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Our Favourite Classic Family Films

Not everyone is a fan of long dark nights and chilly weather. But, curling up with a great film that's entertaining for the whole family is a wonderful way to combat the winter blues... and leave some pounds in your wallet!

 

Think back to when you were growing up. There was always a trend - much like the film of the minute, Frozen - but there were also the real classics. Films that your teenaged sibling couldn't help but stifle a giggle at, or your little sister wasn't peering at from behind "closed" eyes.

What makes a family film a 'classic'?

Classic films need not be highbrow, nor do they need to be well written, but they do need a certain magic. Over the next few weeks, or months - weather experts are threatening a long winter, but it hasn't really started yet - enjoy some of the films our offices rated as classics.

Our list is no doubt exhaustive, and we've intentionally left the Disney animated classics off the list (they get enough press without our help), but we hope you crack open the popcorn and enjoy watching...

Our top kids' films to watch as a family

Back to the Future

1. Back to the Future (PG)

What child doesn't wish they could go back in time to change their lives before they exist? OK, but how many actually think about the ramifications? Whether you like the idea of space travel or a little romance, this film has something for everyone.

2. Beetlejuice (15)

BeetlejuiceA ghost story with a twist, these quirky characters get the audience onside with their pointless plotting and scheming. Taking the next step, they call on the experience of Beetlejuice - whose tactics they find suspect - but reigning him in becomes a challenge of its own!

3. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (U)

E.TDiscovering a life form from another planet means science experiments to most adults, but for these children, it means friendship. Fighting for what they believe in and the survival of their wonderful new friend leads this family on the adventure of a lifetime.

4. Freaky Friday (U)

Freaky FridayRegardless of whether you pick up the original or the remake, the premise remains the same... imagine swapping bodies with your mother! Parents and children alike can laugh at having to live in the other's clothes, or having to cope in situations they're not familiar with. The hilarity leads to a deeper family bond. 

5. Ghostbusters (PG)

GhostbustersGhosts seem to play a popular part in family films and in this case, we're hunting ghosts with an unlikely group of men who are misfits in their alter-lives. Overcoming technical failures, disbelief and their own self-doubt, the Ghostbusters are here to save the day. Who you gonna call?

6. The Secret of the Sword (U)

The Secret of the SwordThis film was based on the 80s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. On a voyage of investigation, Adam once again takes on the form of He-Man and is reunited with his long lost sister Adora. This fantasy adventure, though well before CGI, has a certain je ne sais quoi about it!

7. Home Alone (PG)

Home AloneWhile no one wants to forget their children at home when they go on holiday, one has to ask: how resourceful would your children be? Kevin battles robbers, and his own insecurities, as he protects his home and brings together a quarrelling family. This is the first of many in the franchise, and we think it's the best.

8. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (U)

Honey, I Shrunk the KidsA well-intentioned scientist unintentionally and unknowingly shrinks his children and the neighbours! Explaining things to his wife and finding a way to reverse the process are just the beginning of this wacky adventure. Who knew a common ant could be so daunting?

9. Raiders of the Lost Ark (PG)

Raiders of the Lost ArkThe first in a series of adventures - we dare you not to find yourself rooting for Indiana Jones as he dodges bullets and boulders. His heroics are always impressive and leave us wanting more. Well, at least the first three adventures do... 

10. Karate Kid (12)

Karate KidWhile the 2010 remake isn't terrible, we recommend finding the original version of this coming of age story. Alone in a new city, a young boy finds an unlikely teacher who shows him that Martial Arts isn't just about fighting. This is a story of unlikely friendships, self-discovery, and we guarantee you'll have children trying 'the crane kick' for days.

11. Labyrinth (U)

LabyrinthSlightly spooky in parts (and with David Bowie taking an excellent turn as the Goblin King, Jareth), this eighties classic sees a young Jennifer Connelly playing a young girl who must journey through a maze to rescue her baby brother. We love how off-the-wall it is!

12. Matilda (PG)

MatildaWho can resist the combination of Roald Dahl and the adorable Mara Wilson? The juxtaposition between good and evil hits home in this touching story of a delightful girl, her teacher, and those who want to bring them down. Her positivity and sense of humour are infectious.

13. Mrs. Doubtfire (12A)

Mrs. DoubtfireFeaturing Mara Wilson again, this Robin Williams classic sees him as a father who moonlights as a pretend Scottish Nanny (dressed in drag, of course) in a desperate attempt to spend more time with his beloved children. However, he just can't get anything right. From slap stick comedy to heartfelt moments, this is a beautiful story of rediscovering family and what's important to you.

14. The Parent Trap (PG)

The Parent TrapRegardless of whether you like Hayley Mills or Lindsey Lohan - before she went a little off the rails - the heart-warming story of twins separated at birth is truly gold dust. The classic twin swap leads to adventures and misadventures as they try to fool their parents and everyone around them. But, with a few allies, will these two be able to get what they really want?

15. The Secret Garden (U)

The Secret GardenWhile we admit the story starts out with a very spoiled and unlikeable rich girl, Mary, her experiences eventually bring out the best in everyone as her relationship with cousin Colin develops. The sombre setting and melancholy characters are brought to life by a 'magical' garden and the power of stubbornness. This story has seen a few adaptations, but regardless of whether your screen is graced with Maggie Smith or Billie Whitelaw, this is a memorable tale.

16. The Sound of Music (U)

The Sound of MusicThis is one for a very rainy day, or you might find you get through it in a few sittings! Don't be fooled when the kids choose it for a Friday night, they know it's a long one - it used to come on two VHS tapes! With the perfect combination of lovable characters, memorable music, and historical lessons, The Sound of Music is a must see for everyone. A story of love, self-discovery and precocious children, you're sure to see laughter and tears.

17. Star Wars (U)

Star WarsAs a series that starts in the middle, Star Wars is one for the whole family. From Solo and Skywalker to Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers, there is the perfect mix of real life family drama and fantasy. Saving the Universe has long been a tried and tested plot line, but never has it been executed in such a flawless way. Keep your eyes open for the new instalments, as Disney have bought the Empire!

The NeverEnding Story

18. The NeverEnding Story (U)

Did you ever dream that the story you were reading would come to life? A young boy, who loses his mother and is bullied at school, finds solace in the pages of his book when a wondrous thing happens and the story plays out around him.

19. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (PG)Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

We've chosen to start at the very beginning of this hugely successful series. Here, we're introduced to the young Harry Potter; a young boy living in a cupboard under the stairs at the home of his cruel relatives. We're taken on a magical journey when Harry finds out that he's a wizard. It's a modern classic!

20. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PG)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Purists may be wondering why we didn't pick the 1977 version, but this Tim Burton adaptation of Roald Dahl's novel is just as quirky and entertaining. It's also packed with enough action and special effects to keep the kids on the edge of their seats throughout...

 
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