In most homes, the kids have taken over the screens. Summer break and lockdown are proving to be a double whammy for the parents as kids are watching their favourite shows and cartoons many times over. Rarely does ‘family entertainment’ do equal justice to both the age groups. Not all kids can enjoy ‘family films’ and not all adults can sit through a typical ‘children’s film.’ To come out of this conundrum, here is a movie list that you and the kids can finish together. Some of these are so popular that you must have watched them already, but I am sure all of these are worth revisiting.
1. Hugo (2011)
A rare Martin Scorcese film for the kids, Hugo tells the story of a 1930s orphan who lives inside a Paris train station and faithfully tends the clocks. An adaptation of the book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” Hugo is more than a kid’s story. It is a moving tribute to the pioneer of films George Méliès who mesmerised people with his fantasy science fiction films such as A Trip to the Moon (1902). A still from the film, a man with the rocket to the moon stuck into his eye, has been the most popular symbol used to depict the magic of movies. Shot in 3D that brings out the best of visually rich steampunk production design, Hugo won five Oscars (including one for best visual effects), two BAFTAs, and the Golden Globe for Best Director.
2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
YouTube and Google Play
One of the first popular family sci-fi movies that are watched over and over again, this one must have been in everyone’s list at one point. Close on the heels of Steven Spielberg’s earlier film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978), which showed the potential of visual effects at a time the genre was in its very nascent stages, the director’s next alien movie too was ahead of its time. It creates magic on every scene, without any spectacular action sequences. As the master director narrates the enchanting fantasy of a deep friendship between a 10-year old boy and an abandoned and homesick alien he hides in his bedroom, the science fiction story turns in to one of the most riveting human dramas on-screen about friendship. The climax will still leave you in tears, even if you had watched it several times before.
3. Inside Out (2015)
Disney Hotstar, YouTube and Google Play
Inside Out is an amazingly original plot in which the emotions inside the brains of protagonist Riley becomes the key characters. Riley’s brain or the headquarters command centre is controlled by the five emotions Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness and Joy who are forever fighting to establish their primacy. Of all the five, Joy seems to be dominant, thus becoming the manager who is in control of the workplace. As Riley tides through life’s ups and downs, the film’s most emotional moments unfold, which would turn the kids as well as the adults equally emotional. Inside Out makes a case to freely express your emotions without suppressing them through well-written and well-animated sequences in which the emotions excel as the key characters of life.
4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
This modest comedy has been one of the all-time favourite children’s adventure movies that are worth a repeat watch. The other one is the popular Home Alone (1990). If your kids haven’t watched it already, it’s time to introduce them to it. As the dad’s experiment goes haywire, the kids are reduced to bug size and are swept and thrown to the backyard along with the dust on the floor. How will they survive in that “jungle” in which the grass looks like mighty trees and the ants, scary monsters? There is no high-tech sci-fi action here, but you will enjoy the humour that such a drastic transformation creates. If you love this opening part, you can also try the other films in the series Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997) and Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992).
5. Wall-E (2008)
Want an entertainer that is thought-provoking and relevant to our times? This Pixar classic will make you laugh and think at the same time. In Wall-E, An industrious robot in a post-apocalyptic world roams around cleaning the waste-covered Earth along with his sidekick cockroach and falls in love with a fellow robot. With no humans around, the first half-hour of the film is without any dialogues. However, the sequence is a sheer visual marvel that will not allow you to stop and leave. Are we staring at extinction with our consumption habits that amass gadgets and other things that make our planet a gigantic garbage dump? It’s an entertaining yet philosophical film that drives home a lesson about ecology and how important it is to reduce, reuse and recycle to escape from or to prolong our extinction.
(Dress Circle is a weekly column on films. The author is a communication professional and film enthusiast. Read his past works here.)