My Favorite Feature Films for Families

Have you heard of Feature Films for Families? It's like the Patch the Pirate of the movie industry, and, like Patch tapes, these were a staple of the Baines family when we were growing up. Some of them are dreadful, and they're all a little (okay, maybe a lot) cheesy, but a few of them are winners in my book. (Also, I haven't seen most of these in years so I may have to cheat a little on the synopses.) I popped one of these in (on VHS, what?) for some students recently and... lo and behold, they loved it. And there wasn't a cuss word or sex scene in sight. Amazing how that works.

Eat it all that early 90's goodness.

1. No More Baths- this one is set in a small town (really, they all are) and is about an old man who is forced to face losing his house to a greedy developer. (Naturally, his little friend demands to know how this can be legal, and his dad tells him that it's within the law, and he indignantly insists that "the law is wrong.") Since Jake beloved by all the kids in town, and since their secret clubhouse is located on the property that's being taken over, the kids go on strike... from bathing. (I told you these were cheesy.) The court case drags on (and the kids grow dirtier) until finally old Jake gets his house back and movie ends in a triumphant, "Children of Glenwood Springs, it's shower time!" as the mayor (or somebody) turns on a firehose. There are some admirable overtones of civil rights principles, but honestly, as a kid I was mostly envious of the super-cool clubhouse. 

2. Split Infinity- I probably identify more with this one as an adult than I did as a kid, because it's about a money-hungry teenager named A.J. (or, unfortunately, Amelia Jean) who finds her identity in her style and makes shopping and clothes her #1 priority. (Not that I do... nervous laugh.) However, her grandpa, a philanthropist who's always telling her that the love of money is the root of all evil, disagrees with her materialistic lifestyle. Through an accident, she's taken back in time (totally plausible!) and lives as Amelia Jean, her grandpa's sister who lived (and later died) during the Great Depression. As A.J. (and from the future) she has to keep her grandpa/brother from making a huge mistake before the stock market crashes. Of course, he doesn't believe that it will and, well, you can figure the rest out, I'm sure. Eventually A.J. returns to the present with a better perspective on the "things" that truly matter.

3. Seasons of the Heart- this. movie. will. make. you. cry. It's about a couple who lose both their little girls to scarlet fever when the family travels to the West, and the orphan boy they take in, and how the mom, Martha, learns to love another child. I'm practically tearing up just thinking about it. This one isn't cheesy- it's just good. Watch it, especially at Christmas. 

4. Caddie Woodlawn- I have a deep, abiding love for this movie, mostly because I love the book by Carol Ryrie Brink. Also, I identified with Caddie because I was a tomboy and I always wanted brothers and she had two. If you're unfamiliar with the story (and it does deviate from the book slightly), Caddie is the daughter in a pioneer family and basically runs wild with her brothers, to the delight of her father and the dismay of her Bostonian mother. There's a snooty Boston cousin, Indians, and lessons about being true to yourself and racism and responsibility. All that in a low-budget B-movie? Yes. It's a winner.

5. Rigoletto- maybe my favorite, if only for the music. It's a good plot (if the some of the acting is a little pitiful and more like a school play) and I really do love the songs. It's a little bit of a Beauty and the Beast story, but here the beast is a real person, a disfigured man, and he isn't in love with the "beauty"; he teaches her to sing. (He never does much for those flared nostrils.) I hadn't seen it in forever and put it on during a rainy day P.E. and I remembered how good it was. Again, I'd love to hear the same songs performed by almost anyone else, BUT it's still sweet. And I have the songbook for these, and they really are pretty. ("Sweet April Child" was my first attempt at singing in a foreign language, years before heinous voice lessons would require me to, and it made me feel so fancy.)

I'm well aware that I could write another entire post about how very lame some of these movies are, but these five I really do love. Again, I'm showing my own corniness a little bit, but they really do teach good lessons and character traits (unlike most of the complete drivel on Disney Channel today), plus it's not every day you get a movie that comes with a family discussion guide. ;) Did anybody else watch these? Or The ButterCream Gang? Behind the Waterfall? Borrowed Hearts? Do tell. I'd love to chat it up about wholesome family entertainment, because I am just that cool.



  1. Loved Rigoletto! Thought I was the only one.

  2. I LOVE Rigoletto! I actually made my husband watch it recently when it was my turn to pick for date night and we had to watch it in nine minute segments on YouTube! The man must really love me :)

    And yes, my brother and I watched The ButterCream Gang when we were little :)

  3. Oh! I love feature films! I've lost count of how many I've watched, Rigoletto is probably one of my all time favorites!

  4. I use to get those years ago so my grandkids could watch them. Finally did give them all to one of the grandkids. They are excellent movies. Course when I got them they were videos not CDs.


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