(This is something I wrote in 2018 for Urban Life. Sharing it with you again because I find it fitting since we spend most of our time at home nowadays. This is a good activity for families.)

Watching movies is one of the activities that can help families bond and enjoy each other’s company. It isn’t necessary to go to the cinema because nowadays, there are a lot of alternatives when it comes to movie viewing. We have several options: Netflix, HBO Go, Viu, Disney Plus, Discovery +, Amazon Prime, and other streaming platforms.

Of course, you may want to watch your favorite Netflix shows alone, in your room, but in these crazy times, scheduling a weekend activity with your loved ones is important. Also, I think there’s nothing more fun and exciting than gathering in the living room (or bedroom or recreation room) to watch a movie or two while enjoying chips and ice-cold drinks with the family.

Anyway, to help you decide which movie (or movies) to watch at your next family get-together, here are five movies that, in my opinion, are perfect choices. I based my selection on the movies’ family appeal – particularly in terms of the storyline, characters, and values.

1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Henry Thomas, and Drew Barrymore

This is my ultimate all-time favorite movie. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this film. This Spielberg classic is about the friendship of an extra-terrestrial or alien (nicknamed E.T.) stranded here on Earth and a lonely boy named Elliot. The boy and his siblings “adopt” E.T. as they try to find ways to help the extraterrestrial go home to his planet. Their adventure becomes a challenge when the U.S. government learns about E.T.

It’s a touching story of friendship despite odds and differences – and this is what makes it timeless. Anybody of any age will enjoy the movie.

Favorite lines: “E.T. phone home.” and “I’ll be right here.”

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is considered one of the “greatest films ever made”.

2. Kubo and the Two Strings

3D Stop-Motion Animation

Directed by: Travis Knight

Featuring the Voices of: Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, and Art Parkinson (as Kubo)

This is a beautiful film about a boy named Kubo and his enchanting journey. He takes care of his ill mother and makes a living using his magical shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed musical instrument), origami, and the story of his missing samurai warrior father Hanzo. He wears an eyepatch because his left eye was stolen when he was a baby by the Moon King (who happens to be his grandfather).

Kubo goes on a mission to find the Moon King, and his mother’s sisters (Washi and Karasu) despite warnings that they would get his remaining eye once they found him. He is joined by a beetle and a snow monkey.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a story for all audiences, but especially for the family. It is quite but absorbing. It features exceptional stop-motion animation, and the performances are absolutely powerful. This film is second in my all-time favorites list, next only to E.T.

3. Batteries Not Included

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn

This is a 1987 film about an apartment block that’s about to be demolished and the people living there who are saved by tiny living extraterrestrials in spaceships called The Fix-Its.

Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, it is a story about family, friendships, trust, and survival. It is both funny and thought provoking.

4. Pete’s Dragon (1977 and 2016)

1977: Directed by Don Chaffey

Starring: Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Jim Dale, Shelley Winters, Red Buttons, et. al.

2016: Directed by David Lowery

Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Wes Bentley, Oakes Fegley, Oona Laurence, and Karl Urban

I chose to include both versions because they’re equally good. The 1977 movie introduced me to Pete and his dragon-friend Elliot, as well as to the songs “Candle on the Water” , “Boo Bop Bop Bop Bop (I Love You, Too)”, and “Brazzle Dazzle Day”.

The story revolves around Pete, an orphaned boy, and his friendship with Elliot. Eventually, the town’s residents find out about the dragon and those who are against Pete’s friendship with the unwelcome visitor find ways to capture Elliot.

The movie is based on a short story of the same title by Seton I. Miller. It values friendships, relationships, and the family. It also talks about trust and loyalty. The 1977 movie features a lot of beautiful songs that anyone will learn to love easily.

5. The Adventures of Tintin

Directed by Steven Spielberg

3D Motion Capture Computer-Animated Movie

Starring: Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell, and Nick Frost, among others

Based on Belgian cartoonist Herge’s comic series, The Adventures of TinTin is about TinTIn, a young journalist, and his dog named Snowy. Their adventure starts after TinTin buys a model ship named the Unicorn. A certain Mr. Sakharine finds out about it and offers to buy the model ship. As he is unsuccessful, he resorts to kidnapping the young journalist and other sinister plans.

The movie is an adventure from the beginning till the end. You’ll love brave and intelligent TinTin, who embodies the values of honesty, kindness, and compassion. He is a happy and good-natured young adventurer who loves traveling around the world. Dog lovers will love Snowy as well.

There you have it, five movies you and your loved ones can enjoy in your next get-together. Have fun, everyone! And remember, the best moments in life are shared with the people you love!

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