E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
There are so many reasons to love this touching tale of an alien who is abandoned on Earth, tries to fit in, and longs for home: (1) Seeing the bewitchingly cute Drew Barrymore as a child actress; (2) Reese’s Pieces; (3) the adorable alien; (4) the rockin’ spaceship; and (5) the catchphrase ”E.T., phone home.” Enduring.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
At face value, this confection — where five kids with golden tickets get to tour Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory — seems like it’d have all the longevity of, say, a piece of cotton candy. But it holds up surprisingly well, due in great part to the fact that Gene Wilder’s Wonka wasn’t simply weird — he was scary. And what’s a good story without a little fear in it? We could wax on about the remake, too, but the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp collaboration doesn’t hold an Everlasting Gobstopper to this timeless movie.
Spirited Away (2001)
Call this a fairy tale, a moral quandary, or just plain fun. Chances are you might have missed this stunning little Japanese film from anime godfather Hayao Miyazaki, about a strong girl and a greedy monster who eats everything in his path. Spirited won the second-ever Oscar given for Best Animated Feature, because going up against Miyazaki is like going up against Spielberg: inadvisable.
Old Yeller (1957)
It’s about a boy and his dog. And then… at the end… Oh, we can’t even talk anymore. Time to grab the tissues.
It’s hard to resist the exuberance of little orphan Annie. Daddy Warbucks couldn’t. Even Jay-Z couldn’t. It’s a hardknock life, for sure.
The Aventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
This buddy-animal film may be a touch too saccharine for grownups but kids about this age will fall for Milo and protector Otis.
The Fox and the Hound (1981)
This playful pair of should-be adversaries learn their role in the food chain when the real world intrudes on their fun.
The Parent Trap (1961)
Sure, La Lohan starred in a more-than-decent remake, but the original brought heart, sass, the adorable Hayley Mills (two of her!), and all those wonderfully catchy musical numbers. Sing it with us now: ”Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah…”
An old man, a young boy and a house floating with balloons. That simple list can’t explain the uplifting and emotional ride this buddy adventure can take you on, with such rich colors, and even richer music.
The evil Lord Farquaad has banished fairy-tale beings from his land of Duloc so it can be as cookie-cutter boring as he is, but a few loveable characters stand in his way: a smelly green ogre with a heart of gold named Shrek (Mike Myers); his faithful Donkey (Eddie Murphy); and the beautiful but down-to-earth Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Screwy fairy-tale-tastic antics ensue — with multilevel jokes that manage to amuse both young and old.
Shark Tale (2004)
Mouthy braggart Oscar (voiced by Will Smith) gets himself in a bind when he claims to kill a shark mob boss’s son (voiced by Jack Black), who turns out to be a gentle vegetarian soul looking to escape la familia. When Oscar’s momentary fame and ego boost take a turn and leads him to find the real meaning of friendship. And let’s not forget that killer finale number of ”Carwash.”
Legendary Japanese animation artist Hayao Miyazak?s captivating take on The Little Mermaid brought us the lovable Ponyo who falls in love with a little boy named Sosuke and decides that what she wants most (much to the distress of her ?sorcerer father) is to become a little land-based girl. The traditional cell animation is far from the only thing appealing in this new classic.
Toy Story 1, 2, and 3 (1995, 1999, 2010)
Countless children have grown up with Buzz Lightyear, Woody, and the rest of the gang as their friends. Parents of the youngest set might want to fast forward through the more intense scenes (Sadistic Sid in 1, the escape scene in 2, or the incinerator scene in 3) but overall the themes of friendship and loyalty, combined with the wonderful animation to make lightening strike three times.
My Dog Skip (2000)
Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) stars in this Hallmark-sweet movie based on Willie Morris’ 1995 memoir. This big-screen adaptation of the boy-meets-dog story, set against the backdrop of WWII-era, lacks the teeth of the source work but remains engaging for young kids.