Best Family Adventure Films

If your family is cooped up like ours because of Covid-19, you’ve probably already re-watched all the most popular adventure series—every single installment of Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Percy Jackson films, and most of the other fantasy series. So what now? Something different?

If you have kids, here are ten family escapist adventure films to beat Covid captivity. These films all have kids and teens that play a important role in the plot, and they’re all adventures in fairly exotic places or with exotic elements. In other words, they’re just the kind of escapist fare families with children crave when they’re in self-isolation.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982, Color, 115 min., PG, trailer) A
Henry Thomas stars as Elliott, a pre-teen whose usual pre-teen drama cranks up a notch when he discovers a gentle alien he names “E.T.” and brings him home to hide him until he can think of what to do. His brother and sister also get involved, especially after the government catches up with them and want to harm E.T. A classic kids sci-fi adventure.


Back to the Future (1985, Color, 116 min., PG, trailer) A
Seventeen-year-old Marty McFly (Christopher Lloyd) is sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean by a crackpot scientist named Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). But for everything to turn out just fine, he has just one week in the past to make his parents fall in love, or else . . . well, we don’t want to even think about that. This film spawned two sequels (Parts II and III) that were equally fun.

The Goonies (1985, Color, 114 min., PG, trailer) A-
This story by Steven Spielberg features two brothers (Sean Astin, Josh Brolin) whose family is forced to move because they’re building a golf course on their neighborhood . . . unless the treasure map they find actually leads to something more than an adventure into secret caves for them and their friends, the “Goonies.”


Father Goose (1964, Color, 118 min., PG, trailer) A-
This film qualifies as “family” escapist adventure because a scruffy bachelor with a boat and a penchant for alcohol, tricked into becoming a coastwatcher in the South Pacific during WWII, has to rescue a schoolteacher and her seven precocious female students. They’re stuck with each other until the British can send a ship to pick them up. Will they survive, especially when the teacher (Leslie Caron) is bent on turning him into a teetotaler? Warm-hearted and fun.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960, Color, 126 min., G, trailer) A-
After a shipwreck, a resourceful Swiss husband and wife and their three sons (James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran) learn to survive in style on a tropical island paradise in the 1800s, complicated by two shiploads of South Seas pirates. It was so popular that Disney created a duplicate of the family treehouse at their theme parks. Lots of animals and antics. Great for all ages.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989, Color, 93 min., PG, trailer) B+
This classic stars Rick Moranis as a crackpot inventor who accidentally shrinks his teenage daughter and son and two of their friends down to the size of insects. Surviving in your own back yard turns out to be quite the adventure when you’re bug-sized. Then there’s the matter of how in the world do they get back to normal size?


Nim’s Island (2008, Color, 96 min., PG, trailer) B
A girl accompanies her scientist-father to an isolated island, where he studies marine life and she makes all sorts of animal friends. Life is good until one day a storm hits while he’s off working and he never returns. Afraid, the girl contacts adventure-book writer Alex Rover for help, hoping he will help . . . only he turns out to be a she (Jodi Foster) who’s agoraphobic and germaphobic.

Spy Kids (2001, Color, 88 min., PG, trailer) B
Two parents (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino), former super-spies, are forced to come out of retirement nine years later to save the planet. But when they get into trouble, who comes to their rescue? Their two kids, with the help of their uncle Machete (Danny Trejo). Two sequels followed. 


The Kid Who Would Be King (2019, Color, 120 min., PG, trailer) B-
A kid named Alex finds that mythical sword, Excalibur, and is compelled to join together with his friends and also a few enemies in order to work with Merlin (Sir Patrick Stewart) to defeat the enchantress Morgana.


Flipper (1996, Color, 95 min., PG, trailer) B-
A teenage boy with a mild attitude problem is sent to the Florida Keys to summer with his eccentric uncle. There he meets a dolphin he names Flipper, and ends up getting involved with locals who are polluting the water and killing all the fish. This environmentalist adventure stars Elijah Wood as the boy and Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) as the uncle.

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