Summer is here. Kids already bored and need some entertainment?
This year, one of the activities I’m looking forward to is hosting some outdoor movie parties in our backyard.
Here is my list of 20 great kid-friendly movies. There are no Pixar, Dreamworks or recent Disney hits on the list. At the very least, it’s refreshing to see something new.
The movie titles are not listed in any particular order.
1. “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”: This ’80s classic still delivers big laughs to everyone in our family.
2. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”: There’s a reason you loved this movie as a kid – it’s simply a great movie.
3. “Charlotte’s Web”: Book to movie is a tough transition, but our family loves this version with Dakota Fanning. It’s our favorite of the enormously important “talking animal” genre.
4. “Spirited Away”: You might not have seen this movie because it’s foreign and, well, frankly a little weird – but in the best possible way. I can’t say enough good things about it: strong female characters, terrifically original storyline, spectacular weirdness.
5. “Annie”: Released in 1982, this musical is just as relevant today.
6. “Earth”: Polar bears, elephants and humpback whales, oh my. Disneynature documents one year in the life of three animals across the planet.
7. “Elf”: Your kids have seen this one, but kind of like having breakfast for dinner, sometimes it’s fun for kids to watch a Christmas movie in the dead of summer.
8. “How to Eat Fried Worms”: Downright funny. Great for boys, but your girls will love to hate it. Definitely a must-see, but not while you’re eating dinner.
9. “Big”: Classic. Maybe best for kids ages 10 and up. It’s a little too grown-up for younger kids.
10. “Fly Away Home”: Such a great and touching father-daughter story. Tissues recommended.
11. “The Muppet Movie”: It’s still funny and clever after all these years, with one-liners galore and cameos by all your favorite ‘70s stars (think Dom DeLuise).
If Kermit singing “The Rainbow Connection” doesn’t make you warm and happy inside, then you quite possibly have achieved that proverbial dead-inside state.
12. “The Sandlot”: It’s the story of new kid Scotty Smalls, who doesn’t know how to play baseball until he’s introduced to the sandlot in his new ‘hood by eight kids who play there. Be warned there are a few bad words, but nothing too shocking.
13. “Kicking and Screaming”: What do you get when you make Will Ferrell the coach of a youth soccer team? A pretty funny movie, that’s what. Your kids will love how outrageous Ferrell gets with his team.
14. “Angels in the Outfield”: Everything you want from a kids’ sports movie: A kid who makes a wish, Christopher Lloyd, a down-and-out sports team and lots of silliness.
15. “The Ugly Dachshund”: I wasn’t sure if my kids would like it, given it’s an all-adult cast, but they loved the puppies and the big adorable Great Dane.
16. “Cheaper by the Dozen” (series): Steve Martin is the quintessential dad of 12 rambunctious and slightly undersupervised kids. It’s one crazy predicament after another.
17. “The Mighty Ducks” (series): Definitely put all three on your summer movie-watching list.
18. “The Parent Trap”: A Disney classic. Your kids have probably seen the remake with Lindsay Lohan but the original is our favorite.
19. “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking”: A great adaptation of a classic many parents grew up watching. This movie was made in 1988 and has some hokey moments, but it still delivers the carefree spirit of that little redhead.
20. “Freaky Friday”: The original from 1977 with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris is a treat to watch with the kids. The idea of switching lives/bodies with your teenage daughter might sound like a nightmare, but just think about how clean her room would be – for once.