More Must-See Movies for Kids

Readers offer their suggestions for movies with great messages.

There are some movies my family is so drawn to that when they come on television we watch them, commercials and all, even though we OWN them.

How goofy is that? All we have to do is slip in the DVD and we can view them commercial-free, but no. They’re the celluloid equivalent of catnip or comfort food.

In , I gave short shrift to comedies because I wanted to zero in on films with good messages for kids. I’m not sure what the message is in the classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail, unless it’s “Your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberry!”

There were a few old movies on my list. A friend tells me that when she watches the old Spencer Tracey/ Katherine Hepburn black and white classics, her husband will look up at the screen and say wryly, “TV broken again, Hon?”

Here’s a few suggestions from readers offering recommendations for some mostly newer movies for kids:

  • Lord of the Rings trilogy, recommended by Elyssia Mathias on Nazareth Patch, for teens ages 13 and up. She praised the “simple themes: good vs. evil; the right thing to do is hard, but the characters overcome tremendous hardships to persevere… Expertly acted, excellent storytelling, gorgeous scenery and seamless effects.”
  • The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole: “Think Lord of the Rings but with owls,” Mathias wrote. 
  • All three Toy Story movies “should be mandatory for everyone” according to Walt, writing on the Easton Patch. Walt also suggested that old episodes of The Little Rascals, that you can now get on DVD, are a hoot. 
  • The Red Balloon was suggested by Pamela Porter on the Easton Patch. She said the movie teaches that “even though dreams can sometimes be temporarily waylaid, hope can keep them afloat.” 
  • The Black Stallion recommended by Jonathan Gerard on Easton Patch, who called it a “moving portrait of the relationship between a boy and a horse who have survived a shipwreck and are at first wary of each other.” He also suggested The Magic Flute as “a great opera shown with puppets,” plus The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music and West Side Story. 
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, recommended by a friend, who asked not to be named (he could be on the lam, for all I know). He said the Clint Eastwood movie “is timeless” and would work for young people ages 13 and up. He also recommended Once Upon a Time in the West with Henry Fonda and Jason Robards. 

I can’t resist offering up a couple of my favorite comedies:

  • The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is good for ages 7 and up, with priceless performances by Jonathan Winters and Alan Arkin.
  • Arthur, the original version with Dudley Moore and the marvelous John Gielgud as his butler who is the Shakespeare of sarcasm. 

Gail Johnson August 11, 2011 at 03:06 PM
To kill a mockingbird is a great movie for kids. Many years ago I went to the video store with my niece. I grabbed a copy of this movie but she didn't want to see this old movie. So the next week I went without her and got this movie. She was glued to the TV set and so was I for the 50th time.
Jonathan Gerard August 13, 2011 at 01:50 PM
"Jean Louise (Jem), Jean Louis, stand up; you're father's passing." Everyone should stand while watching this great film.
Tom Coombe August 13, 2011 at 01:58 PM
What makes that moment work is how quietly it's handled. Atticus barely acknowledges it's happening, and the kids don't even seem sure WHY it's happening. If "To Kill a Mockingbird" was made today, the music would swell, everyone would applaud, etc. Then again, if the movie was made today, I imagine the trial would have a very different outcome.
Tom Coombe August 14, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Another suggestion, which I saw for the first time last night: The Iron Giant. It provides a neat history lesson (duck and cover), but more importantly, carries a pretty universal message: we are who we choose to be, not what other people say we are. It's as good as anything Pixar has done. (Incidentally, its director, Brad Bird, would go on to make two of Pixar's best movies, Ratatouille and The Incredibles.)
Pamela Porter August 14, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Another from my murky past - The Little Fugitive (1953) - Little Joey runs away to Coney Island after being tricked by older kids into believing he's shot and killed his brother. Thinking the police are after him, Joey hightails it to Coney Island, where the film documents his adventures. It's in black and white, and done by non-professionals - including Richie Andrusco as Joey (he never appeared in another film). It actually inspired Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Obligatory imDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046004/


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