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The best family films of the 21st century

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 Over the years, the world has been blessed with some incredibly upbeat and feel-good family films. The 70s gave us The Muppet Movie, the 80s: E.T and the 90s: the likes of The Little Rascals and Christmas classic Home Alone but with the recent release of Paddington 2 being met with nothing but raving reviews, it’s worth taking a look at the 21st century’s contribution to the ongoing list of family classics.

To make it possible to whittle the dozens of contagiously fun family films released over the past 17 years down to only six, this list excludes Disney films (I know that’s heart-breaking to many, but Disney and Disney Pixar have the crown when it comes to family entertainment and really deserve a list of their own).

1) The Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)

 

This goes without saying. What sort of list would this be without a nod to the queen of age-inclusive entertainment herself – J.K. Rowling. Whilst the series gets slightly darker (and therefore less suitable for the younger viewer) as it progresses, this magical journey is one for all ages and will certainly stand the test of time.

2) A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Another book series adapted to the big (and recently small) screen, A Series of Unfortunate Events gained quite the cult following. With Jim Carrey as the wicked Count Olaf, the film follows three siblings as they try to escape his clutches and his treacherous plans to steal their inheritance. This film is full of exciting twists and turns that will definitely keep viewers of all ages on their toes.

 

 

3) Nanny McPhee (2005)

Colin Firth, a recently widowed father struggling to manage his seven energetic children, enlists the help of the stern but lovable Nanny McPhee. Not only is this film filled with laughter and fun, its message of the importance of family rings true to anyone of any age and takes you on a real emotional journey.

 

4) Hotel for Dogs (2009)

Dogs. That is all. No explanation needed.

 

Joking aside, Hotel for Dogs follows siblings Andi and Bruce as they move into a new anti-dog foster home and face the trouble of rehoming their beloved pet, Friday. Rather than giving Friday up, they make use of an abandoned building and their imagination and create a hotel for stray dogs. This is another film that will make you laugh and cry, highlighting the importance of belonging and proving that, regardless of species, everyone needs a loving home.

5) Despicable Me (2010)

It’s fair to say that this film has definitely left its mark on recent pop culture – those minions are everywhere. Aside from the film’s little yellow icons, the story sees supervillain, Gru, intent on stealing the moon, faced with his biggest challenge yet – not grand theft, but fatherhood. Despicable Me proves that even the greatest of supervillains can be good with a little love and belonging.

6) Paddington (2014)

Paddington is a family fun at its purest. An orphaned bear, longing for a place to call his own, meets the Brown family who take him under their wing. The endearing ‘little bear’ unwittingly gets up to a plethora of mischief and wreaks havoc in the streets of London. An unmissable 90-minute joy-ride that’s guaranteed to get you wanting a family bear of your own, its clear why Paddington and its esteemed sequel are loved by parents, children and critics.


At the core at of all great family films is the family and the sense of belonging that comes with it. Most importantly, these films relate to people of all ages and leave viewers with a smile on their face and a warmth in their hearts.

 Read The National Student's review of Paddington 2 here.

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