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Guide to the Best Family Films

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If you are anything like me, you are frustrated by the onslaught of “R” ratings whilst trying to raise “PG” kids.

Someone out there has heard our pleas. The Denver Post’s film critic Michael Booth recently published Guide to the Best Family Films; 52 Great Movies to Fill Up Your Year.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp on kid-friendly films due to my inordinate amount of Nemo and Ice Age on the brain but soon realized there are so many more choices out there. Michael is not only a great interview but an even greater read.

He will be doing book signings on Dec. 6th at Borders in Aurora and Dec. 11th at the Tattered Cover in Highland’s Ranch.

So without further adieu:

1) Family-friendly films are tough to find these days. Is that why you wrote the book?

Family-friendly films can be a challenge to uncover, but plenty exist, and my weekly DVD column is meant to both expand parents’ ideas of what makes a good family film, and remind them of movies they know about but never thought to show their kids. We compiled the columns into a book for a full year of ideas, because so many people asked us to send them a list of every movie we’d ever written about. I added in what we hope are helpful essays on how parents can figure out the confusion of the ratings system, and find new sources on the Internet to give them much more specific details about why a movie got an “R” instead of a PG-13, for example.

2) What is your favorite family film and why?

I couldn’t pick one favorite, so we had to write a book with at least 52! But if you really made me sit and narrow it down to a top few, I’d point to the fantastic role models for girls in Jodie Foster’s movie “Contact”; the whole idea of “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and how families handle friendship and competition; and a completely different kind of cartoon movie in “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” Ask me next week and my picks will change. Everything we write about is available on Netflix or Blockbuster mail services.

3) What are some examples of your picks? Do you focus mostly on cartoons or do you include other genres?

In the spirit of expanding family choices, I write about everything from cartoons to documentaries, weepers to laughers. Most families don’t know about two Iranian movies, “The Color of Paradise” and “Children of Heaven,” which have so few subtitles that your kids will easily understand the plots. And most parents have fond memories of movies like “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” or “Meatballs,” but forgot to watch it after they had kids. And nobody has ever heard of the great sports documentary “The Heart of the Game,” which is a great inspiration to anybody who likes sports or academic challenges, and just wants a great story.

4) What is the best movie to make you laugh?

When I need a laugh, movies I keep going back to include “Galaxy Quest,” “Meatballs,” “Return of the Pink Panther,” and “Young Frankenstein.” And those movies cover kids from age 5 to age 16.

5) What is the best film to make you cry?

I just saw “Field of Dreams” for about the 10th time, and dang if I didn’t cry again when his dad walks out onto the baseball field. “My Dog Skip” is a great weeper, and my wife’s all time favorite sad movies are “The Champ” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.”

6) Why would parents be interested in this book?

Parents who pick up the book will find movies they love, movies they never heard of, movies they forgot about, and all kinds of new movies to show their kids. People shouldn’t stop watching movies with their kids after “Finding Nemo.” If your 13-year-old doesn’t talk much to you anymore because she’s too busy, sit down with her and watch “Contact” or “Touching the Void.” I guarantee you’ll have something to talk about afterward.

7) Where can it be purchased?

Anyone can buy the book at Tattered Cover, the Bookies, Barnes & Noble, Borders, online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and any other place that carries a lot of books. I’ll be appearing at book events at Borders in Aurora on Dec. 6th at 7 p.m., and Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. I’d love to meet any parents and hear their ideas of movies I should write about. And if anybody ever needs an idea of what to watch for their family movie night, they should e-mail me at [email protected]

Mile High Mamas unite: what are some of your favorite family-friendly films?

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  • comment avatar Eva December 2, 2007

    I love that you feature a lot of different films, ones I never would have even thought about. I will definitely checkout the book!

  • comment avatar Annie December 2, 2007

    Ditto what Michael said about the Iranian movie, “Children of Heaven.” Although my kids are 9 and 6 and they struggled at times to keep up with the subtitles, they had no problem following the plot and really enjoyed the movie. It’s a beautiful story of a brother and sister and how the sacrificed and triumphed together!

    After the movie we had a great talk about how people live in other countries and how even though the children’s culture is different than ours, our relationships are the same.

  • comment avatar Lizzy December 3, 2007

    Now they need to write the companion book for me, Guide To The Best Family Films For Over Protective, Prudish Mothers. I love Young Frankenstein and watch it every year with my hubby, but would never let my little kids watch it.
    “Woof”, shouldn’t be in their vocabulary yet.

  • comment avatar Melissa December 3, 2007

    I am looking forward to seeing this book! I’m with Lizzy, as I have two girls who are super-sensitive to scariness in movies (um, just like their mom). 🙂

    A great source for movies that are currently in theaters is:
    It tells you what about the movie might be of concern with kids, as well as what ages it might be best for.

  • comment avatar jodijean December 3, 2007

    kiki’s delivery service is a favorite is our house, love that movie. my son watches lots of things that weren’t put out by the disney corporation, there are many to choose from.

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