5 Family Films You May Not Have Seen

With Thanksgiving around the corner, there is pressure on all of us to be good children/siblings/grandchildren/parents/third-cousins-twice-removed and spend quality time with our families. This gives most of us a stark choice: watch Adam Sandler movies or kill ourselves. We are here to save your weekend — you’re welcome.
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The Kid (1921)

Written, produced, and directed by the somewhat obscure filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, who also happens to star in it, The Kid follows the adventures of a thrifty tramp and his adopted child, not to be confused with the plot of The Jungle Book. As a silent comedy it relies almost entirely on visual gags, so it is fortunate that Chaplin’s are some of the cleverest, best executed you will ever find. The film is not only a romp, but it is full of touching moments without an ounce of cheesy sentimentality. About its only flaw is that it perpetuates the myth that leaving babies in baskets is a legitimate parenting strategy. But hey, it was good enough for Moses!

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Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Toontown is this film’s version of Beverly Hills, in that it is a ghetto for L.A.’s most two-dimensional, cartoony inhabitants. In Toontown’s case, however, these characteristics are literal: animated characters have made it their home. One of them, Roger Rabbit, is suspected of the murder of a  wealthy businessman. No doubt the local police had watched Watership Down and developed a distrust for cartoon bunnies. PI Eddie Valiant sets out to clear Roger’s name and bring the real killer to justice. Much praise has been heaped on this film for its pioneering work in the seamless blend of animation and live action, so the current sentence is all we will add to it.  It draws as much from old cartoons as from film noir, so if a good but silly detective story is what you are looking for, look no further.

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Addams Family Values (1993)

The long awaited sequel to The Kid… or it would be if Uncle Fester had not been recast as that crazy old guy from Back to the Future. Washed-out grunge stars Gomez and Morticia Addams hire a nanny to take care of their newborn child. Unfortunately, their new employee happens to be a serial killer, as people who accept jobs from goth weirdos are wont to be. Her nefarious plan? To seduce Uncle Fester, marry him, kill him, and take his money, probably in that order. What else is there to say, other than the movie is darkly funny and is bound to comfort viewers with the thought that their own families are just the slightest bit less messed up. Just make sure you screen your nannies properly, will you?

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Spirited Away (2001)

What happens when a Japanese animation studio decides to make their own version of Alice in Wonderland? It is said that if you spin around really fast you might find out, but for those who are not into acrobatics nor hallucinogenic mushrooms, there is always the option of watching Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. In one of the most imaginative films you will ever see, a family moves to a new neighborhood and, unbeknownst to them, enter the spirit world. When a witch turns her parents into pigs, the young girl must take a job working at her bathhouse for a chance to free them. In her time there, she meets bizarre creatures galore and has all kinds of surreal adventures. The real beauty of this movie, though, is showing it to your parents. “Oh, so you’re pulling the ‘we gave life to you card’ again, are you? Well, guess who’s going to save your bacony rears if you get transformed by a witch!”

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Song of the Sea (2014)

Being turned into a pig is distressing, but what about turning into a pig? Alright, that still sounds awful, but in this animated Irish movie we have a girl that can turn into a seal. The film, which features some truly gorgeous animation, has already received its share of recognition, even being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 87th Academy Awards in 2015. The story deals with the family of a lighthouse keeper, focusing on young boy Ben and his sister Saoirse. The former is resentful because the latter has got a much cooler and unpronounceable name, and incidentally because he blames her for their mother’s disappearance. Imagine his surprise when he discovers she is a selkie destined to save faeries from the Irish goddess Macha. To the question of whether one of the siblings ever sings something along the lines of ‘Do You Wanna Build a Sandcastle,’ we are afraid the answer is no. Let it go.


Article By: Raul Caner Cruz

Raul is interning for the FIU Film Studies Program, Fall 2016 Semester. He is an English major who is also pursuing the FIU Film Certificate.

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