Stuck at Home: Sebastian Hunt’s Picks for Best Family Films to Stream

GOOD Morning Wilton‘s movie reviewer, Sebastian Hunt, is a junior at Wilton High School who loves film and television and hopes to become a filmmaker himself one day. He’s already gotten a jump start on that, producing his own screenplays and planning on submitting his work to film festivals. You can learn more about Sebastian on GMW‘s “Our Team” page. 

The global public health crisis, among other things, has enabled people to watch more films. For those seeking family-friendly cinematic entertainment, here’s a handful of recommendations:

Groundhog Day (1993) – Available on Netflix

Millennials and Gen-Xers will look back fondly on Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s arguably career-defining screwball comedy. But today’s kids should love it, too; Murray is hilarious, backed by a clever and intelligent script. Some films worsen with age, others improve, and Groundhog Day is certainly of the latter category.

Hugo (2011) – Available on Netflix

Though famous for gritty crime/gangster dramas, in 2011 Martin Scorsese produced Hugo, a heartwarming, family-friendly tale. John Logan’s screenplay follows young Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) as he attempts to solve a mystery left by his late father. Warm and charming, Hugo should satisfy people of all ages.

Spider-Man:  Into the Spider-Verse (2018) – Available on Netflix

As a lifelong fan of comic books, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is exactly the sort of big-screen adaptation I crave. It’s bold, playful, entertaining and poignant; each frame is lush with gorgeous animated scenery. When discussing the greatest superhero films, most will mention either The Dark Knight or The Avengers, but as far as I’m concerned, Into the Spider-Verse is the genre’s defining entry.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) – Available on Prime Video

Don’t be intimidated by its release date; Steamboat Bill, Jr. is timeless fun. Directed and headlined by the legendary Buster Keaton, Steamboat Bill, Jr. ingeniously blends character-driven slapstick with an endearing love/family story. If nothing else, Steamboat Bill, Jr. proves that great comedy never gets old.

Fantasia (1940) – Available on Disney Plus

Fantasia is my favorite animated feature, as it taps into the medium’s imaginative essence. The entire film is a sublime, surreal experience made transcendent by masterful fusion of classical music and animation. Deservedly lauded as Walt Disney’s magnum opus, Fantasia is a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic trip you must see to believe.

The Muppet Movie (1979) – Available on Disney Plus

Forty years later, The Muppet Movie remains a delightful comedic romp that no Muppet film since has managed to top (though 2011’s The Muppets comes close). Kermit, Fozzie, Piggy, Gonzo, Scooter, Honeydew, Beaker and the rest of the gang make a cameo-rich cinematic debut… what more needs to be said?

Babe (1995)/Babe:  Pig in the City (1998) – Available on HBO GO

It’s rare that I immediately recommend a film and its sequel, but the Babe films are of such charmingly high quality that I cannot imagine anyone disliking them. In addition to possessing some very talented animal actors, both films’ scripts are lean and enjoyable. I strongly urge families to view both films, preferably back-to-back (because they’re that much fun).

The Lego Movie 2:  The Second Part (2019) – Available on HBO GO

The Lego Movie 2 was sorely underseen upon its release, barely inching beyond a $100-million cumulative gross. That’s a shame because The Lego Movie 2 very nearly matches its acclaimed predecessor. Fan-favorite characters return, their arcs advancing in meaningful and creative ways. Forget Toy Story 4 or Frozen II, The Lego Movie 2 should’ve been 2019’s most-watched animated outing.