Guide to the Best Family Films
posted by: Amber Johnson
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@example.com
Mile High Mamas unite: what are some of your favorite family-friendly films?