Thanks to films like The Matrix and Blade Runner, sci-fi narratives in the post- Spielberg era have become known for mostly featuring lone-wolf protagonists and circling grim, dark themes. It can be easy to forget that sci-fi movies can be just as warm and family-oriented as “family movies.” Excluding obvious choices like Back to the Future and Star Wars, here are five films that would spice up your family movie night this Thanksgiving.
Before Westworld made robots sexy, Wall-E made them adorable. It’s a shockingly thorough, occasionally bleak meditation on globalization, conservation, and human compassion. And yet, even in its dystopian world, it somehow never loses its “fun for the whole family” charm. Whether you’ve seen it a million times already or somehow managed to avoid it, it’s a solid choice.
2. *batteries not included
This hidden gem is about a ragtag group of neighbors whose homes are threatened by a developer. While that’s not exactly a novel concept, it has a fresh spin in the form of miniature spaceships that save the day. Light and heartwarming, it’s a movie that instantly evokes smiles and yet remains mostly forgotten.
The first X-Men movie came out in 2000, long before the current superhero era. It’s therefore being classified as “sci-fi” rather than “superhero” because it stood alone at the time and it offers a scientific explanation moderately more complicated than radioactive goop. Forget what the franchise has become, if you can. Logan and Rogue’s odd father/daughter dynamic — which is lost in later films — is genuinely moving, as is the rest of the ragtag mutant family they reluctantly join.
## 4. Serenity
Joss Whedon’s tragically short-lived TV show Firefly was ahead of its time. Although its film rendition Serenity does not quite capture its magic, it presents a space opera that’s witty and filled with unconventional yet loving family relationships (like River and Simon) as a backdrop for aiming to misbehave.
5. Treasure Planet
Because it’s sci-fi Treasure Island, and what family wouldn’t want that?
Thanksgiving might be more challenging than usual this year, thanks to one of the most divisive elections in American history. But if you make the right movie selection, it doesn’t have to be grim.