Lights, Camera, Action: 10 family films all kids have to see before the age of 10
November is here and much as we are champions of getting the kids out in the fresh air, there is something to be said for closing the curtains on the bad weather, snuggling up on the sofa with a giant bowl of popcorn and watching a movie with the kids.
There are a plethora of new films out at the cinema at the moment, but how about introducing the kids to some old classics? Some may seem outdated to us now, but the onscreen magic still seems to capture the kids' imaginations to this day. Here are our top 10 must-see family films:
The GooniesThis is a film loved in equal measure by us adults, the teen and the little ones. If you have not seen it before, it is about a group of childhood friends who discover an old Spanish map that leads them on an adventure to unearth the long-lost fortune of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary 17th-century pirate. During the entire adventure, they are chased by a family of criminals, who also want the treasure for themselves, whilst holding the scary (but ultimately friendly) giant called Sloth captive. Be aware: this film does contain some mild swearing.
The Wizard of Oz“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz”
Dorothy is stuck on a farm in dreary, sepia-toned Kansas dreams of a more exciting life somewhere over the proverbial rainbow; she gets her wish and then some when a tornado deposits the Midwesterner and her little dog, Toto, too, into a Technicolor wonderland.
Not only are the tunes catchy and the characters loveable (mostly), the story has the fantastic message that you can go out and see the world, have adventures, make new pals and experience life at its most grand, but in the end, there's no place like home, and no one quite like your family and friends!
MatildaBased on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, it is the fabulous story of Matilda Wormwood, a wonderful little girl, who happens to be a genius, and her wonderful teacher, Miss Honey, vs. her exceptionally horrible and ignorant parents and the most sadistic school principal imaginable The Trunchbull.
It is a real feel-good film which sees Matilda become a tough, smart cookie who kicks butt through it all, eventually outsmarting all of those bad eggs — a true tale of triumph your kids will totally adore and may even encourage the kids that “sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty” (only in a good way, of course!)
The Lion KingIf I am honest, this whole list could be filled with animated Disney films as we love them all. However, I have chosen the Lion King, one of the biggest animated films of all time, not only because of its message, but for the most amazing musical score.
The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is to succeed his father, Mufasa, as King of the Pride Lands; however, after Simba's uncle Scar (Mufasa's jealous younger brother), murders Mufasa, Simba is manipulated into thinking he was responsible and flees into exile. Upon maturation living with Timon (a meerkat) and Pumbaa (the slightly smelly Warthog), Simba is given some valuable perspective from his childhood friend, Nala, and his shaman, Rafiki, before returning to challenge Scar to end his tyranny and take his place in the Circle of Life as the rightful King.
TrollsWant a film that literally makes you want to get up and dance? Trolls is the one for you and possibly our favourite recent kids' film.
The Trolls are small creatures who live in an almost perpetual state of happiness, singing, dancing and hugging all day long until the Bergens invade Troll Village. Poppy, the happiest Troll ever born, and her friend, grumpy and pessimistic Branch set off on a journey to rescue their friends, partnered by an incredible music score that has you singing and dancing along.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate FactoryNow, we all prefer the original American musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka to the updated version, but both are great films in their own right.
The film tells the story of Charlie Bucket who finds a Golden Ticket in a bar of Wonka’s Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight and gets to visit Willy Wonka's chocolate factory with four other children from around the world. They get to meet the weird and wonderful Oompa Loompas who sing their catchy song whenever a ticket holder disobeys Wonka and gets into a spot of trouble. A fun film with a great moral to the story.
Night at the MuseumBased around a Night watchman who starts work at a museum of natural history. He makes a startling discovery, that thanks to the unleashing of an ancient Egyptian curse, the museum's animals, birds, bugs and other exhibits spring to life after the building closes.
The film is packed full of laugh-out-loud moments and actually makes visiting a museum seem cool to the kids. The two sequels; Battle of the Smithsonian and Secret of the Tomb are well worth watching too.
Chitty Chitty Bang BangWithout a doubt, this was my favourite film as a child and I have shared my love of it with the kids.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story of two children, Jeremy and Jemima Potts. They live with their widowed father, inventor Caractacus Potts. Using a few odds and ends, plus a great deal of hard work and imagination, Potts buys and converts an old wrecked car into a shiny new contraption which is affectionately named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While on a seaside picnic with the children and the object of his affections, Truly Scrumptious, Potts weaves a story about the magical powers of the car and they get whisked off on a magical adventure to Vulgaria.
It is here where the children are captured by the terrifying Child Catcher. Aided by the village toymaker and all the children who have escaped capture by hiding in an underground cave, Potts and Truly masquerade as life-sized puppets and gain entry to the Baron's birthday party to rescue them. They all live happily ever after, of course!
Mrs DoubtfireMy second film to feature the amazing Robin Williams, this sees him at his very best!
When a finalized divorce leaves funny-guy Daniel Hillard without custody of his kids, he devises a quirky plan to spend time with them anyway - disguised as their nanny! My family loved following the story of Mrs. Doubtfire, a “Scottish Nanny” as he/she bonds with his kids, fools his ex-wife and terrorizes her new boyfriend.
The Railway ChildrenThe story concerns a family who move from London to "The Three Chimneys", a house near the railway in Yorkshire, after the father, who works at the Foreign Office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The kids are soon drawn to the railway at the bottom of the garden, and all kinds of adventures.
Did you know that there are loads of ways to take your love of family films and turn them into family adventures? If you love Matilda or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, be sure to plan a visit to the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, or check out Penny's guide to other Roald Dahl inspired days out for kids.
If Night at the Museum has got you inspired, why not search for a museum near you? That's not all, parts of the third film were actually filmed in London at the British Museum, so it's a must-see for film fans. And if The Railway children was your favourite, maybe you should organise your very own steam train ride!
Or how about catching the brand new kids' films this year? Who knows, there might be an instant classic hiding in there!
Which family film is your favourite? Let us know in a comment below!