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All parents have done it--sat through something that either bores us to tears or makes us squirm at how inappropriate it is. When looking for something that the whole family can watch we typically gravitate to Disney--particularly the Classics. While Disney is almost without exception a safe bet, try one of these for something a little different. Don't let the early release dates fool you--they stand up well.

Big Fat Liar- 2002

Starring Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the middle),Amanda Bynes (Hairspray) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways).

A young boy (Muniz) writes a story for a school project that ends up in the hands of an unscrupulous Hollywood Director(Giamatti). When no one believes the story is really his, he and his best friend head to California to try to set things right. This is a fun movie with engaging characters, a manic but non-threatening bad guy, and one scene that gave me one of the best belly laughs I've had in ages.

The Iron Giant- Animated 1999

This engaging story about a 9 year old boy that befriends an alien machine that has fallen to earth is both tender and meaningful. The young outcast boy and this misunderstood giant robot strike up a friendship based on trust and kindness. Watch for government agents who try to commandeer the robot for their own use. This has a very poignant ending.

Baby's Day Out-1994

Written and directed by John Hughes of Ferris Bueller and Home Alone fame, this is the delightful story of Baby Bink, who thanks to some bungling kidnappers ends up on a crawling adventure through New York City. Baby Bink is adorable, the villains are funny rather that frightening, and all ends well after some really funny misadventures.

October Sky-1999

Based on the book Rocket Boys:a memoir, this tells the true story of Homer Hickman Jr., a brilliant young boy growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town in the 50's. Determined to escape the drudgery of the mines, he and three friends embark on a scientific journey that eventually leads to NASA. Homer, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Rendition Brokeback Mountain), struggles to overcome the conflict between him and his father (Chris Cooper- Lonesome Dove, Bourne Identity) to live the life that he dreams of.

The Borrowers- 1997

Based on the popular series of the same name by Mary Norton. This is a charming movie about the 4 inch high people who live in our homes behind our walls. They are the ones really responsible for all those strange occurrences- like missing socks, or where did the sewing needle go. When Ocious P Potter (John Goodman- Roseanne, O Brother Where art thou) tries to tear down the house, the Borrowers come to the rescue of the full sized humans who live there. Also featuring Tom Felton of the Harry Potter series (Draco Malfoy).

Mouse Hunt-1997

Nathan Lane (The Producers) and Lee Evans (Dinoptopia) star as the loveable, bungling Smuntz brothers. They inherit an old mansion that they believe will be their ticket to the easy life. However, it comes with an unwanted guest-a mouse that proves more than a challenge for the two. Christopher Walken makes a cameo appearance that is truly off the wall (and literally through the wall) funny.


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