Father/Daughter Movie Night - need help compiling a list!

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Rated G)
WarGames (PG)
Serenity (PG-13)

I love that you have Singin’ in the Rain up there on your list. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I think a great movie to share with your kid. As far as musicals go, I’d also consider West Side Story, but that’s probably my favorite musical so I’m biased.

Also consider Monster House and The Sandlot.


P.S. I have to respectfully disagree with the suggestion above that you consider Heathers. It’s a movie I love, and it’s valuable as an example of black comedy, but there’s no way I’d show it to my 11 and a half year old. It’s rated R for good reason, and lines like “F**k me gently with a chainsaw” disqualify it based on what I think you’re going for in your OP.

We’d just watched Heathers a few weeks ago for nostalgia’s sake, and found that it felt kind of dated. Which I think is a testimony to John Hughes movies, in that they kind of don’t, or at least not nearly as badly. I have a feeling that without any frame of reference, it would bounce off a post-millenial quite a bit.

My wife and I threw some movies together we think haven’t been mentioned yet. Sorry if we overlooked your suggestions.

Mean Girls
The Secret of Kells
The Bicycle Thief (sometimes called The Bicycle Thieves)
School of Rock
Peter Pan (2003)
The Fall
Pride and Prejudice (any of a billion adaptations. She might like the Lizzie Bennett Diaries.)
Sense and Sensibility
His Girl Friday
Thief of Bagdad (either the silent or the color versions)
Josie and the Pussycats. Ask her about product placement, and where in the movie there was no product placement
Lilo and Stitch, if she hasn’t seen it a billion times already
The Emperor’s New Groove, if she hasn’t seen it a billion times already
Blast From the Past
Apollo 13
October Sky
Little Shop of Horrors
Auntie Mame
Stranger than Fiction
A Hard Day’s Night
Bringing Up Baby
It Happened One Night
Empire of the Sun
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Top Hat
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Sullivan’s Travels
It’s a Wonderful Life
Adam’s Rib
Roman Holiday
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. Possibly Dawn Treader as well.
Swiss Family Robinson
Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid
Animal Crackers
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Back To The Future
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
The Last Starfighter
The Last Unicorn
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Romancing the Stone
War of the Buttons (I haven’t seen this one, my wife says it’s great. French kids in WWII survive under German occupation.)
The Wallace and Gromit shorts

For just a few more years from now:
Run Lola Run
Moonrise Kingdom
Before Sunrise (then, nine years later, show her Before Sunset. Then, eight years later, show her Before Midnight.)
Easy A
Young Frankenstein. Maybe show her the original two movies first so she’ll get the joke.
Seven Samurai
The Hudsucker Proxy
Dazed and Confused
A Face in the Crowd
Sweet Smell of Success
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Heathers was a hugely impactful movie for me… for starters, I fell madly in love with Winona Ryder. For the next three or four years (well into college) I fun-tacked Premiere and Rolling Stone magazine cutouts of her on my bedroom and dormroom walls.

You might say I slept with her nightly. But I can vividly remember driving home after seeing Heathers (listening to Enya’s Watermark on cassette!) and feeling astounded by it. So bold and original, it spoke its own language. Not just in the slang dialogue but in its seriously dark comedy. And so quotable! I loved it.

About a year later I started working at a small video rental store. One day I was browsing the new release catalog, back when new VHS tapes retailed for around $90, and I saw an ad for Heathers. I told the owner how great it was and that we should have a copy. She hadn’t heard of it but put in the order based solely on my recommendation. Looking back, that was my first ever hit of influencing pop culture by spreading the gospel of good taste. I was hooked on power!

But I didn’t include it on my list to watch with my daughter for the same reason I didn’t include The Royal Tenenbaums… suicide. That topic can wait until she’s like 15 or 16. (Harold & Maude gets a pass.)

You’re right, trig, it hasn’t aged well. But I do agree with mok about bad movies. I’m not afraid to include a few probable clunkers and that includes the potentially dated stuff. I think it’s so interesting to see which movies achieve timelessness and which movies don’t. It’s almost arbitrary as popular tastes wind and change course and suddenly once-great movies have become embarrassing relics.

I’ll compile all these great suggestions into a masterlist asap. Thanks, everyone! I’ve got loads of great picks to choose from but keep 'em coming. :)

yes Yes YES to all of the above, plus my favorite thing about the movie is how the older generations never doubt or admonish the children about the magical things they’ve witnessed. They accept it completely and really honor the children. And all the little human moments. So many beautifully observed bits of realism in the girls’ behavior. After all the great worry that erupts over mother’s health and Mei’s whereabouts, I love the way everything works out okay in the end. Like the best family films, it isn’t afraid to confront some scary truth but it’s filled with optimism and faith in people and nature and imagination and a big ol’ crunchy bite of sun-ripened, water cooled cucumber.

“Rabbit Proof Fence” is one that was on my Netflix Q list but we never saw. It is supposed to be really good to family watch (K Sutherland).
With the same actor, Lost Boys is dated, but fun.

We’d just watched Heathers a few weeks ago for nostalgia’s sake, and found that it felt kind of dated. Which I think is a testimony to John Hughes movies, in that they kind of don’t, or at least not nearly as badly. I have a feeling that without any frame of reference, it would bounce off a post-millenial quite a bit.

I still love Heathers a lot, but it does come across very differently in a post-Columbine world.

There are some great movies listed here. One that I would recommend that I don’t see here:

Second Hand Lions. Such a magical movie for kids and adults alike.

If you think she will go for a modern Dance Movie, I would actually recommend “Step Up 3”. Probably the best of the series (for what it is). 1 and 2 are ‘ok’ relatively speaking. 4 and 5 I can’t really recommend.

Hmm. Pan’s Labyrinth was the first that came to mind, but depending on your daughter, that might be too scary.

Enchanted should definitely be on the list though.

3 more:

Napoleon dynamite
Fantastic mr fox

Bonus scary film - US version of “The Ring”

That’s an iffy recommendation for an eleven-year-old girl. The Ring is pretty frightening, specifically for what happens to some teenage girls early in the movie. It’s a pretty hard PG-13 and I wouldn’t recommend it for younger children without some serious caveats.


Oh I would agree. It is very important to place the films in a time line, and the first viewing is ALWAYS with you and the kid actually watching the film. Which really only makes sense because you are trying to share the experience with them. In our case, somehow in middle school she encountered horror films at 12.

It is important to go into a film knowing exactly what may be new exposure for your kid. The absolute best site for this is the site “Kids In Mind”. It is an extremely conservative analysis (they literally count F Words and tell you when “a woman touches a man’s bare chest” ) that rates films according to sex, violence and profanity. They also bring up themes in the films that your child has not encountered, like “Heroin Addiction”. It might be a better site for the span of the tween years, but it is useful for tracking where your kid is in terms of content. By the time they are 16 and 17, they will have the access to see it all, so it is best to prepare so they are not shocked then.

The site has definitely been useful in this regard over the years. (And some of the reviews are also a riot from an adult perspective.)

Worlds Fastest Indian, Big Fish and Second Hand Lions are decent watches with pre-teens.

Oh and if she has not seen it, Big.

Big Fish made me think of Salmon Fishing on the Yemen. Really cool movie but maybe a little too slow and philosophical.

Some great suggestions in this thread! :)
I would also add some pixar movies, and perhaps a film like 500 days of summer? ;)

Spy, because women should kick ass. Although, I believe it’s R rated. Still, it’s totally worth it.

I agree! Thank you so much, everyone! I’m so excited about this project, last week I pulled the trigger on a Benq HD projector and a 100inch movie screen. Nothing but the finest large-screen movie-going experience will do! I mean, she hasn’t truly seen 2001 until she’s been able to actually read the Zero Gravity Toilet instructions.

What do you guys think about any of the Jackass movies?

I’m working my way through Judd Apatow’s brilliant new book of interviews with comedians called Sick in the Head. During his interview with Spike Jonze, he tells a story of watching a Jackass movie (I think it was Bad Grandpa) with his daughter Maude (who is named after Harold & Maude!) and watching her fall into hysterics. They were both laughing so hard, he took a picture of her.

I’ve never seen any of the movies. I guess I always thought they were too dumb and juvenile. But now I’m wondering if it might be the most “middle school” movie I can possibly find and that I have to watch some Jackass with her. I mean, what better way to start a discussion of how boys really are?

Am I crazy? Is any of this stuff remotely appropriate?

They are mostly just stupid, but I would recommend a pre-screen. There is a decent amount of male genitalia torture. Bad Grandpa is a lot less gonzo than the true Jackass movies.

The cool thing is that a girl is highly unlikely to want to try any of the shit they do to themselves and each other.

I will never get those hours back.

I can think of a few of movies that I would rather not watch than that one.
But only a few.
To my mind they certainly violate the “good for her soul” rule you started with.

You know every year Tom and the podcast folks have a thread of their best movies from the last year.
Now, I won’t claim that ALL of those movies are appropriate for a 12 year old, but I will tell you that watching a short list of those movies will forever change the way you view movies. The multiplex will just not be enough.

Here is a post I recently made in another place…

The 10 best movies you didn’t see in 2013…

Yeah, that shows how far behind I am. I JUST finished watching my list of films from 2013.

Sure, Dallas Buyers Club and American Hustle and Frozen and 12 Years a Slave and Her and Zero Dark 30 and Iron Man 3 and Mud and Gravity and Nebraska and Philomena and others were all very good movies. Many of them only made it to the multiplex because of the hype around the Oscars.

You know what?
There is a whole class of fantastic movies that don’t make it to the multiplex.
Not even for a day.
Yeah, yeah, yeah…they have flaws, but watching movies like these are why I find it very hard to go to the multiplex these days. I’ll admit I enjoyed the latest Avengers movie and Interstellar with everybody else, but just like the old joke about being hungry after eating Chinese food, I find that after I’ve left the theater I am rarely touched or moved by most films I see at the cinaplex. If that’s your experience, here are some alternatives.

Side Effects - Smartest movie of the year.
Europa Report - Nice low budget ripoff of 2010. Great atmosphere.
Only God Forgives - Violent. But a fantastic notion of fate and God.
Francis Ha - Personal Favorite. I like lighthearted movies.
All is Lost - That Robert Redford guy might have a career as an actor.
Sightseers - Black Humor.
This is the End - If you like zombie/end of the world movies. Funny.
A single shot - Winter’s Bone for the single guy.
You’re Next - Slasher meets whodunit with a brain.
Stocker - Dark stuff. Is that a happy ending?

Many of these are very violent. Most have language. Many are more explicit than what is allowed in the mall theaters. Most are available on Netflix. The ones that I couldn’t find on Netflix were ….at the library.

BTW Let me know if you have already seen any of these, because they are ALL fantastic movies. And if you like these, let me know because I can give you more from other years.