5 Movies Your Kid Should Watch While They’re Still Kids
It’s Labor Day, your kids are home and if the temperature outside where you are is anything like it is where I am if you send the munchkins outside they’ll be dehydrated in roughly 10 minutes. You could take them to see whatever kiddie blockbuster is available at your local theater or just pop in a Pixar film again, but I have a better idea: break out a classic. Chances are at least one of the films on my list is on your shelf collecting dust or tucked safely away on Netflix or some other streaming service. The point is, they’re all just as readily available as Toy Story, and if your kids are ever going to watch the following five films they need to watch them while they’re still kids.
Full disclosure: I don’t have any kids, but I do have nieces, and I was in the not-so-distant past a kid myself with parents who rarely monitored my entertainment choices. I also had access to TCM. As a result, I watched a lot of classic films, some that I wasn’t ready for (Cujo) and others that primed me for a future as a film lover (Planet of the Apes). What I learned is there are certain films that are truly magical if you watch them before over-exposure to pop culture ruins them for you, and what’s really wonderful is that magic can be carried over into adulthood. I also learned that if you miss out on one of those formative films it can be hard to appreciate it later through jaded adult eyes.
Of course, you don’t have to make your kids watch these films today, but I hope you’ll keep the list in mind the next time you decide to have a family movie night. I have a feeling if you do, one day your kids will thank you for it.
The Wizard of Oz is a wonderland for kids. They sit down thinking they’re in for a dull black and white film and then Dorothy gets swept away to the land of technicolor, witches, scarecrows and a not so great and powerful wizard. Fans of the film speak about it as if watching it for the first time was akin to having a religious experience, but this is the one film I missed out on as a kid.
I’ve watched it in pieces over the years, never fully appreciating America’s greatest fairy tale because I saw it at the wrong time. I already know all the famous lines and that the wizard is just a man behind a curtain, and the knowing sucks all of the fun out of it. I can appreciate it’s aesthetics, but that’s where my relationship with Dorthy begins and ends. Don’t let this happen to your kid. Make them watch it while they’re still wide-eyed enough to be freaked out by flying monkeys.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a heavy film, but because it’s told through the eyes of a child, it provides the perfect gateway to open a discussion on humanity, The Civil Rights Movement and true morality. It’s also an evocative portrait of the south; one that allows the viewer to watch the moment a child looses her innocence and sees her town for what it truly it is. She sees more than that though, she also sees who her father is and why people are willing stand when he passes.
Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch is one of Hollywood’s benchmark performances. If you think your kid is ready to appreciate it, then there’s no reason to let them go any longer without meeting Scout, Atticus and Boo Radley. And once the movie is over, you can press the book in their hands (or, even better, do that first).
Don Draper took his son to see Planet of the Apes in season six of Mad Men, and young Bobby immediately wanted to see it again. That was the same response I had when I saw it at the tender age of eight: shock, awe, fear and an immediate thirst for more. It’s not just the ending, it’s everything that comes before including Taylor’s frustration, culture shock and eventual desperation.
That final shot is the ultimate film twist, but if you don’t expose the wee ones to it early, they’ll catch parodies of it and suddenly the power of the moment will be lost to them.
Watching The Birds now, I notice the wires and the obvious fakeness of some of the deranged fowls, but you know what? It still gets to me because I can channel that feeling of watching it for the first time and being utterly terrified. (The attic scene still gives me nightmares.)
So what I’m saying is a little trauma now is worth it if you can give your children a gateway into Alfred Hitchcock’s work…however, if they can’t sleep for a week, I and Film Equals disclaim all responsibility. Just FYI.
It’s inconceivable that any parent wouldn’t watch The Princess Bride with their kids.
There are swamp rats, pirates, giants, a proactive princess and Inigo Montoya, one the coolest characters of all-time. Honestly, I don’t think you have to be ten to fall in love with this one, but deep down you know you’d love a good excuse to watch it again. Then spend the rest of the day pretending to be the Dread Pirate Robert while your children help you destroy the house. See, you get a movie and a memory with this one, and at less than half the cost of an industrial sized theater popcorn.
These are the films that made my list, but I’d love to hear from you. Which movies left a lasting impression on you as a child?
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