‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but does it always feel that way? Whether it’s your first Christmas settling in at your new address, or Barcelona’s local traditions are starting to feel familiar, the holidays can be the hardest time to be away from ‘home’. However, no matter where in the world you are, Christmas means time together as a family. While it’s not normally recommended to assume the role of couch potato and spend hours in front of the TV, watching one or two classic family films while the kids are off of school might be just what your family needs to relax and start a conversation about some of the big changes happening in your lives.
Not your usual film fare
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Elf (2003), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) and Love Actually (2003) making their annual appearance. That being said, why not branch out? Expand your viewing pleasure with these five family films that promise to teach as well as entertain this festive season.
The list has been carefully curated to delight every member of the family, while simultaneously creating the possibility for discussing your transition abroad. Examining the ideas of having to say goodbye, leaving behind all that’s familiar, struggling to fit in, and moving forward, these titles are all PG and contain wonderful lessons that are hard to teach in daily life. Once the credits roll, you can ask your youngsters and teens how they identify with the movie’s characters, and turn their trials and tribulations into a real life lesson on adaptation.
1. Paddington (2014)
An accident-prone bear from deepest Peru arrives in the UK searching for a home, but finds himself lost at Paddington station. Discovering a label around his neck, ‘Please look after this bear’, the Brown family makes Paddington feel welcome.
This film celebrates a modern London at its multicultural best. Try chatting afterwards about Barcelona’s own mix of cultures and different communities. Paddington’s initial loneliness upon arriving in a new place and the plot’s message of helping everybody to fit in apply to societies all over the world.
2. Inside Out (2015)
Introducing characters Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust, the five emotions that help 11-year-old Riley Andersen cope with her family’s move to San Francisco.
Inside Out is pure delight for ages 6 to 60. In its smart and funny way, the film shows how all our emotions serve a function in our everyday lives, and will help children gain a better understanding of their own mental world and how their range of emotions play an important role. Riley’s transition on-screen will help you discuss some of life’s challenges off-screen, such as growing up, not always getting your way, missing old friends, observing your parents struggle with their own problems, and managing negative emotions to try to find happiness in new situations. In the end, the film’s resolution proves that we’re never as alone as we think we are.
3. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Escape the recurring Disney/Pixar style and cosy up with this slice of Japanese anime from director Hayao Miyazaki, creator of the fantastic mystery Spirited Away (2001).
Kiki, the film’s star, is a witch in training. As the film progresses, a major theme becomes Kiki’s transition into adulthood. While being raised by loving parents who support her independence, Kiki is faced with problems common in adolescence such as finding a job, seeking acceptance and taking care of herself. Does this ring a bell with your teenagers?
When Kiki loses her ability to fly due to her own self-doubts, it is by far the worst crisis she has to face during the film. While your children may feel similarly self-conscious and vulnerable in a new neighbourhood and a new school, surrounded by people speaking a language they may or may not have a good command of, is it possible that such vulnerability can help them learn valuable lessons and better understand themselves?
4. Felix (2013)
Continuing to pursue hobbies that you’ve always enjoyed is an effective transition tool, allowing for life to stay somewhat the same. For 13-year-old Felix, music is one such interest. When he wins a scholarship to a prestigious school, he finds his world turned upside down, and music seems to be the only thing he can rely on, the only thing that gives him confidence. At one point, presented with an opportunity to do what he loves and possibly make a new group of friends in the process, Felix plucks up the courage to audition for his school’s jazz concert, even though he can’t read music. As his musical prowess grows, a notable talent for the saxophone wows his classmates.
See if this comedy-drama can spark a dialogue about reviving your kids’ previous hobbies, or what new extracurricular activities they can take up in 2018.
Winter wouldn’t be the same without the ‘lovable loser’, Charlie Brown. Your little ones might not recognise the cartoon character, but for those of you who remember the original comic strip, this animation serves those memories with affection. Reminisce as the original Peanuts gang comes together again and Charlie Brown starts a brand new school.
Featuring a schoolboy crush, belly laughs and adventures all around, this festive family film exemplifies universal messages of friendship, fitting in, dreaming big and winning the love of your life.
There are 8,760 hours in a year. Watching these five family films this holiday season will not only entertain those young and old, but will make you reconsider how you might use your time.