The Princess Bride

The car is packed, and you're ready to go on your big summer road trip. Those of you without portable DVD players are going to live it up old-school with sing-alongs, car games (who else still plays rounds of "I Spy"?) and perhaps the occasional audiobook. If you, however, delight in the technological advances that navigation systems and DVD players can bring to a multi-hour drive, here is a peek at my "road-trip playlist" for a long, inter-state ride.

Depending on your children's ages, any combination of these broad-appeal movies is sure to please the kids and let you focus on the road -- not squabbling siblings. Take it from me, I drove three kids 1,000 miles by myself thanks to many of these flicks. Sometimes Mama needed peace and quiet (and caffeine!) to get through. The Princess Bride

The car is packed, and you're ready to go on your big summer road trip. Those of you without portable DVD players are going to live it up old-school with sing-alongs, car games (who else still plays rounds of "I Spy"?) and perhaps the occasional audiobook. If you, however, delight in the technological advances that navigation systems and DVD players can bring to a multi-hour drive, here is a peek at my "road-trip playlist" for a long, inter-state ride.

Depending on your children's ages, any combination of these broad-appeal movies is sure to please the kids and let you focus on the road -- not squabbling siblings. Take it from me, I drove three kids 1,000 miles by myself thanks to many of these flicks. Sometimes Mama needed peace and quiet (and caffeine!) to get through.**

Cars'Cars':
What a perfect animated movie from the geniuses at Pixar to kickstart a road trip. Even if your kids are past the age of collecting Lightning McQueen, Doc Hudson, and Mater figurines, this is an upbeat, funny tribute to the love of the open road. This is especially a must-see if you'll be traveling on Route 66. After the credits roll, the whole family can sing a rendition of the über-catchy 'Life is a Highway' and 'Route 66.'

'E.T.':
I find it's best to alternate animated and live-action movies if you have one early-elementary-aged kid with older siblings. If all the children are under the age of 7, stick with the animated selections. Any Gen-X parent will love sharing this childhood favorite with their brood, and the 1982 Steven Spielberg blockbuster still resonates with children, as will the signature moments like the flying bicycle, the Reese's Pieces, and the "E.T. phone home" bits.

'My Neighbor Totoro':
Did you catch the stuffed-Totoro cameo in 'Toy Story 3'? Totoro is one cuddly friend to little children. From Japanese auteur Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, this beautiful story of sisterhood and friendship is so good, my older kids could watch it again and again without getting bored. It also featured two girls as the main characters, which is always an extra treat, considering there needs to be more non-princess female protagonists for young girls.

Nightmare Before Christmas'The Princess Bride': Not that there's anything wrong with princesses. Like 'E.T.,' this is another '80s classic that has remained a beloved children's film for nearly 25 years. There's a little bit for everyone: romance ("As you wish!"), action ("You killed my father, prepare to die!"), wit, humor, and yes, a few dated special effects (the R.O.U.Ses aren't quite as scary looking anymore). Swordplay and wordplay with a true (chaste) romance as the root of the story -- what could be better?

'The Nightmare Before Christmas':
Not all of Tim Burton's films are appropriate for family viewing, but his musical collaboration with master stop-action director Henry Selick ('Coraline') and composer Danny Elfman is a tale for the ages. From the amazing art design to the unforgettable original songs and the unmistakable animation, this is such a cool, sophisticated, animated film, even picky (read: snotty) teenagers won't mind sitting through it.

'The Wizard of Oz': From the far-off land of Halloween Town to the far-off land of Oz -- kids will completely immerse themselves in Dorothy's journey down the yellow brick road with Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. What girl hasn't dressed up in a pinafore, pigtails, and ruby red slippers? Of course, the flying monkeys are still a tad creepy, but this 1939 masterpiece is one of those movies every kid should see once (or twice, or 13 times).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'Finding Nemo': Yes, this makes two Pixar movies, but they're just that good at making movies that kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy. Despite the sad plot point about the mother (what is it with motherless and orphaned protagonists?), this is a near-perfect film about a father-and-son relationship, adventure, independence, unlikely friendships -- oh sweet, forgetful Dory -- teamwork, and gnarly sea turtles. As Crush would say, "It's awesome, dude."

'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone':
Speaking of orphans, with all the buzz surrounding the grand opening of the Harry Potter theme park and the countdown to the final two films, why not revisit the magic of the very first Potter film? It's the most younger-kid friendl y of the series, obviously, and it's full of fantastic details --Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, quidditch, Wizard Chess, and a shockingly young Harry, Ron and Hermione.

'Shrek 2': Although the franchise is now on its fourth installment, my lot prefers 'Shrek 2,' because it introduced us to the wide-eyed, sword-fighting cat Puss in Boots, Fiona's royal parents, and the Beverly Hills-esque Kingdom of 'Far, Far Away.' There are always peals of laughter from the back of the minivan when the kids are watching Shrek, Donkey and the gang try to save the day. It truly is Mike Myers' best work.

The Sound of Music'The Sound of Music': I know many parents are sensitive about the third act of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, since Nazis and World War II aren't easy concepts to explain to young children; but in my experience, most kids are so focused on the songs, the politics goes right over their heads. Instead, the von Trapp Family Singers entertain kids with songs I guarantee the entire car will be singing for miles to come. "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..."



**The Moviefone Mama realizes that there's a great deal of fun to be had from turning OFF the DVD and actually talking to your children during a road trip, so make sure to pause your kids' movie marathon occasionally in favor of old-fashioned conversation.