A Little Friday “Family Film” Fun

Steven Greydanus is at it again, coming up with millions of interesting cinematical posts that I wish I had thought of first (but never can.) This week, he’s been discussing The Best Family Films – sparked by a somewhat odd survey from the Radio Times (UK) — as well as the list’s flip-side:

The greatest family film of all time? Respondents polled for a Radio Times magazine survey ranked Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial as the best, with The Wizard of Oz in the runner-up spot.

Is the story of Elliott and his wise-yet-childlike alien friend really more magical than Dorothy’s adventures in Oz? It’s debatable. A film writer I know has said he’s a fan of lists but not of ranking, and I tend to agree.

That’s why, rather than quibble about the ranking of films, I’d rather take issue with the inclusion of movies I think don’t deserve to be on such a list at all—and talk about movies I would rather see there instead.

Setting aside (with great reluctance, and only “for the moment”) Steven’s perhaps-fair-when-taken-objectively-but-still-emotionally-difficult-to-swallow shot at one of my childhood’s fondest memories,  I’d love to hear folks’ opinions on which films you would consider for your own list of “Family Bests.”

My instinctive reaction was to include just about all of Pixar’s films, but I think that may depend on the age of the families being discussed. Recent Pixar offerings seem to be moving in a bit of an “older kids” direction; I find some of their latest films to have definite dark strains/topics that are going over my 5-year-old’s head, but could cause more complicated viewing experiences for “tweens.”

As I have had cause to remark before, I’m a sucker for many of the Disney offerings from the mid-60’s –especially if they featured Kurt Russell or Peter Ustinov. And my kids are fervent fans of the “Zorro” and “Swamp Fox“series, as well. (Not movies, I know – but fantastic family fare all the same.)

This would definitely be on my list, though, if I could ever figure out a way to come up with only ten entries:

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTnu-cGP17w 635×355]

(The “Bad Family Films” topic is quite a bit harder for me to address, actually. There are so very many candidates, and it’s so very demoralizing…also, it won’t fit quite as well into my “use InsideCatholic to help find great films for my sons to watch” project.)


Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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