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Best Family Movies of All Time


Sitting down to a good movie the whole family enjoys is a special treat.  In compiling this list of the 10 Best Family Movies of All Time, both live action and animated movies were considered. The main criteria were films that children love and parents enjoy, even after multiple showings.

The Iron Giant  – 1999 Rated PG for fantasy action and mild language. Running Time: 86 minutes Review

The Iron Giant

This charming cartoon appeals to both boys and girls. Set in the 1950’s, kids experience what life used to be like 60 years ago.   The relationship developed by the little boy and the giant alien robot is truly touching.  The conflict arises when the military decides the robot is a threat to national security.  The ending is sad but realistic, teaching what sacrificial love means.  I highly recommend it – but be forewarned, your children may cry.

Matilda – 1996 Rated PG for elements of exaggerated meanness and ridicule, and some mild language. Running Time: 100 Minutes Review

This entertaining film is a family favorite.  Matilda is a sweet and extremely intelligent girl who happens to have magical abilities.  This comedic film, starring Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, has moments you won’t forget including the “cake punishment” scene.  With terrible parents and a scary principal, Matilda has a lot going against her.  Yet, this young girl still manages to make friends and find someone who loves her. This film is a real original with a few uncomfortable (but memorable) scenes, and a feel-good ending.

My Neighbor Totoro – 1988 Rated G. Running time: 86 minutes Review

My Neighbor Totoro

This enchanting cartoon created by Hayao Miyazaki, captures the wonder and joy of young children.  It is reminiscent of the child-like joy found in Bambi, but in a Japanese setting.  Two young girls move to the country with their father to be near to their ailing mother.  The girls have playful adventures with mysterious creatures called totoros. Magical and fantastic, this little charmer will capture your kids’ attention. (I also recommend several of Miyazaki’s other films including: Kiki’s Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky.)  

The Princess Bride – 1987 Rated PG for adventure violence, brief language, and mild sexual themes. Running time: 98 minutes Review 

Funny! This movie captures the best of the classic fairy tale.  The movie begins with a grandfather reading the story, The Princess Bride, to his ill grandson.  You are carried along with them as you follow the story of Buttercup and her childhood love, the farm boy Wesley.  Along the way you meet characters like a rhyming giant, a genius kidnapper, and rodents of unusual size.  This is an amusing film with great talent including: Cary Elwes, Billy Crystal, and Carol Kane.  Parents have been known to watch this show for their own enjoyment.

Spy Kids – 2001 Rated PG for action sequences and brief language. Running time: 88 minutes Review 

Spy Kids

What makes this movie stand out are the family relationships.  This is a tight-knit family, and it shines throughout the film. The two siblings find out that their parents are spies, and are in need of help.  This brother/sister team come to the rescue, and find strengths they never knew they had.  This humorous adventure has all the elements of a good spy movie, which makes it a real kid pleaser.

The Wizard of Oz – 1939 Rated G. Running time: 101 minutes Review

This classic is a required childhood rite of passage. Who couldn’t use a little more heart, brain, and courage?  Dorothy helps her new friends on a journey to find those qualities, and a way to return home.  By the end, these 4 friends realize they already had what they were searching for. The flying monkeys have been known to give children nightmares, but the tornado is amazing despite the fact the movie was made 70 years ago. Relive your childhood as you share this experience with your children.

Finding Nemo – 2003 Rated G. Running time: 100 minutes Review

This is a sweet animated film about a father fish trying to find his son. No one can forget Dory, the fish with short-term memory loss or Crush, the easy going sea turtle. A young fish is taken from his ocean home and put into a dentist’s fish tank.  The story revolves around his father trying to rescue him, and the fish in the fish tank attempting to help the son escape back to the ocean. Although there are many excellent computer animated movies, this one is arguably the best with Shrek and Up close behind. 

Fly Away Home –  1996 Rated PG for an opening accident scene and some mild language. Running Time: 107 minutes Review 

Fly Away Home

This lovely film about a young girl raising motherless geese is a heart warmer.  The 13 year old must move to Canada to live with her estranged father after her mother dies.  She is extremely unhappy until she finds goslings that have also lost their mother.  She raises them to adulthood, but must help them fly south for the winter.  Her inventor father comes up with a way to help her accomplish that. This movie is so well acted, it rings true.

Home Alone – 1990 Rated PG for comic violence, some disturbing images, crude humor, and brief language. Running Time:103 minutes Review

My children love this movie, and what kid wouldn’t?  Every child dreams about what it would be like to live on your own.  The main character finds himself in this very position when his parents leave on a vacation and accidently forget him.  He rules over the house, and keeps the bad guys away with painfully funny slapstick humor.  It doesn’t matter how many times you see it, you cringe and smile when the robbers try to enter his home.

Elf – 2003 Rated PG for some mild rude humor and language. Running time: 97 minutes Review

Elf is a fun film any time of year

This is the kind of movie you can watch any time of the year even though it is technically a Christmas movie.  Will Ferrell is superb in this film as the happy, go lucky “man-elf” looking for his father in New York City.  It turns out that his father is a workaholic business man who has no time for him.  The elf finds himself in many outrageous situations including the “pre-chewed gum” scene that will make you gag and laugh at the same time.  This is a great film to relive the innocence of childhood.