5 The Parent Trap
Let’s get one thing straight, we’re talking about the 1961 version starring Hayley Mills, not the 1998 version with a young and fully dressed Lindsey Lohan. It’s the story of identical twins (both played by Hayley Mills) who are separated as babies when their parents’ divorce. When they accidentally discover each other’s existence, they hatch a plot to switch places and eventually to bring their parents back together. The movie’s slower pace and ideas about the roles of each sex provide a bit of nostalgia, if you like that kind of thing and definitely make for a sweet and relaxing evening of family entertainment.
4 Mary Poppins
Surprisingly, this is the only movie on the top five list that was actually based on a beloved classic kids book. A tough magical nanny comes and transforms the lives of a family that included two precocious but unconfident kids, a workaholic father and a distracted mother. It combines animation, live action, special effects and great music and dance numbers to show off the wonderful Julie Andrews. She is her usual wholesome, mature self but the adults in the audience can’t help but wonder if Mary Poppins is secretly being sarcastic with everyone she talks to.If you’ve read the book you’ll know that it’s possible she is. The movie stays away from the harsher and more mysterious sides of Mary Poppin’s character, instead focusing on the lighthearted and coming, such as Dick Van Dyke’s cockney accent which has many times been called the worst film accent in history.
3 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Sci-fi alien invasion flick or poignant picture of childhood? Both, actually. When an innocent extra-terrestrial scientist is stranded in his backyard, lonely Elliot takes him in and begins to communicate with him. However, the U.S. government knows that E.T. is there and E.T. himself is little by little growing homesick and so it is up to Elliot to get him back as quickly as he can. This is the alien equivalent of Sesame Street’s monsters: Showing kids that aliens aren’t scary even if they are kind of ugly. But it’s hard to see the ugliness during that adorable moment when we realize that we’re actually all the same on the inside, with the famous line “E.T. phone home!”
2 The Lion King
This makes into the top five kid’s movies, the top five Disney movies and the top five musicals without breaking a sweat. The story uses elements from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the biblical stories of Joseph and Moses and throws them all onto the Serengeti. In case you don’t know what those stories entail, there’s murder, complicated power plays, banishment and violent take-overs. In fact, if the characters in this movie were not animated lions, it probably wouldn’t be a kid’s movie at all. But they are animated animals of all kinds and they sing terribly catchy songs. It’s voiced by an all star cast, including Matthew Broderick, Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Nathan Lane, Rowan Atkinson and Jeremy Irons, which makes this a great movie for kids or for parent who just like great acting.
1 The Sandlot
Sports movies are the perfect genre: Exciting but not violent and with plenty of scope to be as comic, inspiring or bittersweet as you could want. And this is the ultimate kid’s sports movie. The Sandlot tells the story of Scott Smalls, who moves into a new town in 1962 and joins the group of boys who play baseball in a nearby sandlot. They have the usual summer adventures, lose baseballs, play the rival and generally come of age. There’s plenty of baseball nostalgia thrown in, along with some good messages about friendship, teamwork, honesty and the importance of following your dreams. Plus, those are some pretty hysterical kids.
Think we missed something and you can do better? Go ahead!