Entertainment Weekly's Essential Movies Kids Must Experience (Before They Turn 13)

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There are people out there who have never seen The Princess Bride. They walk among us, holding down jobs, contributing to society, and generally living happy, semi-fulfilled lives. But whisper a perfectly-timed “mawage” in their direction during a wedding, and the resulting blank stare or awkward chuckle will expose an inconceivable pop-cultural blind spot. Someone failed them when they were growing up.

In many ways it’s too late for them, but we can still save the next generation. The 55 Essential Movies Kids Must Experience (Before They Turn 13) is a starting point. This isn’t a list of the 55 “best” kids movies, nor a compendium of hidden gems. Rather, it’s a survival-guide syllabus of films that we all need to know to be able to speak the same pop-cultural language, listed in order by when they might be best introduced. It starts with a film that is a perfect introduction to the cinematic universe and ends with one that is an ideal capper before graduating into the world of PG-13 and R movies—and the age when kids begin to make their own theater decisions.

These are the cinematic building blocks for future film connoisseurs, movie-literate enthusiasts who can gracefully segue from a George Bailey impression into a spirited debate over whether Han Solo shot first. The important stuff.

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  1. 1 new

    The Muppet Movie

    1979, in 3 top lists Check
  2. 2 new

    Toy Story

    1995, in 24 top lists Check
  3. 3 new

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

    1966, in 0 top lists Check
  4. 4 new

    Babe

    1995, in 10 top lists Check
  5. 5 new

    Mary Poppins

    1964, in 14 top lists Check
  6. 6 new

    Beauty and the Beast

    1991, in 17 top lists Check
  7. 7 new

    The Little Mermaid

    1989, in 4 top lists Check
  8. 8 new

    Finding Nemo

    2003, in 17 top lists Check
  9. 9 new

    Le ballon rouge

    1956 — a.k.a. The Red Balloon, in 9 top lists Check
  10. 10 new

    Pinocchio

    1940, in 15 top lists Check
  11. 11 new

    Annie

    1982, in 0 top lists Check
  12. 12 new

    The Kid

    1921, in 14 top lists Check
  13. 13 new

    WALL·E

    2008, in 21 top lists Check
  14. 14 new

    The Sound of Music

    1965, in 21 top lists Check
  15. 15 new

    The Lion King

    1994, in 22 top lists Check
  16. 16 new

    The Wizard of Oz

    1939, in 33 top lists Check
  17. 17 new

    Singin' in the Rain

    1952, in 33 top lists Check
  18. 18 new

    Miracle on 34th Street

    1947, in 7 top lists Check
  19. 19 new

    The Iron Giant

    1999, in 9 top lists Check
  20. 20 new

    E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    1982, in 27 top lists Check
  21. 21 new

    Elf

    2003, in 2 top lists Check
  22. 22 new

    How to Train Your Dragon

    2010, in 11 top lists Check
  23. 23 new

    Star Wars

    1977 — a.k.a. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, in 36 top lists Check
  24. 24 new

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

    2001, in 5 top lists Check
  25. 25 new

    Pee-wee's Big Adventure

    1985, in 2 top lists Check
  26. 26 new

    La marche de l'empereur

    2005 — a.k.a. March of the Penguins, in 3 top lists Check
  27. 27 new

    Home Alone

    1990, in 5 top lists Check
  28. 28 new

    The Black Stallion

    1979, in 4 top lists Check
  29. 29 new

    Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

    1971, in 6 top lists Check
  30. 30 new

    Yellow Submarine

    1968, in 6 top lists Check
  31. 31 new

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit

    1988, in 15 top lists Check
  32. 32 new

    The Incredibles

    2004, in 11 top lists Check
  33. 33 new

    The Lego Movie

    2014, in 4 top lists Check
  34. 34 new

    The Princess Bride

    1987, in 18 top lists Check
  35. 35 new

    The Goonies

    1985, in 2 top lists Check
  36. 36 new

    A Christmas Story

    1983, in 6 top lists Check
  37. 37 new

    West Side Story

    1961, in 21 top lists Check
  38. 38 new

    It's a Wonderful Life

    1946, in 29 top lists Check
  39. 39 new

    Duck Soup

    1933, in 23 top lists Check
  40. 40 new

    Back to the Future

    1985, in 23 top lists Check
  41. 41 new

    Young Frankenstein

    1974, in 13 top lists Check
  42. 42 new

    Edward Scissorhands

    1990, in 8 top lists Check
  43. 43 new

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

    2001, in 26 top lists Check
  44. 44 new

    The Karate Kid

    1984, in 2 top lists Check
  45. 45 new

    Stand by Me

    1986, in 8 top lists Check
  46. 46 new

    Fantastic Mr. Fox

    2009, in 5 top lists Check
  47. 47 new

    Big

    1988, in 5 top lists Check
  48. 48 new

    Some Like It Hot

    1959, in 33 top lists Check
  49. 49 new

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    1981, in 26 top lists Check
  50. 50 new

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the...

    2003, in 11 top lists Check
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Last updated on Nov 7, 2015; source