Gumdrop Lane

5 Movies For Children That Adults Should Still Love

We can all agree it’s okay not to be a mature adult. There are enough of them around making the world function for the rest of us to act, dress, and behave like immature childlike empresses/emperors. Part of this is enjoying movies for children despite the fact that I should no longer relate to their themes. But I think every adult is just a child in a grown-up suit faking it all anyway, so we can still relate to the conundrums of childhood and learn lessons from those younger than ourselves.

Here are some of my favorite films made for children that I can still enjoy as a so-called adult. I’m pretty sure critics agree most of these movies are terrible, but I think we can all agree most of those critics are terrible and have killed their inner-child through years of negativity and neglect. I genuinely still enjoy these movies on a cinematic storytelling level and not just on the nostalgia level of insisting on clinging to terrible things and pretending they’re great. Enjoy.

1) Matilda

Matilda, for those of you unfortunate enough not to have seen it, is a story of a girl whose family is a bunch of awful, television-loving jerks who don’t appreciate Matilda’s specialness. Matilda is a supersmart genius who reads a ton of books and develops the power of telekinesis to deal with her anger at being unappreciated. Along the way she meets a great teacher, a turd principal and cheers on an obese child so that he can finish eating an enormous chocolate cake. The film is funny and scary and whimsical.

The entire cast does an amazing job and it’s only mildly confusing as to why Danny Devito directs the movie, plays a character and narrates the story as an entirely different omniscient essence. Why not just hire another dude to narrate? Why you gotta do everything yourself, Danny? Huh? Everyone knows you’re tiny and talented already – no need to rub it in our faces. Anyway, everyone can relate to feeling unappreciated and the joy of finding people who value you. There’s also the satisfaction of seeing nasty nogoodniks get their comeuppance. I will and do watch this movie any time I can.

At the very least we can all relate to wanting to use our telekinesis to punish those who deserve it. At the very very least we all love Roald Dahl.

2) Hook

Hook  is a wonderful retelling of the Peter Pan story. It’s told as though Peter grew up into a very hairy man, forgot who he was, and turned into a bad father who lets Captain Hook steal his kids; he then has to return to Neverland to save his kids from pirate Dustin Hoffman by remembering he’s Peter Pan while along the way learning to become a good dad.

Once again, a star-studded cast makes this movie the enchanting tale that it is. Hook is Steven Spielberg directing as his fantasy-adventure best. The film explores themes of neglect, parent/child relationships and imagining dinner food when you have nothing to eat.  The imagined feast scene may be one of my top 25 movie scenes, in general. And also when that fat kid somehow forms himself into a ball and rolls down the plank, because that was just amazing.

This movie even gets super serious on us when Rufio dies. Yes, a beloved character dies. That’s heavy. That’s heavy, doc. Usually when unpleasant things happen in fun movies, I can’t watch that movie ever again. But the magic of Hook is that I can. Because it helped me become an immature adult.

3) Camp Nowhere

Ah, Camp Nowhere. A bunch of kids who have to go to camps they hate create fake camps and steal their parents’ money and pour it into creating the summer of their lives! Their molehill of a camp quickly turns into a mountain as other kids catch wind of their idea. And with Christopher Llyod as an ex-drama teacher/ringleader hilarity and chaos ensues!

Despite never being wild about summer camp itself, I’d say summer camp movie is one of my favorite genres of movie: Heavyweights, Wet Hot American Summer, The Babysitters Club, etc. Camp Nowhere is a particularly excellent film as it taught goody-two shoes me about general small-scale tomfoolery as well as large-scale fraud.

There’s also romance and adventure and kids from different cliques coming together for the greater good.

4) North

Elijah Wood stars in this delightful comedy about a boy with terrible parents who goes to court to find new parents. He has a couple months to find a new family or return to his old one. And somewhere along the way his parents go into comas and end up in a museum on display or something weird.

I much preferred Elijah in North to when he was in Forever Young, which scared the beans right out of me. I also much preferred Elijah that one time I saw him in a Whole Foods to when he was in Forever Young. Forever Young is just a scary film that should be in the horror section because I really didn’t like it. But North is great. I need not say how studded with stars the cast is when you’ve got Seinfeld’s George and Elaine playing North’s parents.

What makes me love North even more is how much Roger Ebert apparently hated it:

“I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

Well, Roger, you can hate me, too. Because I love North.

5) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I’m pretty sure this is only posing as a kid’s movie, to be fair. There’s implied child murder, yelling at children, bedridden grandparents and a hallucination-inducing tunnel of terror. These are the building blocks of a horror film. But as a kid all I got from this film was that candy was great, Willy Wonka had the best job ever and ‘Cheer Up, Charlie’ was the worst song ever written that needed to be fast forwarded through upon every viewing of the movie.

I love the candy, the costumes, the Oompa Loompas, the singing, Grandpa Joe, the burping, the Wonkavator, the edible tea cup, and obviously, Gene Wilder. I love it all!

Even if Roald Dahl hated it.

Images via,,,

  • Ashley Lynn Cook

    What I absolutely love about watching movies that I used to watch as a child once again now I’m an adult is you see so much more into that movie! You catch the little inside jokes which make it funnier, you appreciate the romance, you relate to both the children AND the adults now and I think it just brings the movie not only back to life but with a whole new take on it! I adore Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder is JUST the BEST!) and just last week I watched Hook (I had such a crush on Robin Williams when I first saw that movie lol). You should never be too old to watch a good lighthearted movie! It does the soul good! :-)

  • Liz Haebe

    I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who DOESN”T like Hook. I mean, honestly, how can you NOT LOVE Hook? Rufi-OOOOOO!

  • Maria Irene Q

    Don’t forget the Neverending Story! I watched this with my girls, 8 and 5, and they love it and it’s still as good as I remember, even with Atreyu screaming his dialogue through the whole movie. 😀

  • Linda Moore

    One of my favs as a child that I LOVE even more as an adult is “The Neverending Story”. It was so much fun and goofiness when I was a kid. Now as an adult I can appreciate the idea that a magical make believe world is dying because no one uses their imagination or creates things anymore. Plus as a kid I got a terrifying thrill from the scenes with the SUPER creepy “Nothing” and spent hours going through my Mom’s jewelery box trying to find a necklace that I could wear on my forehead like “The Empress”. Heck, who am I kidding, I still do that! :p

  • Catherine Bruno

    1, 2 and 5 I definitely still love!

  • Vicky Shazam

    hell yeah, camp nowhere is the shit! also House Arrest, some of the Ernest movies, and anything else that was hella cool in the 90s basically.

    • Danielle Bon

      i always get super excited when a movie channel randomly plays house arrest. especially if its hbo because that means i can watch it a few times

  • Robbie Goacher

    You should add “anything by Pixar” to the list.

  • Kris Garvey

    I actually laughed out loud at your comment about Willy Wonka – I, too, always fast forwarded past “Cheer Up, Charlie.” That part of the movie is so depressing and unnecessary, and let’s get to the Golden Ticket and candy already!! Love Gene Wilder as well.

  • Kris Garvey

    And I forgot to mention “The Goonies” and “The Sandlot” as two other favorite kid movies I will watch anytime I find it on, no matter what point it is in the movie. Goonies never say die!

  • Bee Condon

    I completely second Sandlot and Goonies… but what about Ferngully?

  • Daneisha Lynette

    Camp Nowhere FTW! When I was younger, that movie came on TV and recorded it on VHS (Yes, I did) and watched it just about everyday! That’s probably because I had a thing for Andrew Keegan. Oh my, he was so hot! Also, Willie Wonka is still my favorite movie!

  • Jennifer Walker Lane

    Willy Wonka has always been and will always be my all-time favorite movie!!! It is funny that as an adult, it becomes almost a completely different movie – so many things you don’t catch as a kid. And agreed, Cheer Up Charlie is pretty bad, but as a child this movie came on TV twice a year (two of the best nights ever!) and there was no fast-forwarding back then!

  • Melina Santos

    Ugh, these were my childhood television obsessions. I’m glad every one else loves them as much as I still do and also are great sources of pop culture that I incorporate in my daily life :)

  • Joanna Boese

    I never liked “Willy Wonka”, but maybe that’s because like Violet, I have a strained relationship with my father, and I don’t think she should’ve been punished for talking back to that glory hog. (Really, he’ s trying to promote his business when the spotlight’s on her?! Would you WANT to listen to someone that treated you like that all the time?!)

    But if you think about it, “Matilda” is kind of like an apology for it. He automatically thinks he’s right when he isn’t and when she punishes him by putting glue in his hat after he is dishonestly turning back the odometers in the used cars he’s selling, I just couldn’t help but smile.

  • Erin Elizabeth Davis

    Mighty fine choice, but Heavyweights was more my fav verses Camp Nowhere. The candy, go karts, and the BLOB….oh yeah need I say more? Also, can’t forget The Sandlot, Man of the House (with JTT; How about Squatting Dog?), and Mrs Doubtfire! Classics!

  • Kayla L. Minto

    I’ve never seen North, or Camp Nowhere, but I compleatly agree with the rest of the movies!! I love them all sooo much. I watch them over and over and over again. :)

  • Lisa M. Duncan

    From this odd list, I’ve only seen Hook and Willie Wonka. What about The Sandlot?? Brave Little Toaster? The original Parent Trap. You left off so many great kids movies.

  • Cayce Matteoli

    Ummm… I LOVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE MOVIES! You’re quite a good list maker :)

  • Melissa Meeker

    Oh wow! Forgot about Camp Nowhere! What about Rookie of the Year or Monster Squad?!

  • Jon Trudel

    For me, I’m a little older, and that list would have to include WW and the Chocolate Factory, My Bodyguard, Meatballs, and The Bad News Bears

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