Staff movie picks

It may have been years since you’ve watched the Disney classics and other popular childhood movies. Still, many of these movies portray morals and other life lessons that one can learn by watching them at an older age. The features staff looks back at their own childhood favorites, many of which were eye opening after a second watch.

“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971)

If you think about it, “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is a lot like college. There’s a brat, a couch potato, the competitor, the fat kid and the kid who always ends up with all the candy. Plus, the line “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” has surprisingly so much more meaning to me now than when I was younger. – Carolyn Fertig

“Free Willy” (1993)

This movie remains a classic in my book, as it deals with the emotional struggles of a couple trying to gain the love of a foster son, a boy raised on the street learning to clean up his act and of course, a whale wanting to make it home to his family. I don’t think environmental activism has ever looked so appealing. Anyone want to help me spring Shamu from SeaWorld? – Andrew Paulsen

“Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985)

By being the eternal man-child, Pee-wee Herman can tap into simpler moments in peoples’ minds, a time when you wouldn’t think twice about sneaking into a film studio and interrupting a Twisted Sister video shoot to find your bicycle. People of all ages can appreciate his antics and learn valuable lessons, like how to please angry bikers by dancing to “Tequila.” It may come up in life, after all. – Nick Baker

“The Swan Princess” (1994)

“The Swan Princess” taught me so many lessons – from the importance of having friends like Jean-Bob, Speed and Puffin, who would risk their lives for you, to value the essence of keeping faith, like Derek and Odette did with their relationship. And even though I’ve realized no guy will ever destroy a sorcerer to protect me, even today the movie still has the power to make me feel good through its romantic storyline and beautiful music. – Denise Wright

“Toy Story” (1995)

As I rewatched “Toy Story” for the first time since my childhood, I realized I never understood the film’s humor. Some ideas and jokes were over my head as a child. There are many things I understand now that I’m an adult. For example, Little Bo Peep says, “He’s got more gadgets than a Swiss army knife,” and Mr. Potato Head removes his lips from his face and places them on his rear end, insinuating for the others to “kiss his behind.” – Whitney Chaffin

Walt Disney’s “Robin Hood” (1973)

Even though there’s like 30 versions of “Robin Hood,” this one best tells the story to me. I love how they used different animals for all the characters. Walt Disney totally made me into an animal lover, thanks to movies like this one and “Bambi.” – Austin Corthell

“The Lion King” (1994)

I think it’s sad that “Hakuna Matata,” meaning “no worries,” can only be sung at special occasions now that all the demands of life have shown themselves. I’ll always remember that feeling of when I was 10 and dancing along to “Hakuna Matata,” thinking it would be life’s theme song. – Jess Briganti

“Peter Pan” (1953)

There’s the obvious theme of not wanting to grow up in “Peter Pan,” but anytime I watch the movie it reminds me to just believe. It doesn’t matter what it is – as long as you believe, good things are bound to happen. – Nicole Aikens

“Land Before Time” (1988)

From poor “Longneck” Little Foot losing his mother, to the little dinosaurs battling the massive T-rex “Sharptooth” during their search for the Great Valley, it’s hard to believe it’s a kid’s movie. The irresistible cuteness of “Big Mouth” Ducky, the frenzied “Flyer” Petrie, dopy “Spiketail” Spike and rambunctious “Three Horn” Cera, is enough to make you want to watch it over and over again. So, if you want a refreshing course on dinosaurs or just a soft substitute for Jurassic Park, this is a movie worth watching. – Megan Moore

“Mary Poppins” (1964)

“Mary Poppins” is still amazing to me, even at 22 years old. However, I now realize Mrs. Banks is a feminist, Mr. Banks has a “firm hand” with his children and the loveable Bert will be homeless soon if he doesn’t find a steady job. Poor Bert, just keep singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and it will get better. – Pamela Crimbchin

“Charlotte’s Web” (1973, 2006)

This movie uses the animals on Zuckerman’s Farm to teach us compassion and caring for all creatures despite our vast differences. When Wilbur was saved thanks to Charlotte and taken to the fair, Charlotte died, but gave birth to hundreds of baby spiders. Wilbur kept them safe and made them his own. The friends in this movie are always loyal. Instead of weaving a web of lies behind someone’s back, follow Charlotte’s lead and spread some favorable comments instead. – Melissa Dilley

“An American Tail” (1986)

The song “Somewhere out There,” which Fievel the mouse sings to his sister, holds a special place in my heart because of how much I loved this movie as a young girl. And the song’s themes run deep through the movie. Fievel must make new friends to survive when he is separated from his family, something we’ve all had to do at one point or another. And through everything, his quest to find his family, the strongest bond of all, doesn’t end. – Christina Stavale