One real blessing of self-isolation is the opportunity for more family time, but — let’s face it — it’s also a challenge.
Parents and kids alike can go stir-crazy if indoors too much, so the first rule is to get outside every day. (Yes, you heard it from me — I’m not always indoors in a dark room!)
Yet even when the neighborhood excursion is over and everyone’s home again, it can be hard to come up with activities that satisfy and entertain everyone. That favorite family board game may get old after awhile.
Once again, great, timeless movies can help.
With this in mind, I’ve come up with ten tried-and-true films ideal for viewing with the whole family. Some work with kids of all ages, others are better-suited to older children.
Most of these titles are sufficiently familiar so that parents can make the right call. They’re also of such high quality that seeing them again will feel like catching up with an old friend.
So make the most of your precious family time by enjoying at least some of these movies together.
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello) make deliveries of monster figures to the local wax museum, and soon discover they’re real! Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr. are both on-hand here as Dracula and the Wolf Man. This comedy is still great fun, and not too scary for older kids.
Full review here. | Stream now on Apple iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Amazon Video, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Redbox, Microsoft Store, FandangoNOW.
The Court Jester (1956)
Danny Kaye’s finest and funniest film has him playing an itinerant entertainer who through circumstance finds himself the latest jester to the king. He then learns that a trusted advisor (Basil Rathbone) has designs on the throne, and only he can foil the plot. A young Angela Lansbury co-stars as the princess.
Full review here. | Stream now on Vudu, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, Microsoft Store.
Born Free (1966)
True story of George and Joy Adamson (Bill McKenna and Virginia Travers), married gamekeepers in Kenya who raise a young female lioness named Elsa as a pet. Eventually, they must either send her to a zoo, or acclimate her to the wild. Beautifully shot on location, this touching film still resonates.
Full review here. | Stream now on Apple iTunes, Vudu, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, FlixFling, Microsoft Store.
Wonderful film follows a sharecropper family struggling to survive in Depression-era Louisiana. When father Nathan (Paul Winfield) gets caught and imprisoned for stealing food, son David (Kevin Hooks) must grow up fast. Cicely Tyson is superb as the mother. (Sounder, by the way, is the family’s hunting dog).
Full review here. | Stream now on Amazon Video.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The first of the Indiana Jones films is still the best. Here Indy (Harrison Ford) goes in search of the Ark of the Covenant, and the Nazis are also after this most precious of antiquities. Karen Allen is aces as the tough, brassy love interest. Steven Spielberg’s classic adventure tale hasn’t aged a bit.
Full review here. | Stream now on Netflix, fuboTV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Apple iTunes, Microsoft Store, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV, Vudu, FandangoNOW.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Ron Howard directs this breathless recreation of the 1970 space mission that almost ended in disaster. Tom Hanks anchors the film playing flight leader Jim Lovell, with Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon lending strong support. Suspenseful and heroic, this vivid film takes us back to a very different America.
Full review here. | Stream now on Starz, Starz Play Amazon Channel, Vudu, Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, YouTube, AMC on Demand, Microsoft Store, FlixFling, FandangoNOW.
The Iron Giant (1999)
In Brad Bird’s charming animated tribute to classic science fiction movies, a large alien being lands on earth in 1957. This gentle creature is befriended by the boy who finds him, Hogarth Hughes, who must then protect the alien from government forces. Vin Diesel, Jennifer Aniston, and Harry Connick lend their voices.
Full review here. | Stream now on CBS All Access Amazon Channel, Vudu, Apple iTunes, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Microsoft Store, Amazon Video, Redbox, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV.
Finding Neverland (2004)
Johnny Depp plays J.M. Barrie, the author best remembered for bringing us “Peter Pan.” Barrie is inspired to write this as a play after meeting the widow Sylvia Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four young sons. But launching the initial production is full of challenges. This whimsical film is a sheer delight.
Full review here. | Stream now on Hoopla, DIRECTV, Showtime Amazon Channel, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Microsoft Store, Apple iTunes, Vudu.
In this utterly winning animated fable, grieving widower Carl (Ed Asner) is fed up with real estate developers encroaching on his house in the city. One day he decides to attach a mass of balloons to his roof, and off he and the house go to South America. Then Carl discovers he’s got a young stowaway along for the ride!
Full review here. | Stream now on Starz Play Amazon Channel, Disney Plus, Apple iTunes, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Microsoft Store, Vudu, AMC on Demand, DIRECTV.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Kubo, a young Japanese boy who lives with his widowed mother, loves to hear her stories about his Samurai father. When Kubo’s evil grandfather comes after him, he goes on a search for the only thing that can save him: three pieces of his father’s armor. This trippy, riveting animated entry is must-viewing.
Full review here. | Stream now on DIRECTV, Microsoft Store, Vudu, FandangoNOW.
More: 8 of the Best Foreign Animated Films to Delight Audiences of All Ages