There are countless activities that help promote happy and healthy children, and they don’t have to be expensive or hard to access.
At Lift Legal, one of our favourite family activities is watching movies together: by watching films your child enjoys, you’ll learn more about him or her. You can also use the movies’ themes to broach conversations on interesting topics or sensitive subjects.
Here is a list of family-friendly movies to watch together.
2007, Buena Vista Pictures
Animated, 111 minutes
A wistful comedy, Ratatouille tells the story of a rat named Remy, who can’t stomach the junk food his family expects him to eat. He flees to Paris, where he saves a once legendary, now floundering restaurant. Pixar, in its signature and inimitable style, delights viewers with rich colours and textures, and even visualizes the sensation of eating. The film delivers an important message about the importance of experimentation. Even the sinister restaurant critic Anton Ego undergoes a change of heart and delivers the film’s important moral: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
- The Princess Bride
1987, 20th Century Fox
Every so often, in what is nothing short of cunning storytelling and filmmaking, The Princess Bride interrupts its unpredictable twist on the “rescue the princess” theme. Such interruptions, which show real-world bedside scenes, pre-empt any impatience and incredulity today’s kids may have. The action never stops, and the cast of seasoned players leads us on myriad wild adventures. Seasoned players deliver not only memorable lines and recurring catchphrases, but also strong performances full of warmth, charisma and sensitivity.
- Toy Story
1995, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Animated, 81 minutes
Toy Story is groundbreaking for a number of reasons: not only is it the first full-length, computer-animated feature, but its narrative tells of toys that come to life when we aren’t looking. The toys, with their own grudges, affections and hierarchies, appeal to viewers both young and old. The film’s rich plot may also help parents initiate sensitive discussions with their child. Woody, a toy cowboy, is fatherless Andy’s favourite toy—that is, until snazzy interloper Buzz Lightyear steals Andy’s affections. Woody’s efforts to win back Andy’s favour closely mirror young children’s displacement fears. Although this might otherwise make for a sappy tearjerker, the movie manages to strike a happy balance by offering several jazzy, original songs by Randy Newman and a witty screenplay full of jokes.
- The Jungle Book
1967, Buena Vista Distribution
Animated, 78 minutes
Full of songs even grownups can happily sing along to, The Jungle Book is groovy, fun and jazzy. The film tells the story of Mowgli, a child seeking his place in the world, sampling the lifestyles of others, having his naïveté exploited and learning who to trust. These universal themes clearly speak to us all. As Mowgli comes of age to find his place among humans, the film draws to its bittersweet conclusion, reminding us that the fun has to end sometime. Like it or not, we all have to grow up.
- It’s a Wonderful Life
1946, RKO Radio Pictures
Black and white, 130 minutes
An ambitious fellow thirsting to see the world beyond his dull hometown, George Bailey instead ends up bitter, penniless and suicidal. A Hollywood classic, It’s a Wonderful Life’s central message is as relevant today as when the movie was first released in 1946. In this heartwarming tale, kindly angel Clarence shows George what boring Bedford Falls might have been had he never lived in it. As a result, George overcomes his disappointment and pain, and makes peace with what he’s lost to embrace what he’s gained. As Clarence so aptly puts it, “No man is a failure who has friends.”
Activities such as watching a movie yield a number of key benefits, as explained by the Child Development Institute. When both parents and children have more engaged, quality experiences and interact personally,
- Children feel important and loved.
- They have an opportunity to model their parents’ behaviour.
- Parents can observe and learn about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, which helps them to better guide them.
- Children have a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings.
- Parents and children develop a stronger bond.
We’ve shared just a few of our favourite films, along with the reasons we cherish family time. Spending time with family helps foster communication, provides positive reinforcement, teaches social skills and strengthens family bonds. We view movies—and interactive time—as a fun, enjoyable way to raise healthy, happy children.
Do you have a favourite family-friendly movie you like to watch with your children? Let us know, and we may include it in a future article.