Gumdrop Lane5 Movies For Children That Adults Should Still LoveLaura Kadner

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,,,

  • Christina Theodoru

    Oh man, “Cheer Up Charlie” is the worst. I was recently trying to explain the atrocity of this song to a “friend” of mine but they kept countering my point by saying that it was necessary for plot development. Blah, Blah, Blah. “Cheer Up Charlie” is like the gray scene at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz: depressing. Let’s just hurry up and get to the technicolor frivolity.

  • Hunter Wade

    Hands Down #1 is The Neverending Story… How could you forget??

  • Meaghan Lanier

    Every single word of your comments on Willy Wonka could have come straight from my mouth, especially the part about fast forwarding through “Cheer Up, Charlie.” Even now, as an adult, I am tempted to do this every time I watch the movie. I was aghast to learn that one of my friends loves this song and considers it to be one of her favorites in the movie. What the heck? Clearly this scene is boring and depressing, especially given the fact that everyone knows Charlie will get to go to the factory because, otherwise, what the heck are we watching this movie for?

  • Autumn Kieft

    Pippi Longstocking, Hook, Willy Wonka, Brave Little Toaster, My Girl, Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone, The Mighty Ducks…

  • Bianca Koolmees

    I love Matilda- for a newer movie I think adults can find a lot to like about Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It has wit.

  • Elizabeth Michelle

    Great list- “Hook” and “Matilda” were definitely two of the movies I would come home from school to watch- and I still love them today!

  • Sílvia Juncà


  • Barbara Sheltraw

    Love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (only the Gene Wilder Version.
    Love Hook.
    And don’t forget STAND BY ME.

  • Monique Lafourche Delaney

    I love Matilda, its one of m faves, I never get tired of watching it!

  • Sarah Reamon

    Pippi Longstocking, E.T., An American Tail, 3 Ninjas (Rocky loves Emily, Rocky loves Emily), Savannah Smiles (not sure if that was an intended kid movie but I loved it when I was a little girl), Home Alone, My Girl and Uncle Buck (Macauley made some great ones back in the day)…I think I could go on and on, and I haven’t even touched on Disney cartoons yet!

  • Kaylee Murdoch

    Matilda is my dads favorite movie and he’s 43!

  • Jessica Novak

    I agree with “The Goonies”, “The Neverending Story”, and “The Sandlot” as others mentioned above, and I would also add “The Princess Bride”. My favorite movie ever, since it orginally came out. I am now 37 and it is still my favorite. And, I’ve passed my love on to my nephew, who is 10, and my cousin, who is about to turn 7. And it’s also one of my parents favorites, so it definitely withstands the generational gap! I’ve never seen “Matilda”, “North”, or “Camp Nowhere”, but do love “Hook” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”.

  • Olivia Joan Corbett

    You should add any of The Muppet movies to the list! My friend, Hannah, and I both turned eighteen this past year, and the first thing we did when the new Muppet movie came out was try to gather up all our other eighteen year old friends to go see it with us! Unfortunately everyone else was either too busy to “too cool” to go with us, but it was amazing anyway.

  • Audrey Leihser

    I have ALL of these on VHS somewhere except the third one, which I’ve never even heard of! I’m so glad someone else appreciates North, a truly underappreciated movie that taught me what Borscht is.

  • 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

  • Melissa Meeker

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

  • Cayce Matteoli

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

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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!

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