Did you know there are people out there who have never seen The Princess Bride or Willow…I know this for a fact because a friend of mine was one of them. In my house there isn’t a day that goes by that you don’t catch a perfectly timed movie quote coming out of someones’ mouth…like talking to my friend about her upcoming wedding and me giggling while saying “Mawwiage” (come on, that was funny!) then getting a blank stare that totally ruined the magical funny moment. It was time to rectify her lack of knowledge.
While we’ve introduced her to many of the must sees we saw as a child, many will still miss out because they don’t have pop culture geek friends like us. The 41 Movies To Show Your kids Before They’re Grown isn’t a list of the 41 “best” kids movies, it’s just a list of movies that we love, my kids love and we feel should be seen by everyone at one point in their life (preferably as a kid, you know when they are innocent enough to be wowed by it). I went in alphabetical order as to not play favorites because they are all just as wonderful as the next.
These are cinematic building blocks for future film connoisseurs who can seamlessly throw in a Beetlejuice impression or get into a spirited debate over whether a proton pack can really be achieved. You know the important stuff in life.
1. Alice In Wonderland (1951)
While sitting in the English countryside enduring one of her many lectures, Alice spots a white rabbit…dressed in a jacket and carrying a pocket watch scurrying off, saying he’s late, for a very important date. As she follows him down the rabbit hole she’s enthralled by a world with strange creatures and plenty of adventure.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” – Alice
2. Annie (1982)
In the depths of the 1930’s, Annie is a fiery young orphan girl who must live in a miserable orphanage run by the tyrannical Miss Hannigan. Her seemingly hopeless situation changes dramatically when she is selected to spend a short time at the residence of the wealthy munitions industrialist, Oliver Warbucks. Quickly, she charms the hearts of the household staff and even the seemingly cold-hearted Warbucks cannot help but learn to love this wonderful girl. He decides to help Annie find her long lost parents by offering a reward if they would come to him and prove their identity.
“I don’t need sunshine now to turn my skies to blue. I Don’t Need anything but you.” – Annie
3. Back To The Future
Marty McFly, a typical American teenager of the Eighties, is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a plutonium-powered DeLorean “time machine” invented by a scientist “Doc Brown”. During his trip back in time, Marty must make certain his teenage parents-to-be meet and fall in love – so he can get back to the future.
“Last night, Darth Vader came down from Planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out, that he’d melt my brain.” – George McFly
The animated story of Bambi, a young deer hailed as the ‘Prince of the Forest’ at his birth. As Bambi grows, he makes friends with the other animals of the forest, learns the skills needed to survive, and even finds love. One day, however, the hunters come, and Bambi must learn to be as brave as his father if he is to lead the other deer to safety.
“I’m thumpin’! That’s why they call me Thumper!” – Thumper
Adam and Barbara are a normal couple…who happen to be dead. They have given their precious time to decorate their house and make it their own, but unfortunately a family is moving in, and not quietly. Adam and Barbara try to scare them out, but end up becoming the main attraction to the money making family. They call upon Beetlejuice to help, but Beetlejuice has more in mind than just helping.
“Well, I’ve read through that handbook for the recently deceased. It says: ‘live people ignore the strange and unusual. I, myself, am strange and unusual.” – Lydia
6. Beauty & the Beast (1991)
Belle is a girl who is dissatisfied with life in a small provincial French town, constantly trying to fend off the misplaced “affections” of conceited Gaston. The Beast is a prince who was placed under a spell because he could not love. A wrong turn taken by Maurice, Belle’s father, causes the two to meet.
“It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now, we invite to relax, let us pull up a chair, as the dining room proudly presents… your dinner.” – Lumiere
7. Charlotte’s Web (1973)
Based on the beloved children’s novel by E.B. White, this is the story of a little pig named Wilbur who was born a runt. Mr. Arable decides to kill him for dinner food but his daughter Fern begs him to let him live. On greater maturity, Wilbur is sold to Fern’s uncle, Homer L. Zuckerman, in whose barnyard he’s left yearning for friendship, but is snubbed by other barn animals. Wilbur is scared of the end of the season, because he knows that come that time, he will end up on the dinner table. He hatches a plan with Charlotte, a gentle and wise grey spider that lives in his pen, to ensure that this will never happen.
“Then write this in your webs, when you learn: This hallowed doorway was once the home of Charlotte. She was brilliant, beautiful, and loyal to the end. Her memory will be treasured forever.” – Wilbur
8. Chitti-Chitti Bang Bang
An eccentric professor invents wacky machinery but can’t seem to make ends meet. When he invents a revolutionary car, a foreign government becomes interested in it and resorts to skulduggery to get their hands on it.
“Well, maybe my children like running wild in the street. Did that ever occur to you?” – Caracticus Potts
The stork delivers a baby elephant to Mrs. Jumbo, veteran of the circus, but the newborn is ridiculed because of his truly enormous ears and dubbed “Dumbo”. After being separated from his mother, Dumbo is relegated to the circus’ clown acts; it is up to his only friend, a mouse, to assist Dumbo to achieve his full potential.
“Here is a baby with eyes of blue, straight from heaven, right to you. Or – straight from heaven up above, here is a baby for you to love.” – Mr. Stork
10. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
While visiting the Earth at night, a group of alien botanists is discovered by an approaching human task force. Because of the more than hasty take-off, one of the visitors is left behind. The little alien finds himself all alone on a very strange planet. Fortunately, the extra-terrestrial soon finds a friend and emotional companion in 10 year-old Elliot, a lonely boy whose parents have separated. While E.T. slowly gets acquainted with Elliot’s older brother Michael, his sister Gertie, and the customs of Earth, members of the task force work day and night to track down the whereabouts of Earth’s first visitor from outer space. The wish to go home again is strong in E.T., and after being able to communicate with Elliot and the others, E.T. starts building an improvised device to send a message home for his people to come and pick him up. But before long, E.T. gets seriously sick, and because of his special connection to Elliot, the young boy suffers, too. The situation gets critical when the task force finally intervenes. By then, all help may already be too late, and there’s no alien spaceship in sight.
“Beeeeeee…gooood.” – E.T.
Ben Crandall, an alien-obsessed kid, dreams one night of a circuit board. Drawing out the circuit, he and his friends Wolfgang and Darren set it up, and discover they have been given the basis for a starship. Setting off in the ThunderRoad, as they name their ship, they find the aliens Ben hopes they would find… but are they what they seem?
“If this is all a dream, what’s gonna happen when we wake up?” – Ben Crandall
“I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.” – Wolfgang Muller
A collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music.
“When Igor Stravinsky wrote his ballet, “The Rite of Spring” his purpose was, in his own words, “to express primitive life.” And so Walt Disney and his fellow artists have take him at the word.” – Deems Taylor
13. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
High school student Ferris Bueller wants a day off from school and he’s developed an incredibly sophisticated plan to pull it off. He talks his friend Cameron into taking his father’s prized Ferrari and with his girlfriend Sloane head into Chicago for the day. While they are taking in what the city has to offer school principal Ed Rooney is convinced that Ferris is, not for the first time, playing hooky for the day and is hell bent to catch him out. Ferris has anticipated that, much to Rooney’s chagrin.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Farris Bueller
14. Flight of the Navigator
A 12-year-old boy goes missing in 1978, only to reappear once more in 1986. In the eight years that have passed, he hasn’t aged. It is no coincidence that at the time he “comes back”, a flying saucer is found, entangled in power lines.
“Correction, I need the SUPERIOR information in your INFERIOR brain to fly this… thing.” – Max
Three odd-ball scientists get kicked out of their cushy positions at a university in New York City where they studied the occult. They decide to set up shop in an old firehouse and become Ghostbusters, trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists for money. They wise-crack their way through the city, and stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, one which will release untold evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters are called on to save the Big Apple.
“Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?” – Janine Melnitz
16. Harry Potter
This is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the grounds keeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” – Dumbledore
17. Hocus Pocus
After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror once and for all.
“You know, I’ve always wanted a child. And now I think I’ll have one on toast!” – Winifred Sanderson
18. Home Alone
It is Christmas time and the McCallister family is preparing for a vacation in Paris, France. But the youngest in the family named Kevin got into a scuffle with his older brother Buzz and was sent to his room which is on the third floor of his house. Then, the next morning, while the rest of the family was in a rush to make it to the airport on time, they completely forgot about Kevin who now has the house all to himself. Being home alone was fun for Kevin, having a pizza all to himself, jumping on his parents’ bed, and making a mess. Then, Kevin discovers about two burglars, Harry and Marv, about to rob his house on Christmas Eve. Kevin acts quickly by wiring his own house with makeshift booby traps to stop the burglars and to bring them to justice.
“I have been awake for almost 60 hours. I’m tired and I’m dirty. I have been from Chicago to Paris to Dallas to… where the hell am I?” – Kate McCallister
19. Homeward Bound
Three pets (Chance, a young dog unfamiliar with the world; Shadow, an aging, wise dog; and Sassy, a snobby cat) are left behind when their family goes on vacation. Unsure of what happened, the animals set out on a quest to find their family. This journey across America is very dangerous and the animals risk never seeing their masters again. The group of pets travel across forested mountains and areas of wide-open countryside, while their family searches for them in the same areas.
“Of course, this isn’t your ordinary housecat. This is like Arnold Schwarzen-kitty!” – Chance
20. Jurassic Park
Huge advancements in scientific technology have enabled a mogul to create an island full of living dinosaurs. John Hammond has invited four individuals, along with his two grandchildren, to join him at Jurassic Park. But will everything go according to plan? A park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, critical security systems are shut down and it now becomes a race for survival with dinosaurs roaming freely over the island.
“You never had control, that’s the illusion! I was overwhelmed by the power of this place. But I made a mistake, too, I didn’t have enough respect for that power and it’s out now.” – Dr. Ellie Sattler
Young Sarah is left home alone by her parents and she has to babysit her little brother Toby. But the baby keeps crying and Sarah, while telling him a story to make him sleep, inadvertently conjures from a fantasy world the Goblin King who steals the child and brings him to his castle in the middle of a labyrinth. Sarah has to rescue him before midnight, or the baby will become a goblin…
“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” – Jareth
A demon who seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns and marrying a fairy princess is opposed by the forest boy Jack and his elven allies in this magical fantasy.
“What care I for human hearts? Soft and spiritless as porridge! A fairie’s heart beats fierce and free!” – Oona
23. Mary Poppins
Spoiled and bored upper crust Edwardian English family has their world turned upside down by an all nonsensical nanny who teaches them how to enjoy life. This movie is a musical and has both comedy and pathos and lots of imaginative scenes that are wonderful for adults and children alike. You’ll be singing along in no time…”in the most delightful way!”
“In every job that must me done there is an element of fun…you find that fun, and…snap…it’s a game” – Mary Poppins
24. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
When Doris Walker frantically recruits a last minute replacement for a drunken Santa for Macy’s Christmas parade, he seems just ideal for he job and perhaps for good reason – he says his name is Kris Kringle and that he’s the real Santa Claus. She pays him no mind and at the department store, he’s proving be popular as well. He seems to be able to speak many languages and knows just what kids would like to have and creates a bit of a sensation when he refers shoppers to other stores rather than Macy’s. When Kris has a run-in with the Department store’s psychological tester, the man tries to have him committed leading to a court case where Doris’ lawyer neighbor Fred Gailey tries to prove in court that Kris is the real Santa Claus. More important to Kris throughout all of this is to get Doris and her daughter Susan to believe in him.
“For the past 50 years or so I’ve been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.” – Kris Kringle
25. Old Yeller
Young Travis Coates is left to take care of the family ranch with his mother and younger brother while his father goes off on a cattle drive in the 1860’s. When a yellow mongrel comes for an uninvited stay with the family, Travis reluctantly adopts the dog. After a series of scrapes involving raccoons, snakes, bears and all manner of animals, Travis grows to love and respect Old Yeller, who comes to have a profound effect on the boy’s life.
” You crazy, wonderful dog! “ – Katie Coates
26. Stand By Me
It’s the summer of 1959 in Castlerock, Oregon and four 12-year-old boys – Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern – are fast friends. After learning of the general location of the body of a local boy who has been missing for several days, they set off into woods to see it. Along the way, they learn about themselves, the meaning of friendship and the need to stand up for what is right.
“That was the all-time train dodge! Too cool! Vern, you were so scared you looked like that fat guy, Abbott Costello, when he saw the mummy.” – Teddy
27. Star Wars
A young boy from Tatooine sets out on an adventure with an old Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi as his mentor to save Princess Leia from the ruthless Darth Vader and Destroy the Death Star built by the Empire which has the power to destroy the entire galaxy.
“Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?” – Han Solo
28. The Dark Crystal
Another planet, another time. 1000 years ago the mysterious Dark Crystal was damaged by one of the Urskeks and an age of chaos has began! The evil race of grotesque birdlike lizards the Skeksis, gnomish dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. Meanwhile the orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of the peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal which gives the Skesis their power and restore the balance of the universe.
“Hold her to you, for she is part of you, as we all are part of each other.” – Historian
29. The Goonies
The Goonies, a group of friends living in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, face foreclosure on their families’ homes from the expanding Astoria Country Club. After rummaging through the Walshs’ attic, they find an old newspaper clipping, a Spanish map, and an artifact relating to a rumor of a lost but not forgotten pirate treasure somewhere in the area..In order to save their home from foreclosure, they set out to find One Eyed Willies lost pirate’s treasure.
“Yeah, but you know what? This one, this one right here. This was my dream, my wish. And it didn’t come true. So I’m taking it back. I’m taking them all back.” – Mouth
30. The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe (1988)
In World War, the four Pevenses children: Peter Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated from London to the country house of an eccentric old professor. There, bored and restless, first Lucy and Edmund, and then all four of the kids make their way through an attic wardrobe in Narnia, a magical land of mythical creatures and talking animals. But Narnia is not perfect: it’s always winter and never Christmas since the White Witch began her rule. And there are evil creatures as well as good, and a traitor in their midst. Only the return of Aslan can bring victory in the coming battle to win spring and freedom back to Narnia.
“Once a King or Queen of Narnia, Always a King or Queen of Narnia”
31. The Neverending Story
Bastian is a young boy who lives a dreary life being tormented by school bullies. On one such occasion he escapes into a book shop where the old proprietor reveals an ancient story-book to him, which he is warned can be dangerous. Shortly after, he “borrows” the book and begins to read it in the school attic where he is drawn into the mythical land of Fantasia, which desperately needs a hero to save it from destruction.
“Never give up and good luck will find you.” – Falcor
32. The Princess Bride
Fairytale story-within-a-story with an all-star cast. In the frame story, a grandfather reads a favorite book “The Princess Bride” to his sick grandson. The book by S. Morgenstern, is about the most beautiful woman in the world, the hero who loves her, and the evil prince who says he wants to marry her.
“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove” – The Priest
33. The Sandlot
A new kid in town is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his team in this coming of age movie set in the summer of 1962. Together, they get themselves into many adventures involving rival teams, lifeguards, and a vicious dog.
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” – “The Babe”
34. The Secret Garden
A young British girl born and raised in India loses her neglectful parents in an earthquake. She is returned to England to live at her uncle’s estate. Her uncle is very distant due to the loss of his wife ten years before. Neglected once again, she begins exploring the estate and discovers a garden that has been locked and neglected. Aided by one of the servants’ brothers, she begins restoring the garden, and eventually discovers some other secrets of the manor.
“My parents always thought about themselves. They never thought about me. And if only I could have known that in a few moments I would lose them forever.” – Mary
35. The Secret of Nimh
To save her ill son, Mrs. Brisby, a widowed field mouse must seek the aid from the colony of the rats of N.I.M.H. who live beneath a rose bush on the farm., & with whom she has a deeper link than she ever suspected.
“Johnathan, your wife has come at last. Perhaps now I can repay you for your kindness to me, yet Mrs. Brisby may serve the rats of NIMH more than we her.” – Nicodemus
36. The Sound of Music
Maria had longed to be a nun since she was a young girl, yet when she became old enough discovered that it wasn’t at all what she thought. Often in trouble and doing the wrong things, Maria is sent to the house of a retired naval captain, named Captain Von Trapp, to care for his children. Von Trapp was widowed several years before and was left to care for seven ‘rowdy’ children. The children have run off countless governesses. Maria soon learns that all these children need is a little love to change their attitudes. Maria teaches the children to sing, and through her, music is brought back into the hearts and home of the Von Trapp family.
“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” – Maria
37. The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy Gale is swept away to the magical land of OZ when a tornado thrashes through her Kansas farm. Her and her dog Toto embark on a quest along the yellow brick road to see the Wizard in the Emerald City who she hopes can help her return home.
“Well, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don’t they?” – Scarcrow
38. Toy Story
When Buzz Lightyear, a space-ranger, takes Woody’s place as Andy’s favorite toy, Woody doesn’t like the situation and trys to find ways to get rid of Buzz, but when accidentally falls out the window, Woody is accused by all the other toys of having killed him. He must go out of the house to look for Buzz to prove his innocents and return him to Andys room. But while trying to make it back to Andy they get in all sorts of trouble and learn a few lessons along the way.
“This isn’t flying, this is falling with style!” – Buzz
39. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Toon star Roger is worried that his wife Jessica is playing pattycake with someone else, so the studio hires detective Eddie Valiant to snoop on her. But the stakes are quickly raised when Marvin Acme is found dead and Roger is the prime suspect.
“That’s right! A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.” – Roger Rabbit
In the dungeons of the castle of the evil Queen-sorceress Bavmorda, a prisoner gives birth to a child who, according to an ancient prophecy, will put an end to the reign of the Queen. A midwife saves the child from the wrath of Bavmorda, but is forced to throw her cradle in a river when reached by the Hounds of the Queen. The river brings the child near a village of nelwyns, and little Willow finds her. When the Hounds reach the village, Willow begins a difficult journey to bring the baby back to her people and to fulfill the prophecy.
“Ooh, I’m really scared. No! Don’t! There’s a- a peck here with an acorn pointed at me!” – Madmartigan
41. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
The world is thrown into turmoil when candy maker Willy Wonka announces that he has sent out 5 golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars that will grant access to his factory. For poor, young Charlie, getting hold of one of those tickets would be a dream come true. The family has little money but his Grandpa Joe encourages him to have faith and keep a positive attitude. The one chocolate bar he buys doesn’t have a ticket but when he finds a dollar on the street and gets another, he strikes gold at last. The 5 children are admitted to the factory and find a wonderland of candies and chocolate.
“We are the music makers… and we are the dreamers of dreams.” – Willy Wonka
With so many great movies out there it was hard to make my list a reasonable size…and admittingly it grew from 20 to 25 to 41 Movies To Show Your kids Before They’re Grown in just minutes! Were there any that you feel should be on the list? Maybe it’s one I haven’t seen and should!