Watching a film as a family is a good way to give everyone some downtime. As an added bonus, you could even start your very own family film club with little and big people writing, drawing or recording their own reviews. Movies are also a fantastic way to inspire travel with your kids. Here are nine films which will help your family explore the world.
1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Recommended for older children, this is essentially the story of a mid-life crisis that takes the title character from Greenland to Iceland and onto the Himalayas with plenty of time spent closer to home in the United States. Directed by and starring Ben Stiller it’s a slow-moving film that divides opinion, so it’s actually a great film to expand your children’s minds, give your family plenty to discuss after and feed your collective wanderlust with some amazing cinematography.
2. Holiday in the Wild
You might be dubious about a Netflix Christmas romantic comedy but for any families who have travelled to or long to explore Africa, this film is the perfect way to escape to a continent that is far out of reach right now. It’s another story of mid-life challenges but this one involves a baby elephant, those never-ending African skies (although it’s never entirely clear where exactly in Africa Kristin Davis’ character is) and the ending will make you feel happy. What’s not to like?
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Starting in Peru with the famous marmalade sandwiches, this critically-acclaimed film moves swiftly to London and takes you on a funny, heart-warming and poignant exploration of London, Londoners and how people welcome (or don’t) strangers from other lands. Equally charming is Paddington 2 and the chance to see Hugh Grant as you’ve never seen him before. Both films keep the kids hooked and the adults entertained.
This animated story starts in Shanghai and travels across China, the Gobi Desert and into the Himalayas as a young girl and her friends meet, befriend and protect a Yeti as they escort him back to his family on Mount Everest. It’s a lovely movie for younger kids, with a great soundtrack, a feel-good ending and just the right amount of peril. Just don’t overthink the plot inconsistencies and set your expectations for a kids movie.
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5. Fly Away Home
A bereaved daughter finds purpose and rebuilds her relationship with her father when they work together to help a flock of geese learn their migratory route from rural Ontario to North Carolina. This simple low-budget film from 1996 is a real surprise. It’s beautifully shot with birds eye views of the bucolic Canadian landscape and there are not-so-subtle lessons in how we are impacting our natural world and above all a story of love, renewal and working together.
Set in Polynesian culture and with a plot involving a young girl going on a journey to save her family homeland, Moana was always going to feature on a list of travel films for children. The fact that the music is by Lin Manuel Miranda is a big bonus, as is the strong female lead, the magic in the story and the fact it features a silly chicken. It’s perfect for a family movie night with younger school-age children.
This heart-warming animation follows a young musician as he journeys (literally) into his family’s past and ultimately heals a long-lasting familial rift. It is a lovely way to learn about the significance of the Day of the Dead in Mexican culture and be thoroughly entertained while you do. Widely praised for its impressive animation, musical score and voice acting, Coco was also the first big-budget feature film with an all-Latino principal cast - giving you plenty of discussion points for your family film club.
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8. Mr. Bean’s Holiday
It might be painful viewing for some of us but following the awkward accident-prone Mr. Bean as he gets tangled up in all sorts of mess is a lovely way to take the family to France for 90 minutes. There is some beautiful footage as the film journeys south to Cannes and while this style of comedy may sit awkwardly in 2020 it will still make your kids laugh. Failing that you’ve still expanded their cultural horizons by introducing them to a very specific brand of 90s British comedy.
9. The Cave of the Yellow Dog
A gentle film with a simple plot, at first glance award-winning The Cave of the Yellow Dog may feel too slow to keep the kids fully engaged. But it rewards perseverance: with its story of a young Mongolian girl returning to her nomadic family it is a cinematic lesson in how different some children’s lives are to those experiences of our children. There are plenty of sweeping vistas of the Mongolian steppe too, just to feed your own wanderlust.