"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids

Summer Movie Time

Summer vacations are winding down and summertime will soon be coming to an end. It’s a good idea to take it easy during these last lazy days before the frenzy of back-to-school activities. Long summer evenings are a great time for the whole family to sit down and spend some time together. To celebrate the season, here is a list of family-friendly movies that will help you do that. Some of them have summer themes and others just evoke the feeling of a summer adventure.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1990, G) - Narrated by Dudley Moore, this enchanting movie from Japanese novelist and zoologist Masanori Hata stars a cat and a pug-nosed pup in one adventure after another: floating downriver in a box, riding on a sea turtle’s back, almost getting caught by a bear, falling into a pit, etc. Even the smallest child will be entranced by the visual parade of creatures including farm animals, a hedgehog, fox, deer, bear, snake, and seagulls.

The Black Stallion (1979, G) - This is a magnificent movie about a young boy and a wild black stallion. It has two distinct parts, which are so different that at first I remembered it as being two separate movies. The first part is about a boy and a horse shipwrecked on an island and how they develop a special bond of friendship. The second part is what happens after they are rescued. The movie is actually more like a cinematic mood piece due to its artistic visual emphasis and minimum of dialog.

A Bug's Life (1998, G) – On behalf of oppressed bugs everywhere, a misfit ant, trying to save his colony from grasshoppers, recruits a group of warrior bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe. This colorful computer-animated film is crawling with comical characters. All of the other Pixar movies (Toy Story I and II, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille) are wonderful family fare, too.

Breaking Away (1979, PG) – Director Peter Yates shot this Academy Award winning film during the summer in and around Indiana University. The plot centers on four friends as they decide what to do with their lives now that they’re out of high school, and come September it culminates in an exciting bicycle race against the local college boys.

Nim's Island (2008, PG) - 11-year old Nim and her microbiologist father live an idyllic life on a private island in the middle of the South Asiatic Sea. Adventure and imagination are ways of life for Nim and her homeschool education is intensive, if rather unique. Then an unexpected storm brings suspense and peril while also offering a touching look at the love between a father and daughter. Based on the novel Nim's Island by Wendy Orr.

Pollyanna (2003) - The beloved children's book written by Eleanor H. Porter in 1913 is relocated from early-20th-century Vermont to the lush countryside of Edwardian England in this fine British production. Still, it is faithful to the original story and more focused on characterization than most movie adaptations. The young heroine, Polly, has a positive attitude that brightens the lives of all those around her, even in the face of adversity and tragedy. “I suppose it’s as easy to be happy about things as to not be,” says Polly.

The Secret Garden (1993, G) – An enchanting motion picture based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s timeless children’s classic in which Mary Lennox, her sickly cousin Colin, and a local boy named Dickon bring an abandoned garden back to life. The 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame version is good, too.

The Sound of Music (1965, G) – This wholesome family film is probably the greatest musical of all time, filled with beautiful scenery, memorable songs, World War II history, a real-life love story, a courageous moral choice, a suspenseful climax, and a triumphant ending.

Summer Magic (1963, G) - Adapted from Kate Douglas Wiggin's 1911 book “Mother Carey's Chickens,” this Disney classic stars Hayley Mills as a teenage girl whose family moves from Boston to a rural town in Maine after the untimely passing of her father. Most of its running time is spent leisurely exploring the Carey family's adaptation to country life and development amidst simpler surroundings. These “adventures” may seem unremarkable, but you’re too absorbed in the characters and atmosphere to notice. With its scenes of croquet, girls in fluffy dresses, and gathering around the piano for a song, "Summer Magic" is a nostalgic look at an innocent time. The movie can be a bit slow moving for modern audiences, especially younger children, but it goes down smooth and sweet like lemonade on a sunny afternoon.

Summer of the Monkeys (1998, G) – While the movie isn’t as good as the book by Wilson Rawls, it’s surprisingly good for a modern Disney movie. It even has references to Scripture and to God, with lessons on the consequences of sin and the rewards of selfless sacrifice. Full of action and adventure, conflict and humor, it can truly be enjoyed by both children and adults.

The Sandlot (1993, PG) - The adventure of a lifetime, the summer of their dreams, the dog of their nightmares. This story takes place in 1962 Southern California (the San Fernando Valley). Scotty, a new kid in town, is befriended by some of the neighborhood kids who invite him to play baseball. They have to avoid hitting home runs because “The Beast” lives on the other side of the fence. One day, Scotty brings a baseball from home, not realizing that it’s his stepdad’s ball signed by Babe Ruth. Scotty himself hits a home run over the fence, and the boys must figure out a way to get the ball back from the beast.

Mercy Rule (2014, G) - Here's another baseball movie! This one sets a good example of what it means to be a "No Quit Family." Parents and kids alike will be inspired by the story of the Miller family as they learn life’s lessons of mercy, patience, sacrifice, legacy, and overcoming obstacles. If you are a fan of baseball, Kirk Cameron, Chelsea Noble, or Tim Hawkins, you will like this Christian movie. "Mercy Rule" does not contain an obvious gospel presentation like some of Kirk's other works. It's simply a good, clean, fun family film. The DVD also comes with a family study guide for further discussion of 11 important messages in the film.

Treasure Island (1990) – Sail the high seas, battle the pirates, and live the adventure with young Jim Hawkins (Christian Bale) in this swashbuckling movie brimming with heart-pounding action and thrilling suspense. Charlton Heston stars as the infamous Long John Silver in what I think is still the best film version of “Treasure Island.”

Watership Down (1978, PG) – An animated classic based on Richard Adams’ novel by the same name. It’s a combination fairy tale, survival adventure, and allegory of the human condition, centering on a band of refugee rabbits seeking a safe, new home in the English countryside.


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
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