Must See Movies for Kids

Link to films for children:


Koko  (2004)

Documentary Nature 2004 NR 60 minutes. In the 1970s, a gorilla named Koko taught scientists much more than they’d imagined about how animals, humans included, communicate. This documentary, part of the popular Nature series and narrated by Martin Sheen, examines how Koko interacts with the doctors who studied her, including lead researcher Penny Patterson, with whom she forged a strong bond. By letting viewers in, Koko flung the doors wide open to the world of communication. See Full Review

The Whale

Documentary 2011 G 1hr 25m. This documentary introduces Luna, a wild killer-whale living off Vancouver Island who befriends a community. His presence there draws conflicted emotions. This wonderful film shows many loving and playful interactions between Luna and people, in a beautiful Pacific Northwest setting.  The way this Orca interacted with us (humans) is far beyond what is usual in the wild. The fact that this highly intelligent mammal sought people out for attention and affection, then communicated and interacted with them, is astounding. Such an amazing creature. See Full Review

Rabbit-Proof Fence

Rabbit-Proof Fence tells a story from when Australia had an official white supremacy program, which lasted for over 100 years until 1970. Australia’s aboriginal integration program of the 1930s took young aborigines from their families and placed in an abusive orphanage. Three girls resolve to make the 1,500-mile trek home, without food or water. Meanwhile, a well-intentioned tracker is trying to return the girls to the authorities. This story is true, and two of the girls (now old women) actually appear in the movie.

Animal Odd Couples

Documentary, Nature 2012 TV-PG 53m. Enter stories of the most unlikely cross-species relationships imaginable: a chimp bottle-feeding a tiger cub; a giant tortoise snuggling a baby hippo; a black crow parenting a meerkat. This film will look at these remarkable relationships first hand, and through caregivers, biologists and animal behaviorists, explore what they suggest about the nature of animal emotions.

March of the Penguins

Documentary 2004 G 80 minutes. Award-winning photographer Luc Jacquet takes documentary film to new heights — and depths — with his first feature film, a stunning insider’s look at the life of emperor penguins living in one of the cruelest climates on the planet. The product of more than a year of filming on the Antarctic ice, this Oscar-winning documentary reveals never-before-captured footage of the penguins’ underwater life and explores their steadfast quest for monogamy.

The Private Life of Deer

Documentary Nature 2013 TV-PG 53m.  Just a century ago, there were an estimated 1 million deer living on the North American continent; now their numbers exceed 30 million.  This was interesting, but it was at a child’s level of information. Great intro to an incredible species, but the content is not even close to what the title seems to promise.  Rather than being about actual deer behavior, this features less-than-scientific people talking about seeing many deer in their suburban neighborhoods, including one friendly fawn that comes in the house. Information presented was probably about a third grade level. Everything covered you probably already know as an adult. Facts like:  deer are skittish, that if you shine a light in there eyes they freeze, and that they are a danger to drivers.  I learned nothing about deer I didn’t already know.  But it does show white albino deer.  So it was OK, but much more of a child’s documentary.

The Adventures of Huck Finn

Drama 1993 PG 108 minutes.  Follow a mischievous youngster, Huck (Elijah Wood), and a runaway slave, Jim (Courtney B. Vance), on a wild expedition to freedom. As the pair take the ride of their lives down the Mississippi River, they run into an entertaining assortment of offbeat characters. There’s the King (Jason Robards) and the Duke (Robbie Coltrane) for starters, and it is one challenging adventure after another in Mark Twain’s unforgettable saga.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Drama 1962 NR 130 minutes.   Southern comforts abound in this big-screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel as lawyer Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck, in an Oscar-winning role) defends an innocent black man (Brock Peters) against rape charges but ends up in a maelstrom of hate and prejudice. Meanwhile, with help from a friend (John Megna), Finch’s children, Jem (Phillip Alford) and Scout (Mary Badham), set their sights on making contact with a reclusive neighbor (Robert Duvall).

The King of Masks

Drama 1999TV-141hr 41m. Nearing the end of his life, Wang — a locally renowned street performer and wizard of the venerable art of mask magic — yearns to pass on his technique. But custom decrees that he can only hand down his craft to a male successor. Anxious to preserve his unique art, the heirless Wang buys an impoverished 8-year-old on the black market in a startling scene. The child is 8, and is held by the seller on a leash. But when the child divulges a dreaded secret, Wang faces a choice between filial love and societal tradition. Setting is provincial Sichuan in 1930.

Super Size Me

Documentary 2004 PG-13 98 minutes. Director Morgan Spurlock takes a hilarious and often terrifying look at the effects of fast food on the human body, using himself as the proverbial guinea pig. For one month, Spurlock eats nothing but McDonald’s fare.

Food Beware
The French Organic Revolution

Documentary 2009 NR 112 minutes. (Nos Enfants Nous Accuseront) Jean-Paul Jaud’s documentary visits the Barjac village in France, where the mayor has mandated an all-organic menu for the lunch program in the local school. Children grow a garden at school to learn about food and eating better. There are shocking scenes of children eating vegetables — which the French value highly. Farmers, parents, kids and health care advocates discuss the impact of the decision. School and government officials also weigh in on why people are dying of cancer in ever-increasing numbers, the food industry’s role, the use of pesticides, nutrition and local sustainability.

The Last of His Tribe

Docudrama 1992 PG-13 91 minutes. Decades after his entire tribe was slaughtered, the sole survivor of the attack, Ishi, (Graham Greene) comes out of hiding having lived for years in isolation. Anthropologist Alfred Kroeber (Jon Voight) learns of Ishi’s story and makes it his subject of study. Impressed with the man’s courage and eager to learn the tribe’s history, Kroeber takes Ishi in and devotes his research to finding out the truth. I came across this gem looking for movies on Native Americans. I am not ashamed to admit that I had no idea who Ishi was. Not only did this movie enlighten me to this interesting historical fact, it was well acted and very well directed. Graham Greene, who I am convinced can play any Native American on the planet, is heartbreakingly splendid in his role as Ishi. This story spans the four years these men spent together and manages to touch on the important points.

The story of The Last of His Tribe docudrama is also told in the documentary Ishi, The Last Yahi.

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