It’s never easy making a “best-of” list for an entire year. I’m always asking: Did I leave anything out? And did I include anything that really didn’t belong?
It is, though, a little easier if you narrow it down to family-friendly films. There just aren’t that many of them.
Here, then, are my favorite family-friendly films of 2017. An asterisk (*) notes a film that might not be appropriate for young or very young children.
The Case For Christ* – An award-winning newspaper journalist sets out to disprove Christianity and is surprised with what he discovers. Based on the life of Lee Strobel. Rated PG for thematic elements, including medical descriptions of crucifixion, and incidental smoking.
Cars 3 – An aging Lightning McQueen tries to make a comeback against a field of newer and faster cars. Animated. Rated G.
Despicable Me 3 – Gru, our favorite villain-turned-hero, considers turning back to villainy after he is fired from his job and meets his long-lost brother. Despite the potty humor, this one has some good life lessons. Animated. Rated PG for action and rude humor.
Dunkirk* — The British live to fight another day in World War II thanks to one of the largest military evacuations in human history. This one’s not appropriate for children, even if it is one of the least violent war movies of the modern era. Contains about eight coarse words. Rated PG-13 for intense war experience and some language. I counted eight coarse words: misuse of “Christ” (2), h-ll (2), misuse of “God” (1), f-word (2), s–t (1)
Is Genesis History? – Del Tackett interviews more than a dozen scientists and scholars as he examines the science behind the creation account and the flood. Unrated.
Leap! – An orphan who dreams of being a ballerina escapes to Paris and enrolls at a world-famous dance school. The film’s “follow-your-heart” theme doesn’t stand up to biblical scrutiny, but the rest of the film is nevertheless fun. Animated. Rated PG for some impolite humor, and action.
The LEGO Batman Movie – Our caped crusader has always been a loner, but in this animated film he sets out to prove that he doesn’t need anybody. Animated. Rated PG for rude humor and some action. It has a few potty-type words but also some great lessons.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie – A masked high school-aged superhero discovers that the town’s hated villain is his father. Animated. Rated PG for some mild action and rude humor.
The Man Who Invented Christmas* – Author Charles Dickens is running out of ideas (and money) until he conceives of a character named Scrooge and writes A Christmas Carol, which helps popularize the holiday among the masses. Rated PG for thematic elements and some mild language. I counted one coarse word (a–) and several instances of “bloody.”
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone – The phrases “good comedy” and “faith-based film” usually don’t mix, but this movie fills both roles. It’s hilarious – and inspiring. The plot: A washed-up famous actor tries out for a role in a church play. Rated PG for thematic elements, including a crucifixion image. No language or sexuality.
Same Kind of Different As Me* – A homeless man impacts the life of an international art dealer – and helps save his marriage, too. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, including some violence and language. The film has about four coarse words: h-ll (1) and the n-word (3).
The Star – The Nativity story as told through the eyes of animals. Genuinely funny. Animated. Rated PG for some thematic elements.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi* — The saga of Rey, Finn, Kylo, Luke and Leia continues. It’s one of the best Star Wars films ever. (I’ve got it at No. 4). Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence. I counted six coarse words: h-ll (2), da—it (1), d—n (1), ba—ard (1), a—(1).
Steve McQueen: American Icon – Actor Steve McQueen never found purpose – until he found Christ. One of the best documentaries you’ll ever see. Unrated. It contains no language or sexuality.
Wonder* – A boy with facial deformities enters middle school after being homeschooled his entire life. Perhaps the best anti-bullying film ever made. Rated PG for thematic elements including bullying, and some mild language (a handful of OMGs and one misuse of “Jesus” by a bully).