It’s the Christmas season, which means your kids have extra time off from school to sit around watching TV, whether you like it or not. Now, you could try to discourage them from spending all their time in front of the TV screen, or try to get them doing something more interactive like video games. Or, you could use that time to share some classic stories with your kids that they might ordinarily not see.
We’ve compiled a list of movies that are classic children’s stories - movies we group up on, but that are far too overlooked these days. It’s likely most adults today grew up with these movies as well, and will remember how much they loved some of these stories when they were kids. When so many new movies come out every year, it’s easy to forget some of the ones we’ve seen in the past, so we offer this list as a reminder to jog your memory and hopefully spread some holiday cheer. Use this as a gift-giving guide, or just as a suggestion of movies to enjoy with the younger members of your family over the holiday season.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy’s journey over the rainbow has been redone numerous times, including a more gothic return to Oz and a muppet filled version. The Judy Garland musical version is still the favored version for my family though, and that includes the opinion of an Oz
obsessed five year old. If you haven’t exposed your kids to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “If I Only Had a Brain,” then you’re depriving them of a lot of fun, and an important part of cinematic history.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Even though this isn’t a Christmas list, per say, I couldn’t leave off this overlooked classic. I know a lot of adults who somehow missed seeing Kris Kringle’s trial on film, so there’s a good chance you haven’t shown it to your kids. If there’s any doubt going on in their young minds about Santa Claus being real, just show them this classic as proof that the jolly old elf is out there, and might show up for real in the unlikeliest of places.
The Shaggy Dog (1959)
Tim Allen practically took a knife and cut out all that was enjoyable from this Disney classic, trading potty humor for good, old-fashioned clean fun. They rarely make movies as wholesome as this one anymore, but give this classic a chance and you’ll wonder why. The duo of Fred MacMurray and Tommy Kirk’s makes this a nice double feature with the next Disney classic on our list…
The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)
Much like The Shaggy Dog
, Disney has remade this classic to death, first with a made-for-television remake with Harry Anderson, and then Flubber
, the Robin Williams vehicle that it’s much more likely kids today have seen. Again, there’s a wholesome earnestness to this movie that we don’t get in filmmaking anymore, but is incredibly fulfilling coming from Fred MacMurray’s forgetful genius. Give me the flying Model-T over the Mamba dancing green ooze in Williams’ version any day.
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)
Another from the golden era of Disney’s live action films, this one hasn’t been remade yet - but the new version starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be in theaters next year. Before watching Johnson turn this into an action flick, why not show your kids the original tale of Tia and Tony, two orphans with mysterious powers, looking for their home - a story a lot of kids can surprisingly relate to, even at a young age.
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
I’m constantly astonished by the amount of people I meet who haven’t seen the original Star Wars
(since retitled “Episode IV: A New Hope”). Help me help future generations from making this mistake by showing the film that started it all to your kids today. I know George Lucas tried to make his newer movies more child friendly through the addition of Jar Jar Binks, Bantha poo-doo, animated Clone Troopers, and the like, but you’ll be surprised at how family friendly the original movie actually is - after all, a lot of us were in the single digits when we saw it for the first time, and we’ve all turned out alright.
The Muppet Movie (1979)
Kermit and company keep trying to make a comeback, even having yet another Christmas themed holiday special this year (their second within the last decade). Not enough kids know what to make of the Muppets though, and I think a lot of that has to do with few of them having seen Kermit’s original adventure. Besides, you can use the excuse of showing this to your kids as a way to revisit the movie yourself. Suddenly you’ll realize there’s a whole level of jokes you never even saw as a kid, but that don’t detract from the story for viewers of any age.
The Dark Crystal (1982)
I’ll be honest - my wife wasn’t all that thrilled with my including this movie on my list, which probably means I’ll have to sneak showing The Dark Crystal
to our upcoming child when she’s not paying attention. Consider this a more child-friendly version of The Lord of the Rings
style quest story - something to lay the foundation for great adventures in the future. Besides, puppets can’t be that scary, can they? Just watch out for that first appearance of Fizgig, which is still determined to make me jump to this day.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
Disney does kids and aliens together pretty well, evidenced by the fact that two of the studio’s movies on this list deal with those concepts. Here the kid isn’t an alien, he just hangs out with one (and happens to hold some of their knowledge in his head). An alien story doesn’t get much more family friendly than this, which is a better tale for kids than the more popular E.T.: The Extraterrestrial
(which I think can be downright terrifying for younger viewers).
Uncle Buck (1989)
Probably the least family-friendly movie on our list, Uncle Buck
definitely leans toward a slightly more mature audience, but if your family is anything like mine, you might enjoy a reminder that every family has that black sheep member who nobody wants to see (but who comes around for far too long anyway). More of the adult type humor is implied anyway, with physical comedy that will keep kids entertained. The movie might even save your holiday by reminding you that your crazy uncle has a heart of gold, even if he does act crazy sometimes.
For more of Cinema Blend's 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS click here.