Top 5 Classic Family Adventure Movies

Family adventure movies don't much better than

The need for adventure - for a break in the mundane pattern of everyday life - is a strong one. We sometimes find ourselves attracted to intense situations, titillated by the unbelievable. Of course, we can't just go running pall mall into the unknown. After all, you got work in the morning. You have a family to feed - and actually, they're hungry for their own adventures as well. So, instead of a real-life and possibly dangerous adventure, why not take advantage of film's cathartic power by showing one of these classic, family-friendly adventure flicks on your inflatable screen? Settle down with some blankets, some snacks, and some of Open Air Cinema's favorite kid-friendly epics, for a night of cinema under the stars!

David Bowie brings some glam-rock pizzazz to villainy in Jim Henson's


(Jim Henson, 1986)

Labyrinth is one of those dream collaborations that miraculously found a footing in the real world somehow. Jim Henson, the end-all be-all of modern puppetry, directing David Bowie, the greatest chameleon in pop music, as the sinister yet enchanting Goblin King in an epic fantasy? Sign us up! But beyond its spectacular roster, Labyrinth works as adventure movie because of the great pains that director Henson took to create an intricate world of goblins, giants, and dwarves - one with which lead actress Jennifer Connelly interacts superbly. Plus, the songs are enduringly catchy - could we expect anything less from a Goblin King played by the Thin White Duke? Heeeeeeey yooooooooouuuuuu guuuuuuuuuys,

The Goonies

(Richard Donner, 1985)

Heeeeeeeey, yooouuuuuuu guuuuuuuuuys - if you haven't sat down to watch this goofy 80's adventure classic with your family, you're definitely missing out! Never has there been a team of misfits quite so endearing, even in their occasional preternatural crassness - from Chunk to Mouth to Data to the lovable Sloth. In fact, this quality of controlled crudity helps to root the film in a familiarity and verisimilitude, even as the story swells in trademark Spielbergian scope. To wit, this movie is as easily relatable as it is fantastic and will prove a fun experience for the whole family. Meredith Salenger has a pet wolf in

The Journey of Natty Gann

(Jeremy Paul Kagan, 1985)

While Labyrinth and many other female-centric adventure films place a young girl in a topsy-turvey universe, The Journey of Natty Gann succeeds by doing precisely the opposite. Director Kagan ultimately makes this movie memorable by thoroughly steeping the film in stark realism. Doing so allows the natural peril of winter during the Great Depression to imbue the film with a realism and a relatability that one hardly sees in movies intended for young children. Heartfelt performances from Meredith Salenger, Ray Wise, and a cameo from John Cusack also make this film stand out as a much under-appreciated classic.

Stand by Me

(Rob Reiner, 1986)

If you're of a certain age, then you probably remember Rob Reiner's directorial breakout as one of the few R-rated movies your parents would allow you to watch - with good reason, too. Stand by Me is deservedly lauded by critics and audiences alike for its perfect casting, realistic performances, and adventurous scope. The film ultimately succeeds because of Reiner's direction, which is sweet but never saccharine. It maintains an air of quiet innocence - even in the infamous Lard-A** segment - which is only enhanced by its unflinching look at the wonders and woes of youth.

Dorothy and the Wicked Witch face off in

The Wizard of Oz

(Victor Fleming, 1939)

Is there anything that we can say about this movie that hasn't already been said? Maybe we can just point out the fact that no matter what year, decade, or century you were born in, there's still something pretty magical stirs in the soul when Dorothy opens the farmhouse door and sees the world in glorious Technicolor for the first time. It's one of those experiences that becomes a rite of passage for the young cinephile. But The Wizard of Oz is more than just that one scene. From its memorable music, to its famously-endearing performances, to the beautiful set design and costuming, this film is both a relic to a bygone era in filmmaking and a relevant influence even in cinema today - all in all, a must-see experience for the family. The adventure movie is a big, big vicarious experience that children and adults alike cherish. While you're feeling that wave of cathartic excitement wash over you, you can make the experience even bigger by breaking out the inflatable screen outside. After all, what's more appropriate than watching an epic adventure under something as epic as the starry night sky?

Join our mailing list

Get the latest outdoor cinema updates and benefits straight to your inbox

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Join our community of 4,000+ Open Air Cinema enthusiasts and professionals. Get exclusive tutorials, guidance and discounts in our weekly email newsletter.

Subscribe now 👇