Films made for kids are in a class of their own. They traverse the realms of fantasy and the real world, they tell us simple stories, and even as adults we enjoy their visual delights and the superb performances by the child stars and their adult counterparts.
Children’s films can be bifurcated into two main categories – animated and non-animated. There have been a few films which have combined the two genres, but on the whole these are few and far between.
The nominations for the Top-10 non-animated children’s films are as follows:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The entire Harry Potter series has been an immense success with children and adults alike. The first film of the series set the groundwork for a phenomenal group of movies which went on to achieve immense box office success. Visually enchanting, with some great sci-fi effects, the films have been apt visualizations of great books.
2. Wizard of Oz:
A classic story line, some superb performances and music which has survived for many decades, this is one of the all time favourite children’s films. Released in 1939, it achieved it’s major success only after it was shown on television. Down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, Judy Garland and her beloved dog Toto, accompanied by the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man have become an integral part in the annals of movie history.
3. Sound of Music:
Once again a musical which has withstood the passage of time with Julie Andrews at her best, Sound of Music is among the best films ever made for children and adults alike. The story of the Von Trapp family, the catchy lyrics, the feel-good story and Switzerland in all it’s cinematic glory have all contributed to the film’s success.
4. Mary Poppins:
Who can forget Julie Andrews and her umbrella and Dick Van Dyke at his clownish best in this film. The ever popular songs only seemed to add to the enchantment of the film and it’s lighter than air feeling. A spellbinding film for children, it combines the genres of animation and non-animation in a superb presentation.
5. Parent Trap (1961):
This story has been made and remade umpteen times, but our all-time favourite remains the version with Hayley Mills released in 1961. The mischief engineered by the twins has made this into a light and heart-warming film which charms all ages. Many other versions have followed but none of them have the charm and allure of this film.
Only Steven Spielberg could have made a film from the point of view of an alien and a child. He reminds you about the simplicity of childhood and of how children can accept anything with alacrity and deal with it with innocence and naivety. E.T. was a totally implausible story, but Spielberg makes you believe in a friendly alien and his friendship with the children.
Robin Williams as Peter Pan – need we say anything else, Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook – two masterstrokes of casting. All of us have enjoyed this timeless tale told by modern directors, from the eyes of a grown up Peter Pan. With a politically correct group of Lost Boys, a tiny Julia Roberts and Maggie Smith as Wendy, Spielberg once again created magic.
8. Star Wars:
This may not be considered to be a children’s movie, but it was very popular with all of them. Combining science fiction with a story of magic swords and revenge and wars among ideologies, it was done skilfully and was a taut and dexterous film. All three parts of this series went on to become box office hits.
9. Honey I shrunk the Kids:
This 1989 film is an out and out comedy, with an inventive story line and some deft special effects. It spawned many serials and TV shows, but none of them could match the original film with Rick Moranis as the bumbling father who has managed to shrink his kids and throw them out with the trash!
10. Spy Kids:
Some of you may disagree with our inclusion of this film in this list, but a story about kids who are spies and are trying to save the world – can you think of a better story catering for children? A funny family film, this is a definite change from the usual spy films.