1. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
I was lucky enough to see Homeward Bound in the theater with my childhood bff. It was one of the best movie going experiences of my life. Now, I get to relive the story of Chance, Shadow, and Sassy with my kids and they treasure it as much as I do. Homeward Bound is truly a timeless classic, and continues to delight kids, which is why it’s at the top of my list. Also, I ship Shadow and Sassy… I don’t care that one is a cat and one is a dog; those two were meant for each other and love knows no bounds.
2. Milo and Otis
I remember the first time both of my daughters watched Milo and Otis. My oldest was around six years old and cried “This looks old…” and “The animals don’t talk…” The narrator soon grabbed her interest and to this day she’s a huge Milo and Otis fan. When my youngest had the same complaints, her older sister told her, “Hush, you’re going to love it.” An orange cat and a pug on a wild adventure with bears and a snake; what’s not to love about that?
I’m an 80s and 90s kid, and growing up it seemed there was a new Benji movie every year. The seminal film, 1974’s Benji introduced us to the heroic mix-breed stray who saved two kidnapped child and found a forever home. Amazingly, the original film grossed $39 million and cost just $500,000 to make.
4. Lassie Come Home
To my late grandmother and me, Lassie Come Home was so much more than a movie. It was a book to read and a television show to watch on lazy summer afternoons. Lassie made us drive really slowly by the neighbor’s house because they had a few collies roaming around. She was the dog growing up, the name you always thought of when the Family Feud question was, “What’s a popular name for a dog?” The original film and its six sequels released throughout 1951.
5. Marley & Me
The 2008 film based on the book that made me cry for two days… Marley & Me is the story of a writer and his golden retriever, who is comical in his disobedience, but beautiful in his ability to love unconditionally. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first. Both are a true joy to experience.
Babe is one of those startling deep movies that’s cute enough to make you laugh and then cry. You don’t walk into a lot of kid’s movies thinking they’ll change you in any significant way, but Babe was one of those movies that did because it dealt with issues of abandonment and finding peace and acceptance between widely different cultures. For its time, it was incredible and it remains a treasured classic. Babe won an Academy Award for best visual effects, and was nominated for six more awards, including best picture.
I’m not a huge fan of the myriad of sequels Beethoven spurned, but I am forever a fan of the original. I’ll never forget when Beethoven rushed to save the little girl from drowning in the pool, but disappointed her father at every turn until such a time that he could save the family. St. Bernard’s are among the giant breeds, and this film perfectly highlights the difficulties and the joys of owning one.
8. Free Willy
The plight of the orca (killer whale) is one not widely known before Free Willy. It introduced the world to the horrors of captivity, and the magical way orcas communicate. They are among the smartest creatures of the animal kingdom, and in Free Willy it became a boy’s mission to return him to the wild.
Based on a book of the same name, Shiloh tells the story of Marty, who finds a runaway beagle. Unfortunately, the dog’s owner is abusive to him. It becomes the boy’s mission to secretly care for the dog and keep him from his abusive owner. Don’t watch this film until you’ve read the book, which expertly raises ethical questions kids can relate to, such as is it ever okay to lie?
10. Old Yeller
Okay… Old Yeller isn’t one of my favorite movies per say. There’s no denying it’s a classic, but the end is full of so much shocking sadness, only the strongest among us can get through it without crying. But, it has to make the list because I still watch it if it’s on television, and before it’s sad it’s a beautiful tribute to the relationship kids have with their dogs.
What are your favorite movies starring animals? Leave a comment and let me know.