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53 Movies That Parents AND Young Kids Both WANT to Watch. AKA What to Watch When It’s “Family Movie Night” Every. Single. Night.

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photo by sara ligorra-tramp | from: the ultimate family-friendly media room + wet bar

Not to pat myself on the back but after 30 hours of watching trailers and Googling, I think this is the most comprehensive list on the internet. Ahem. While living our current “Groundhog Day” reality you want/need something to look forward to make the weekends, hell, every night feel different. Special, even. It’s Friday night and sadly we aren’t in the ’90s, so there’s no TGIF lineup to give us the milestone that says “we made it, now watch garbage together with the background of canned laughter.” What we all want are movies or shows that parents and our KIDS WANT to watch, together. The categories “family-friendly” and “kid-friendly” just aren’t accurate, they are too old or too young, respectively. I know because I’ve researched. So today I’ve reviewed and asked all my friends what are the movies that us parents AND our young kids actually love watching TOGETHER (once they are tweens it’s easier, so that’s why I’m focusing on young kids).

It’s important to note that my 4 and 6-year-old really sacrificed their days and nights to “work” with me and watch and “review” as many of these possible together (at least the trailers). They now really, really LOVE “mama’s job”. Also disclaimer – a lot of these on the list our kids aren’t quite ready for yet OR we haven’t seen them, but I wanted a really comprehensive list for ME to reference for the next year of nightly family movie nights – and yes, we are ok with that if they are good films that makes the whole family feel good, thus the impetus for this research and post. If nothing else our kids are going to come out of this as family-friendly film critics. Here you go:

Current/Recent Animated

These are our favorite cartoons, mostly with good messaging and funny enough for grownups. I’m going to quickly list the obvious only so they are included (for my own reference when I’m stumped) but I’m not going to “review”, say, Frozen, for obvious reasons. Here goes:

Moana

My all-time favorite animated movie that I’ve seen probably 25 times and still don’t mind when it’s the chosen flick (and we often force it). The music (Lin Manuel, come on – modern-day Shakespeare), the empowering female message, the environmental message, the feminine/masculine message, the lack of an exaggerated female figure (finally), combined with my love of The Rock. It’s just SO GOOD. I think what kept it from winning the Oscars was its font and logo. I’ve cried almost every time. I know you’ve seen it but if you haven’t please know it’s one of mine and Brian’s favorite movies of all time – kid or not.

Onward

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE. It just came out and we’ve watched it twice already and loved it. It has great messaging of empowerment, brotherhood, fatherhood, an awesome single mom, it addresses death, grief, and self-esteem with LOADS and loads of entertaining adventure. Moana level good messaging and totally entertaining. If you have two boys be prepared to WEEP.

Frozen 1 + 2

Not sure if you’ve heard of it – it’s about two sisters and one is kinda a B to the other, but since they end up being the love story and we aren’t used to strong female leads it’s heralded as some sort of anti-fairy tale modern film. I get how it’s also about female love and friendship, but more importantly … there is a talking snowman that basically steals the movie, along with Kristen Bell. I have seen both 10 – 30 times and I still sing along. They are GREAT not that you needed a Frozen review from me.

Finding Nemo + Finding Dory

Haven’t seen either in years and so excited. We are so excited to watch Finding Dory this weekend – the kids have never seen it and I’m hoping it’s as good as the first. Ellen is a national treasure.

How to Train Your Dragon

We loved the first one – so sweet and playful, exciting world of adventure, etc. The second was way less good – even the kids thought it was pointless.

Sing

WONDERFUL. Poppy music, hilarious characters, incredibly drawn – I’ve seen this 10 + times and could watch again. Reese, we love you.

Inside Out

A meta cartoon about childhood told through emotions. Be prepared to cry, but our kids don’t love this YET so they might not go for it. It’s obviously a bit high concept for them and there are some scenes that are scary but we are going to try this one again because it’s so good.

Up

Starts with love and then death and so Charlie always made us turn it off. Yes, it’s sad and there are some scary dogs (so maybe 4+) that our kids were afraid of for years, but now they love it.

Wall-E

Nothing like a dystopian animated film to really lift your spirits these days, but it does have hope. We tried this a couple of years ago and no-go. But then we watched this last week and they both LOVED it and they kinda even got it, too.

Ratatouille

Now that I cook soup after soup after soup I really relate to this plight of this rodent. It’s just so good – I’ve seen it probably 6-7 times and still don’t mind sitting through it. WHY HAVE I NOT COOKED RATATOUILLE YET????

Secret Life of Pets

This is a good “love the first time, but can’t watch 10 times” for me, but again it was still cute/fun/good mostly because of the concept. The psychotic bunny at the end usually scares our kids – because it’s TERRIFYING, but our kids are also really sensitive.

Zootopia

I think I’ll always resent the fact that this movie beat out Moana for best animated picture that year, but admittedly it is good and has a good message (but not as good as Moana).

Monsters Inc.

It took them a while to get past the first scene which is super scary for kids, but then finally we did and they love it. John Goodman and Billy Crystal just make it entertaining enough for grownups (and it’s a very sweet story).

Incredibles 1 + 2

We haven’t seen this in years, since before we had kids so I’m excited to watch it. Charlie got scared when he was 2 and made us turn it off, but he’s willing to give another go at 6.

Toy Story 1 – 4

You want to marathon something? We just watched a few of these, and #4 is worth the wait. I haven’t seen #1 in years so we’ll be watching this soon.

Wonderpark

I haven’t seen this but Brian took the kids to the theater and they love it. It’s on the shortlist for a desperate night.

Spiderman into the Spider-verse

We haven’t seen this yet, but plan on soon (if 4 and 6 are old enough) but I wanted to keep it on the list because it’s happening soon.

Coco

So critically acclaimed that I can’t wait to watch it. Brian and the kids had to leave the theater because they were scared (not Brian, ha) but again we have very sensitive kids and I’m still excited to give it another go.

Current or Recent Live-Action

The list below are the ones that I’m extra excited about because these are with real people, NOT cartoons and Brian and I feel like real human beings, not babysitters, when watching them.

The Biggest Little Farm

Yes, it’s a documentary about a farm with so many vegetables and yet our kids LOVED it. I will say this is hands down the most uplifting movie I’ve seen in so long. I cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. with happy tears knowing that there are people on this planet who are farming the way they are, caring for the planet the way they are, giving hope to us that if we shift how we grow food and raise livestock, we can all benefit so much (nutritionally and spiritually). And YES, it’s super entertaining, too – again, my 4 and 6-year-olds loved it). I’ve seen it 4 times, and it brings me so much joy each time.

Mary Poppins

Excellent in every way. We’ve only watched once and I’m excited to watch again – the kids can’t wait to watch it again, plus Brian has a huge crush on Emily Blunt. Also Lin Manuel. Mostly I just love Lin Manuel.

Enchanted

A HUGE hit with both kids and Brian and I LOL’d many many times (James Marsden and Amy Adams are legitimately hilarious). A whole family pleaser that we watched this week while doing “research” and made us think a lot of New York 🙁

We Bought a Zoo

This is the fictional version of The Biggest Little Farm – family leaves city to start over, buys a janky zoo and everyone’s lives are changed for the better. My kids loved it. It deals with the death of the mom which they were, you know, bummed out a bit by, and there is a rather mature argument about 3/4 in between the father and son (nothing too bad, some curse words but mostly just kinda being ugly to each other). But overall a really entertaining movie that our entire family loved, with a great uplifting message. Also, I’m a MASSIVE Matt Damon fan so there’s that.

Annie

Well, we are on our 3rd time this week. I LOVE this, except for Cameron Diaz’s performance which I think was almost unwatchable (the rest of the film is modernized, but she is playing this mean witch of a character “alcoholic” that you hate instead of empathize with – missed opportunity). But otherwise, it’s AWESOME and our kids listen to the soundtrack on repeat all day every day. No seriously. ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

Lion King (Live-Action)

So many movies about parents dying – maybe that’s why our kids have been so well behaved lately (that and they are getting movies every night, dessert after lunch and living their best lives). It’s shockingly well done and you just can’t believe that cartoons and CGI have come this far.

Aladdin (Live-Action)

Our kids are obsessed, and we like it, too (although it’s controversial in the office – Mallory said they butchered the original). I think it’s better for kids – has more modern views than the original which we appreciate.

Stuart Little

We watched this two nights ago for “research” and its pretty darn cute. Michael J. Fox is a mouse adopted into a human family with Gina Davis and Hugh Lorie. It wasn’t Moana or Enchanted, but we enjoyed it and so did the kids. Just having human beings in it helps break up the monotony of animation.

Beauty and the Beast (Live-Action)

I forgot about this until this list and we are going to try again. We tried a couple of years ago and the beast was scary to them, but they are older and I think would like it now.

Harry Potter

I’m just waiting for the day when Brian says they are old enough to watch the first one. Apparently they are old enough for the Star Wars trilogy but not Harry Potter. IS HE WRONG???? I haven’t seen this myself since it came out so I’d LOVE to watch it again and planning a full marathon day in my future.

Classic and Nostalgic Movies Animated and Live-Action

What better time to relive your childhood and rewatch movies that make you feel all nostalgic? Just remember times have changed and I’m constantly like, “WOW THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN NOW,” with some movies requiring some explanation to your kids. Lots of questionable racial and misogynist messages, but that doesn’t mean we should cancel them, it’s just well, not Moana or Onward. But here you go:

Peter Pan

Besides Tinker Bell checking her butt out in the mirror for like 5 minutes, and a questionably racist song it’s such an enjoyable movie if you can even say that. Sure it’s a classic, but thank goodness times have changed. (Our kids LOVE this movie and we enjoyed the first time we rewatched it a lot but cringed through some of it).

Robin Hood

I’d say twice a month as a family for this one. Brian and I both grew up on it and love it still.

An American Tale

Curious if this holds up – but an orphan immigrant in the city certainly has some timely themes. I remember being highly affected by it as a kid.

Homeward Bound

I LOVE watching this with the kids (way more than Milo and Otis, but I love Milo and Otis, too). I cry almost every time. The second one isn’t NEARLY as good, by the way.

Milo and Otis

Admittedly I love Homeward Bound more, but this is also a great one that I enjoyed the first three times I rewatched it with the kids (but don’t need to watch again)

Hook

Robin Williams and Julia Roberts, and a way better message than the original. Sadly it was too scary for our kids (we tried last week) so possibly for 7 + years old. (Keeping it on the list because it’s so good).

ET

We fast-forwarded it through the terrifying part of him dying, so not sure how 4 and 6-year-old friendly it is, but technically our kids loved it.

The Wizard of Oz

Charlie has a thing against witches, like he’s TERRIFIED of them, and admittedly this is a creepy movie so we might hold off for a couple of years, but I can’t wait to rewatch it.

Star Wars

We watched the classic trilogy over Christmas and had to fast forward the Darth Vader sword fights for Elliot and anything with the emperor for both of them – Elliot (4) was not as into it as Brian was hoping, but Charlie was super into it.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

Guys. Did you know it takes 40 minutes before you even get into the factory???? Sure, I loved rewatching it but the beginning is so depressing (but timely) and that creepy boat ride will always make me wonder if they were really making this for kids.

Never Ending Story

We are going to rewatch this before we let the kids because there is a creepy factor to it that could scare them, but this movie is such a great nostalgic classic that I will force on my kids at some point.

Flintstones

I’ve never seen this but as I was “researching” and watching the trailer with the kids I realized it could be a family crowd-pleaser – John Goodman riding a dinosaur sounds like the right combo for us.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

We tried this 2 years ago and they were too scared (I think of the bugs) but I’m going for it again soon (followed by Honey I Blew Up The Kids).

Flight of the Navigator + Cloak and Dagger

Not yet, I know, not yet but soon my kids will get transported via these movies like we did when we were kids. Cloak and Dagger uses guns and people die, but man I can’t wait to rewatch with Brian after kids go down and see if it’s really inappropriate or just us being paranoid.

The Goonies

Some might say they are ready for the world’s best coming of age/adventure movie of all time (filmed in my native Oregon) but we are waiting for a while.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

I never really liked this movie as a kid, it was too wacky and I didn’t get it but Brian loved it and is excited to introduce it to the kids.

Harry And The Hendersons

None of us has seen it but as I was researching and watching trailers the kids freaked out that A. It’s called Henderson’s and B. There was a friendly bigfoot in their family. If anyone has seen it and can tell us if it’s worth the watch please comment or email.

Little Monsters

I’m not ready to risk my night’s sleep yet because just the concept that monsters come out when you are asleep is terrifying, but remember how great this movie was? I suppose Monsters Inc. is the modern version of it.

Movies We Haven’t Watched Yet (But Want To)

Dumbo (live-action), Cinderella (live-action – Birdie is so excited), Christopher Robin, Wallace and Gromit – Case of Were-Rabbit, Dreamer (we love any horse movie), A Dog’s Purpose, Chicken Run, March of the Penguins, Bears, Wonder, Babe, Casper, Indian In the Cupboard, Matilda, Hugo, 101 Dalmations, Bedtime Stories (so excited about this one), Peter Rabbit (watching on Sunday), Benji (the Netflix version), Garfield, Dr. Doolittle 1 + 2, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Racing Stripes (cute Zebra/horse story), Space Jam (I’ll skip this but Brian’s excited), Muppets, Zathura (has anybody seen this?), Spy Kids, Fairy Tale, Eight Below, Jungle Book (live-action, but kids say they are scared of the trailer).

Ok, Brian is so glad that I’m finally publishing this after 30 hours of research by mostly Googling everything from “best family movie animals” to “best movies talking animals” “kid movies with magic,” etc. and watching every trailer. I tried to eliminate all the ones that look dumb and include some totally forgotten ones that deserve the rewatch.

Please let me know what I’m missing (I’ll be super impressed and surprised if any) and know that I’m working hard on the following:

  1. “Our Favorite Current TV Shows the Whole Family Wants to Watch”
  2. “The EHD Guide to Best Romantic Dramas of All Time”
  3. “Best Coming of Age Films That You Probably Missed” and
  4. “Best Forgotten Movies About Friendship” (because I miss my friends:))

Well, that is the current Friday afternoon post plan unless this first post totally tanks and gets no traffic, then I’ll be forced to scrap the rest of those ideas, leave this blog to start a new site focused on my true passion called “Almost Kissing: A Guide to Teen Romance and/or Coming of Age Films, TV Shows and Books.” So PLEASE, save this blog, save my career by sharing with your friends, commenting with your suggestions and coming back to reference all. the. time. 🙂

Fin Mark

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Susannah

Do you all know the essential commonsense media? About them:
You know your kids. We know media and tech. Together we can build a digital world where our kids can thrive. Families and teachers everywhere trust Common Sense for expert reviews, objective advice, helpful tools, and so much more.
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

A few of our family faves:
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/my-neighbor-totoro
Sweet animated masterpiece from Japan’s Studio Ghibli

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/step-into-liquid
Gorgeous surfing film

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/once
Great folk music and sweet story

Megan

Totoro is soooooo good. 10/10, our 4 yo loves it.

Nicole

I’m so glad someone already saaid Ghibli movies. They are an absolute delight.

Jen

You left out the Princess Bride? Inconceivable!!

OMG yes! It’s my family’s all-time favorite movie. But that would for sure be a “for the future” movie for sure this Charlie and Elliot’s ages. I still can’t handle the Rodents of Unusual Size part haha. I think I need to rewatch asap.

Jessica

I thought Wesley was a total jerk to Buttercup, wouldn’t want my (hypothetical) daughter to watch it and get the wrong idea about how relationships should work 🙁

I would love a remake centered around Inigo Montoya, though!

Erikawithak

I would agree, Princess Bride is so good, but prolly better for older kiddos. When the time is right, there is also a book, and the book is even better than the movie. The book is actually funnier (if you can believe it!) and it has… a MAP!

Mer

I just came here to add this!! And Never Ending Story!

Alice

I second the vote for The Neverending Story and The Neverending Story II.

Sarah

Verbatim what I was going to say! Except yes probably for a bit older kids

Beth

Paddington! (1&2)

Naomi

Absolutely! Paddington 2 gets 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Both movies are fantastic and lovely!

Ezra

Yes, I came here to add these – hands down the best children’s films made in the past few years (along with the studio ghibli ones!)

Carrie

Yes, agree! Paddington 1 and 2 are fantastic!

Esther

I think I liked them more than my kids. Paddington 2 is stunning.

Esther

Also Labyrinth and Willow. Both Definitely 1980’s PG so might be a few years.

Sara

They are sooo great for adults too. And the house in the movie is so fun!

Tara

I purchased Paddington numero uno on DVD (some time ago)…I loved it so much. Lots of eclectic design inspo in there too. ? My family still loves it and the kids are almost 12 and 13!

Kristy

Yes! I also came on to say Paddington 1 and 2. I believe the house has some electric English granny style going on. 2 has an amazing jailhouse kitchen…one of the loveliest in a beautiful bluish color!

I have three kids ages 6, 8, 10. We probably watched it when they were like 3, 5, 7. We all love Paddington!!! Very whimsical, sweet, funny.

Erikawithak

I’m a preschool teacher and agree that the kid cartoon movies can be SO BAD. Paddington 2 isn’t really cartoony, it’s live-action humans, just with one character who happens to be a cgi bear. It’s sweet and really funny for grown ups. I laughed out loud multiple times. Hugh Grant is absolutely hilarious.

Jess

Aww man, I think I’m broken. My whole family hated Paddington. :-(. We love incredibles and disposable me and the sound of music (my 13 y.o. son finally rejects it, but he loved it for a long time!) and the greatest showman is a family fave. Our youngest was 8 though when we saw….

Christina

I also think I loved the Paddington movies even more than my kids (now 8 and 12) did. But it’s so good and Hugh Grant was amazing. Also, I’m glad you’re seeing Peter Rabbit soon, that was another one I loved at least as much as the kids.

kelsey

You will love the interiors in Paddington! A+ in set design. And a whimsical story to boot.

Delaney

Yes! I love paddington 1&2! My husband and I loved them before we had our son. They’re so good.

Ann

Paddington 1& 2 are stunning!! The artistry is amazing and I just love everything about them! Not animated at all…Paddington is real;)

Rachelle Seguin

Iron Giant (1999 made by Brad Bird, same dude that made The Incredibles, but prior to). I LOVE showing this movie to kids ( I used to be the queen of babysitting) but it is PG and not G fyi. Great message.. fun for adults, voiced by Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr… Vin Diesel. You might need to check if its ok, age wise… It is set in Cold War era, in Maine. There are some intense parts with military… but once they are old enough, it’s a winner. I was made by the WB when Disney was still IT, and only a small amount of cartoons where made outside Disney, I have nothing against Disney per say, but it’s somehow refreshing that it is an outsider Nightmare before Christmas – also I think your kids are a bit to young… but one day The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – Chronicles of Narnia series (after reading or getting read the books hopefully – again, too young now maybe. Free Willy – was a hit when I baby sat. George of the Jungle – Brendan Fraser at his finest… again hit for the kids I don’t remember suffering too… Read more »

Meghan D

Yes to the amazing Iron Giant!

Rebecca

We all love love love love Iron Giant. First time I saw it was without kids in my 20’s and have since watched it several more times with my kids!

beth

Miyazaki’s Totoro and Spirited Away are our family’s favorites. Can’t imagine my kids not having experienced those beautiful, shadowy, poignant and enchanting worlds.

O I love love Totoro!

Naomi

Yes yes yes! So wonderful…

Kat

Both are so so good!

Katy

Yes!! Also Ponyo!

RoccioP

Ponyo is a must! Also, did you miss Madagascar?

shauna

Harry and the Henderson’s is one of the best ever!

Joy

So. Good!!! We went nuts for this movie every time we were at my grandma’s.

Shannen

Yes!! This was one of my all time favorite movies growing up!!!

Sara

We watched this with our 4 year old and she thought it was funny!

Ginger

OMG, I loved Harry and the Hendersons, when I was a kid but it took me so long to get over the scene where John Lithgow punched Harry (to get him to run away and be safe). Obviously I understand the genius of John Lithgow now, but after that movie the next time I saw him was in Footloose (ugh, terrible character again!) and then 3rd Rock From the Sun. By the end of that season, I was ok with it, but wow, that one scene with Harry stuck with me longer than I care to admit.

Jodie

The Princess Bride! It’s a must.

100% in a few years!

Katie

If your kids are old enough for the original Star Wars trilogy, they are old enough for the first Harry Potter. There is a theory floating around that Harry Potter is actually just Star Wars with wizards instead of space anyway…a chosen one with magical powers that was orphaned and didn’t know about his powers fighting within himself to be good or evil, Palpatine and Voldomort, Yoda and Dumbledore…

Ali

I agree, if they can watch Star Wars then the first Harry Potter will be OK. They do get darker and scarier as they go along though. I made my kids read them before watching the movies so that slowed it down a bit, 3rd grade maybe.

Molly

I totally disagree. The end of the first HP movie is way more terrifying than Star Wars. For sensitive kids I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s different to see adults risking their lives than to see children being targeted and lured into a trap.

Edan Lepucki

I think Harry Potter is better to view after they’ve read the books!

kiki

such a great list! Thank you! I realize this might be a bit controversial…but what about the Marvel movies?? Our 6yo son LOVES them, and they are pretty fun to watch. I put them in the same category as Star Wars…suspended from reality enough that (most) kids get that it’s not real and not scary. ALSO. Doctor Who!! So entertaining and more “campy” than Star Wars / Marvel

Lorna

I agree our 4 year old loves the Spiderman ones. They’re not as adult or violent as some of the other Marvel films. But then he’s not too sensitive, he will occasionally ask to stop a film but then always says he feels braver now and wants to carry on after time to process. We’ve done Harry Potter 1-4 without issue. Not sure about the rest though.

Madeline

My kids thought Coco was terrifying and refuse to rewatch. One still has an occasional nightmare about the police (they were not the good guys and it scared them). Spiderman into the Spider-verse is AWESOME! So so so good.

Jen

Lilo and Stitch. Sweet and funny. Always one of my faves.

Jessica

I remember Eight Below being really sad and some of the dogs die and some have to be left behind in the snow for a time, so you may want to watch first if you haven’t seen it. Also, I highly recommend National Treasure once they are a little older.

Karen

Really tough to watch. Spoiler alert: a lot of the dogs don’t survive.

Stacey Pray

Yes. My father (after he was a grandfather) told me he balled his eyes out.

Amy

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! We’ve needed a movie refresh and this list is so helpful!

Susan

Stop everything and go watch Paddington. And guess what? Paddington 2 is even better (100% on Rotten Tomatoes). Do it!

BOSS, YOU GOTTA WATCH SPACE JAM WITH THE FAMILY

PS. also want to recommend my two childhood favs: Land Before Time + Brave Little Toaster. Get viewings in before they’re too old, both movies are TOO CUTE :’)

I second Land Before Time!!!

Megan

My son loves LBT and was obsessed (watching the sequels etc) but I eventually prohibited him from watching it! He went from knowing all the scientific names for dinosaurs to calling them “long necks” and “Three horns” learning incorrect terms for rain “Sky water” and volcanos etc. why did they use all the wrong terms in that movie!! Annoys me.

Val

Another vote from my kids to your for Land Before Time. My girls are 3 and 6 and they LOVE it. Also both versions of The Grinch (yes, year round), Greatest Showman, and both of the LEGO Movies! Good Dinosaur is great but very sad. And fwiw we just watched Sherlock Gnome (on Hulu) and they laughed and laughed and my husband and I also enjoyed it. Good jokes for the parents with a real Shrek vibe. Also Shrek!

Lauren

Seconded BUT Brave Little Toaster is MAD scary. Just rewatched a few months ago and as a 30 year old woman there was a scene where I shrieked

Chelsea

I mentioned Brave Little Toaster at work (BC/before Corona) and NO ONE had any idea what I was talking about even when I showed them the movie poster. I thought I was losing my mind. I loved it as a kid!

Sara

I will second Space Jam! My 4 year old loves it as does my husband!

Angela

I second the Common Sense Media reference. It’s awesome for knowing if a movie is 2020 PG or 1980s PG (pre-PG-13). Really tells you what to expect – why kids my find it scary, any bad language, or other adult content. Super helpful. Thanks for the great list – there are a couple on here I’d forgotten about!!

Katharine Kletter

Ha! Yup! Love the 1980 PG reference… I.e goonies!

Kelyn

Studio ghibli films are awesome
Abominable was unreal. So beautiful and our four year old LOVED it. My husband laughed very hard.

Annie was too intense for us which was surprising. Robin Hood has us all in love. We love both Mary Poppins movies. Chitti Bang Bang has been fun. Four year old even loves Sound of Music.

So thankful for this list, can’t wait to explore some more.

Erin

Thank you! I always appreciate recommendations from other families.

We Bought a Zoo has an Easter bunny spoiler! Heads up if your kids will care!!

I prefer the original Incredible Journey (from the ~60’s) to the ‘new’ one.

Additional favorites from our home: Home, The Lorax, Big Hero 6, Night at the Museum, Dolphin Tale, Aristocats. It’s really dated, but our kids love Swiss Family Robinson. And of course, Princess Bride!

Jess

Yes!! Lorax!!

Jess

And Horton hears a who.

Naomi

Missing Link! It’s wonderful. And its with Hugh Jackman!

Alice

Brian is right about Harry Potter. There are some very frightening scenes in the movies. Your kids won’t sleep for a month after seeing the basilisk.

Just Yesterday I re-watched Swiss Family Robinson and it’s definitely for older kids but I LOVED it so much growing up. I wanted more than anything to live in a tree house on a tropical island (although it does make me sad now realizing the animals were likely treated very poorly during filming)

Lisa

I loved Swiss Family Robinson. The dated material is a good opportunity to talk about how time have changed.

Jessica

OMG YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BABE YET STOP EVERYTHING AND WATCH IT.

As high-schoolers, my sisters and I got it as a sort-of joke present for our mom’s boyfriend because he obviously loved it, and he had to make a stupid joke to hide the fact that he almost teared up when he opened the package. It’s a really touching, wonderful movie.

That being said… it’s probably too scary for your kids.

Please let us know if An American Tale holds up, it was my fave as a kid and I’m afraid to watch it and have my memories ruined!

And if your kids can watch Star Wars they can definitely watch the first Harry Potter movie (though they do get scarier as they go).

And Coco is legit beautiful in every way.

Also, Kung Fu Panda should be on your list.

And the Lego Movie(s).

And Wreck-It Ralph.

(I have zero kids but I love a good animated film)

Jenna

Little Rascals! My kids love it!

Sarah

Little Rascals is SO not ok in this day and age. “She-man Woman Haters Club”?! Are we so used to men excluding women and having boys clubs where the entire purpose of joining is to hate us that we find it funny?! Replace the word Woman with “Black” and all of a sudden the message this passes onto little kids doesn’t seem so easy to pass off.

Not to mention all the seriously gross references the film makers as adults have put in between Alfalfa’s cowlick getting erect when he’s around Darla (whose character is also highly sexualised).

It’s just gross disguised as ‘cute’. It would not get made today. I seriously think Netflix Should pull it.

Someone said to me “but isn’t the whole point of the film that the She-Man Woman Haters Club end up respecting women by the end? I said “Nope! It’s Worse. It’s that ‘we’re welcome’”. The end of the film sees them literally hang a sign saying this.

I don’t need my five year old daughter watching little boys dictate to her this message – especially because it’s one that they completely still get to control.

Jenna

Also we have a “rule” that our kids can watch Harry Potter after they’ve read/listened to the books. The books are superior so it allows them to create the characters in their minds before the movies. (The narration is so well done!!) That way they will, by default, be a bit older to watch the movies as well ? We try to do this with other books when we can- Charlotte’s Web, A Little Princess (read the abridged book to my four year old daughter), Matilda etc. Then the movie is like a bonus afterwards!

Sara

Somewhat related, I was going to jump in and recommend Charlotte’s Web (the one with Dakota Fanning.) My daughter loved it (her name is Charlotte so that helps), but it’s also just a cute movie and Julia Roberts is a soothing Charlotte.

Jessica

Second on Charlotte’s Web, though we love the animated version. My daughter is 3 so the death theme may have gone over her head, she just loves farms and farm animals. It’s the only feature length film she’s made it through

Jen

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. With Richard Gere. It’s a tear JERKER, but my kids and I love it.

Becky

The original Annie (thank you very much to my 1980’s Annie perm), Hop, Turbo, The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Bolt, Karate kid and our fam favorite The Greatest Showman- wonderful new songs for the kids to sing!

Kate

The Croods – a thumb up!

Amanda

I loooove the Croods!

Saima

I came here to make sure SOMEONE mentioned the Paddington movies, and I saw two others, so here’s a third recommendation. WATCH THEM. I LOVE THEM. I HAVE NO CHILDREN. LOL

Also, another oldie but a goodie (and my favorite movie as a small child) was the animated film The Last Unicorn. The music is shockingly good for a non-Disney film (done by the band, America), and the voice actors are A-list – Christopher Lee, Jeff Bridges, Angela Lansbury, Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin…sigh, I still love it so much.

Julie S

oooh yes, I loved Last Unicorn and so did my preschooler daughter when it was on nexflix a couple years ago (has a couple scary scenes)

Katy

I love the last unicorn! A few years back, I actually paid $50 for a copy of it on eBay because I was desperate to see it again.

Annie

The last unicorn is horrific! Such a weird film. Loved it as a kid but man, it’s creepy as a adult.

Susan

I also have no kids and Paddington is SO GREAT, and all my nieces and nephews love both Paddington 1 and 2 – all ages from 5 to 20!

Last Unicorn is so awesomely weird, and terrified me as a kid but I was totally into it anyway.

April

Parent Trap and Swiss Family Robinson

Tara

Oh my gosh, YESSS to both of these, but let’s be clear: the original Parent Trap with Hailey Mills–my daughter loves it!

Tara

Oops, that’s “Hayley”.

Susan

I want the ranch house from the original Parent Trap! I would be happy to move into it right now, but it never really existed, sigh. You can see screen shots of it on the Hooked don Houses blog.

Courtney

Yes to Parent Trap (we think both versions are fun in their own right) and we just showed our girls (4 & 7) Cheaper by the Dozen with Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin and were CRACKING UP. All 4 of us.

Rachel

Some nostalgic classics fun for the whole family also include The Sandlot, The Big Green, the Kid, and Big (may have to wait a bit on Big and the Kid but they used to be favorites of ours as started fun discussions between parents and us kids)

Jillian

Definitely agree to The Big Green and The Sandlot. I’d also add in Little Giants. All sooooo good.

Suz

I would add Meet The Robinson’s to the list!

Catherine

I’ll second Meet the Robinson’s !!! One of our VERY favorite movies (kid or otherwise).

Danielle Bagley

Meet the Robinson’s May be my favorite animated film. Such a great message.

Linda

Little monsters is actually a bit raunchier than you might remember, a lot of the shenanigans are not super kid friendly (which I dont remember from watching as a young person). I love love love flight of the navigator and Hook desperately.

Annabelle

I remember being terrified of it as a kid.

Julie S

Well, as the mid-30’s mom of kids who are turning 4 and 7 in a matter of weeks, I liked this post very much. We don’t watch a ton together as a family – they have TV time in the afternoon, and hubs & I prefer to watch grown up shows after they’re in bed – but we can still use suggestions! I can vouch for enjoying the following as did my kids… cartoon Beauty and the Beast but not the live action, original Mary Poppins but not the Returns sequel, Princess Bride, both Wonka movies with Wilder and Depp, Big Hero 6 (but on the scary side at times), Babe, Chicken Run, Boxtrolls, Anastasia (John Cusack <3) I'm sure there are more but you definitely hit a bunch of them!!

Robin Hood was my FAVORITE Disney movie and I still might have a tiny crush on that fox… I used to live in Michigan and visit the prestigious, beautiful Stratford Festival in Ontario every year. I was floored when I realized one of their resident actors, Brian Bedford, had voiced Robin Hood and had a total fangirl moment 🙂

Addie

I absolutely agree with you about only the animated Beauty and the Beast and only the original Mary Poppins.

Kim

Not sure if this is mentioned yet but DEFINITELY add Dolphin Tale to your must watch list….your kids will love it! We love Evan Almighty & Mr. Popper’s Penguins, too!

Meghan

Yes to Mr Popper’s Penguins! So so so good for kids and parents alike. And we also totally loved Evan Almighty and Dolphin Tale.

EP

I just recently remembered the movie Ferngully, and I don’t know why because I haven’t seen it since it was in the theaters approximately 30 years ago. LOL I remember thinking the line about “tastes like chicken” was hilarious as a kid. Might be another fun throwback– and it has Robin Williams!

Meaghan

Ferngully terrified me as a child!

Jillian

The Parent Trap! Such a fun movie with pranks, friendship, rivalries, family, camp fun, and great songs. I’m partial to the Lindsey Lohan version but the original is great as well.
Coco is so beautiful and makes me cry even more than Moana!
Matilda was an absolute fave of mine as a kid but I think it’s def too scary for their ages right now.

Andrea

Oh my gosh – Paddington 1 is darling and Paddington 2 is a kid-friendly version of Amelie. Absolute bliss. Do. Not. Miss!!!!

Natalia Marquisá

Movie; Brave! Is very good. A serie Aang the last airbender.

Lori

All of the Madagascar movies and all of the Kung Fu Panda movies should be in this list!

Natalia Marquisá

Mune, Big foot, wreck ir Ralph, Wi-fi Ralph,

Patricia

Also Chicken Run, Babe, Jungle Book (the “live” action version), Paddington Bear and Paddington Bear 2 both live action.
I’d want to watch all of them too

Bailey

I do not have small children and I absolutely LOVE the new Christopher Robin. Truly moving and cracks me up from beginning to end. Particularly comforting for this moment in time filled with lots of “nothing”

Leah

We all loved Christopher Robin and my kids are 12 and 14.

Anne

My kids are 7, 5 and 1 and we just watched Sound of Music and they were OBSESSED they watched it again a week later and are listening to the music non stop on Alexa— especially my 5 year old boy! Also just watched original Parent Trap which was also a HUGE hit. Disney plus has an awesome old movie collection. Also a couple years ago I showed them Singing in the Rain and then they requested a Singing in the Rain birthday party — which was the greatest day of my life. Anyway love this list will definitely check out the ones I haven’t seen!

Also re: Harry Potter— we have done movies 1 and 2 but they said 3 was too scary based on previews so we are waiting. They have seen Star Wars the original but we have waited on the rest… But I cannot wait for the rest of all of those movies.

Erikawithak

HA! In my 15 years of teaching preschool, I have heard SO MANY, MANY kids say they love the movie “Singing in The Rain.” It’s like this weird, strange preschooler phenomenon. It usually freaks out the parents, and they come to me like “Is this normal? This is weird, right?” The kids will quote the dialog, sing the songs, do the dance moves…It. Is. Bizarre.

It is also wonderful.

Addie

Yes, Singing in the Rain!!

Danielle Bagley

My kids loved singing in the rain when they were little.

Rachel

I was OBSESSED with Singing in the Rain as a child. Also (it’s a bit more obscure) The Court Jester – it’s a Robin Hood parody/musical but crazy funny. I think I’ll have to show my kids soon.

My three year old is obsessed with “scary” movies so loves The Wizard of Oz and Ghostbusters. We watch Ghostbusters all the time – sensitive kids might find the very start quite scary and there are a few (implied) sex jokes that go right over his head but he loves it.

Another thing we do is just show clips of movies that are too adult/scary/boring – for example all of the songs from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory are on You Tube and they each tell a story so we watch them instead. We also watch the Waltz bit but from 2001: A Space Oddessy – it’s just lovely slow pictures of space ships set to nice music.

Jenny MItchell

May I just throw out a big thank you for this list. I have followed you for years and love the design content very, very much. I have used some many of your posts in my own life. This is no different. I am very grateful for this post at this time in our lives.

Elizabeth

The Peewee movies are too much for little kids, but his Saturday morning show Peewee’s Playhouse holds up! It’s on Netflix and it is a hit with my 3 and 5 year olds!

Amy

I agree with Totoro, and Ponyo is another G-rated studio Ghibli! Also, I love the Don Bluth movies from the 80s, besides An American Tail, there’s The Land Before Time (another one where a parent dies, and a scary T-rex), The Secret of NIMH (could be a bit scary for young kids), and All Dogs go to Heaven (also some scary bits). There could also be another category for Holiday movies!

I need to add that if anyone doesn’t know this, The Neverending Story was originally a German book (“Die Unendliche Geschichte”) and it was translated into English. I have a copy in both languages. The part where Bastian is a little boy is in one color ink (red, I think) and the part inside the book is in a different color ink (green, I think). It’s AMAZING and even better than the wonderful movie! I don’t know how it would be in electronic version, but I was astounded that books could be printed in red and green ink when I found out and that made me love it even more.

Jesseca

The Spiderman movie is really good, but pretty violent. It is a bit much for our 4 year old. There are a few deaths. The music and animation are really well done. I also enjoyed the story line, but it isn’t a young kids movie.

Peter

Great list! Here are some additions. For reference, I’m a 32 y/o male. No kids now but 9 nieces/nephews. Was a 90s kid with 2 sisters. We all loved, and still love, these movies:
– Andre
– Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968)
– The Sandlot
– Annie (the original is so much better than the new one)
– The Sound of Music
– The Parent Trap
– It Takes Two (gotta have a mary kate and ashely movie in there)
– A League of Their Own
– Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
– My Girl
– Little Giants
– Beethoven 1+2
– A Little Princess
– Big
– The Fox and the Hound
– Aristocats
– Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
– Pollyanna
– Stand By Me
– Harriet The Spy
– The Rescuers
– The Rescuers Down Under

Shawn

Yes to this list! But also Newsies!

Julie

Newsies! Good one.

Megan

Oh man I loved the Harriet the spy books

Erin

Also, the little girl in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang looks remarkably like Birdy!

Kelly

Our whole family loved the 1960s version of Dr. Dolittle— fun and funky. Also the original Parent Trap with Haley Mills. So fun! Great locations and fashions! My kids are 6 & 10…

Julie

If you liked Honey I shrunk the kids, then maybe Mrs. Doubtfire? 🙂

Thanks for this great list! Pinning. 🙂

Julie

Oh goodness, how I could I forget! SOUND OF MUSIC. A little intense at the end, but my little girls love the songs!

Addie

Yes, Mrs. Doubtfire!

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