We all know about the Pixar hits, the Disney favourites, Harry Potter and the television series that kids love to watch again and again. But here are some ideas for when the kids have watched Shrek just four times too many.
Download, visit the DVD shops (yes, they still exist), check out your local libraries or have a movie-swap day with friends. Then pour the chips into a bowl, throw a couple of beanbags on to the floor and close the door behind you.
Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) G
This Disney movie starred a young Sean Connery. It’s a great Irish folklore tale with special effects that stand the test of time quite well. Be warned: the banshee scene has terrified kids for decades.
The Parent Trap (1998) G
Lindsay Lohan is terrific in her dual role in this remake of the 1961 Hayley Mills movie. Funny, touching and with a great soundtrack, it hasn’t dated yet.
The Iron Giant (1999) PG
In this animated tale, a giant metal machine drops from the sky and frightens a small US town – except for nine-year-old Hogarth. The boy and the robot become friends, but the late 1950s is a paranoid era. Some parts could upset younger kids.
My Girl (1991) PG
Set in 1972, Vlada (Anna Chlumsky) is the 11-year-old daughter of widowed Harry (Dan Aykroyd). A coming-of-age movie that makes you laugh and cry. Sensitive kids might find the tragic ending too much, so stay close.
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) PG
The emotional story of three Aboriginal children taken from their mothers and placed in an internment camp will appeal to older children and teens.
Stand By Me (1986) M
This edgy movie revolves around four 12-year-old boys on a trek to find a dead body. Swearing, smoking, alcohol, sex, and intense scenes are inappropriate for primary kids and parents should watch (or rewatch) it before deciding if it’s suitable.
The Truman Show (1998) PG
Thought provoking and disturbing, Jim Carrey stars as a man who gradually realises his whole life is a television show being broadcast to the world. A comment on our fascination with reality television, although the concept is probably beyond most kids under about nine.
Billy Elliot (2000) M
The son of a Durham miner, Billy is far more interested in dancing than boxing, much to his family’s horror. Full of positive messages – and the swearing (quite a lot) and violence is all in context.
North by Northwest (1959)
Is it time to introduce your kids to Hitchcock? In this classic, Cary Grant is an advertising executive who is mistaken for a spy. It has suspense, action and humour and is fine for late primary kids. If they like their first Hitchcock, follow up with Psycho, To Catch a Thief, The Birds and more.
The Great Race (1965) G
Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Natalie Wood star in this family movie about a car race across America. Older kids might find it a bit daggy, but younger primary students will enjoy the slapstick.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch PG
This started airing in 1996 and found a dedicated following, especially among girls. A funny and endearing show about a modern teen who discovers on her 16th birthday that she is a witch.
Hilarious series about the original television witch, Samantha, and her always confused husband Darrin. The kids will gape at the 1960s sexism (remember leering advertising exec Larry Tate?) but Samantha and her mother Endora always come out on top.
My Place G
A wonderful series that tells the stories of children living in one place in Sydney over hundreds of years. The adventure begins in 2008 and travels back through history to an Aboriginal boy ‘Before Time’. An entertaining history lesson and kids can learn more here.
Mr Bean G
Many kids – even toddlers – love watching the bumbling slapstick Rowan Atkinson character. Older fans will probably also like the ABC’s Woodley (rated PG), in which Frank Woodley plays a gentle and accident-prone dad.
The Wonder Years PG
A box set of this comedy-drama hit was released overseas, but it’s tricky to track down in Australia. The six-season show follows the life, family and friends of teen Kevin Arnold. Set from 1968 (although screened from 1988), the show has universal appeal. Get it if you can (and pass it on to me).
H. R. Pufnstuf G
This always scared me when I was little, but maybe kids are tougher these days? Jimmy and Freddie, his talking flute, battle evil Witchiepoo with the help of dragon H.R. Pufnstuf. Corny but good fun for littlies.
The Magic School Bus
Lily Tomlin is the voice of teacher Miss Frizzle, who is in control of the bus that changes shape and size to take kids on adventures. It teaches science in a fun way and is great for early primary children (although they might consider the animation a bit dated).
The Muppet Show G
Introduce your kids to Kermit, Miss Piggy, the Swedish Chef, and the rest of the gang. The sketches are still funny but the kids will scratch their heads at some of the guests. Mum, who are Elton John and Liza Minelli?
Dance Academy PG
This ABC teen drama premiered in 2010 and follows students at the National Academy of Dance. Realistic characters who are focused on their passion for dance.
Gilligan’s Island G
Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale. It’s silly and dated but there’s something about the castaways that resonates with kids even today. Pick up The Brady Bunch and I Dream of Jeannie at the same time.