When our nephew was 3, we tried to watch "Mary Poppins" â€“ only to be met with an unexpected stumbling block: If it wasn't animated, he wasn't interested. (Really, really not interested.) As a result, after our son was born, my husband went on a musicals campaign: "Singin' in the Rain," "Swing Time," "The Wizard of Oz," even parts of the Bollywood extravaganza "Lagaan." By the time our son was 3, he demanded his own pair of tap shoes. A similar impulse governs "The Best OId Movies for Families," Ty Burr's excellent guide for parents looking for entertainment that isn't prepackaged, pre-sold, and in the worst instances, prechewed.
The Boston Globe film critic has a reputation as "The Man Who Showed 'The Seven Samurai' to His Kids. And They Liked It." But he really knew he was on to something when his oldest daughter wanted to screen "Bringing Up Baby" at her ninth birthday party. To the befuddlement of all her friends' parents, the black-and-white screwball comedy was a huge success. Engaging, informative, and occasionally downright funny (Don't miss "The Kong Island Theory, or Movies Not to Watch With Your Children"). Burr offers suggestions for all age groups and genres. (Horror is lost on me, but his point that teens seeking thrills would be better off with Hitchcock than "Hostel" is irrefutable.) The younger you start, the easier it is, so here are his top five choices for toddlers: "The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Bringing Up Baby," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Singin' in the Rain," and "Stagecoach." Grade: A