10. Dr. Dolittle (1998)
In this family-friendly remake, Eddie Murphy plays a doctor who can talk to animals — and, boy, do they talk back! From rats to racehorses, the good doctor is called upon for more medical advice than he can handle. Featuring an all-star chorus of voice talent (including Chris Rock, John Leguizamo, Norm MacDonald, Albert Brooks, Gary Shandling and Ellen DeGeneres), The New York Timessays, "This wild and woolly free-for-all is your prescription for hilarious hijinks and mischievous fun!" We couldn’t agree more.
9. That Darn Cat! (1965)
Cat lovers, this one is for you. This kitschy classic stars a mischievous Siamese whose new collar unwittingly makes her the prime informant in a kidnapping case. Hayley Mills plays the kitty's dedicated owner, and proves to be a charming would-be sleuth who aims to help the FBI agent on the case. Wouldn't you know it, he's allergic to cats. Complete with jealous boyfriends and nosy neighbors, it';s screwball hilarity at its best. Fun like this never goes out of style.
8. Free Willy (1993)
The tagline says it all: "A 12-year-old street kid. A three-ton Orca whale. A friendship you could never imagine. An adventure you'll never forget." And what's not to love? Lessons abound, from family to friendship to gorgeous creatures of the deep — both onscreen and off. The huge international success of this movie inspired a letter writing campaign to free the real Willy (Keiko) from captivity in an amusement park in Mexico City. He was eventually released near Norway. The movie remains a top family feature, and along with its two sequels is now available in a three-DVD box set.
7. Eight Below (2006)
When you’re not mesmerized by the panoramic views of glaciers and northern lights, your heart will be rooting for the dogs who steal the show from the start. That's what puts this movie on our list. Based on a true account of a 1958 Antarctic expedition gone wrong, Eight Below tells the story of a devoted dog-sled guide, Jerry (played by the handsome Paul Walker), who is forced to leave behind his beloved team of eight dogs due to extreme weather conditions. The dogs are left to fend for themselves in the snowy wilderness for nearly six months. From here, it’s about adventure, courage, determination and ultimately a rescue.
Honorable mention in the adventure category: Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
6. The Jungle Book (1994)
"Born of man, raised by animals, destined for adventure." The movie’s tagline sums it up! In this live-action version of Rudyard Kipling’s classic, a strapping Jason Scott Lee plays Mowgli, a young man raised by wolves after his parents were killed by a tiger. It's packed with vine-swinging adventure with friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. That is, until Mowgli becomes enchanted with an Englishwoman visiting on safari. It’s a fish-out-of-water story when he follows her to the city and "civilization." It turns out that polite society may have more in common with the jungle than anyone ever thought.
Honorable mention for wild animals at their best: Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
5. The Yearling (1946)
It’s old-fashioned. It's charming. And it stars Gregory Peck. Ta da! The oldest movie and the only one on our list based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, this is the story of a small family struggling to make a life in Florida just after the Civil War. These are tough times but comfort comes to 11-year-old Jody, an only child who yearns for a pet to love, in the form of an orphaned fawn. The two become inseparable but as the deer grows, a heartbreaking choice becomes inevitable. Like other family-on-the-farm movies of its time, the story ends sadly; however, the pleasure is in the grace, kindness and diligence that the family conducts displays every day. They may not have had running water, but they sure had good manners.
4. Fly Away Home (1996)
Sometimes a "family movie" is actually a good movie, and this is one of those gems. Starring Academy Award Winner® Anna Paquin as a suddenly motherless 13-year-old who is relocated to Canada to live with her bohemian dad (Jeff Daniels), it’s a metaphor for losing your way and trusting someone to help you find it again. For its sweeping vistas of sun-kissed farmland, dappled marshes and sunny skies, you'll like this movie. But the moment Amy's dad teaches her to fly an ultralight in order to guide a flock of orphaned geese south for the winter, you'll fall in love. Best of all, the movie is based on a true story; the movie raised awareness of wetland preservation, plus revenue earned from the film helped fund even more migratory projects.
3. Babe (1995)
It’s a challenge not to like a movie that’s both adorable and poignant at the same time. That's just what this story is -- and why it ranks so high on our list. The star of this show is a young pig named Babe who finds himself alone in an English barnyard. But that's where the fun begins. He’s embraced by Farmer Hoggett and defies the odds — not to mention everyone's expectations — by learning to be an award-winning sheep dog. Performances are wonderful, by man, pig and sheep alike. About 500 live animal actors were used, then blended with stunning animatronics. Thanks to the Jim Henson Creature Factory, the film won an Academy Award® in 1995 for "Best Visual Effects." Described by critics as "a humorous look at the limitations and lunacy of a preordained society," it’s a refreshing message about breaking down barriers and accomplishing anything you want.
Honorable mention: Charlotte's Web (2006)
2. The Black Stallion (1979)
If you saw this movie as a kid, you’ll love it now as much as you did back then. Adapted from the children's book by Walter Farley, this exquisitely filmed family classic tells the story of Alec, a young boy who survives a shipwreck and befriends an Arabian stallion on a deserted island. When they return home, the unlikely duo finds success as a jockey and thunderbolt of a racehorse, coached by a washed-up trainer played by Mickey Rooney, who won an Oscar for "Best Actor in a Supporting Role" as a result. The story is great, but the cinematography steals the show. This film has been called "a visual feast from start to finish." If you don’t love the breathtaking island scenes, your heart will pound when you root for the "Mystery Horse" in the racing sequences.
Honorable mentions: Flicka (2006) for the sheer number of scenes including horses; National Velvet (1944) starring a young Elizabeth Taylor and bonus Mickey Rooney sighting.
1. Old Yeller (1957)
It's not hip but even after 50 years, Old Yeller is still "the best doggone dog in the West." That’s what earns it the top spot in our countdown. It's a simple story of a poor family living on the Texas frontier in the 1860s, but told through a charming 1950s sensibility. The father is away at work. The two boys banter, but mind their mother. And above all, everyone works hard. But the heart of the story is the adorable love affair between Travis, the oldest son, and his beloved yellow dog. The two see each other through thick and thin, until ultimately Travis must make a heart-wrenching decision. It's not a happy ending, but there's something magical about this movie that makes it worth it after all.
My favourites that didn't make the cut : The Bear, My Dog Skip, Finding Nemo, Best In Show. What are your picks?