I was recently asked if I could recommend a film that an adult could take a child to and which both would enjoy. Apart from such obvious choices as the latest version of Dumbo, I could not think of anything I had seen that would be suitable. With this in mind, I set out to find something that might work and am pleased to be able to say there are two films which both adults and children might enjoy.

For younger teens, Shazam! offers laughs a-plenty, while at the same time satisfying their thirst for action-hero movies. The film tells the story of Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who suddenly finds himself with special powers and turning into a comic book hero. Much of the fun comes from his learning just what powers he has and how to use them. After all, even Superman had to learn how to fly!

The result is often farcical, generally entertaining, and at the same time offering a worthy message about the importance of family. It is true that a couple of scenes are decidedly distasteful, particularly one in which the villain reeks revenge on his father – rendering the film unsuitable for younger children.

However, the rest of the villainous aspects are of the Harry Potter order and younger teens will find them satisfactorily and momentarily scary, though really young children may find them too much so.

Adults will certainly enjoy the verbal humour and will have fun picking up references to other films which they will doubtless remember fondly, including Rocky and Big. And what a pleasure it is to see a film which comments on the inanities of Marvel comic book movie – something that is altogether timely.

For younger children, Penguins is both instructive and entertaining as it depicts the life cycle of Adélie penguins. Ever since the 1951 Nature’s Half Acre, the Disney studio has been making brilliant films showing the beauty and complexity of the natural world. More recently, under the Disney Nature banner, the company has produced longer films on the same theme. Penguins once again reflects the many years of hard work that the film crews invest to come up with striking illustrations of the wonder of nature. One is reminded of this as the credits unroll at the end of the film.

Disneynature’s feature film Penguins is a coming-of-age story about an Adélie penguin named Steve and offers something for all ages, writes Alan Charlton. (CNS photo/Disneynature)

Adults may be forgiven for finding the anthropomorphizing of the penguins rather annoying. In this case the film purports to follow one penguin, given the name Steve, as he embarks on his lengthy journey to the coast in the spring, mates, and helps raise a family of two chicks.

As voiced by Ed Helms, the commentary attempts to turn Steve into a rather bumbling representation of his species. The result is overly cute and decidedly patronizing, but it undoubtedly will help children relate to the film, which incidentally is less than 90 minutes long so that children will not get too restless.

Adults will doubtless find the film fascinating and enjoy the fact that they too can learn much from such a film. Viewers of all ages will come away from the experience with a greater sense of reverence for the natural world –not only as it is represented by the penguins, but also by the gloriously beautiful landscape of Antarctica.

At a time when we all need to be reminded of our need to participate in preserving the wonder of our environment, Penguins provides both an entertaining and relevant reminder of the need to respect God’s complex and impressive creation – a worthy lesson for people of all ages.

So, there they are, parents and grandparents: films to which you can take younger family members while all of you enjoy the experience.