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29 Family Films That Give Us All the Feels

29 Family Films That Give Us All the Feels

More than any other form of entertainment, movies have the ability to tap into our feelings. They rile us up and make us tremble in terror. They send us soaring to new heights and drive us to the depths of despair. In other words, movies make us emotional. And the latest brainchild of Disney and Pixar gives insight into human emotions like no other film before.

Inside Out is the story of a happy, hockey-playing 11-year-old girl named Riley whose life is sent into turmoil after a cross-country move. Riley’s emotions attempt to guide her smoothly through the transition, but just end up creating chaos in poor Riley’s mind.

The five emotions vying for control of Riley’s noggin (aka “Headquarters”) are Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Here are some favorite films that elicit these emotions to help you and your family get excited (and scared, angry, disgusted and sad) about seeing Inside Out.


Top Pick for Joy: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Nothing brings more joy to a teenager (or former teen) than a day free from responsibility, hanging with friends, creating adventure wherever you go. More than any other big-screen teen, Matthew Broderick’s Ferris Bueller epitomizes the exhilaration of carefree youth. And no scene captures this better than when Ferris hijacks a parade float and leads all of downtown Chicago in a joyous sing-along to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.”

Additional picks: Happy Feet, The Lego Movie, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Hairspray, Billy Elliot


Top Pick for Fear: The Wizard of Oz

If you’re in the mood for a fright, there’s no shortage of scary films to choose from. Yet for many, The Wizard of Oz was that first fright. Perhaps it was the cyclone uprooting Dorothy’s house, or the talking, apple-throwing trees, or the disembodied head of Oz that caused you to quake in your PJs. Who are we kidding? Nothing tops the Wicked Witch of the West (and her horde of flying monkeys) for the ultimate cinematic scare! Grab some popcorn, a blanket, and just in case… a bucket of water.

Additional picks: Fantasia, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Spiderwick Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Witches


Top Pick for Anger: Wreck-It Ralph

There aren’t many family-friendly movies that are nonstop rage fests – and for good reason. Being a kid (or parent) can be pretty frustrating already, so watching someone lose their cool for two hours isn’t in high demand. Wreck-It Ralph is an angry guy looking to change. His job as the villain in a video game requires him to rage out and wreck everything in sight. Yet he longs to be the hero, so sets out on an adventure that ends up causing quite a bit of wreckage along the way.

Additional picks: Beauty and the Beast, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, The Dark Knight, King Kong, Incredible Hulk


Top Pick for Disgust: How to Eat Fried Worms

The title pretty much says it all. Based on the 1973 children’s book by Thomas Rockwell, How to Eat Fried Worms is the story of Billy Forrester, the new kid in town who accepts a bet from the school bully. The bet involves eating 10 worms in a day — a long, squirmy, slimy day that has Billy devouring worms of all shapes, sizes and flavors. Among them are “the green slusher,” “the greasy brown toad bloater special” and “peanut butter and worm jam sandwich.” Bon appetit!

Additional picks: The Sandlot, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Nutty Professor, Men in Black, Pitch Perfect


Top Pick for Sadness: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

If you see only one movie in preparation for Inside Out, the now-classic tale of boy meets alien should be it. Since landing in theaters in the summer of 1982, E.T. has been taking viewers on a roller-coaster of emotions as only director Steven Spielberg can. There’s the joy of bicycles flying across a moonlit sky; fear as men in hazmat suits descend upon Elliott’s home; anger when E.T. seemingly dies and scientists attempt to separate him from Elliott; disgust when big brother Michael discovers a pale E.T. dying in a ditch. And finally, the sadness of having to say good-bye to a dear friend. It’s impossible not to tear up when, after their final hug, E.T. touches his glowing finger to Elliott’s forehead and promises, “I’ll be right here.”

Additional picks: Bambi, Old Yeller, My Girl, Fault in Our Stars, Titanic

I’m sure there are plenty of others to choose from. Which ones would you have added for each emotion? Let us know in the comments!

Brent Almond is a writer, graphic designer, comic book geek and all-around pop-culture junkie. He lives in the burbs of Washington, D.C. with his husband, preschool-aged son and their fluffy, black-and-white dog. Brent chronicles his adventures and obsessions on his blog, Designer Daddy.

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