Family movies are wonderful vehicles for spending time with your children, and there really isn’t much that can beat them in the way of creating opportunities to make connections between families, build family traditions, and create lifelong memories.

While no two family movies are the same, the best ones (that is, the ones that happen to be the longest-lasting in a family’s movie library) seem to have some shared characteristics. So whether you’re looking for your family’s next “ET” or your next “Lego Movie,” here are some selection tips that can help you choose the best family movie to watch, buy, or rent.

One: younger children can get something out of the movie.

A good family movie is accessible to all members of the family, including the little ones. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your five-year-old should understand everything about the plot, or that your 11-year-old should be able to identify and explain the deepest points of a movie about the human experience. But they need to be able to enjoy the movie on some level.

Take “The Sound of Music”, for example. Young children probably can’t follow much of the plot, but they can enjoy watching other children sing and dance. A younger child may not fully appreciate the story and themes of “Polar Express,” but that doesn’t mean they won’t be captivated by the film’s beautiful animation.

Two: It’s not so youthful that Mom and Dad don’t like it alone.

On the contrary, a great family movie should be interesting enough for mom and dad to enjoy watching it alone. This could be because the movie includes a generous amount of clever “wink and wink” moments in the dialogue that only adults can understand (think “Aladdin”), or because the movie’s theme addresses inspiring themes (“Free agency “or” Big “) that adults find attention-grabbing and worth watching.

Three: The movie has a great lesson.

The best classic family movies almost always offer a wonderful lesson or teaching moment, without being overly preachy or awkward, of course. Ideally, this is something the family can discuss before and after the movie, thus extending and enriching their collective enjoyment of the movie.

Some examples of great family movies with memorable or moving lessons that you might consider watching include “True Grit,” “It’s A Wonderful Life,” “Akeelah and The Bee,” “Forrest Gump,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Up,” and ” Frozen “.

Oven: A compelling plot.

Let’s face it, whether you’re eight or 80, there’s nothing like seeing a great story. Even the pickiest family member can get caught up in a movie that has an exciting story, and the discussions that can ensue after your family sees the movie for the first time can really add to your movie-watching experience.

Examples of family movies with interesting plots worth investigating include “Cloak and Dagger”, “The Karate Kid”, “The Parent Trap”, “Homeward Bound”, “National Velvet”, “Finding Nemo”, “Hugo” , “Ratatouille”, and the Harry Potter franchise, just to name a few.

Five: memorable moments.

Some of the most treasured memories you have as a family are spontaneous recitations or memories of jokes and phrases from your favorite family movies, or those family performances from movie song and dance talent shows that everyone has seen a dozen times and knows by heart, or those heartbreaking moments where the whole family cried together before the movie got lighter and finally left everyone laughing, smiling, or cheering.

Family movies with such moments include “Toy Story”, “The Lion King”, “Annie”, “Happy Feet”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Mary Poppins”, “Shrek”, “Miracle on 34th Street “. , “Dumbo” and “Old Yeller”.

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