10 classic movies your kids should see

As an official ANZ FebuSave blogger, I’m doing a post each week throughout February on how mums can save a few dollars to help get their budget in check. My first post (yes, I know it’s not February yet, but the Aussies need to get through the last week of school holidays!) is about how to avoid the craziness of the major theatre chains and instead make the most of a home family movie time.

You’ve probably already been to the movies at least once these holidays. Why not introduce your children to the classic movies we grew up with, have a fun time making your living room into a theatre and save some money at the same time?
Get the kids to help you pop some popcorn (separate it out and top with butter, icing sugar, salt or something fancier like caramel popcorn), move the furniture around a bit so the TV is the centre of everyone’s focus (if it isn’t already) and settle down to watch one or more of these films you might have forgotten about:

1. The Princess Bride.

© Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” This film is full of hilarity, swashbuckling, swamps, and of course… true love. If you’re not into the whole ‘girl loves boy but doesn’t realise it until it’s nearly too late when he decides to come and save her from all types of evil’ scenario, then you’ll definitely find lots to love with the swamp scene and the wonderful Billy Crystal’s “he’s not dead, he’s just mostly dead” scene. Don’t forget the brilliance of storming the castle! As you wish.

2. The Dark Crystal.

A good one for the younger ones, and so nicely put together. This Jim Henson muppet experience was like an early version of Avatar. Kind of.

3. Labyrinth.

Some good music, and a good one for teens who complain about babysitting their younger siblings. Bonus for you? David Bowie in tight pants. ‘Nuff said.

4. Cinderfella.

Really, any early Jerry Lewis comedy is a hit. I believe  this particular film is a great movie to introduce your  kids to watching  older style movies – the ones that used  to run on  Saturday afternoons when I was growing up  (and dinosaurs ruled the earth). This film also challenges  the gender stereotypes of the Cinderella story, if that’s  something you think is important. If it’s a hit you could  rediscover some other Jerry Lewis favourites like the original version of The Nutty Professor (before Eddie Murphy got hold of it), or if the kids enjoy a musical comedy, go through all the Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis library – that should take care of the rest of the school holidays!

5. E.T.

If they haven’t seen this before they’re 18, you haven’t  parented well.

6. It’s a Wonderful Life.

Yes, it’s a Christmas movie but the message is relevant year round, and it doesn’t have lots of Christmas theming through it – rather it talks about appreciating all you have, even when times are tough. Sort of like when our economy stinks. Like now.

7. The Never Ending Story.

A young boy named Bastian has the power to save all of Fantasia. Another good one for younger viewers, with a book being key to the story, similar to The Princes Bride.

8. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

© Paramount Pictures

Great for everyone, this classic film has so many lines in it, your kid will be the coolest in the classroom when the teacher calls the roll and they answer “Bueller? Bueller?” I’ve never really understood how Ferris was such great friends with Cameron, they are so different in personality and lives… although they do enjoy many of the same things. Who could forget the magic of Ferris singing Twist and Shout on the parade float, or the brilliantly acted teenage awkward moment of Ferris’s sister, played by Jennifer Grey, getting caught by her mum in the police station kissing Charlie Sheen playing… well, Charlie Sheen.

9. Back to the Future.

The original of this series is fantastic. The hover skateboard will be on their birthday wishlists as well as lots of family discussions about the worthiness of time travel after watching this.

10. Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The original. Some might say the best. If they like it, you might want to investigate the others and do the whole series.

Most of these are easily available to rent in the cheap section of your local video store, or even buy from places like Big W and Target. For less than the cost of a child’s movie ticket at one of the big theatre chains, your whole family will be treated to a special movie experience – that the kids will remember long after the final credits.


  • I agree with the majority of these – especially Labyrinth! I got it for my birthday and it’s as good as I remembered (including The Thin White Duke in spandex). I would also add “The Sound of Music” and Sesame Street’s “Follow That Bird.” The lessons (and music!) in both are timeless. Great post, Jo.

  • Great list! My young ones have only seen two on the list, I myself am only missing two on your list.

  • My favourites are definetly Labyrinth, Ferris Bueller and The Princess Bride. Raiders is good, though I’d like to amend the “whole series” claim. The whole series, except the most recent one. It’s awful, even Harrison Ford couldn’t save it.

  • This is an issue of age here – my children (7 and under) have been watching and enjoying “Princess Bride” but I would not show them “Dark Crystal” for a while yet (have tried it and the eldest got scared but loves Muppets :)). Similarly Ferris Bueller I would not be showing to lower primary or preschool children. We keep tossing around showing the kids Radiers but the final fight scene makes it a no go for us just yet.
    I agree with “Follow that Bird”. If you can find it “Big Bird in China” is a regular watching around here.
    Others often seen around here are G&S musicals, “The Court Jester” (Danny Kaye), Star Wars (eps 1, 2, 4, 5, 6), Ghostbusters (kids now sing the song endlessly). Charlie and the Chocolate factory (either version). Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music. Really the list goes on. It isn’t that hard to find older movies that both suit the adults and the kids :).

  • A good list, I have to question The Dark Crystal.Ask anyone in their early thirties who saw this when they were about 5 yo. It was a freaky freaky movie. Parents took children thinking it was a harmless “muppets” movie, not realising the were going to terrify a generation.

  • The Princess Bride… hands down the best family movie of all time. Phissik the giant poet, Westley the Hero, Buttercup the Maiden, Wallace Shawn’s Visini: “Inconceivable!”, Inigo Montoya “you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it does”. Hilariously funny, and with arguably the best revenge scene ever put in a movie. And not a single swearword anywhere.

  • Hate to nitpick, but the first Back to the Future doesn’t have any hoverboards. It’s set only in 1985 and 1955.

  • I can attest to Back to the Future. I saw it at the cinema when I was 2 yrs old. It started me on a life long love afair with that movie. Now I watched it with my son at 18mnths old. He was addicted and couldn’t stop watching it. We bought him a toy replica time machine. It is his ‘security blanket’ he takes every (even bed)!

  • The kids have seen 5 of those. the kids LOVED Dark Crystal – yes, a bit scary (we fast forwarded over the orange dudes throwing their heads) but so cool it really needs watching.

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