20 Classic Movies on Disney+ To Share With Your Kids While Schools Are Closed
With schools now closed, many of us are scrambling for ways to pass the (very long) hours. I mean there's only so much home-schooling and arts and crafts one can do before the sight of googly eyes makes your own eyes roll back in your head. Which makes this a great time to introduce your kids to these 20 classic films on Disney+.
I mean, there's going to be screen time. Let's be real. For many of us, probably more screen time than we usually allow. But one way to maybe feel a little less guilty about all the TV is to get Frozen 2 off repeat and introduce your kids to something new... to something you loved as a kid.
These old movies are sure to stir up some truly amusing and interesting conversations, as kids ask things like, "Why is she talking into that machine in that box?" thus giving you the opportunity to explain the concept of a pay phone.
Sure, your children may find some of the films totally bonkers and awful, but that's part of the fun! It's also a way to keep the "watching" somewhat interactive, as you laugh together over the "high tech" effects of Angela Lansbury floating underwater on a magical four-poster bed.
And you know, curling up with a classic might also bring a little comfort and solace to your own addled brain, transporting you away from CNN for a moment, and back to your own childhood and a less anxiety-riddled era.
1. 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'
Speaking of Lansbury... I absolutely loved this totally bananas movie as a kid. It features a bungling witch who takes three kids and a snooty Englishman on wild adventures atop, yes, a floating four-poster bed. They go under the ocean, play soccer with cartoon animals, and even defeat some Nazis! Best of all — it's a musical.
2. 'Alice in Wonderland'
Forget Johnny Depp and his floppy stove-pipe hat, this 1951 cartoon version of Alice and the Red Queen is lovely, entertaining, and — like all good cartoons — a tiny bit creepy. (Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, anyone?) If your kid doesn't love the singing flowers, they're sure to love the caterpillar and his hookah. (Whoooo are yooooou?)
3. 'Freaky Friday'
Sure, you could go with the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version, but why not go super old school with the original Freaky Friday? The premise of these movies — that a mom and her teen daughter switch bodies — is forever amusing, no matter which version you watch. But the old school one features a young Jodie Foster and lots of wide lapel jackets for added entertainment.
If you truly want to escape from our own (currently bonkers) reality, why not slip into the wild and wonderful weirdness of this totally trippy classic? The animation is gorgeous, and the film provides a wonderful education in both classical music and the effects of LSD.
5. 'Mary Poppins'
There are few things more soothing than a crooning Julie Andrews soaring down with her big black umbrella, arriving just in time to tidy the room and fix everything. This film is pure magic and joy, which is likely just what you could use a lot of right about now.
6. 'Robin Hood'
This animated version of the prince of thieves is an often overlooked Disney gem. Robin is played by a dashing and sly fox, King John is a fussy lion, and the folksy music in it is totally catchy and cute. It's silly and incredibly fun, and the perpetually put-upon Sir Hiss is sure to bring the laughs for the kiddos.
7. 'Pete's Dragon'
This film is beyond corny, the effects are laughably bad, and Mickey Rooney spends much of it playing a bumbling drunk. Which is to say: it's a true classic! For real, my kid loves this movie, and yes, I know there's a fancy new version of this story, but to be honest, I found it a bit dark. This one is straight up hokey goodness, and your kid will love the scene where everyone dances on spinning beer kegs.
8. 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids'
Apparently there's an updated version of this movie coming soon, which means this is a good time to acquaint your kids with the original. Sure, the effects aren't exactly stellar, but the fact that it isn't CGI and is actual giant set pieces gives the movie its own unique, vivid feel. Afterward, throw your kids some tiny action figures and a phone and tell them to make their own version of the movie with things around the house!
9. 'The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh'
Really, I can't think of a more comforting, gentle film to watch right now than this sweet and simple cartoon. I think I'd watch it on a loop if I could. It features the Zen-like Pooh on his perpetual quest for honey, documenting his little adventures with his forest friends. The biggest mishap they run into is when Pooh overeats and gets stuck in a tree. Which is pretty much the exact level of drama I want in my movies at the moment.
10. 'The Black Stallion'
Based on the classic children's novel, this is the inspiring and uplifting story of a shipwrecked little boy who befriends a wild Arabian horse, and goes on to achieve racing glory. Sounds a little nuts, I know. But if you make it to the end without getting teary, well you are clearly made of stone.
11. 'The Sword and the Stone'
This is another very underrated Disney cartoon that I don't feel gets enough love. It follows a young King Arthur whose downtrodden life is forever changed when a wizard (Merlin, of course) appears to help teach him the ways of the world and prepare him to become king. It's a quirky and funny underdog story, with lots of magical wands. A bit Potter-esque, really.
12. 'The Muppet Movie'
If your kids don't know the muppets yet, well now could be the perfect time to acquaint them with the hilarious antics of Animal, Miss Piggy, and of course, Kermit. Yes, there's the more recent 2018 version. But does that one have a sweaty Dom DeLuise? I think not.
13. 'The Princess and the Frog'
Sooo much to love about this New Orleans-based princess tale. The music, the hand-drawn animation, the steamboats and streetcars — it's just all around lovely, with a strong and inspiring protagonist to boot.
Why not give your kids their first crush on a young, dancing, fiercely determined Christian Bale? This story of striking newsboys who fight to overthrow an oppressive society via the splits and dramatic leaps is sure to delight, and to give your house something else to sing besides "Into the great unknoooooooown...."
15. 'The Little Mermaid'
Blow your kids' socks off with this tale of Ariel and her quest for love! While I could kind of do without the whole oppressive father stuff in this story, the music is seriously just amazing, and a total precursor to the belting ballads found in both Moana and Frozen. In short, your kids will have memorized all the words to "Part of Your World" by the time schools reopen.
16. 'The Sound of Music'
Again, we could all do with more bright-eyed Julie Andrews during these troubled times. Every human should see this movie at some point. The music is glorious and timeless, as is the defeat of the Nazis.
17. 'The Parent Trap'
I'm gonna be honest: I've never been a huge Parent Trap fan. This story of scheming twins trying to reunite their parents was always kind of meh for me. But I know it is beloved by many, so I feel obligated to let you know the most-recent version is streaming. It does feature Dennis Quaid, and a little Quaid is always good for one's soul, I think.
18. 'Sleeping Beauty'
OK, I know the storyline of this one is a little problematic on the feminist front. But there is an article about how the protagonist of Sleeping Beauty is actually the three old fairy ladies, so if you look at it that, it's almost progressive! Really though, I think this is just a gorgeous cartoon with gorgeous music that is ultimately about good versus evil. And so long as your kid gets plenty of other positive messaging about strong women, I don't think a little "Once upon a dream..." will do any serious harm.
19. 'High School Musical'
I suppose maybe if you hate yourself and want to give your kids the opportunity to belt their own musical at the top of their lungs?
A movie about a wide-eyed robot who helps humans rediscover their humanity and band together to survive the loss of their world as they know it? Set to the music of Hello Dolly? Yes, please. Sounds pretty good right about now.
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