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5 classic, kid-friendly movies for spring break
David Stollery and Lou Costello in "Jack and the Beanstalk." (1952) - photo by Elizabeth Reid
During spring break, add some variety to your movie nights by confidently watching these classic movies with your children. While some may be older than your kids grandparents, these movies can still be entertaining and delightfully family-appropriate.

'Jack and the Beanstalk'

Desperate for employment, Jack takes a baby-sitting job watching a troublesome boy. To help the boy calm down for bed, he begins reading the classic story, Jack and the Beanstalk. But Jacks plan is foiled when he, instead of the boy, falls asleep. Deep in dreamland, Jack becomes the fabled character. Magic beans, a missing princess and a formidable giant all make their way into the classic adventure as Jack takes on the unlikely responsibility of saving an entire kingdom.

Dont let the black and white beginning of this movie scare your kids away; most of the movie is about Jacks dream; and Jack dreams in color. While many children are familiar with animated Jack and the Beanstalk movies, this 1952 classic, with actual people in it, can be a fun change.

Although technically not rated, Jack and the Beanstalk is appropriate for children age 6 and older and would most likely have been rated G. Very young children could possibly be nervous during a few tense moments, but overall, this movie is very family appropriate. The hilarious duo, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, add a slapstick comedy flavor to this fairy tale. Jack and the Beanstalk can be seen on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and VUDU.

'Tom Thumb'

When a poor woodcutter spares a special tree in the forest, he is granted three wishes by a fairy. This humble man and his wife are soon the recipients of a child the size of their thumbs. At first, all is familial bliss. But two thieves come to town and try to take advantage of the family. When they capture the boy and try to convince him to be their nefarious sidekick, he has to outsmart them and rescue those he loves.

While the humor and music in this movie are fun, its the dancing that brings this film to life. Russ Tamblyn, who plays Tom, is a dynamic gymnast. His antics, paired with magical toys and creative 1950s special effects, can be fun for both children and adults to watch.

Rated G, Tom Thumb has clean language, a few suspenseful moments and slapstick comedy. It is appropriate for those 6 and older. Made in 1958, this musical fantasy can be seen on Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, VUDU and iTunes.

'The Apple Dumpling Gang'

When newcomer Russell Donovan arrives in town, he plans on making his living the easy way, by gambling. But his plans soon change when he becomes the unwilling guardian to three orphan children. Instead of continuing his irresponsible bachelor ways, Donovan spends most of his time unsuccessfully attempting to find a home for his unwanted charges.

But things change when the children find gold in a forgotten mine. Now they are the towns most wanted commodities. Concerned over several individuals sudden interest in caring for the children, Donovan realizes he may have become more attached to the troublesome kids than he realized.

Two wannabe crooks, played by Tim Conway and Don Knotts, bumble in and out of scenes, causing trouble and adding hilarity with their perpetual bank heisting attempts. One of the children gets violent whenever he is touched and another one seems to continually need to use the restroom. Through it all, Donovan, the perpetual bachelor, finds love and the children find a true home.

This 1975 Western comedy also stars Bill Bixby and Susan Clark. Rated G, it can be seen on Amazon Instant video, Google Play, VUDU, iTunes and Netflix.

'No Deposit, No Return'

Tracy and Jay cant stand their grandfather. So when they hear their Easter vacation will be spent with him yet again, they revolt. On the run, they take refuge with two strangers who just happen to be wanted bank robbers. Although the kids think hiding out with the crooks will be fun, they soon realize that a loan shark is making life stressful for their new friends. Problem solvers, the kids decide a great way to come up with some easy cash is by faking their own kidnapping and hitting their wealthy grandfather up for a ransom. But Grandfather is smart and doesnt pay up as easily as they supposed. Things get crazy when the kids mother comes into town, a skunk gets loose and the cops become involved in a wild chase through the dockyards.

This G-rated family comedy is appropriate for any age but is more entertaining for those 7 and older. Made in 1976, No Deposit, No Return stars David Niven, Daren McGavin and the ever hilarious Knotts. It can be viewed on Amazon Instant video, Google Play, VUDU, iTunes and Netflix.


As a comic book writer and artist, Woody has always craved an adventurous life. So when Harry, his friend who works for the CIA, asks him to help in a simple operation, he jumps at the chance. But things get complicated when Woody successfully impresses Natalia, a Soviet Russian spy. He convinces her that hes actually a top CIA agent, with the code name Condorman.

Soon, the CIA has to put up with Woodys outlandish demands to help the beautiful Natalia defect. With her trust in Condorman, the two travel across Europe using jets, a secret spy car and other methods that previously had only been seen in the popular comic book. When the bad guys figure out the connection between the fictional comic book and the supposed CIA spy, Woody wonders if hell be able to live up to the Condorman name and make it back to the U.S. alive.

Condorman takes the beautiful girl, intrigue and adventure that are usually only found in James Bond movies and makes it family-friendly in this delightful Disney film. Although there are a few too-cheesy moments, this comedic action movie is a lot of fun. Made in 1981, this film stars Michael Crawford, Oliver Reed, and Barbara Carrera. It can be seen on Amazon Instant video, Google Play, VUDU and iTunes.