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The Best Film Adaptations Of Classic Kids' Books

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    Book adaptations can go horribly wrong. Not even Meryl Streep could save the flat take on The Giver. And those failures hit moviegoers even harder if its a beloved children's book headed to the screen. Fans have been dreaming of their favorite characters coming to life for years. They're sure that they could have cast, written, and directed it perfectly themselves.


    But there are still plenty of page-to-screen films that please nearly every devotee; movies that capture the voice of the author or even put a particularly imaginative twist on the source material. Movies that might even convince a reluctant reader to take a crack at the book for the first time. Use this list to prep for your book club's movie night or to comfort yourself the next time you decide to give The Cat in the Hat a try and wind up filled with regret. They'll give you hope for the next attempt.

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    Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), based on Madame Doubtfire, by Anne Fine


    Mrs. Doubtfire isn't exactly a kids' film (there are a lot of sexual innuendos) but there are still plenty of moments '90s kids loved — basically anything Mara Wilson said.



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    Babe (1995), based on Babe: A Gallant Pig, By Dick King-Smith

    Everything about Babe is totally bizarre, but charming. On the surface, it's using a classic kids' film trope (talking animals), but these animals are grappling with their sense of purpose and mortality.

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    Jumanji (1995), based on Jumanji, by Chris Van Allsburg

    I think the success of this movie led to a generation of kids who weren't just entertained, but a little more cautious about life in general. Not a bad thing!

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    Matilda (1996), based on Matilda, by Roald Dahl

    The favorite movie of bookish kids everywhere who were just waiting for their special powers to kick in. The use of a narrator keeps it close to its novel origins.

    Side note: It seems like roughly 75% of mid-'90s children's film trailers featured "What's This?"

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    The Mighty (1998), based on Freak The Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick

    An excellent film if you're in the mood to cry for hours. Adorable kid friendship + a tiny Culkin brother = a recipe for a sob-fest, with an added weepy bonus at the end.