10 Under-Rated Family Films
These family films are sure to make you smile, and we all have that one movie from our childhood that we watched over and over again. We’d wear out the VHS tape, drive our siblings crazy with our continual demand to watch it every night and annoyingly quote the whole movie ahead of each line. These movies were the core of our youth. For our Movie Madness month we dredged through the files of nostalgia and called to light some of the movies that don’t seem to get talked about enough. We refuse to let these cinematic treasures fall from the limelight.
1. The world was blessed with the beauty that is The Dark Crystal in 1982. Written and directed by Jim Henson, we follow the story of Jen, our favorite Gelfling, as he sets out in search of a shard of a magical crystal that will bring balance back to his world. We encounter beasties, love and adventure with everything we cherished about the Muppets and with magic and sinister undertones. This is an instant classic and a definite work of art. The younger generations will marvel at its fantastical elements and relatable characters.
2. Three kids, one map and extra terrestrial beings. Explorers, starring a young Ethan Hawke and directed by Joe Dante was released in 1985. We all fell in love with E.T. but this is one movie that doesn’t get the same kind of love, and absolutely deserves it. Imagine a group of young boys building a flying craft that allows them to explore and meet with beings from beyond, add in Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road (which is also what they name their ship) and you’ve got the basics for what should be considered one of the best cult family films out there. This is one movie that proves the box office wrong.
3. Another gem from ’85, The Black Cauldron, based on the book by Lloyd Alexander, is an animated film released by Disney. Remember the scene in the first Lord of the Rings when Frodo is on the road being pursued by the Nazgul and Gandalf is yelling for them to get off the road? That same kind of panicky fear can by found in this children’s movie. The Horned King is after the magical cauldron that will allow him to rule the land but a lowly pig keeper by the name of Taran and the annoyingly loving Gurgi must set out to stop him. By far one of the most untalked of Disney family films, The Black Cauldron will keep you on the edge of your seat and rooting for the good side.
4. Imagine all the junk food, video games and fun you can have with no adult supervision. Add in a blue monster and being the new kid on the block and you’ve found yourself watching Little Monsters, directed by Richard Greenberg and released in 1989. What turns out as an ideal situation flips into chaos when our star of the movie, Fred Savage, the younger brother gets kidnapped by the other monsters and must venture into the world beneath his bed to get his brother back.
5/6. Wild America (1997) and Tom and Huck (1995) star our favorite hunky child actor Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Both movies feature high action adventure and mayhem. In Wild America we follow a band of brothers on their quest for a mystical cave of bears. With hilarious interactions between the three and pranks around every corner this was an every Friday night movie for at least year in our household growing up. Tom and Huck takes on an adaptation from the famous Mark Twain novel. These two boys know nothing but trouble as they cause shenanigans around their modest town. After witnessing a murder and realizing that the town drunk is falsely accused, the boys set off to right the wrong, stumbling into trouble the whole way of course!
7. Growing up our family used to play the game, What If We Won The Lottery, where we’d discuss all the lavish things we’d want to do with excessive amounts of money. I always wanted a jungle gym room complete with secret slides, hidden cubbies and sky lights. In the movie Blank Check, Brian Bonsall plays Preston, a 12 year old boy who’s given a blank check after nearly being hit in the parking lot by a local money launderer. What follows is the extreme fun any kid could have with 1,000,000 dollars. But what happens when the goon wants his money back? Sit down with a bowl of popcorn and have a blast as you watch this, and these other family films.
8. Adapted after Roald Dahls children’s title, The Witches is a 1990 British film about a boy and his grandmother and the terrible witches who torment them. Turning witches into mice, helping his ill grandmother and ultimately saving the day, Bruno is just an ordinary boy being raised by his loving Gran. When she turns ill and they move to the seaside to recover a whole world of endangerment opens up.
9. If you’ve read the book Ready Player One you’ll recall the scenes in which the players must act through a movie quote by quote to move onto the next challenge. In The Pagemaster, the 1994 live action and fantasy film follows Richard Tyler and his statistical fear of nearly everything. When he ducks into the library to avoid a storm he gets sucked into the books and must face challenges to escape back to reality. Macaulay Culkin does a phenomenal job playing a timid twerp who must face his fears.
10. Monumentally better than the new one with The Rock, the second adaptation of Escape to Witch Mountain has elements of everything entertaining. Spooky, fun and full of adventure, this 1995 Disney release is a classic. When twins Danny and Anna are separated at a young age, it isn’t until they end up in the same orphanage year later that they’re reunited. After a man named Bolt realizes they posses supernatural powers he decided to adopt them and recruit their help to develop the local Witch Mountain. Of course, there’s more sinister motives behind Bolts intentions…will the twins be able to thwart him?
The time has come to fulfill your nostalgic desires, pop open a bag of popcorn and curl up with the family. These all time classic family films will have you reeling with laughter, adventure and coming of age all over again. Stop in Bookmans today to pick up a copy of any or all of these titles. You can sometimes even find the perfect popcorn bowls on our shelves. Take some time before summer comes to a full end to enjoy last minute fun with those you love.