22 brilliant family films

Snuggle up on the sofa with Time Out’s pick of 22 great family films


Peter Pan (1953)

Disney tackles JM Barrie’s tale of Neverland and the spirit of childhood.
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske
Best quote: ‘But Mother, I don’t want to grow up!’
Defining moment: Peter leads Wendy and her siblings across the London night sky.
Parents, do you know where your children are? Maybe they’re following mischievous spirit Peter Pan past the second star and straight on to Neverland, where kids can be kids to their hearts’ content.

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Lewis Carroll is brought to the screen the Disney way.
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske
Best quote: ‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t.’
Defining moment: Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole is only the beginning of the weirdness.
White rabbits, talking caterpillars, special potions that make you grow or shrink, this film tells Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of Alice and her adventures down a rabbit hole.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

This all-action chopsocky film has wit, charm and guts.
Directors: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Best quote: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.’
Defining moment: The beautiful prologue sequence, playing on Chinese shadow-puppet traditions.

The Lion King (1994)

Like Shakespeare at the zoo, it’s the story of one lion cub who goes from pampered prince to outcast, and then to lord of the pride.
Directors: Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff
Best quote: ‘I was first in line until the little hairball was born.’
Defining moment: On a cliff edge, Scar lets his brother, Mufasa, the king of the lions, fall to his death.
It has one of the best (possibly the best) Disney villains, the king’s brother, Scar, drawling and plotting with supreme boredom and devilish sarcasm. The animation – best of all, a wildebeest stampede, which took three years to animate – is spectacular.

Aladdin (1992)

Disney’s comeback was assured when this lively romp made millions.
Directors: Ron Clements and John Musker
Best quote: ‘Three wishes, to be exact. And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes.’
Defining moment: The first appearance of the genie, voiced by Robin Williams, is a rat-a-tat stand-up routine set to dizzying visuals.
The appearance of Robin Williams as the Genie was a landmark in the employment of celebrity voices: This wasn’t so much a character as a self-portrait in ink and paint.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Never has a party snub had such dire consequences.
Director: Clyde Geronimi
Best quote: ‘Now you shall deal with me, O prince, and all the powers of hell!’
Defining moment: Evil fairy Maleficent turns herself into a fire-breathing dragon and goes to battle. She is the bad fairy who casts a spell on Aurora at birth, cursing the princess to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die before her 16th birthday. Why? All because the king left her off the guest list at Aurora’s christening. The good fairies change it all around, meaning she would sleep, not die, and eventually she is saved by a handsome prince.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)
What happens when a well-groomed cocker spaniel meets the love of her life, a stray mutt from downtown?
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske
Best quote: ‘I wonder what the leash-and-collar set does for excitement?’
Defining moment: As if you have to ask: a romantic Italian dinner, a single spaghetti strand and two slurping dogs.
Inspired by an actual dog, Lady, the pet of scenarist Joe Grant, the heart-warming film tells the tale of a pampered pet that falls in love with a dog called Tramp from the wrong side of the tracks.

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
The thuggish villain of a classic arcade game gets tired of being bad and breaks out of his cage.
Director: Rich Moore
Best quote: ‘I don’t need a medal to tell me I’m a good guy.’
Defining moment: Pac-Man shows up at a party and hogs all the hors d’oeuvres.
Ralph busts into another game to befriend the adorable-but-obnoxious Vanellope von Schweetz, who just wants to build her candy car and win the race.

Tangled (2010)
No more little miss shy and retiring, this princess means business.
Directors: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Best quote: ‘I’m malicious, mean and scary/My face could curdle dairy.’
Defining moment: Escaping the tower, Rapunzel feels grass under her feet for the first time, and breaks into song.
In this version of Rapunzel, gone is the handsome prince, replaced with an egotistical thief, Flynn Ryder. When he first smarms his way upstairs, Rapunzel thwacks him with a frying pan. This sparky princess will do her own escaping, thank you very much, twirling all that hair like a lasso.

The LEGO Movie (2014)
This tells the story of Emmet Brickowski, an ordinary builder who saves the world.-
Directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Best quote: ‘Everything is awesome!’
Defining moment: When our hero Emmet awakes to find himself in the ‘real’ world.
The LEGO movie is witty, intelligent, spiky, sweet-natured and insanely enjoyable adventure crammed with goofy gags and movie in-jokes.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Pixar’s purple patch spawns another monster smash.
Director: Pete Docter
Best quote: ‘There’s nothing more toxic or deadly than a human child.’
Defining moment: The closing credits, as our heroes perform their hastily improvised stage musical ‘Put That Thing Back Where It Came from or So Help Me’.
Monsters generate their city's power by scaring children, but there’s one big problem. If they are touched by a child, they panic! When one enters Monstropolis, top scarer Sulley finds that children are not that scary, after all.

The Little Mermaid (1989)
A calypso-inflected Hans Christian Andersen adaptation.
Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements
Best quote: ‘Somebody’s got to nail that girl’s fins to the floor.’
Defining moment: In ‘Under the Sea’, Sebastian the Crab attempts to convince wayward Ariel of the merits of ocean living.
Aerial just wants to know what it is like to have legs, and once she is granted her wish by an evil sea-witch, things don’t go exactly to plan.

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How the Vikings learned to stop warring and love dragons.
Directors: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
Best quote: ‘It’s only fun if you get a scar out of it.’
Defining moment: Pint-size Viking Hiccup meets Toothless, the not-so-scary Night Fury dragon.
A coming-of-age yarn about a boy with daddy issues. Our hero is Viking pipsqueak Hiccup. All Hiccup wants is to please his warrior father, Stoick the Vast. Hiccup’s trouble is that he is the geekiest, weediest Viking in the tribe.

WALL-E (2008)

A near-wordless tale of robot romance in a dystopian future.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Best quote: ‘Computer, define dancing.’
Defining moment: WALL-E’s increasingly frenzied, love-struck attempts to revive his comatose flame are heartbreaking.
It presents the politically charged story of a lonely robot cleaning up a devastated, trash-covered Earth and falling in love with the first sentient being he meets.

Chicken Run (2000)
Aardman’s first feature applied their signature style to a tale of farmed chickens trying to break free.
Directors: Peter Lord and Nick Park
Best quote: ‘All my life flashed before my eyes... It was really boring.’
Defining moment: When our feathered friends finally fly a homemade mechanical bird over the fence.
A group of chickens, headed up by Rocky the Rooster and Ginger the chicken, decide to escape by learning to fly before their owners make them into chicken soup.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Romance, music and comedy combine in a latter-day Disney milestone.
Directors: Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale
Best quote: ‘It’s no use. She’s so beautiful. And I’m... well, look at me!’
Defining moment: The camera sweeps through the ballroom as the couple hits the floor.
While there are lots of fun dancing plates and candlesticks, they never overshadow the tale’s pent-up yearning, as the ‘Beast’ must find true love before the petals fall from a rose or remain forever in bestial form.

Finding Nemo (2003)

Pixar’s beloved shaggy-fish story hooked the box office.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Best quote: ‘Just keep swimming.’
Defining moment: Those toothy, Aussie ‘vegetarian’ sharks really are terrifying.
A tale of fish that got lost, and ended up in a dentist’s fish tank, before being rescued by his dad.

101 Dalmatians (1961)

Disney’s most stylish baddie concocts a devilish plan.
Directors: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske and Wolfgang Reitherman
Best quote: ‘I live for furs. I worship furs! Is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?’
Defining moment: The puppies sneak past Cruella De Vil, covered in soot, disguised as black Labradors.
Sick of the bachelor life, Pongo studies the lady dogs and their ‘pets’ (owners) passing under his window.

Up (2009)

Pixar’s saddest, sweetest, strangest film.
Directors: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson
Best quote: ‘Adventure is out there!’
Defining moment: An obvious one – the heartbreaking opening sequence tracking Carl and Ellie through their life together.
‘Up’ is the tale of a grouchy elderly man who makes the decision to fly his entire house to South America using helium balloons.

Ratatouille (2007)

Pixar was at the height of its powers when it made this Paris-set tale of a rat with immense cooking talent.
Directors: Brad Bird and Jan Pinkava
Best quote: ‘In many ways, the work of a critic is easy.’
Defining moment: Food critic Anton Ego tastes Remy’s dish and is plunged into memories of his childhood. Remy, a food-obsessed French rat washed down a sewer only to emerge in Paris, where he begins to help an awkward young kitchen worker cook incredible food in a top restaurant.

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
An eccentric inventor and his loyal canine companion hunt a mutant bunny.
Directors: Steve Box and Nick Park
Best quote: ‘I’m sorry, Gromit – I know you’re doing this for my own good, but the fact is I’m just crackers about cheese.’
Defining moment: Gromit follows the oversized bunny in a vehicular chase that goes below ground.
Wallace and Gromit are hired to protect their town’s vegetable patches from ravenous rabbits. Wallace tries to brainwash the bunnies with his latest creation (the Mind Manipulation–O-Matic), but instead ends up creating a bigger foe – a towering were-rabbit that emerges at every full moon.

Fantasia (1940)
In Disney’s extravaganza, eight fantastical vignettes are scored to music by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.
Director: No less than 11 directors slaved on individual sequences, many without credit.
Best quote: ‘Mr Stokowski! Mr Stokowski!’
Defining moment: Sorcerer’s apprentice Mickey Mouse finds himself on the wrong end of the broomsticks.
Abstract colour patterns rise and fall to Bach, life-size mushrooms dance to Tchaikovksy, and a hippo and an alligator do a slapstick Ponchielli ballet. Silly and sublime in equal measure.

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