Opinion

10 family-friendly Robin Williams films

With the unexpected death of actor Robin Williams, we reflect on some of his greatest family-friendly film roles.

Robin-Williams

Photo: FameFlynet

It seemed like everyone was feeling down on Monday afternoon, when news quickly spread of actor Robin Williams’ death.

This wasn’t the usual Hollywood tragedy that we glossed over; this one seemed to hit us all a little bit harder than most. Maybe it’s because we’ve all grown up watching Robin Williams and felt like we knew him on some level. He always seemed like he was our crazy uncle and an approachable guy who didn’t have the celebrity aura to him—even though he was one of the most recognizable faces in the world.

My wife and I went over all of the Robin Williams movies we’ve enjoyed watching together over the years and we quickly realized what a big part of our lives he has been. So with that, I thought I would share the 10 best family movies starring Robin Williams. If you’re looking to share his unique style of comedy with your family in the coming days and weeks, this list will provide you with great options:

10. Popeye (1980)
This was one of Robin Williams’ first big movie roles and he perfectly portrayed the cartoon sailor man on the big screen. Today’s kids may find the production value fairly weak, but if you can get past that, it’s actually an entertaining movie.

(Parents guide from IMDB: Very mild profanity—although there is nothing particularly frightening in this film).

9. RV (2007)
Robin Williams plays Bob Munro, a father who is feeling torn between the stresses of his job and keeping his family happy. After not living up to the promise of taking his wife and kids to Hawaii, Bob offers to take them on an RV adventure to Colorado. However, he doesn’t tell them that he is secretly headed there for a big client pitch. The movie has some mildly funny moments, but some of the slapstick comedy will probably appeal more to the tween/teenage demographic than anyone else.

(Parents guide from IMDB: A handful of mild obscenities, but no real violence or over-the-top sexual references).

8. Jack (1996)
In this film Robin Williams plays Jack, a boy who enters the fifth grade looking like a 40-year-old man because of a strange aging disorder. There is a lot of predictable humour to be found in this movie, but kids in the later stages of elementary school may find this one amusing.

(Parents guide from IMDB: No swearing to worry about in this film, the only questionable scene comes when Williams’ character buys an issue of Hustler magazine to show his friends inside their treehouse).

7. Robots (2005)
In this animated feature, Williams plays the part of Fender, a wise-cracking misfit robot who is adept at cracking one-liners. The movie didn’t get as much praise as some of the other animated films released around the same time, but it certainly kept my attention for 90 minutes.

(Parents guide from IMDB: About the worst thing in this film is some robot-influenced name calling, like “bucket of bolts”).

6. Happy Feet (2006)
Williams’ stand-up act often featured him breaking into different characters, and audiences of Happy Feet were able to see the wide range he could play. In this movie—about a penguin who can’t sing—Williams does both the voice of Ramon (a Latin penguin who loves to sing Frank Sinatra songs) and the wise penguin named Lovelace.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: Nothing overly concerning in this movie, other than some mild insults and some suggestive lyrics to songs)

5. Jumanji (1995)
In this mid-90s film, Williams plays Alan Parrish, who has been trapped inside an ancient magical board game for more than 25 years. He is finally freed when a pair of young kids open up the game, but they also release a herd of wild, exotic animals. Younger children may find some of the scenes scary, but kids from grade four to eight will probably enjoy this film.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: The movie gets more frightening as it progresses, with the characters fighting increasingly scarier animals. But there is no sex/nudity or profanity to worry about in this movie).

4. Night at the Museum (2006)
Kids in this current generation were introduced to Williams as he played Teddy Roosevelt in the first Night at the Museum movie. In a sad twist, filming of the third installment of this movie franchise recently wrapped and Night at the Museum 3—Secret of the Tomb will be released in December, giving fans another chance to enjoy Williams on the big screen.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: A five- or six-year-old can handle this movie, as there aren’t really any instances of gory violence, profanity and nudity).

3. Hook (1991)
In one of his most memorable roles, Williams plays Peter Pan—only he has grown up to be a cold, cutthroat lawyer. But when Captain Hook kidnaps his children, he is forced to return to Neverland and has to remember how to be Peter Pan all over again. Williams and Dustin Hoffman have great chemistry in this film as they go head-to-head in the roles of Pan and Captain Hook.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: This movie was rated PG for swashbuckling violence, mild language and some peril).

2. Aladdin (1992)
Of all his animated roles, this is the one that Williams will be best remembered—playing the loveable Genie in this Disney classic. Williams nailed the part with his unique brand of humour that played well with both parents and children alike. Williams is said to have improvised 16 hours of material for this movie in his recording sessions. The script for this movie was reportedly not eligible for an Oscar because The Academy didn’t like the fact that so much of it was improvised by Williams and not written down on paper.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: This is an animated movie, so aside from a couple of scary scenes involving the evil Jafar, this film is suitable for kids of all ages).

1. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
I’m a little partial to this one being at the top of the list because I just watched it with our 10-year-old daughter a few months ago. Williams resorts to turning himself into an older British housekeeper in order to spend time with his own children. It’s full of Williams’ classic humour and this film will certainly resonate with families who have had to deal with separation or divorce.

(Parent’s guide from IMDB: There are some sexual references and innuendo throughout this movie, but nothing too serious. Some mild swearing is in this film as well).

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.