The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz remains one of the greatest kids movies ever made not just because it's so influential (though it is), but because you can show it to a toddler right now and they will still be dazzled by it. Even when we grow older and rewatch the film, understanding filmmaking with an adult's eye, it still has the capacity to captivate with its Technicolor wonders. It is the very definition of a timeless classic.
Mary Poppins (1964)
People who grew up with Julie Andrews' enchanting voice in their heads never quite get rid of it. Mary Poppins is the quintessential live-action Disney film, a gorgeous and delightful infusion of magic and emotion that never gets old, as evidenced by the enthusiasm for its sequel. Mary Poppins really is practically perfect in every way.
Toy Story 2 (1999)
The first Toy Story film is a landmark achievement in animation and a great film all on its own. Toy Story 2 somehow managed to top it after first being launched as a subpar direct-to-video sequel. Building on the original in every way, it's a moving, even heartbreaking look at the life of a toy, and remains quite possibly the best animated sequel ever made.
Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars makes its way onto just about any list of great films aimed at children or families because Star Wars is ubiquitous for a reason. Even if you're too young to fully follow the story, you're swept up by the starships and the lightsabers, and the older you get the more it sticks in your head. It's not just a film for the young, but a film that will keep you young.
The Lion King (1994)
The Disney Renaissance of traditional animation peaked with The Lion King, both in terms of commercial success and in terms of public fascination with the animation studio and the characters it created. It's no accident that the film's 25th anniversary will bring with it a new "live action" adaptation, because kids who fell in love with it then will take their kids to the theater now. Remake aside, though, the original remains a captivating epic.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Gene Wilder commands this film as the title character, an eccentric chocolate maker with a taste for joy and more than a little bit of sadism, and his grip on audiences has not loosened one bit in nearly 50 years. Wonka is a delightfully strange and even eerie peek into a world within the one we know, and scary though it may seem, we still want to visit Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory.
The Muppet Movie (1979)
For some viewers, The Muppet Movie will always be a perfect piece of kid nostalgia. For newcomers to the Muppets and their adventures, it remains a timeless peek into a world full of lovable, unforgettable characters and a launching pad for a lifetime of enjoyment of the franchise. Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection" is still one of the most beautiful moments in the history of cinema.
This adaptation of Roald Dahl's story of a girl with strange powers maintains its charming grip on kids of all ages nearly two decades after its release. Mara Wilson's performance as the title character will win you over, but what will keep you coming back is the devotion to building a strange, often scary world for Matilda to roam through. It's a perfect heightened reality for a beautiful metaphor about growing up.
The LEGO Movie (2014)
Who would have believed a film about blocks could be so poignant and pointed? Creators Phil Lord and Chris Miller poured all of their comedic gifts into this megahit about a world where imagination and individuality is threatened by rigid permanence, and it's still a dazzling achievement. The message of The LEGO Movie might not be subtle, but it doesn't need to be to make its point to kids.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
People who were children in the 1980s got used to a specific kind of genre movie marketing toward kids, the kind that would make you says "that scared the hell out of me!" years later with a fondness that leaves certain non-fans a bit confused. The NeverEnding Story, with its endless font of imaginative and strange visuals, is the poster child for such films, and it still maintains a loyal fanbase because of it.