Top Favorite Family Films (So Far)

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - October 03, 2007

The American Film Institute has released its selections of the “Greatest American Movies of All Time.” Here are the Top 10:

10) The Wizard of Oz (1939)
9) Vertigo (1958)
8) Schindler’s List (1993)
7) Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
6) Gone With the Wind (1939)
5) Singing in the Rain (1952)
4) Raging Bull (1980)
3) Casablanca (1942)
2) The Godfather (1972)
1) Citizen Kane (1941)

I know there will be agreements and disagreements over whether the AFI got it right or not. Personally, there are movies here that belong in the Top 10 and others I don’t particularly care for. I agree that The Godfather belongs near the top as well as Raging Bull. Citizen Kane is the perennial top vote-getter, but I suspect it is more out of loyalty than cinematic dominance. Regardless, it is a fine film and deserving of consistent recognition.

I am sure you have an all-time favorite film. But favored status does not necessarily equate to quality. For example, Caddyshack is one of my favorite films in the universe. Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight personify the outrageousness of golf culture. Sure the movie is absurd, but there is an underlying social commentary that is spot on. Clearly, this movie was never threatened by a visit from Oscar, but it’s good (mostly clean) fun.

On the other hand, the movie that tops my list of “Greatest American Movies of All Time” is 1979’s, All That Jazz. Stellar. Fantastic. Boffo.

This movie is the total package. My affection for the film is found in the semi-autobiographical story of legendary Broadway impresario Bob Fosse. His harried lifestyle, abundant talent and preoccupation with death is compelling. Throw in a phenomenal music score, dizzying choreography and a surreal view of your exit from life and you have a vehicle that fires on all cylinders. Roy Scheider (yes, the sheriff in Jaws) is the song-and-dance man, and we are introduced to the mesmerizing Jessica Lange as the Angel of Death. Oh yeah.

These days our film choices are deeply influenced by our children. Zachary is 6 and Zoe is all of 4. It would be abusive to cuddle up with the kids while watching Sonny get machine-gunned at the Jersey Toll Plaza.

So, family movies it is.

Forget the AFI. I have a list of our nominees for the “Hamada Family Favorite Films” (so far):

10) Chicken Little (2005)
9) The Polar Express (2004)
8) Shrek (2001)
7) The Incredibles (2004)
6) The Lion King (1994)
5) Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005)
4) Finding Nemo (2003)
3) The Sound of Music (1965)
2) Toy Story (1995)
1) Charlotte’s Web (1973)

Yes, Charlotte’s Web is my choice for “Greatest Family Movie.” It is a sweet and gentle film that speaks of friendship, perseverance, family and sacrifice. There is no state-of-the-art animation. There are no car chases or loud explosions. It’s the story of two unlikely friends and the celebration of their life on earth. It may not be on your list, but our kids love it and so do I.

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