A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 2


A few years years ago, I went out on a limb and wrote a blog that included a list of many of my favorite movies. To make the grade, the films had to be both entertaining and family-friendly. I titled this blog, “A Few of My Favorite Things” and began with an introduction in which I admitted publishing such a compilation was risky.

I was fully aware that not every film on my list would resonate with some of you, our readers. Most of you who commented were kind, but as expected a few of you thought I was a few fries short of a happy meal. For instance, a person named Jake commented:

Soul Surfer??? For those who want to lust after half naked women!! To Save a Life??? I got the impression that sex before marriage is okay, as long as you don’t abort the baby!!

Like I said, I knew I wasn’t going to please everyone. By the way, not only did I screen Soul Surfer, I was even in Hawaii for some of the filming (yes, a rough assignment, but someone had to do it!). While there were definitely some women wearing swimsuits, that’s a hard thing to get away from in a surfing movie. And with To Save a Life, my colleague Paul Asay wrote:

The final product is polished, professional and one of the best Christian films I’ve seen.

I guarantee you those words would not have been written for a film endorsing sex outside of marriage.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I’m ready to roll out “A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 2”—a list of 50 films I’ve liked since the original list of 30 was published in March 2012. Most, but not all of the films listed below have been reviewed by Plugged In. I’d encourage you to use this list in conjunction with our reviews. Nearly every film has a content concern or two. Even The Peanuts Movies with its perfect score has Lucy calling Charlie Brown a “blockhead.” I’ve been doing this long enough to realize we have readers who’d prefer their young children not hear any sort of name calling. I get it. Again that’s why I recommend you use this list in conjunction with our reviews.

Incidentally, in light of the potential criticism you may be wondering why I’d do lists like these at all. Good question! For one thing, as we head into the Christmas gift-buying season, some of you are looking for gifts/stocking stuffers. Furthermore, I think that question was answered last time so please allow me to reprint what I said back in 2012:

So, by now, I think you get my point: We hesitate to offer the “Plugged In List of Family-Friendly Movies” because we know that somebody, somewhere, will feel we let them down. That said, I regularly have friends and acquaintances ask me about flicks I personally like. (It’s similar to a physician being approached with a “Hey, doc, I got this pain in my arm and was wondering …”) So, even though I know that this list will not be without some controversy, I’m going to be brave and jot down a few titles of films that I’ve found encouraging and inspiring. Instead of Plugged In’s list, let’s call this “Bob Waliszewski’s List of Family-Friendly Movies!” And please note that, as with all films, age-appropriateness comes into play.

So with all that said, here’s my most recent alphabetized list of favorites:

The 33
56 Up
The Artist
Beyond the Mask
The Book Thief
Chasing Mavericks
The Drop Box
Far from the Madding Crowd
God’s Not Dead
The Good Lie
Grace Unplugged
Hundred Foot Journey
Inside Out
Instructions Not Included
Les Miserables
A Long Way Off
The Lunchbox
Man of Steel
McFarland USA
Mirror Mirror
Moms’ Night Out
Mr. Holmes
Muppets Most Wanted
My All-American
Not Today
October Baby
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Old Fashioned
Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus
The Peanuts Movie
Return to the Hiding Place
Rogue Saints
Saving Mr. Banks
Seasons of Gray
Son of God
War Room
When the Game Stands Tall
Woman in Gold

Okay, Jake (and everyone else), give me your thoughts. I promise you there are no half-naked women in any of the above!

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

manish jakhar More than 1 year ago
Great post man! I always follow your blog because it is full of compelling information about various things. I like to read this post because I met so many new facts about it actually. It's really great that I noticed this post. Thank you very much again for sharing this informative article. Many thanks,

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Smith.

From what I've read, there is a small but quite dedicated group of viewers who were really put out with IO's emotional theme. Basically, they charged IO with deliberately ignoring the spiritual aspects of humans in order to enlarge the importance of emotions in regulating their behavior.

I haven't seen IO yet, but I am going to very soon. I'm looking forward to getting to the buttom of this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was hoping for a link to the original list, but didn't find one.  So I copied the link and put it in a new tab and just deleted the "part 2" and was able to access it that way.  Thanks for this list.  I've already requested one of the movies from the library, and I will refer back to these posts.  Have a wonderful Christmas!  (Hmm. wasn't trying to be anonymous, but don't see a way to post my name?)
Sharyn Kopf More than 1 year ago
Interesting list. A few surprises. The biggest, for me, was Man of Steel. I finally watched it a few nights ago and I have to say it's one of my least favorite superhero movies. And I usually love superhero movies. It was dark and exhausting and I felt like I was trudging through thick shadows for almost 3 hours. In fact, I fast-forwarded through several of the fight scenes. Then I had to rewind to find out why Lois was suddenly falling to earth.

Still, many of these are on my want-to-watch list so, hopefully, I'll have a chance to check them out soon! 
Lia Mote More than 1 year ago
Thanks for facing the storm and offering us this gift of your list. Love and concur with most of the titles on it.  Some I have never heard of, so I am looking forward to finding and watching them.  I trust your discernment and add my own to make my choices of movies for myself and my family. You rock!  Merry Christmas!
Rich Gerberding More than 1 year ago
Great list, always a discussion starter. The one I would add is Beyond the Farthest Star, just out this year in one night screenings.

Excited to be the sponsor of the daily Plugged in show on WPEO in Peoria Illinois starting tomorrow as Men of AIM / Heart of Illinois Christian Movie Central.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Again, I appreciate the list ( I think I said that with your last list).  Sometimes it's just easier to have a list to look at from a thoughtful, Christian viewpoint than it is to read and read and watch review after review after review.  But I really appreciate reviews too.  Have you done a list of Christmas movies? 
Holly B. More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately we don't have a list of our top picks for Christmas movies. There are so many great ones out there! Hope you're able to catch some of your favorites before the end of the year, friend
Tucker Clement More than 1 year ago
the Artist!! One of my favorites movies ever and so underrated. Thanks for including that one.
Barby Siebold More than 1 year ago
You mentioned several of my favorites but you missed one or two, Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure and Mickey Matson and the Pirate's Code...I sure wish you guys would check out these movies....actually my son-in-law and daughter worked on them...they also worked on Return to the Hiding Place, God's Not Dead 2, and Do You Believe...some others too...I think you are missing a great family adventure by not checking out Mickey.
ezra_guerra More than 1 year ago
Applause and much kudos to you Bob! I love the fact that you aren't afraid to let us know your favorite movies! Out of the 50 films you mentioned, around 42 are some of my favorites as well. 

Honestly, I think it's pretty silly and annoying when people complain about 'Profanity' or "Half-Naked Women' in a film that underneath that content, is truly a good and well made film. I am not a big fan of christian movies because of the lack of area that they can play within (not to say I don't love certain films like God's Not Dead or Courageous). I love movies that can broaden the spectrum and blow minds, which is why I would have probably added 'Interstellar' and 'Inception' to the list (some of my top 5 favorite films). 

Once again, congratulations for your bravery! Can't wait to read what else you like!
Joshua Kroeger More than 1 year ago
Some of my top favorite films of all time include Up, It's a Wonderful Life, The Lord of the Rings, Les Miserables (2012), Spider-man 2, Toy Story 3 (and the original), and many more. 
Cj .J .R. More than 1 year ago
Awesome list >>>>>>>>>>>>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion inside out was the best movie Pixar has made so far ( although I did never see brave ) and I would recommend it to anybody.  I didn't see anything wrong in it and I think plugged in was right to give it four and a half stars.
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
I actually prefer the shorter, more concise version of Les Miserables with Geoffrey Rush and Liam Neeson. About the same amount of content issues (sans the sex) but it was one of the first films I saw as a teenager that really struck me in a profound way. I actually bought the VHS a few days later, after seeing it as a rental at a friend's house, and showed it to my parents. I enjoy the musical too, but something about the earlier one resonates more strongly with me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It shouldn't be risky to put a list like this together. I always love reading about what you reviewers personally enjoy--still miss my dearly departed PIO podcast. We all have different tastes--here are some of my opinions. 

Your first few paragraphs reminded that I was very excited to see Soul Surfer, but, man, was that movie a disappointment--the artistic quality was low and the tone felt cold and off-putting. As for that guy--maybe everybody should wear parkas on the beach? If you can't handle something, don't watch it--first rule of media discernment! However, nowadays, October Baby, Mom's Night Out, Grace Unplugged, and lesser so God's Not Dead are awesome, quality Christian movies. (I haven't gotten to see Woodlawn, yet.) 

I can't agree with Inside Out or Man of Steel--two of the worst movies of all time as far as I'm concerned. Their content problems are a real turn off, too. I'd replace those with Toy Story 3 and The Winter Soldier.

Old Fashioned and The Book Thief--I hesitate to watch because I don't want to ruin my memories of the books. Maybe one day--I'm not there, yet.

Ultimately, I don't think I could make a list like this (that included newer movies) because I for me movies have been going downhill. Like I implied above, Inside Out was the last straw when it comes to my support of Pixar; Evolutionary psychology and now Good Dinosaur with it's evolutionary biology. 42 and Belle, while good, lacked epicness and gravity that those stories should carry. Cinderella was sweet, but the weird CGI animal people kind of ruined it for me. Saving Mr. Banks triggered depression--I honestly don't understand how to emotionally handle that movie. The Odd Life of Timothy Green--always have fond memories b/c I received a copy from you guys--but it was really an art film and not much on story. Mirror, Mirror was...interesting and I'll leave it at that. 

I do want to see The Peanuts Movie, War Room, The Lunchbox, Beyond the Mask, and Hunred Foot Journey. I also would like to see Max, Dolphin Tale 2, Little Boy, and etc. I also will have to read up on some of the others that I haven't heard of (56 Up, Rouge Saints, A Long Way Off, Not Today, Seasons of Gray, My All-American) or forgotten about (Chasing Mavericks, Lincoln, Unconditional, When The Game Stands Tall). As for the rest of the list, they either cross a line for me or I'm just not interested. But, not to leave this on a sour note, maybe some when I watch some of the above my "faith" in new cinema will be restored.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He faulted its "evolutionary psychology." 

Whatever that is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoa, yourself! It's just my opinion. I could talk at length about the many problems I had with both Inside Out and Man of Steel, but I don't want to clog the comment section. 


I'm Cbinj in the comment section. I'd also recommend reading the review which also incapsulates some interesting criticism of the movie from a Christian perspective. 

As for Man of Steel, 1) I don't really like Superman movies to begin with 2) when it comes to profanity I have a special intolerance of vulgarity, even if it's just one or two instances 3) I don't like indecency (see the link below for more detail) 4) it dragged pacing wise and was completely forgettable 5) the acting was stiff 6) it lacked fun, inspiration, etc.

I'm the Anon in that comment section--again, if you're interested in my POV.

So, worst movies of all time--a hyperbole, yes. But it's a lot simpler to generalize than say "worst quality/ popular movies that I, as media discerning viewer (who doesn't watch movies with bad content), have ever seen." Better? 

Also, with regards to Inside Out specifically, I actually did like that it caused me to think, but when I see people so staunchly defending its brilliance, it makes me want to hard-line on my insistence that it was terrible due to [areas outlined in my cited comments].
ezra_guerra More than 1 year ago
Yeah, I think you should take a chill pill and take a step back for a second. First of all, Inside Out was an incredibly brilliant movie for kids! Remember that, it's a KID'S MOVIE! It's not in the Action/Adventure genre, or Horror/Romance. It's a Family/Kids movie! 

Second, I loved almost everyone of the films he mentioned above (save for a few, which I haven't seen.)

I think that movies are an incredible adventure that need to be experienced. I myself am a director and I love movies. I've probably seen more movies than any of my friends combined (yes, even movies not classified as 'christian'). All that to say this: I don't appreciate Bob being judged because he's telling people movies that he likes. I personally applaud him for that, since you don't see that at all now these days. Sure, there are some sucky movies out there, but I would never judge someone based on what they like to watch.

For example, if you like watching romance movies, that doesn't make you gay. It makes you human. So don't judge or condemn, cause it makes you look like a child. 

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe you should read my first paragraph and subsequent comments to the others--just sayin'. I have been reading PluggedIn for almost 10 years now and have great affection for all the reviewers and their opinions, so it deeply offends me that you say I am attacking Mr. Bob Waliszewski. Just because I disagree with his list doesn't mean I'm attacking him--what is a comment section for if we can't discuss differing opinions?

On the other hand, media discernment is the definition Biblical "judging". So, if I am attacking anything, I'm attacking Inside Out because that movie was a shameful excuse for a Pixar film (though not as bad as Brave) and a kid's film. All I really watch are Kid's/Family Friendly/Christian movies because that is what I like, what I want to create myself, and what I study, so I am indeed not making false comparisons. You on the other hand--your response is kind of bizarre in relation to what I actually said. (Like, when did I say the type of movie you watch makes you anything? I never implied Bob was childish for naming kid's movies. I'm 23 (almost 24) and my favorite movie list and my own DVD collection reads like--I don't know a...daycare DVD collection. 

For example, August Rush, Ramona & Beezus, Toy Story 1,2, & 3, Ratatoullie, Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Stuart Little, Because of Winn Dixie, Tangled, The Parent Trap, Searching for Bobby Fischer, and The Sound of Music are some of my "favorite things". On the more mature side: The Blind Side, The Giver, The Last Song, Monte Carlo, Captain America 2, October Baby, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington...and I could go on with both lists.) Perhaps read things more thoroughly next time friend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd say your list gives readers a wide range of potential films, from award-winning (Artist), to high-grade pop fair (Cinderella), to Christian Indy (War Room). I think that's great.

Here are a few more films I'd consider worthwhile:

"The Adventures of Robin Hood" -- 1938 (G-PG)

"Sense and Sensibility" -- 1995 (PG)

"The Princess Bride" -- 1987 (PG)

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" -- 1939 (G)

"Modern Times" -- 1936 (G)

"My Darling Clementine" -- 1946 (PG)

"Little Women" -- 1994 (PG)

Content is restrained, but varies. All films are artistically excellent.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington--I saw it a few months ago for the first time and was shocked at how relevant and engaging it was. I haven't seen any of the others, but I may check them out as I continue to lament modern movies.   If you like Sense and Sensibility--Pride and Prejudice (2005) is pretty good. I think PIO had a movie night for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Glad to hear about you and "Smith." I first saw it a few years ago; it was one of my first classics.

I love P&P--maybe even moreso than S&S. I just felt that "Sense" was just a tad more family friendly. But they're both wonderful.

P.S.: Don't give up on modern fare! It takes some looking, granted, but the good stuff can be wonderful.
Marissa More than 1 year ago
Maybe all those men out there who freak out about "half-naked women" should take it as an opportunity to practice self-control rather than putting all the shaming and burden on women to conform to their sexist expectations. (And please don't give me that "men are visually wired/boys will be boys!" nonsense. I'm pretty sure the Bible says something about no one being tempted beyond what they can overcome.)
milhistorian More than 1 year ago
The definition of "freaking out" in this case being "would like some help instead of hindrance in this regard." 
Which, of course, means they're sexist jerks. Because you bear no responsibility for your actions.
jake_roberson More than 1 year ago
Interested in The Peanuts Movie. I've spent more than a few lazy hours reading Peanuts comics in my lifetime. Inside Out has made me tear up each time I've watched it. :-)

(Also, in case my name draws the obvious comparison, I'm a different "Jake" than the one mentioned above.)