Though a lot of attention is given to the big blockbuster summer action movie, it turns out that one of the hottest markets in film is family movies. Films made for the whole family are a special breed unto themselves because in many ways, they become defining films of a generation. Moreover, the category of ‘family movie’ was a fairly fluid one, and movie makers do their best to meet the needs & desires of just about any family out there. Sounds easy, right? Consider for a second how many times you’ve tried to talk to a friend about your family only to be met with either wild fascination or complete bewilderment at the difference from their own kin.
All families are different, so when a movie studio sets out to make a family film, they are trying to connect with every member of the family unit, thereby making a film that has meaning for all involved. This is no easy task.
Rather than try to wax critically about the state of family movie protocol and politics, it might be best to, at the very least, talk about a few specific films that not only fit the mold of a ‘family movie‘ but also bridge the gap between generations. Namely, what films did you enjoy as a kid that are films your kids will also find to be as awesome? If sharing the wonders of your LP or 8-track collection are any indication, this may be nearly impossible.
Let’s look at “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”. Not only did this movie prove to be popular enough to spawn sequels, it was also a big enough hit to spawn a Disney adventure! The movie dealt with the ramblings of well-meaning father who was too smart for his, or anyone else’s, own good. By way of one of his many weird inventions, his kids, as well as the neighbor’s kids, are shrunk down to the size of bugs. In their minute state, they battle nature in all of its glory, dealing with the bigger philosophical impact of man versus nature (by way of a lawnmower), as well as the idea that nature can sometimes be filled with tough lessons. We learn that opposites attract, bullies have hearts, and that sometimes what makes us different is what makes us unique.
Our other entry is “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”. This is a movie about a young boy living in poverty but also maintaining perpetual hope for the future. He becomes obsessed with a contest promising a few lucky kids a chance to tour the candy factory of the titular character & also have a chance to have a lifetime supply of candy. The young boy and his grandfather join the other contest winners & their respective chaperone for a tour of a place of dreams. What kid doesn’t dream of a factory filled with nothing but candy? Lessons are taught, and we get a glimpse of a great movie character that would become “meme-worthy” fodder.
Family movies are what you make of them, and sometimes the movie that brings everyone around the same popcorn bowl is the stuff of legend – if only between your own family.