It’s important to stay active as a family, but some fun can be had sitting on a couch too. Part of the movie-watching-fun is watching the older movies together with the re-makes or re-boots. That’s why our family movie marathon ideas tend to have roots in “way way way back before we were born” (as my 12 year old once described the 80’s). It gives the kids a little history, as well as context for the newer films. Some of the fun is pointing out the world before Smart Phones to the kids:
That’s a “phone booth”; it holds a “pay phone” and a “phone book”.
This is Part 2 of some ideas for movies families might enjoy together, especially if your kids are getting into live-action movies. Part 1 covers the Science Fiction and Comic Books.
Ray Harryhausen Movies
Ray Harryhausen made great leaps in movie history with his stop-action/ Claymation special effects. The first movies we watched were from his Arabian theme: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) [The kids wanted to know why we weren’t starting with the 1st Voyage]; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973); and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). We followed these with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PG-13, 2010).
We moved into Harryhausen’s Greek Mythology classics: Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981). These were followed by the modern version of Clash of the Titans (PG-13, 2010) and Wrath of the Titans (PG-13, 2012).
It’s interesting to observe the roles of women in the older movies through my kids’ eyes. They were confused by how helpless the women acted compared to the strong women they usually see in the more modern movies.
The classic monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy) are getting a reboot. There are also spoofs for those more into comedy: Young Frankenstein and Bud Abbot & Lou Castello meet… (insert classic monster) are our personal favorites.
Ghostbusters (1984) was one of my all-time favorite movies (right up there with all of the other 80’s kids movies). Ghostbusters II (1989) is a worthy sequel.
Gender reversal is the draw to the reboot, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (PG-13, 2016). I admit, I was apprehensive about a remake of such a great movie, and even more so because of the heavily female cast. The girls and I went to the theater together; turns out it was a great deal of fun!
Video Game Based Movies:
As video games become a larger part of our society, we are seeing more movies based on this form of entertainment. Movies in this genre include the fighting games, Mortal Kombat (PG-13, 1995) (again, a little distraction might be needed at times for the more sensitive kids). There’s also Street Fighter (PG-13, 1994), but let’s focus on quality films.
Our new favorite game-based movie is Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (PG-13, 2017) (which could actually be in it’s own Jumanji Marathon, or in a Robin Williams movie marathon).
For the gamers, there is Warcraft (PG-13, 2016) and Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within (PG-13, 2001).
We’re looking forward to Rampage and the new Tomb Raider coming to theaters (2018).
Family Movie Ideas Based on Books:
Our family has already been through a couple of movies based on books, you can read about our “creative” process here. For a list of 15 movies adapted from books coming out in 2018, click here (not all are based on kids’ books).
A few of these titles can be movie marathons in and of themselves because of their size and scope. These are books that have touched readers of all ages, and have such fantastic imagery and character development, that even the big screen has trouble containing it all.
These include the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling); The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis); Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien); and the Percy Jackson series (Rick Riordan) is getting there.
You don’t have to look hard for one of you child’s favorite stories or characters these days. Eragon (PG, 2006) and Inkheart (2009) were based on young teen books. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) and Ramona and Beezus (2010) were books made for younger readers. The newest additions to this list: Ready Player One (which would also fit right in with the video game marathon), and A Wrinkle in Time (2018).
[I am not listing the many movies, like The Hunger Games, that are great books for teens, but are too heavy younger kids.]
Disaster Family Movie Marathon (PG-13):
Currently, we are working our way through “natural” disaster movies. The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Twister (1996), San Andreas (2015), Volcano (1997), and we’ll probably wrap it up with Armageddon (1998) and 2012 (umm… 2009).
You might also enjoy the (PG-13) Monster Disaster movies, such as Pacific Rim (2013), Godzilla (2014), and Kong: Skull Island (2017).
The sky is the limit, so use your imagination… and your critical thinking skills!
If your kids are into sports/ horses/ cars/ history, put together the best family movies on that subject. Seasonal themes are always fun (Christmas, Halloween, etc.). If your kids don’t know the 80’s… it’s time.
You’ll get bonus parenting points if you can use your family movie to talk about how it has affected culture; how technology has changed, and how current technology would have altered the story line; what the underscoring theme to the movie was (what is the movie really trying to say?); etc. Critical thinking skills can be applied to just about anything we spend our time on, even the couch.