Every Friday, after the work day has ended and we finish dinner, my wife, kids, and I sit down for a little time-honored tradition called “Family Movie Night.” It’s the perfect way to transition from the hustle and bustle of work and school into the weekend and all its adventures, and gives me an opportunity to share with my kids some of my favorite movies and films we’ve been meaning to try out.
Not all that long ago, we watched Paul King’s 2014 adaptation of Paddington, and the entire family was transfixed by the splendor and wonder of this amusing, adventurous, and heartfelt story. And as soon as it ended, the kids wanted me to find more movies like Paddington for the next week’s movie night. And in doing so, I put together this little list…
Paddington 2 (Tubi)
A perfect example of a sequel that took what worked about its predecessor and improved upon it, Paddington 2 follows the marmalade-obsessed bear (once again voiced by Ben Whishaw) as he attempts to buy a rare pop-up book for his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). Simple enough, right? Well, Paddington’s plan, and his life, is thrown into disarray when the book is stolen and he’s falsely accused of the crime.
Paul King’s second installment in the Paddington franchise is honestly one of the best movie experiences I’ve had in the past decade and is perfect in every imaginable way (we gave it five stars upon release). There’s the continuation of the Brown family dynamic, Paddington’s contagious optimism, and one of the best prison sequences of all time. Oh, what a treat it is.
Christopher Robin (Disney+)
Set years after Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) left the Hundred Acre Wood and became an adult and lives far away in London, his childhood friends band together in hopes of reigniting that spark of the joy and wonder in his heart before it’s too late and he loses everything he holds near and dear to his heart.
Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin is a perfect reimagining of the classic Winnie-the-Pooh books and Disney films, and manages to offer something that is both fun for younger audiences and sentimental for the adults. And like Paddington, this 2018 live-action/comedy hybrid is a splendid adventure that sees classic literary characters brought to life like never before.
The Adventures Of Tintin (HBO Max)
In 2011, Steven Spielberg released The Adventures of Tintin, a CGI adaptation of the the beloved comic book strip of the same name and followed the titular young reporter as he became involved in a globe-trotting treasure hunt that saw him cross paths with a few of his most iconic heroes and villains.
There isn’t much not to love about The Adventures of Tintin, its action-packed story, and stunning visuals (especially for 2011), which makes this a great adventure film for the whole family. Sure, it doesn’t have an adorable marmalade enthusiast at the heart of its story, but it is a masterful adaptation of a classic piece of 20th-century literature.
Stuart Little (Tubi)
The Little family goes to an orphanage to find a younger brother for their only child George (Jonathan Lipnicki), only to come home with an adorable talking mouse named Stuart (Michael J. Fox). And despite their differences, the two new brothers learn to love one another following a series of tense situations that could tear them apart.
The funny, charming, and surprisingly emotional Stuart Little is yet another great adaptation of a classic children’s novel that brings the story to modernity. With some great action sequences (the boat race, anyone), multiple lessons, and a strong family dynamic at its core, this is one you should revisit.
Night At The Museum (Disney+)
Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) fumbles from job to job and lacks meaning in life until he takes a job as the night security guard at New York’s Natural History Museum where the exhibits come to life after all the visitors and staff have gone home. But when the source of the magic is threatened by a group of bandits, Daley must rise to the occasion.
One of the first movies I included in my family’s movie night rotation, Night at the Museum has been a constant hit with the kids (as have the two sequels). It is a perfect escape that perfectly blends realism with fantasy that just keeps getting better as the story plays out.
Peter Rabbit (Amazon Rental)
Peter Rabbit’s (James Corden) seemingly carefree life of traipsing through gardens and enjoying boundless fruit and vegetables is threatened when Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) takes over his late great-uncle’s old property and makes it his mission to wipe out the rabbit, and his friends, once and for all.
Like Paddington, the 2018 adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit, features a great juxtaposition of uptight characters put into contact with those who bounce through life a little more lackadaisically, which creates some hilarious and insightful interactions. Plus, Domhnall Gleeson is absolutely brilliant throughout.
My Neighbor Totoro (HBO Max)
When their mother is sent to a rural hospital due to a sudden illness, Satsuki (Dakota Fanning) and Mei (Elle Fanning) move with their father to keep the family closer together. But not long after arriving at the their new home, the girls discover a mysterious yet adorable creature named Totoro, who takes them on an adventure they’ll never forget.
Directed by the great Hayao Miyazaki, My Neighbor Totoro is a movie that doesn’t have a lot in common with Paddington in terms of story or tone, but it does perfectly capture the sense of adventure with its sprawling narrative about young girls finding an escape from their everyday lives. Charming, heartfelt, and loads of fun, this Studio Ghibli classic is superb.
Mary Poppins Returns (Disney+)
Just when it seems like all hope is lost for the Banks family in Mary Poppins Returns, the enchanted nanny (played by Emily Blunt this time) swoops back into their lives to save the day and teach them a new song or two.
Of all the Disney sequels and remakes to come out in the past decade, Rob Marshall’s continuation of the Mary Poppins story remains one of the most splendid, exciting, and all-around magical. And if you want to see what the voice of Paddington the Bear looks like, then look no further than the grown-up Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw).
When Arthur Hoggett (James Cromwell) wins a young pig at a local carnival, he initially plans on raising it to be his next Christmas dinner. However, when he can’t bring himself to do the deed, the crafty farmer instead trains the pig to become a rather unlikely sheep-herding champion in George Miller’s Babe.
Oh, Babe is one of those movies that perfectly shows how a unique animal with special properties can take a closed-off man and open up his heart. This touching, fun-spirited, and exciting story about a pig breaking from the norm will always have a special place in my heart, even if I sometimes find it hard to believe that the man behind Mad Max created one of the best family-friendly movies of the past 30 years.
Hugo (Amazon Rental)
Martin Scorsese’s 2011 adventure film Hugo tells the story of the young orphan Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) as he attempts to maintain and save massive and elaborate clocks at a 1930s Paris train station.
Just like Paddington and its journey through London, Hugo takes the audience on a magical exploration of Paris in a long-gone era. With adventure (and misadventure) around every corner and atop every tower, this fun and endearing movie has something for everyone.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (Disney+)
Following over a decade of being a law-abiding citizen and serving as an upstanding member of his community, Mr. Fox (George Clooney) goes back on his word and pulls off a masterful raid of three farms. But when the vengeful farmers discover his involvement, they release hell upon the scheming fox, his family, and friends.
Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel of the same name, and perfectly captures the spirit of its story. If you are a fan of Paddington’s fun nature and sense of slight danger, as well as Anderson’s movies in general, then you’ll love this 2009 animated treat.
This is just a taste of the delightful movies like Paddington that you should check out if the opportunity presents itself. But if you want to wait until the next family movie night, spend some time reading through our list of all the upcoming 2022 movie premiere dates.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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