Ten FABULOUS Family Movies You Might Have Missed

#1 Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Imporium

2007 Dustin Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jason Bateman,

Thank you Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman for lending your Oscar-worthy talent to a perfectly clean, delightful family flick.

This movie didn’t get a lot of hype when it came out, so if you missed it, like I almost did, then it’s worth finding a copy. Inspiring, colorful, creative. And I like Jason Bateman in almost everything he does.

#2 Winnie the Pooh (2011)

2011 All the classic Pooh characters

This is NOT Piglet’s Big Movie, or The Heffalump Movie, or The Tigger movie, which were good movies, worth seeing once or twice if you live with little people.

This, however, is not a good movie. This is a FANTASTIC movie! It stays true to classic Pooh; the characters aren’t modernized, even though the story is new.

The humor is delightful.  My tweens and teens LOVE this Winnie the Pooh movie. So even if you don’t have little people living with you, gather your older clan and watch together. Rent a couple of neighbor kids. It is fun to watch with children, but the humor is witty and intelligent, so grown ups appreciate plenty of good laughs.

With Zoey Deschanel singing the catchy tunes, the only possible drawback from watching is that you will be singing the Honey Song for days. And your family will be chanting, “You win the honey. Enjoy,” for every minor family accomplishment. There could be worse things in life.

Honestly, this is a movie not to be missed.

#3 Parental Guidance

2012 Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei,

Maybe it was from cutting the jalapeno peppers for the homemade salsa, but my eyes watered fiercely during this movie. What’s weird, I couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying or both.

There are plenty of slap-stick comedies out there where the babysitter ends up sliding through spilled tomato sauce, getting attacked by the dog, and ultimately ends up hanging from the chandelier by his belt loops while the audience thinks, “Oh, we’re supposed to laugh at this.”

I dare you to watch Parental Guidance and NOT laugh. You can’t prevent yourself from laughing that hard, full-belly, deep-gut laugh, the kind that leaves you feeling like you finished a ninety-minute abdominal workout.

I promise, if you haven’t seen it, and you need a good laugh, cry, and core muscle workout, Parental Guidance will not disappoint.

#4 The Aristocats

1970 Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Scatman Crothers

True to the slower pace of movies from by-gone days, this animation is a welcome reprieve from the quick-quips and sharp one-liners that make up the dialogue of today’s animated movies. Focussing more on scene, situation, character, and, of course, music, The Aristocats invites you to get comfortable on your couch and take time to breathe and enjoy. No need to sit tense to follow the action or catch all the hidden jokes. This is classic, engaging story telling.

The Aristocats will always be one of my most favorite classic Disney animations.

#5 Newsies

1992 Christian Bale, Bill Pullman

I was at Disneyland (or was it Universal Studios?) one day when a street was blocked off for the filming of Newsies. Had I known anything about the film or that I would later have such a crush on David Moscow, I would have scaled the wall to spy on all those boys, just my age, rehearsing their dance routines.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone missed seeing Newsies, but it’s possible (I’ve never seen E.T.) If you have never watched Newsies, find a copy, today.  The music. The dancing. The boys. And Crutchy. It’s a great outdoor movie. It’s a great “turn on to listen while you clean” movie (I guess that’s also called a Soundtrack.) It’s a great girl night slumber party movie. (No sparkling vampires, but you won’t even miss them.)

#6 Donald in Mathmagic Land

1959 Clarence Nash

Back to classic Disney animation. This 27-minute feature is a gem. An entertaining, colorful exploration of math in nature. This is a movie I’m glad I own. My kids have been watching this since before they could count and my oldest just passed his AP Math Test.  I’m sure all credit goes to Donald Duck. Thanks Disney.

#7 The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio

2005 Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson

I would be surprised if you saw this movie. Did anyone see this movie? It’s a shame.

The true story of Evelyn Ryan, mother of ten, who writes poems, rhymes, and jingles in her spare time. Married to a hopeless alcoholic (Can we have a standing ovation for every minor role in which Woody Harrelson gives a majorly phenomenal performance?), Evelyn keeps her family out of the streets by winning commercial jingle contests.

This movie has everything that makes me zing. It’s a true story of innovative survival during the press of, perhaps, commonplace life circumstances. And it stars a mother who writes! What more could I want? Nothing.

While this movie is clean enough to watch with the entire family, younger kids may not be interested in the story. However, typing this makes me realize that I want my now older kids to see this movie.

#8 Holes

2003 Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Shia La Beouf

In 2003, I was chasing three kids under age five and we rarely advanced beyond watching Sesame Street and our one and only VHS Barney video. So I missed Holes when it first came out and maybe you did, too.

Read the book then watch the movie or vice versa. It’s one of the few that I like the book and movie equally.

Clever, original story. You can’t guess where the story leads or who the outlaw is. Definitely a fun watch for families.

#9 Anything with Don Knotts 

Especially: The Apple Dumpling Gang (I & II), The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Private Eyes, Gus, Hot Lead and Cold Feet, and The Shakiest Gun in the West

True comedians stand the test of time. My kids love Don Knotts every bit as much as I did when I watched his movies with my family growing up. And if Tim Conway shares the screen, even better.

I can’t think of anything better to relieve stress and bring a family together than watching a good ol’ Don Knotts movie. Put a Don Knotts family movie night on the calendar and you’re kids will look forward to you taking the time to sit down and laugh with them. (I’m saying this for myself.)

My all-time favorite:  The Private Eyes. A great Halloween movie. 

#10  School House Rock

1973 Jack Sheldon

Back to educational animation, School House Rock is fun, entertaining, and educational. Short snippets teach multiplication, grammar, history, economics, science, and environment.

I discovered School House Rock as an adult with children in school. Wish I had watched it when I was learning grammar.” Conjunction Junction, What’s your function?” If you have kids in grammar school (elementary age), this film is worth owning.