Paddington Bear, introduced in 1958, is synonymous with London (his name comes from one of the city’s railway stations). In the spirit of the new ‘Paddington’ movie, seek out these other family classics set in the Big Smoke.
Mary Poppins (1964)
One of the most successful movies of all time had a rocky road to the screen, but P.L. Travers’s story of a magical London nanny (Julie Andrews) and her chimneysweep beau (Dick Van Dyke, bad Cockney accent and all) still charms.
Peter Pan (1953)
True, the bulk of Disney’s animated classic takes place in Neverland, but Peter Pan first meets the Darling children in their London home before sprinkling fairy dust on them and whisking them off to adventure.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
Here’s one made by actual Brits: the stop-motion geniuses behind ‘Wallace & Gromit.’ Hugh Grant leads a crew of swashbucklers who, along with Charles Darwin and the last living dodo, come to London to impress Queen Victoria. Silly fun.
Flushed Away (2006)
Aardman Studios, who made ‘The Pirates!,’ try their hand at computer animation with this story of a posh rat (Hugh Jackman) who winds up in the sewers of London and discovers a colony of rodents terrorized by an arrogant toad.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012)
London appears to be a popular location for sequels of family film franchises, as you’ll soon see. The ‘Madagascar’ characters romp around all over Europe in this comedy, but the madness concludes at a circus on the Thames.
Speaking of “most wanted,” this sequel’s climax is set at the Tower of London, with Miss Piggy about to marry Ricky Gervais. It’s not the Muppets’ first visit to foggy London town, either: they were there in 1981’s ‘The Great Muppet Caper.’
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
When not at Hogwarts in Scotland, Harry Potter endures a dreadful existence with his muggle relations in Little Whinging, Surrey. But the fictitious shopping mecca Diagon Alley is in nearby London, as is the real life King’s Cross railway station
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
Few movies about London’s most famous literary detective are made with children in mind, but this clever mystery (written by ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ director Chris Columbus), featuring an adolescent Holmes and Watson, is perfect for older kids.
The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
While we’re on the subject of Sherlock, Disney’s confection about the tiniest residents of 221B Baker Street – that would be the sleuthing mice Basil and Dawson, modeled on Holmes and Watson – is also worth a look.
Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004)
Like the Muppets and the ‘Madagascar’ gang, this teenage spy (Frankie Muniz) also spends his sequel in – well, it’s right there in the title. Unlike most of the other movies in this gallery, this juvenile adventure won’t hold much interest for adults.
The Parent Trap (1998)
Remember when Lindsay Lohan was just a cute little girl? In Disney’s remake of the Hayley Mills original, the 11-year-old actress plays twins trying to reunite their estranged parents – one in San Francisco, the other in, you guessed it, London.
101 Dalmatians (1996)
Disney clearly has a fondness for the English capital. This live action remake of their 1961 animated feature is also set here. As the wicked Cruella DeVil, Glenn Close walks away with the movie.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Disney again. Uncle Walt had been dead for five years, but the studio still hoped to repeat the success of ‘Mary Poppins’ with this WWII musical starring Angela Lansbury. Alas, ‘Bedknobs,’ despite some impressive effects, was not a big hit.
There are many versions of Charles Dickens’s ‘Oliver Twist,’ about a London orphan turned pickpocket, but this musical, which won the Best Picture Oscar®, is the most kid-friendly – though the subject matter does get rather dark.