5 to try: Family movies

Time Outers select their favourite glow-inducing family films

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Style: Movie
What’s it about: When Elliot finds an alien living in his shed he does what any small boy would do – invite him into his bedroom and keep him as a secret friend. Telling only his brother and sister (played by a seven-year-old Drew Barrymore), Elliot attempts to educate the alien about suburban life in 1980s America, as well as help the alien call home to his own people. As the bond between child and creature becomes stronger, it soon becomes clear there is more to their friendship than a shared love of peanut butter candy.
Why we like it: The film has the big set-pieces you’d expect from the movie that was to become one of the most popular sci-fi flicks of all time (who can forget the iconic flying bicycles?), but they never get in the way of the touching but not sentimental, story. The performances from all of the child actors were mature beyond their years , and Henry Thomas, as Elliot,
in particular was unlucky not to pick up awards.
Best for: One of the few films that is likely to get the entire family laughing, crying and dreaming together.

Mary Poppins

Style: Movie with animated parts
What’s it about: The Banks family needs help. Yet another nanny has quit, and while Mr and Mrs Banks endure nightmare-ish candidates who want to take up the role, it’s Mary Poppins, a super nanny of sorts, who flies in with her umbrella and gets the job. Needless to say, she turns the house upside down and Mr Banks starts to get concerned that she’s putting fanciful ideas in the heads of his children, Jane and Michael. He decides to take the children to his office to show them the ‘right’ way of life, but chaos ensues. Lessons are learned, and not necessarily by the kids…
Why we like it: Mary Poppins’ magical powers, the music and dancing, and the overall ‘feel good’ factor make for great wholesome entertainment. Parents will also fall in love with the character, acted to perfection by Julie Andrews.
Best for: Teaching little children about real life lessons.

The Incredibles

Style: Animated
What’s it about: Due to a number of court cases that have cost the government millions, super heroes have been forced to live as normal civilians, their super powers kept hidden from the rest of society. Fast forward 15 years, and we meet frustrated ‘super-turned-insurance-clerk’ Bob (formally Mr Incredible), his wife Helen (Elastagirl) and their three children, all of whom have amazing super powers which they must keep secret. But when an opportunity to re-live the glory days emerges, Mr Incredible cannot resist the challenge, and the fun really begins.
Why we like it: The super-hero-gone-underground storyline is full of action and keeps both big ’uns and little ’uns entertained. Meanwhile, tired parents can relate to the dynamics between Elastagirl and Mr Incredible as they attempt to protect their unruly ‘super brood’ against evil forces.
Best for: Dads and little lads who like to dress up as super heroes.


Style: Stop-motion animation  
What’s it about: After moving with her over-worked, distracted parents to a new home, Coraline longs for her friends and becomes restless in the old, creaky house where her family have now settled. However, things take a turn for the interesting when Coraline discovers a small door that transports her to an alternative world, with alternative parents and everything she could have ever wished for. However, the longer she spends with Other Mother and Father, the more she sees that all is not what it seems and she’s soon fighting to escape her creepy new family.
Why we like it: Isolation, being ignored by parents and missing your old friends are themes that any kid who has moved home can relate to. However, the real winner is the imaginative animation, wonderful characters, and the creepy undertone – all the ingredients for a modern-day fairytale.
Best for: Slightly older kids – things get pretty frightening towards the end.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Style: Movie with animated parts
What’s it about: Set during World War II, three evacuees get placed with the rather eccentric and reluctant guardian, Miss Price, in a small Welsh village. Thinking they’ll have more fun back home in Blitz-torn London, the kids plan their escape, only to discover that the batty Miss Price is a student witch. Things really start to hot up when she casts a travelling spell on a large bed, and the four of them go zooming off in search of the ‘substitutiary locomotion’ spell on the magical island of Naboomboom…
Why we like it: Angela Lansbury is brilliant as the hapless Miss Price, and the movie is filled with lots of fantastic musical numbers, and there’s even a cameo of a very young Bruce Forsyth, who plays a cockney spiv. How very appropriate.
Best for: Everyone. Great music, great characters, and little ones will adore the hilarious animated scenes of Naboomboom.

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