloved shiny new bicycle is stolen by his nemesis Francis Buxton, the neighborhood rich "kid." Pee-wee goes on a wild cross-country journey after a fortune teller tells him that the bicycle is in the basement of the Alamo. Along the way, he encounters a wild cast of characters including an escaped convict, a waitress with wanderlust and a jealous boyfriend, and a mysterious female truck driver. Perfectly enchanting film from Paul Ruebens, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman. The Pee Wee Herman character is childlike and entertaining, the comedy non-stop and completely original. The line, "I know you are, but what am I," became adopted into pop culture. Large Marge could be a bit scary for youngest kids, and "burn in hell" is the message in a rock video. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Peter Pan (1953 Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Fantasy Adventure) The classic story about a boy who didn't want to grow up. Audiences are introduced to Peter Pan when he flies through nursery window of Wendy, Michael and Peter. With the help of his fairy friend Tinkerbell, the four fly to an enchanted island called Never Land, where the infamous Captain Hook constantly seeks to defeat Peter Pan and his band of Lost Boys. Definitely a family favorite. Filled with magic, "Neverland" offers the dream and consequences of never growing up - as well as the adventure. The idea that you can fly is every kid's dream. However, the stereotyping of Native Americans in Neverland are problems in today's culture where the term "redskins" and injuns" are considered disrespectful and the portrayal of the chief as the leader of the savages, doubly so. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Pinocchio (1940, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Fantasy Adventure) A classic Disney animated tale of a lonely inventor named Gepetto who longs for a son. He creates a wooden puppet named Pinocchio that is brought to life by a blue fairy, who tells him he can become a real boy if he proves himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish." The fairy assigns Jiminy Cricket to be Pinocchio's "conscience" and keep him out of trouble, but Pinocchio seems to do be mischievous at every turn. This Disney classic is one of those animated films that has survived the test of time. Wonderfully animated with great music (When You Wish Upon A Star), and fabulous characters. The remarkable Jiminy Cricket, the kindly Gepetto and the charming Pinocchio who only wants to be a real boy. Good messages about lying, consequences and greed. There are some scenes of boys smoking cigars and drinking beer. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG-13, Action Adventure) The trio returns in the second film as Captain Jack Sparrow (Johhny Depp) tries to avoid a debt that has to be repaid in blood to the dreaded Davy Jones, the keeper of souls lost in the ocean. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) accompany him on his latest adventure to avoid paying the debt, which he can only do if he can claim the legendary Dead Man's Chest. A great and thrilling sequel that will keep you on the edge of your seat with panache and swashbuckling style. It's just scary enough to keep your youngest away but it's silly enough to make the bravo laughable. Johnny Depp plays the perfect Captain Jack Sparrow and Keira Knightly a fabulous Elizabeth. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG-13, Action Adventure) This movie really put Johnny Depp in front of the public in a profound way and he does a superb job as the cunning Captain Jack Sparrow in this Disney rendition based on the popular theme park ride "Pirates of the Caribbean." His performance alone makes this movie worth watching as he teams up with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) to rescue the kidnapped Elizabeth (Keira Knightly) who is taken by Captain Barbosa, captain of the ship, The Black Pearl; the same ship that Captain Jack Sparrow used to command. Elizabeth's fate lies in the hands of Captain Jack and Will as they must set aside their rivalry to come together to rescue her. Keira Knightly and Orlando Bloom are also well cast. There is more violence than you would expect for a PG-13 movie and visions of cleavage abound. Add to that some sexual innuendo, a few prostitutes and drinking and we would recommend it best for ages 10-14.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981, Paramount, Rated PG, Adventure) This edge-of-your-seat adventure stars Harrison Ford as a swashbuckling archeologist and was directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas. The year is 1936. Renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, Dr. Indiana Jones, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the Ark of the Covenant, which is believed to still hold the ten commandments. Jones has to venture to an array of exotic locales such as Nepal and Egypt to find this it. And his enemy Renee Belloq and a band of evil Nazis are on his tail. Indy narrowly survives a series of fights, chases, and traps, to keep the full power of the Ark from falling into diabolical hands. A blockbuster upon release, Raiders Of The Lost Ark won four Oscars and set off an entire movie franchise. It is the quintessential action/adventure flick and grabs you from the opening scene. Its non-stop action is something many others have tried to imitate but few even come close. You can't get much faster. Filmed in locations all around the world - from Tibet to Egypt, it offers a veritable geography and history lesson. Add to that the clever and humorous script and the deadpan delivery and you've got a very funny action adventure film. Lots of non-graphic violence, profanity, sexual situations, many scary scenes, some racial stereotyping. Recommended for ages 12-18.
- Ratatouille (2007, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) Another winning animated adventure from Pixar, written and directed by Brad Bird, it tells the tale of Remy, a young rat from the French countryside with a passion whose fine cuisine reins supreme. By happenstance, Remy ends up in Paris cooking at a famous restaurant whose head chef he has admired for years. The preposterous idea that a rat has the capability to concoct epicurean dishes and wins raves from Parisian food snobs may be farfetched but it works. This delightful tale expresses the idea that true art is beyond prejudice, and sustains us. What better message could you want from a family film? Recommended for ages 3 and up.
- Robots (2005, Fox Studios, Rated PG, Animated, Adventure) Rodney Copperbottom is a young robot who likes to repair other older models of robots sets off on his way to find Mr. Big Weld, the greatest robot inventor. What he finds is a greedy newer model that has taken the place of Mr. Big Weld and plans on ‘recycling' all of the older models of robots and replacing them with newer, high-tech ones. Rodney and his friends are determined to find Mr. Big Weld and return him to his former respected position. This rousing animated adventure teaches lessons about the value of friends and what is really important in life. A classic underdog story with great performances by Robin Williams, Jennifer Coolidge and Mel Brooks. The animation is what really steals the show. Some humor is more geared more for adults than kids but it doesn't detract from the overall story. Contains some potty humor (the robots have the ability to fart), crude language and some cartoon violence. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Seabiscuit (2003, Universal Studios, Rated PG-13) The incredible true story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose victories lifted the spirits of a nation suffering through hard times. The film stars Jeff Bridges and is narrated by historian David McCullough which adds a "documentary" feel and enhances the drama of the story. Seabiscuit is an endearing story of friendship and devotion and succeeds in mending the main characters' fractured lives, as it interweaves the interactions between horse, jockey, trainer and owner and their adoring fans. The film accurately portrays the real people and events of those troubled times and how Seabiscuit "fixed us, every one of us." Tobey Maguire brought together a stellar cast to bring this true story to the screen. Great performances, thrilling race scenes, and a script that's about heart. The quartet of underdogs give it all they've got, overcoming adversity to become champions. We cheer along with them because it restores our faith in humanity. Contains some mild profanity, some mils violence and sexual situations. Recommended for ages 12- 18.
- Shark Tale (2004, Dreamworks, Rated PG, Animated, Adventure) Oscar is just a regular fish who works at the ‘Whalewash' just like his father. Luck has it that he comes across a shark that has been hit by an anchor and killed. He decides to take advantage of the situation and tell everyone that he killed the shark, becoming rich and famous overnight. Along the way he makes friends with the dead shark's brother, Lenny, who is a vegetarian and has been shunned from his shark family for not eating fish. Join these two as their adventure continues through comedy, tragedy and good silliness. A predictable storyline but good messages about love, family and honesty. Great voice cast that consists of Will Smith As Oscar, Renee Zellwegger as Angie, Martin Scorsese as Sykes, Jack Black as Lenny and Robert de Niro as Don Lino. The animation makes this film. It's super! Great expressions made by the fishes. One character dies which can be upsetting for kids under 5. Recommended for ages 5-10.
- Shrek (2001, Dreamworks Animation, Rated PG, Animated Fantasy Adventure) Such an incredible film with delightful humor and excellent computer animation. Traditional fairy tales are satirized, gender stereotypes are pulverized, and all result in a happy surprise ending. The storyline emphasizes loving people for who they really are. It contains some minor naughtiness, such as the potty humor, which makes kids uproariously laugh and adults cringe. The witty humor and loveable characters, especially Eddie Murphy's incessantly talking and singing donkey, are what make you want to watch this again and again. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
- Shrek 2 (2004, Dreamworks Animation, Rated PG, Animated Fantasy Adventure) The funny and loveable ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) returns in this great family comedy. After he and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are married, it's time to meet the in-laws, which becomes an adventure in itself. Shrek and his trusty steed, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) are a great duo in this sequel as they face the vain Prince Charming, and meet the ever clever Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas). Fall in love with the entire cast all over again and meet new characters as well as Shrek 2 is not to be missed! Most sequels are disappointments. This one is even better than the first. With a great script, nonstop humor, wonderful voice talent this film belongs in every child's library. The animation is wonderful; the characters feel real. Mostly, you'll find yourself belly-laughing throughout. It does have some comic violence, potty humor and some mild profanity. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Shrek The Third (2007, Dreamworks, Rated PG, Animated Fantasy Adventure Comedy) Shrek (Mike Myers) is back in action, when the King of Far Far Away (John Cleese) dies and he is supposed to be the successor, but he also discovers that Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is with child. However, Shrek doesn't really want to be a monarch, or a father, so he sets out with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find the kingdom's next heir - Arthur (Justin Timberlake). While he is away, Prince Charming is up to no good as always. He rallies all of the villains and outcast creatures to try to take over the Kingdom of Far Far Away. Will Shrek return in time? Or will the Kingdom of Far Far Away be lost in the hands of villains? The animation is better than ever and always fun to watch. Shrek is a love. Overall, it's very funny but doesn't surprise us as much as the original. The new voices and characters add pizzazz, particularly casting Larry King and Regis as the ugly step-sisters. But, on the downside, the fairy tale high schoolers appear to be doing drugs, alcohol and smoking and it contains some cartoon violence, crude humor and suggestive content. Recommended for ages 7-12.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Fantasy Adventure) The first, and most famous and most memorable animated feature from the Disney Studios, Snow White is a simple story based on the European fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a beautiful and good-hearted princess saved from the evil of her wicked step-mother, the Queen, by a band of seven adorable dwarfs. The film has since become an incomparable screen classic. Disney's first animated feature truly holds its place as the crown jewel that reigns supreme in the category of animation. It set the stage for the string of animated features that followed, though always shone through as the "best of the best." Based on the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale, with a great music score ("Whistle While You Work," "Some Day My Prince Will Come," "Heigh-ho! Heigh-ho") and dwarfs that steal the show. Great performances by Adriana Caselotti as the voice of Snow White and Harry Stockwell as the Prince and Lucille La Verne as the Queen set a new standard in 1937 for family entertainment. Contains some scary scenes and a very un-politically correct female. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- Star Wars - Episode I, The Phantom Menace (1999, 20th Century Fox, Rated PG, Science Fiction Advneture) The "first" Star Wars film, written and directed by George Lucas as a prequel to the original Star Wars which was released in 1977. This First Episode follows the adolecence of Anakin Skywalker, who is destined to become Darth Vader. The friendship of Obi-wan Kenobi, Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn are also central aspects. And the beginning of the rise to power of Senator Palpatine to become Emperor and master of the Dark Side. The Phamtom Menace is a visual feast for the eyes with lavish sets, innovative special effects and a menagie of aliens and creatures, including an especially wicked new villan named Darth Maul. Great visuals, and special effects, as the fourth in the series, the characters are familiar and welcome. Natalie Portman and Pernilla August's performances are outstanding. Excellent soundtrack. There is a fair amount of fantasy violence but nothing graphic. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Star Wars - Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983, 20th Century Fox, Rated PG, Science Fiction Adventure) The third of George Lucas' original trilogy of Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi sees Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) rescuing Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. The Rebel Alliance attempts to destroy a second even more massive Death Star, as the Rebels defeat the Empire on the moon of Endor, aided by the furry and cute but corageous Ewoks. But Luke Skywalker still faces the ultimate test as he tries to bring his father back from the Dark Side of the Force. Some of the new characters we meet here such as Jabba the Hutt and the adorable Ewoks make this unforgettable. Filled with non-stop action and incredible special effects, it is fun, fantastical, and deserves a place in our family sci-fi library. Contains non-graphic violence, some sexual situations, and one character smoking from a hooka. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- Stuart Little (1999, Sony/Columbia, Rated PG, Live-Action, Animated, Action Adventure) Great things really do come in small packages as audiences will delight when they meet Stuart (Micheal J. Fox). Stuart is a mouse who is adopted by a human family, the Littles (Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Jonathan Lipnicki) But being a mouse isn't so easy as he finds out when he's chased relentlessly by the household cat, Snowball. Many adventures await Stuart, but through determination, love and kindness he shows the Littles just how big of a heart he has. Great family movie though it drifts dramatically from the original book but still tells a good story. The animation is so well done, you start to believe that Stuart is real. Great action scenes; outstanding cast. Humor appeals to both kids and adults. It does have some mild profanity and scenes of peril. Recommended for ages 2-5.
- Superman, The Movie (1978, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Action Adventure) Actor Christopher Reeve was first propelled to stardom in his role as the Man of Steel based on the popular comic series. The movie begins on planet Krypton, which is about to be destroyed by an exploding sun, where Superman's father Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando) sends him off to Earth while he is still a baby. The boy crash lands in Smallville, a small Midwest farming town where he is found by the kind Jonathan Kent and wife Martha Kent and raised as their own son, now named Clark. Fifteen years later he receives a psychic 'call', and discovers it is coming from a glowing green crystal in the remains of his ship hidden in the barn. Now he discovers his powers and destiny. While appearing to the world as a bumbling and nerdy newspaper reporter Superman fights evil while clad in the classic red and blue costume bearing the S-shaped crest of the House Of El, with the mission of protecting his newly adopted home planet. He won't have to wait long as criminal mastermind Lex Luther embarks on a plan to send a nuclear missiles flying off course and causing a gigantic earthquake that threatens to destroy California. An icon of American pop culture, Superman is one of our imaginary childhood heroes. He's an old-fashioned hero with values like truth and honesty. Christopher Reeve's performance made Superman real for many of us. The romance with Lois Lane, a classic of our time. There are some intense acts of violence and some mild profanity that make this unsuitable for youngest viewers. Recommended for ages 6-12.
- The Aristocats (1970, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) Set in Paris in 1910, the adventure follows a family of aristocratic felines that the victims of a plot by their owner's butler to cheat them out of a huge inheritance. Kidnapped and stranded far from home in the French countryside, they meet a charismatic alley cat who, with the help of other animal accomplices, seeks to foil the dastardly butler's plan. Classic family film with cute characters, sad portions and a happy ending. Outstanding animation, musical score and colorful characters keep the story swinging and full of life. Great voice cast of Eva Gabor, Phil Harris, Sterling Holloway and Scatman Crothers. Good triumphs over evil. Differences are set aside to help each other. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG, Fantasy Adventure) Based on the book by C.S. Lewis's, this riveting adventure is very true to the original story, really bringing Narnia to life. Join four siblings named Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan as they stumble upon a magical wardrobe that takes them to another time and place - the fantastic world of Narnia - where they encounter many wonderful and magical beings that are being dominated by a never ending winter caused by a spell of the evil White Witch. The children are guided by the King Lion, Aslan, to restore Narnia back to its warm and peaceful original state. Wonderful musical score, cinematography, great special effects, particularly the computer generated creatures - the centaurs, fauns, Cyclops, wolves and foxes. The King Lion is awesome; he feels almost human. The four kids are terrific as is Tilda Swinton as the White Witch and Lion Neelson's voice talent as the Lion. The battle scenes are very intense and violent. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- The Goonies (1985 Warner Bros., Rated PG, Adventure Comedy) A group of misfit siblings and friends stuck in a small town find a map to hidden treasure, during a time when their financially strapped families are being forced out by big land developers. Experience the quest together and watch out for the Italian brothers, and the booby traps. Try to find One Eyed Willie in an underground cave of mazes and secret ocean passage. The adventures continue as the friends must pull together in order to stay alive and stay in their town. But "Goonies never say die!" Hands down favorite for many adults, Goonies is a classic 80s child / adventure film bordering on being a cult classic. With great characters, great music and non-stop action, it has a scruffy kind of feel that makes kids seem like kids. There is some mild profanity and some harassment by and for kids. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- The Incredibles (2004, Walt Disney Studios, Rated PG, Animated Adventure) Meet the Incredibles, Bob and Helen who used to be famous superheroes until they were forced to retire and live secretly among the ‘regular' people. Life was getting ordinary, kids, work, when Bob is called out again to perform superhero work. But now he cannot do it alone, he will need the help of his family; wife, teenage son and daughter, and infant son. Enjoy them each unleash their special powers and come together as the Incredibles fight to save the world. Another wonderful movie from Pixar under the direction of Brad Bird (Iron Giant, Ratatouille). Great characters, excellent voice talent, and an outstanding storyline bring home a winner for both kids and adults. Favorite character - Dash. References to the McCarthyism of the 50s isn't lost on kids if adults take time to discuss it with them afterwards. Some intense perilous scenes and cartoon violence. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- The Jungle Book (1967, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) An endearing animated adventure inspired by Rudyard Kipling's famous "Mowgli" story, a feral man-cub who grows up deep in the jungle with animals as friends. The wise panther Bagheera knows the boy must go back to his own kind to escape ruthless tiger Shere Khan. During his journey, Mowgli encounters an unforgettable menagerie of friends and foes including mad King Louie of the Apes, the hypnotic snake Kaa and the loveable, happy-go-lucky bear Baloo, who teaches Mowgli "The Bare Necessities" of life and the true meaning of friendship. It drifts from the book, thankfully as it's a rather dark tale. Offers instead the brilliant colors that cel animation can do, which far surpasses CGI animation. With a wonderful Oscar nominated musical score, it is perhaps most famous for having been the last animated film that Walt was personally involved in. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- The Lion King (1994, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) A young lion prince named Simba is born in Africa, making his uncle Scar the second in line to the throne. Scar is angry and deviously plots with the hyenas to kill the King and Prince Simba, and make himself the new ruler of the animal kingdom. The King is killed but Simba is led to believe by Scar that it was his fault. Ashamed and sad he flees the kingdom in shame. Then after years of exile he is persuaded to return home to overthrow Scar and rightfully claim the kingdom as his own birthright and complete the "Circle of Life." This rousing animated musical features memorable songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, won two Academy Awards and features a memorable cast including Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, and Jeremy Irons. Wonderfully animated, it tells an original story, slightly reminiscent of Shakespeare's Hamlet, about the circle of life of a lion, from birth to manhood and delivers valuable life lessons about things like honor and responsibility. It appeals to adults as well as children though it does have some scary scenes, including the death of a parent and bloody battles that make it unsuitable for your youngest. Recommended for ages 7-12.
- The Little Mermaid (1989, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) Inspired by the classic children's story by Hans Christian Andersen, Ariel, a beautiful mermaid and the youngest daughter of King Triton, is dissatisfied with life under the sea. She longs to be with the humans above the surface, and is often caught in arguments with her father over those "barbaric fish-eaters." Undaunted she journeys with her faithful best friend Flounder, to meet Ursula, the Sea Witch, to strike a deal that will make her wish come true. But Ursula has bigger plans for this naïve mermaid and her father. Winner of two Academy Awards, this beautifully animated film showed us a magical underwater world and a new type of female role model. Ariel is a contemporary young woman who made a radical departure from the female characters of yesteryear. We love that she is smart, sometimes rebellious, and clever. With an incredible musical score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman and a great voice cast, this film belongs in every young girl's library. There is some mild violence and scary scenes and some mild profanity. Recommended for ages 4-12.
- The Muppet Movie (1979, Henson, Rated G, Puppet/Live-Action Adventure) The Muppet Movie is the first of a series of live-action musical feature films starring Jim Henson's Muppets. The film is a film-within-a-film as Kermit the Frog is persuaded by agent, Dom DeLuise to pursue a career in Hollywood. Along the way, he also picks up Fozzie Bear and a variety of misadventures occur which introduce them to a variety of eccentric characters, played by notable human guest stars, and other Muppets including Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker and a colorful assortment of other Muppets. Kermit must also elude the grasp of a frog-leg restaurant magnate. This was the first feature Muppet movie which brought Henson's lovable characters ton the big screen. Its plot is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, with Kermit leading the rest of the Muppets on the road to Hollywood. Filled with goofy humor and puns that appeal to kids, it's also the first time we see Muppets full-length, not just from the waist up. The song, "The Rainbow Connection" was nominated for an Oscar. Lots of slapstick violence and physical comedy. Recommended for ages 4-8.
- The Neverending Story (1984, Warner Bros., Rated PG, Fantasy-Adventure) Bastian, a young shy boy, borrows a book called The Neverending Story and finds himself very much part of the adventure. Join him as he tries to help this Fantasy land survive the evil ‘Nothing' while he encounters a warrior boy named, Attreyu, and becomes friends with an amazing assortment of creatures including racing snails and flying creatures. Bastian must learn how to save his new companions while being attacked by the vicious ‘Nothing'. Can he do it? Will the Neverending Story come to an end?
- The Polar Express (2004, Warner Bros., Rated G, Animated, Holiday Fantasy Adventure) Based on the award-winning holiday children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, when a young boy (Tom Hanks) begins to doubt whether or not Santa is real, he embarks on an amazing journey to the North Pole on the mighty Polar Express train. Tom Hanks is perfect in his multitude of roles. As the conductor he helps lead the children into self-discovery; as the doubting boy, he is the one who receives the first gift of Christmas; as the hobo, his ability to traverse the train is mind-boddling A wonderful family film for the holidays. As a long-time fan of Van Allsburg's book, I was thrilled by this adaptation. From the animatronic animation which makes the characters so lifelike wild train ride that sometimes feels like a rollercoaster, it doesn't stop. The dancing waiters serving hot chocolate, the acrobatic elves, and the North Pole factory all move at breathtaking speed. Santa is all business, yet, he stops to deliver a message to the boy - to always believe. If you have a chance, see this film in IMAX in 3D! It's even more awesome! Other than the treacherous train ride, this is as wholesome as it gets. Recommended for ages 5 to 12.
- The Prince of Egypt (1998, Dreamworks Animation, Rated PG, Animated Musical Adventure) A historical epic from Dreamworks Animation set in ancient Egypt and loosely based on the Biblical story of the Book of Exodus. Two brothers named Moses (Val Kilmer) and Ramses (Ralph Fiennes), one born of royal blood, and one an adopted orphan with a secret past, who grow up the best of friends amdist royal splendor. They share a strong bond of free-spirited youth mixed with good-natured but deep rooted rivalry. But the truth will ultimately set them at fierce odds, as one becomes the ruler of the most powerful empire on earth, and the other the chosen leader of his enslaved people! Their final confrontation will alter the course of human history. Features a supurb voice cast including Patrick Stewart, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helen Mirren, Sandra Bullock and Danny Glover. The film also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "When You Believe," performed by Witney Houston and Mariah Carey. Wonderful retelling of the Moses story with excellent animation and visual effects. It blends fact with fiction in telling the story of Moses, including his discovery in the bull-rushes, adoption by the Pharaoh and leading the Hebrews out of Egypt. Excellent voice talent, exciting action and good character development. Some violence, but relevant to the story. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- The Princess Bride (1987 Fox, Rated PG, Fantasy Adventure) A young boy (Fred Savage) stays home sick from school and is told a truly amazing tale by his grandfather. Meet Buttercup, a maiden who longs for Carey Elwes a poor farm boy that is her one true love. He is captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts and pronounced dead, which leaves her mourning. Her beauty is noticed by the king and he is determined to wed her. Now as Princess Buttercup is of value, she is kidnapped, and re-kidnapped. Experience the zany action that features sandpits, R.O.U.S.'s, and a crazy medicine man (Billy Crystal). A jewel to watch, Rob Reiner's humorous parody on fairy tales offers an intelligent princess whose witty retorts are a welcome relief. It combines so many levels of character and storylines. With a satirical edge that appeals to adults, it works as a beautiful fantasy film that can be watched over and over with some new nugget unfolding with every viewing. Charming sets, period costumes, loveable characters, great performances and seamless editing. Employs a variety of literary devices and an expansive vocabulary. Makes it okay to love your grandparent and also be a boy who loves a good fairytale. Love Billy Crystal's performance. Recommended for ages 7-18.
- The Princess Diaries (2001, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Family Romantic Comedy) Based upon a best-selling series of novels by Meg Cabot, The Princess Diaries stars Anne Hathaway as 15-year-old Mia Thermopolis, a bubbly teenager who discovers that she is the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Genovia, ruled by her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi, (Julie Andrews). Mia must make a choice between continuing the comfortable and trendy life of a San Francisco teen or stepping up to the responsibilities of the throne. While Mia makes up her mind, she's pressed into taking princess lessons from her grandmother transforming her from a social misfit into a lady fit for the throne. What these two discover about each other is that blood and family are more important than mere bloodlines and titles. Sweet and fun with a predictable storyline. But girls in particular will love the fantasy story. Great performances by Hathaway and Andrews and great direction. No sex, violence or profanity - instead, it's charming and original with good humor. Recommended for ages 4-15.
- The Sandlot (1993, 20th Century Fox, Rated PG, Adventure) Young Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) just moved to the neighborhood over the summer and to help him fit in, the local neighborhood baseball star, Benjamin Rodriguez, takes him under his wing and shows him how to play ball. Smalls and the rest of the team become good friends and have some great times that summer - on the field, at the pool and tree-house sleepovers to name a few. One day Smalls swipes his stepfather's autographed Babe Ruth baseball. He's still learning about baseball and does not realize the value of that particular ball. The ball is hit over the fence where a "Beast" of a dog lies. Now the gang must come together and face the truth about the consequences of swiping the ball. A great nostalgic movie showing the bonds of friendship and the value of honesty. Gawky young boys 40 some years ago deal with the realities of their time. We experience their feelings, their hopes and their dreams. We watch them work out their problems and develop maturity. There are some close-ups of a young girl's body parts that some may find objectionable but are rather mild. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- The Secret Garden (1993, Warner Bros, Rated G, Family Fantasy Live-Action)Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett about a young girl named Mary Lennox who is sent to live with her distant uncle in England after an earthquake kills her parents in her prior home in India. Her uncle is very secluded, and still mourning the death of his wife 10 years prior, so Mary is left to herself for the most part. But magic is just around the corner and she finds the key to her aunt's garden that was locked when she died. She also finds that she has a cousin named Colin who believes he has an incurable disease, bedridden and destined to die. Mary tries to lift his spirits and their friendship slowly grows. Once Mary and another new friend, a local lad named Dickon, bring the garden back to life they decide Colin must see it, and it's a decision that will change all their lives. Take a classic book and make a classic film. This is a film the entire family will enjoy. It's beautifully shot, well-directed, and has great music and wonderful actors. It‘s like theatrical poetry in motion. The story of the orphaned, spoiled girl who befriends the house-bound boy and both become the better for it is charmingly told. The garden is first a refuge and then a healer, ultimately for all three, the girl, the boy and the uncle. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- The Sound of Music (1965, Fox, Rated G, Family Musical) This film is one of the greatest screen musicals ever produced. A huge hit when it was first released, winner of five Academy Awards, it still resonates with kids today though it might not be the thing for rambunctious young boys. Based on the true story of the von Trapp family in pre-Hitler Austria, it stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer with a wonderful score by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Includes many outstanding tunes starting with the title song, "The Sound of Music," and continues throughout the entire film. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
- The Wizard of Oz (1939, Warner, Rated G, Family Musical Fantasy) is a delight to watch this timeless classic with great music and great messages about courage, love, brains, family, adventure and going home. As appealing today as when the film was first released in 1939. The Wicked Witch is still scary, Judy is still charming, and The Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion still capture our hearts. Of course, Judy Garland's singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" remains firmly imbedded in the memory of every adult viewer and will become so for children new to the film. The flying monkeys can be a bit too scary for younger kids. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
- Toy Story (1995, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Fantasy Adventure) Toy Story is a unique and innovative computer animated feature from Pixar Animation Studios and directed by John Lasseter. It tells the story of a little boy named Andy and more specifically what his toys do when he isn't with them. Andy's favorite toy is a cowboy named Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) and the doll believes he has it made, until Andy receives a flashy new friend for his birthday - Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). With a fancy uniform and lots of gadgets, Buzz is now Andy's favorite, leaving Woody dejected and jealous. He sets out to get rid of Buzz but the two rivals find they'll have to cooperate when unknowingly they are left behind at a pizza restaurant. Now they must work together to not only get home but also avoid the terror of Andy's neighbor, the toy smashing Sid Phillips. The first feature-length animated film from Pixar firmly established as a beloved classic due to the brilliant computer animation and the clever storyline. The intrigue of the toy characters captures you from the first frame. The clever dialogue between the toys is witty and charming. Kids can readily relate to the bully, Sid who lives next door. The voice talent is outstanding. Nostalgic in many ways, from the toys themselves to the Norman Rockwell - type family. There are some frightening scenes with Sid who blows up toys and you wonder where his parents are his antics. Recommended for ages 6-12.
- Toy Story 2 (1999, Walt Disney Studios, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) Buzz (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) are back in action in this adventurous sequel. While Andy is at summer camp, Woody gets stolen by a greedy toy collector and it's up to Buzz and friends to get him back. Woody doesn't know how valuable he really is; but he gets a chance to meet his old gang; Jessie the Cowgirl (Joan Cusack), Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsy Grammer) and Bullseye the Horse. He and the gang are about to be sold to a collector in Japan, but will Buzz and his friends make it in time to save them? A story about what your toys do when you're not there - enchanting, full of adventure, great special effects, imaginative. Addresses what real friendship is. Pokes fun at stereotypes. Jessie is a strong female role model. It's good for kids to imagine what their toys might think about them. The animation is even better than its predecessor, "Toy Story" which really put Pixar on the map! Wonderful voice talent. Great song, "You've Got a Friend in Me" and great philosophy from Woody. Recommended for ages 2 -18.
- Wallace & Gromit in The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit (2005, Dreamworks Animation, Rated G, Animated Family Adventure) Wallace (voice of Peter Sallis) and Gromit are an enterprising human/canine duo with their humane pest-control outfit, "Anti-Pesto." With only days to go before the annual Giant Vegetable Competition, business is booming due to an infestation of rabbits. But Wallace and Gromit discover that running a "humane" pest control company has its drawbacks as their West Wallaby Street home fills to the brim with captive rabbits. Suddenly, a huge, mysterious, vegetable-ravaging "beast" begins attacking the town's sacred vegetable plots during the night, and the competition hostess, Lady Tottington, commissions Anti-Pesto to catch it. Wallace is smitten with her and eagerly takes on the task. But lying in wait is Lady Tottington's snobby suitor, Victor Quartermaine, who'd rather simply shoot the beast and secure the position of local hero-not to mention Lady Tottingon's hand in marriage. Wallace and Gromit clearly have their work laid out for them! Funny and colorful. New and old Wallace & Gromit fans alike will love this full-length film. Nick Park and Aardman Animation really deliver - great claymation that is simply mind-boggling, wonderful inventions, great cast, charming characters and countless puns and jokes that both kids and adults can enjoy. It's also loaded with action, adventure and suspense. There are some slight sexual innuendos but they certainly go over most kids' heads. Recommended for ages 5-12.
- Whale Rider (2002, Rated PG-13, Sony/Columbia, Family Drama) Set in New Zealand, when the heir to the leadership of a small Maori town dies during birth, his twin sister who survived is shunned by the town and her family. But Pai, the twin sister, does not let this discourage her as she constantly challenges her family to trust in her heart and her wisdom. Many traditions are broken by her as she continues to rise above the whispers of her fellow people. Pai eventually finds the grace to show them how to embrace her and discover what her and their destiny is. This fabulous family film shows how sometimes that it's not only okay to break tradition, sometimes it's also best. Based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, it offers a contemporary story about love, rejection and believing in yourself. We get a brief glimpse into the indigenous Maori culture in an authentic, not romanticized way. Scenes of the mother and baby dying in childbirth, references to an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and smoking and drinking make this unsuitable for youngest viewers. Recommended for ages 8-12.
- 100. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, Paramount Pictures, Rated G, Fantasy Musical Comedy) The original remains a winner, hands down. Visually stunning, somewhat weird and completely wonderful, this film can be appreciated on so many levels. The greed theme is coupled with the idea that if you work hard and are honest you will be respected. Full of magic that appeals to the entire family, it's filled with delightful music, lots of singing and fabulous scenes of the candy factory with wild color schemes, inventions and secret rooms. Best of all is Mr. Wonka, played by Gene Wilder, whose genius makes this one of the favorite kid films of all time. Recommended for ages 5 and up.
(M21 Entertainment - filmfestivals.com)
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