Summer is here. Kids bored and need some entertainment?
This year, one of the activities I’m looking forward to is hosting some outdoor movie parties in our backyard. The trick to a good movie night is to pick a solid flick that all the kids will like and they haven’t seen already, 400 times.
Here is my list of 20 great kid-friendly movies. There are no Pixar, Dreamworks or recent Disney hits on the list. At the very least, it’s refreshing to see something new.
The movie titles are not listed in any particular order, but I will say that No. 1 is currently my kids’ favorite.
1. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure: This ‘80s classic still delivers big laughs to everyone in our family. We find ourselves pulling out this movie often and acting out our favorite lines together: “I’m a rebel, Dotty. A loner.” All good stuff!
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: There’s a reason you loved this movie as a kid — it’s simply a great movie.
3. Charlotte’s Web: Book to movie is a tough transition, but our family loves this version with Dakota Fanning. It’s our favorite of the enormously important “talking animal” genre.
4. Spirited Away: You might not have seen this movie because it’s foreign and, well, frankly a little weird — but in the best possible way. I can’t say enough good things about it: strong female characters, terrifically original storyline, spectacular weirdness. We literally wore out our first copy.
5. Annie: Released in 1982, this musical is just as relevant today. My son doesn’t even mind watching it.
6. Earth: Polar bears, elephants and humpback whales, oh my! This was the first documentary my kids ever enjoyed. Disneynature documents one year in the life of three animals across the planet. It’s absolutely gorgeous and educational, as well!
7. Elf: Your kids have seen this one, but kind of like having breakfast for dinner, sometimes it’s fun for kids to watch a Christmas movie in the dead of summer. Elf is the clear choice here.
8. How to Eat Fried Worms: Downright funny. Great for boys, but your girls will love to hate it. Definitely a must-see, but not while you’re eating dinner.
9. Big: Classic. Maybe best for kids ages 10 and up. It’s a little too grown-up for younger kids. I thought my daughter might bust a gut laughing during the scene where Josh eats the baby corn at the buffet table. So funny.
10. Fly Away Home: Have you seen this movie? Such a great and touching father-daughter story. So worth hunting down. Tissues recommended.
11. The Muppet Movie: This is hands down one of my favorite kids’ movies. It’s still funny and clever after all these years, with one-liners galore and cameos by all your favorite ‘70s stars (think Dom DeLuise). If Kermit singing The Rainbow Connection doesn’t make you warm and happy inside, then you quite possibly have achieved that proverbial dead-inside state. If that’s the case, please re-watch all the movies on my list while wearing bunny slippers and your Mickey Mouse ears. That should do the trick.
12. The Sandlot: One of my favorite movies. I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to watch it. It’s the story of new kid Scotty Smalls, who doesn’t know how to play baseball until he’s introduced to the sandlot in his new ‘hood by eight kids who play there. It’s a perfect movie for boys — lots of harmless and creative name-calling, a treehouse, baseball playing, of course, The Beast. Be warned there are a few bad words, but nothing too shocking. Made in 1992 and set in 1962, this movie was ROTFL before ROTFL was invented. A must-see for all boys . . . and my daughter loves it, too.
13. Kicking and Screaming: What do you get when you make Will Ferrell the coach of a youth soccer team? A pretty funny movie, that’s what. Your kids will love how outrageous Ferrell gets with his team. There are some classic lines in this movie, as well. The one delivered to Mike Ditka is quoted often in our house: “Bye-bye, juicebox!”
14. Angels in the Outfield: Everything you want from a kids’ sports movie: A kid who makes a wish, Christopher Lloyd, a down-and-out sports team and lots of silliness. If you haven’t watched Angels in the Outfield with your kids, rent it this week, make some popcorn and pop it in. You'll all love it!
15. The Ugly Dachshund: This movie is old school with a capital “O.” I wasn’t sure if my kids would like it, given it’s an all-adult cast, but they loved the puppies and the big adorable Great Dane. Super-swanky and silly
16. Cheaper by the Dozen (series): Steve Martin is the quintessential dad of 12 rambunctious and slightly undersupervised kids. It’s one crazy predicament after another and my kids love every minute of it.
17. The Mighty Ducks (series): My kids just watched the entire series of “Mighty Ducks” movies the last few weeks and like them all. I could hear them in the other room cracking up and having a good time. Definitely put all three on your summer movie-watching list. (There are a couple girls on the team, too!) “Ducks fly together!” Ha, great speech by a coach . . . .
18. The Parent Trap: A Disney classic. Your kids have probably seen the remake with Lindsay Lohan but the original is our favorite.
19. The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking: A great adaptation of a classic many parents grew up watching. This movie was made in 1988 and has some hokey moments, but it still delivers the carefree spirit of that little redhead.
20. Freaky Friday: The original from 1977 with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris is a treat to watch with the kids. The idea of switching lives/bodies with your teenage daughter might sound like a nightmare, but just think about how clean her room would be — for once! I enjoy the remake, too, but the original is somehow sweeter and funnier.