Family eating popcorn on sofa

The best kids’ films to watch as a family

These timeless classics and modern box office hits are enough to convince even your too-cool teen to ditch their weekend plans for a family

By Tiffany Loh, 11 January 2016
The best kids’ films to watch as a family

When the pressure of organised fun gets too much it’s time to take a break and go back to basics with a family movie night.

From colourful animated feature adaptations of your favourite childrens’ books to generation-surpassing musicals, here are the best crowd-pleasing kids’ movies to get the whole family together.

CARTOON MAGIC

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

All singing, all dancing cutlery, a bookworm for a heroine and an arrogant prince who has been cursed as a beast – kids will never judge a book by its cover again after viewing this charming rendition of the French fairytale.

Finding Nemo (2003)
This story of a clownfish searching for his son Nemo will see you follow this enchanting story from the deepest oceans to Australia’s majestic Great Barrier Reef. Characters including amnesia-struck Dory and a chilled out turtle named Crush will make you laugh, cry and maybe be persuaded to stop wrapping your kids up in cotton wool.

The Jungle Book (1967)
Can you imagine being raised by a pack of wolves in the middle of an Indian jungle? For headstrong Mowgli who is braving it on his own, that’s life. Wise panther Bagheera is on the mission to reunite Mowgli with his family, but carefree bear Baloo has other plans.

Frozen (2014)

Princess Elsa has the frosty ability to cover everything in ice and snow with the wave of her hand. After her chilling powers almost kill her sister Anna, she is confined to her room in the castle. But when a blizzard arrives, the estranged sisters must work together to put a stop to the eternal winter. It’s so good, you’ll join the kids in watching it over and over again.

TIMELESS CLASSICS

Babe (1995)
A farmer wins a piglet at a county fair and decides to keep him to show at the next event. He becomes part of the farm and challenges its social hierarchy and stereotypes after showing a knack for rounding up sheep. While some of the farm’s talking animals adore him, others resent the attention he attracts.

The Princess Bride (1987)
A parody of your typical fairytale, adults will love revisiting this hilarious send-up of the “once upon a time” formula as much as kids will revel in the twists and turns of this unpredictable comic movie. Want to watch it again? As you wish.

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Loving but irresponsible husband and father-of-three Daniel is left devastated when his wife Miranda divorces him and gains full custody of their children. What is the trained voice actor to do? He recruits his theatre friends to disguise him as an elderly Scottish housekeeper so he can let the good times roll with his beloved kids.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestial (1982)
Best buddies can come in all shapes and sizes – even in the form of aliens, as ten-year-old Elliott discovers. He befriends a creature from outer space, forming an incredible twin-like bond with E.T. while they attempt to get him home.

CINEMATIC ADAPTATIONS

Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Last year marked the 150th anniversary of the nonsensical world that lies through the rabbit hole. This colourful film is great way to introduce kids to the witty wordplay of Lewis Carroll and the eccentricities of pop-culture icons such as the Mad Hatter.

Matilda (1996)
One of our favourite Roald Dahl books comes to life in this movie about a mistreated child prodigy. Overnight, she develops telekinetic powers and puts them to good use to teach the dishonest a lesson and restore justice for her friends. We still wish we had Matilda’s powers.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Every child’s wildest dreams become reality in this wacky film. Based on another Roald Dahl novel, this golden ticket includes a gondola ride on a chocolate river, flights around a bubble chamber and an everlasting gobstopper. And let’s not forget the performances from the orange Oompa Loompas!

The Princess Diaries (2001)
Life is full of surprises and Mia is in for a big one when her grandmother reveals a big family secret – that she’s the queen of a small European country, making Mia a princess! Based on Meg Cabot’s young adult novels, we see the awkward teen transform into a confident role model. Hooked? We were too – good thing there’s a sequel.

MARATHON FAVOURITES

The Hunger Games (2012 - 2015)
The film adaption of the sci-fi book series has captured everyone from tweens to young adults with its impressive special effects and brilliant all-star cast. Jennifer Lawrence stars as the film’s heroine Katniss Everdeen, who leads the fight against the Panem’s fearful totalitarian rule.

Shrek (2001 – 2010)
A postmodern Dreamworks franchise about an ogre named Shrek, who lives in a place called Far Far Away. This film isn’t afraid to poke fun at your favourite fairytale characters – even untouchables like Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother! A clever satire of bedtime stories, Shrek is full of beautiful life messages for children, the main one being to love yourself for who you are. Aww!

Home Alone (1990 - 1992)
In the case of this film series, we think the original two are the best. Kevin McCallister is a cheeky pre-teen and as the youngest of five children, he’s often left out. After his family leave for vacation without him, Kevin is left to his own devices and has to protect his home from two slapstick burglars on a local rampage.

Harry Potter (2001-2011)
Young readers grew up with Harry and, after the book series concluded, they continued to visit JK Rowling’s magical world with these eight blockbusters. The talking paintings, magical beasts and flying broomsticks will put a spell on film buffs of all ages.

MUSICAL SING-A-LONGS

Annie (1982)
A young girl called Annie is forced into a rundown orphanage in the 1930s, where Miss Hannigan rules by fear. When she’s chosen to live with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, her life is set to change forever.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
This Hollywood classic still continues to wow a new generation of viewers with its ruby red slippers, flying monkeys and witches as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and Toto journey to the Emerald City. Feeling lost? Just follow the yellow brick road!

 

Grease (1978)
Go back in time to a 1950s Californian high school and watch the romance between leader of greaser gang Danny and goody-two-shoes Sandy unfold. The will-they-or-won’t-they love story is told through a handful of catchy songs, all with easy dance moves to get the whole family grooving.

Mary Poppins (1964)
In this singing and dancing extravaganza, Julie Andrews plays a magical super nanny who helps mend the relationships of a dysfunctional London family. Children will have the highest expectations of their hired guardians after watching, but unless your new helper can soar the skies, tap dance with penguins, you had better prepare them for disappointment.

Have we missed one of your family favourites? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas browse our fantastic range of films and DVDs!