Family Movie Night

When it comes to animated movies, I am a real sucker.

But like any other movie, I want it to be good. I have gone to the theater to see bad Winnie the Pooh movies or other movies directed at kids that I could not understand how they ever got the green light to be made.

I have a few favorites that I will watch over and over again with my kids. Or maybe without them.

Movie Poster for My Neighbor Totoro, picture from

I first found Studio Ghibli when I was searching for a movie to watch with my oldest when he was sick one afternoon. I picked up My Neighbor Totoro and fell in love with Japanese folk tales and creatures later that day.

The story is about a father and his two daughters who move into a home in the country. It may or may not be haunted but it is definitely near the home of a giant Totoro, king of the forest.  The girls are also missing their mother who must stay in a hospital for the time being.

Hayao Miyazaki directed this film, giving it emotional depth and artistic beauty with the hand drawn animation. If you like this movie, you may also like some of his other films including Ponyo (with a little girl that looks like Mai from Totoro) and Spirited Away. Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke are titles that may be better suited for pre-teen and teenagers.

Buzz and Woody racing to the moving van in Toy Story, picture from

 This year, I was enamored with Toy Story 3, a sequel that was as good as the original. In the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, the story follows the gang of toys as Andy prepares to go to college.  Bad things happen Andy’s bag does not go to the attic as intended but to the donation box to a day care center.

What should be a great second life for toys turns into something else when the toys run afoul of Lotso, the ruler of the toys in the daycare center. We know that an escape plan will be hatched. But what happens after that takes things farther than most ‘cute kids films’ are willing to go.

Go for the whole series, appropriate for all family members, because we get nothing but solid story telling from producers who respect the audience enough to give them the goods without sitting on their laurels.  

Tarzan (1999) , picture from

My last pick is two movies that I love for being great family films that are exciting and wonderful in their story telling. If either of these two movies happens to appear on regular TV, chances are I will stop what I am doing and watch them. The Incredibles and Tarzan get me every time.

Each has style and a certain elegance in the artwork that draws me in every time. There are plenty of quirky characters and real affection between the leads that make me want to watch them again and again and again.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.