Grab the popcorn: Here are 10 selected best family movies of all time

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, jump on the couch, snuggle up to your loved ones and enjoy a movie – or two, or ten, this summer. I enlisted the help of family and friends and a bunch of awesome mums to compile the following list of the best family movies of all time.


Labyrinth (1986)

Photo of the Goblin King (David Bowie) holding baby Toby in his lap

It wasn’t a hit when it first came out, but Labryinth grew to become one of the most-loved movies of all time, and is still adored by children who discover it – and the strange world it takes them to – today.

The plot centres on 16-year-old Sarah who wishes goblins would take her baby brother Toby, then instantly regrets her wish when he disappears. She’s given just 13 hours to solve a magical maze with curious creatures to reach the Goblin King’s castle, or risk losing Toby to the goblins forever.


Annie (1982)

Still from the movie Annie

Musicals not your thing? Make an exception for Annie! The film follows orphan Annie, who is desperate to find her real parents, but unbeknown to her, they’re dead. When wealthy Mr Warbucks wishes to adopt Annie, Miss Hannigan – who runs the orphanage – plans for her brother and his wife to pose as her birth parents in order to reap a reward he offers. But their tricks are foiled by Annie’s friends who overhear the trio plotting, and after quite the adventure Annie gets the happy ending she deserves.


Coco (2017)

  • Despite his family banning music, 12-year-old Miguel dreams of being a musician, like his great-great grandfather. This dream takes him on a beautiful and colourful journey to the Land of the Dead, where he connects with his country, culture and family. The film was praised for its research – which included multiple trips to Oaxaca – the real life inspiration for the Pixar film, its impressive animation and respect for the Mexican culture it represents.


    The Lion King (1994)

    Cartoon image of the characters from the Lion King

    The Lion King takes you to a warm, sunny and happy place where animals roam free. It seems all innocent at first, but quickly turns sinister when Scar kills Mufasa, King of the Pride Lands, forcing his young son Simba to flee. With the help of outcasts, meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa, and his childhood friend, Nala, Simba returns to the kingdom to take his rightful place as leader. While the film was renewed in 2019, it didn’t receive the same reception the original did.


    Stardust (2007)

    Screengrab from Stardust of Tristian and Yvaine looking surprised

    Searching for a fallen shooting star, Tristan crosses a forbidden wall bordering his town and enters a magical world where he discovers the star has taken human form in a woman named Yvaine. While trying to get Yvaine back to his town, the pair encounter witches, pirates, unicorns, ghosts and other fantastical creatures. A movie with the same name and about David Bowie’s life was released in November and will be in New Zealand cinemas in 2021.


    The Princess Bride (1987)

  • Humour, love, adventure and action – The Princess Bride has something for everyone. Enacting a book read by a grandfather to his sick grandson, The Princess Bride follows the story of two young lovers, Westley and Buttercup, who are separated when Westley travels to seek his fortune and Buttercup agrees to marry a prince, only because she is led to believe Westley is dead.

    Buttercup is kidnapped by an evil genius, a giant and a fencing master, only to be rescued by a masked man in black.

    Like the Labryinth, The Princess Bride was not a huge success when it was released, but has since become a cult classic.


    Home Alone (1990)

    Photo of young boy and mother from Home Alone smiling

    Kevin, 8, gets left at home when his family goes on holiday and has to fight off bad guys who try to rob his house – it’s the plot of every mischevious child’s dreams. Set at Christmas time, it’s a fun movie to watch this time of year.

    But while it might make you laugh, Commonsense Media warns parents there’s quite a lot of slapstick violence and profanity, and your kids might end up with some new names to call each other.


    Ponyo (2008)

    “Life is mysterious and amazing.” Well it certainly is in Ponyo, a Japanese animated film about a goldfish that wants to be a girl. A boy rescues the goldfish after it washes ashore in a jar, and names it Ponyo. Their friendship blossoms as the fish turns into a girl and the pair embark on an adventure on land, on and in the sea.


    E.T. (1982)

    Screen grab from E.T. of boy riding bicycle with alien in a basket on the front

    E.T. is one of the best family movies of all time, about one of the best friendships of all time. The film – which is almost 40 years’ old – centres on Elliott, a boy who befriends an alien stranded on earth and helps him find his way home. It will probably make you laugh and cry, but it’s one the family won’t forget.

    Watch it over summer, or for an unforgettable experience book tickets to the 2021 Auckland Arts Festival screening, where E.T. will be projected on a huge screen while the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performs the award-winning score.


    Jumanji (1995)

    Screen grab of two children and two adults sitting on a rug with a menacing pelican advancing towards them

    It’s 1969 when Alan Parrish finds a board game called Jumanji and plays it with his friend Sarah, only to be sucked into the game’s other world and trapped there. Almost three decades pass before siblings Judy and Peter Shepherd find the game and start playing it, releasing Alan back into the real world and unleashing a stampede of wild animals. The trio have to track down Sarah in order to finish the game and return everything to normal.

    There are two recent sequels – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019).


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