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Retro Family Movie Night: Animated Movies

Updated on March 21, 2013

Five Classic Animated Films From the 80s

If you're as old as I am (or older) and can remember these movies, you probably have children older than mine. My daughters are two years and two months old, so neither one of them is terribly interested in sitting around watching any movie (unless it happens to have four singing Wiggles in it).

In a few years, I hope that they will be old enough to enjoy these movies that I grew up with. Then I will have a chance to legitimately relive some favorite childhood memories. That is, after all, part of the fun of having children. But, for now, I'm going to relive those childhood memories here in this hub.

Grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back, and read about my top animated picks for a retro family movie night everyone will enjoy.

The Fox and the Hound

Released in 1981, this was one of my absolute favorite movies when I was a little girl. I even had a copy of the audiobook version of it that I would play over and over again in my portable cassette player - yes, I did say "cassette," as in "tape." I never got tired of hearing the story of the friendship that was never meant to be, although it always made my mother cry whenever she watched the movie or listened to the tape with me.

I can just hear Pearl Bailey's voice as Big Mama the owl singing "Best of Friends" in my head right now. It's amazing how vividly that song still comes to my mind after all these years. This is a classic Disney movie that you and your children have to see if you haven't yet. They just don't make movies like this anymore!

Mrs. Brisby
Mrs. Brisby

The Secret of NIMH

This was not a Disney film, although I thought it was when I was a child (I thought every animated movie was a Disney movie when I was little). Still, I loved this movie. It had cute little mice, magic and mystery, and a big, sparkly jewel. What more could any little girl want?

Although it's a little dark and sad (the widowed Mrs. Brisby has to seek the rats' help to treat her very sick little boy), it has a good message - believe in yourself and your abilities to get the job done because you can do it. At least, that's the message I took from it. Mrs. Brisby thought she was completely helpless, but it turns out she wasn't. All she needed was a little help from her husband's rat friends and the magic stone. Too bad life doesn't always provide us with magic stones!


The Black Cauldron

This movie, released in 1985, is really special to me because I first saw it in the movie theater when my Dad took me out on a daddy-daughter date while Mom was at work one night. Note to all you dads out there: Spend a little one-on-one time with your girls. They'll treasure it always. More than 25 years later, and I still remember that night.

This movie was a little dark and scary - a very different kind of Disney film. Still, there was the cute little creature Gurgi. As long as there's a cute, furry creature in the mix, I'm a happy camper. I don't really remember much of the story, but it's based on the classic fantasy novel by Lloyd Alexander, and it features a boy on a quest against an evil sorcerer - kind of like Harry Potter, but not.

An American Tail

In 1986, Don Bluth (the man who brought us The Secret of NIMH) gave the world a great movie and a hit pop song at the same time. Maybe you've heard it? Sing it with me.

"Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight, someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight ..."

And can you picture those two adorable little mice staring up at the moon and singing in those heartbreakingly cute little voices? Well, I sure can. That's why this is one of the most memorable movies from my childhood - the music. And I love the fact that the story centers around an immigration tale. I've always been interested in American history, even if it is the fictional history of a Russian mouse family.

The Great Mouse Detective

It's yet another mouse movie. I wonder what it says about me that most of my favorite animated movies when I was younger all featured mice? I'm really more of a cat person, and they catch and eat mice. Hmm...

This film features a mouse that will never be stupid enough to be caught by any cat or human. He is Basil of Baker Street, and he shares not only Sherlock Holmes's home, but apparently his keen crime-solving mind, as well. Basil helps a young girl mouse, Olivia Flaversham, rescue her father from the clutches of the evil Professor Ratigan.

I'd already been exposed to the Sherlock Holmes stories by the time I saw this movie, so the story of Basil helping the young mouse was especially interesting to me. Even if your kids haven't been exposed much to Sherlock Holmes, this would still be a good movie to show them. It might even get them interested enough to check out the classic Conan Doyle stories for themselves. And getting kids interested in reading is never a bad thing!

Talk to Me

Which One of These Animated Classics Is Your Favorite?

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Which One Will You Choose for Your Family Movie Night?

Well, I hope I've given you a few ideas for a great classic movie to enjoy with the whole family. Maybe I've given you too many ideas.

The great thing about a family movie night is that it can be repeated over and over again. So you can see all these movies over the course of a couple of weeks or months and spend that much more time connecting with your family. Have a great time!


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