Family movies aren’t always easy to come by. Every parent has been there. You’re rushing around, trying to complete some household chores or errands, and your kid is pestering you about being bored, so you quickly put something on for them without thinking much about what it is.
Most of us want better than this for our kids. Or even better, we want to sit down and experience our favorite movies with our kids together, possibly even re-living our childhood through them (and also hopefully exposing them to a higher class of entertainment than the random Netflix cartoon of the week).
For your convenience (and mine!), I’ve curated a list of great family movies to share with your kids. Mileage may vary when it comes to these recommendations … I know each parent will differ on what kind of content they think is appropriate and want to show their kids. And I’m also sure some of your personal favorites might not have made the cut. That’s okay. This is intended to be a starting point, not the end of the discussion.
Also, in the interest of brevity, I’ve left out sequels – if your kids like the first movie in a series, you can decide if you want to go further into the library.
Hopefully this list will come in handy as inspiration for your next (several?) family movie night(s). Here are 50 picks of family movies to share with your kids (and another 70 alternates).
Disney/Pixar animated family movies
1. Coco (2017 – PG, 1h 45min)
Coco is a beautiful, soulful ode to the importance of family, tradition, and in finding your own voice within all of that.
2. The Incredibles (2004 – PG, 1h 55min)
Another story about family is The Incredibles, which also serves as a wonderful gateway drug into the world of superhero movies.
3. Beauty and the Beast (1991 – G, 1h 24 min)
Belle, the bookworm heroine of Beauty and the Beast, is one of the better Disney princesses to have your little ones obsess over.
4. Ratatouile (2007 – G, 1h 51 min)
In Ratatouile, Pixar crafted a love letter to food and the value of building something beautiful from the concept of a rat who wants to become a chef. It works so much better than you might think.
5. Zootopia (2016 – PG, 1h 48min)
An overt critique of prejudice, Zootopia teaches the lesson of tolerance and of not judging a book by its cover … but it does it in the packaging of a fun crime caper.
6. Wall-E (2008 – G, 1h 38min)
Your little ones might have trouble keeping their focus on Wall-E due to a lack of dialogue, but it’s worth the effort as a gorgeous tale of us finding value in the smallest of places.
7. The Princess and the Frog (2009 – G, 1h 37min)
A love letter to New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog highlights the food, music and culture of one of America’s greatest cities … with a great story to boot.
8. Moana (2016 – PG, 1h 47min)
Featuring original music from Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame), Moana boasts some of the catchiest tunes in the entire Disney library and a cool story with a cool heroine.
9. The Lion King (1994 – G, 1h 28min)
An iconic story about duty and betrayal and boasting an incredible soundtrack, The Lion King is simply storytelling brilliance.
10. The Little Mermaid (1989 – G, 1h 23min)
If you have a daughter, brace yourself for an obsession. But The Little Mermaid is a classic, rightfully credited with resuscitating the Disney animation machine.
11. Toy Story (1995 – G, 1h 21min)
Toy Story launched not only a franchise, but also a company (Pixar), and it remains one of the best reviewed movies of all time. The plot of a child’s toys coming to life when left alone sparks the imagination.
12. Finding Nemo (2003 – G, 1h 40min)
It’s hard to believe Finding Nemo is over 15 years old. The idea of a child getting separated from his parents and trying to reunite is not a new plot by any stretch, but the story here is undoubtedly told well.
13. Robin Hood (1973 – G, 1h 23min)
Many contend this animated version remains the definitive version of Robin Hood told on film, and it’s hard to argue. The love story and humor elevate this above the rest.
14. 101 Dalmatians (1961 – G, 1h 19min)
Take your pick from 101 Dalmatians, Lady and the Tramp, or the Aristocats (or watch all three!). I like this one because it’s a little more madcap/chaotic.
15. Mulan (1998 – G, 1h 28min)
Our main character goes to fight in an army in her father’s place, concealing her gender to do so. Mulan earns high marks for having a strong heroine in the title role.
Other animated family movies
16. Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse (2018 – PG, 1h 57min)
Representing a fascinating blending of cultures and style, Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse breaks new ground in animation while telling us a modernized “anyone can be a hero” hero’s journey.
17 Sing (2016 – PG, 1h 48min)
The premise of Sing – a singing competition held to save a struggling theatre – enables the talented voice actors to showcase their singing voices with an array of pop hits (and a few original tunes too). The end result is really, really fun.
18. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016 – PG, 1h 41min)
It passed under the radar because it wasn’t part of the Disney monolith, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more compelling and confidently told narrative than Kubo and the Two Strings, the tale of a young boy on a quest to defeat an antagonistic spirit.
19. How to Train Your Dragon (2010 – PG, 1h 38min)
An epic, soaring score sets the tone for How to Train Your Dragon, in which our hapless hero (who is supposed to hate/kill dragons) instead develops a friendship with one. The theme of carving out a path for oneself is a welcome one.
20. Rise of the Guardians (2012 – PG, 1h 37min)
Rise of the Guardians is a charming story about the power of belief that folds in childhood friends like Jack Frost, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to battle the Boogie Man. Bonus points: How many other movies are there about Easter?
21. The Iron Giant (1999 – PG, 1h 26min)
There’s a sense of irony in the concept of a monstrous metal hulk in The Iron Giant pulling at the heart strings, but that’s what he does through his friendship with a young boy. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
22. The Lego Movie (2014 – PG, 1h 40min)
It’s inspired a sequel and a spinoff in Lego Batman. Start here with the original The Lego Movie to see what the fuss is about and prepare to laugh. A lot.
23. The Secret of NIMH (1982 – G, 1h 22min)
Don Bluth films are almost unique in this space for tapping into emotions of sadness, desperation and fear, but doing so as part of the normal human experience. Essentially, films like The Secret of NIMH tell children that it’s okay to struggle.
24. Spirited Away (2001 – PG, 2h 5min)
If you’re in the mood for something different, it’s hard to do much better than Spirited Away, with its eastern sensibility, originality, and mystical themes.
25. Despicable Me (2010 – PG, 1h 35min)
This franchise has gotten a bit stale in subsequent adventures, but the original Despicable Me is clever, iconic, funny, and has a big heart.
Live action family movies
26. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982 – PG, 1h 55min)
“Movie magic” might not have ever been more apt a term than when used to describe the scene with the bikes at the end of E.T. as John Williams’ score swells.
27. The Princess Bride (1987 – PG, 1h 38min)
“As you wish.” The Princess Bride utilizes a brilliant storytelling device wherein the fairytale is literally being told to a child, giving kids someone to relate to and take cues from.
28. Mary Poppins (1964 – G, 2h 19min)
A fantastical story of two children getting into adventures with their new nanny, Mary Poppins will also get the tears flowing for adults.
29. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971 – G, 1h 40min)
Yes, the remake is a more faithful adaptation of the novel, but the Gene Wilder original telling of Willy Wonka has more humor and verve.
30. The Muppet Movie (1979 – G, 1h 35min)
An introduction to the Muppets is never a bad idea, and as the first movie in the series, The Muppet Movie is a great starting point.
31. Harvey (1950 – 1h 44min)
If you want your kids to have an appreciation for the classics, you have to show them a black and white movie at some point. Why not start with Harvey, the story of a man and his imaginary rabbit friend?
32. Star Wars (1977 – PG, 2h 1min)
The best starting point in the Star Wars universe is the first movie of the bunch, even though it’s chronologically in the middle now. Whatever, worry about the timeline later (after your kids are already hooked).
33. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001 – PG, 2h 32min)
In the same way that the books progress in difficulty/theme, the Harry Potter movies do the same … making the first film an appropriate entry point for young ones.
34. Paddington (2014 – PG, 1h 35min)
The sequel is even more well regarded, but Paddington is still a lovely, small-scaled story of a bear and his search for a home.
35. The Wizard of Oz (1939 – PG, 1h 42min)
Speaking of searching for home, The Wizard of Oz told that story 75 years earlier. The timeless story, epic set designs (paired with the clever use of technicolor) and some iconic tunes help keep this movie relevant today.
36. Night at the Museum (2006 – PG, 1h 48min)
Night at the Museum has a similar concept to Toy Story: What if museum exhibits came to life when no one is around? It taps into kids’ imaginations and is funny to boot.
37. The Jungle Book (2016 – PG, 1h 46min)
Disney has been pretty hit or miss with its live adaptations of animated films … The Jungle Book, with its incredible sights and sounds, definitely falls in the hit column.
38. Ella Enchanted (2004 – PG, 1h 36 min)
Some of the better adaptations of Disney animated films have actually come from outside the main studio. Ella Enchanted is a riff on Cinderella that gives our protagonist more agency.
39. Babe (1995 – G, 1h 31min)
The series flamed out after one sequel, but the original Babe is a charming story of a pig trying to emulate sheepdogs and herd sheep. That’ll do, pig.
40. The Sandlot (1993 – PG, 1h 41min)
Movies about kids’ sports teams can get treacly, awkward or cheesy. The Sandlot mostly sidesteps all of that while embracing the pickup game (which is where most of us had the most fun anyway).
41. Elf (2003 – PG, 1h 37min)
There has to be a Christmas movie on the list, and Elf is probably the best mix of quality and ease for kids to connect to you can find. It remains hilarious.
42. The Secret Garden (1993 – G, 1h 41min)
The Secret Garden begins as a bit of a mystery, though it unfolds in much the way you’d want it to. Tending a garden can be a genuinely healing experience.
43. The Sound of Music (1965 – G, 2h 52 min)
Pretty much the granddaddy of all musicals (at least in terms of reach/impact), the Sound of Music has a wealth of memorable tunes, a sweeping story and it even does you the favor of giving you an intermission.
44. March of the Penguins (2005 – G, 1h 20min)
There’s no better documentary to start your kids on than the award-winning March of the Penguins. Their struggle to survive is captivating stuff.
45. Hugo (2011 – PG, 2h 6min)
The concept of uncovering secrets is endlessly fascinating to kids and adults alike, and Hugo taps into that with the story of a boy who lives in the walls of a train station.
46. The Parent Trap (1998 – PG, 2h 8min)
A charming remake that features a pair of wonderful performances from a young Lindsay Lohan, The Parent Trap is light, frothy fun.
47. Jumanji (1995 – PG, 1h 44min)
A scare-fest for kids, you may want to wait until they’re a smidge older, but Jumanji is a thrilling and humorous joyride when they’re ready.
48. The Goonies (1985 – PG, 1h 54min)
A group of kids go hunting for treasure to save their families’ homes. The Goonies breezes through its runtime. The only downside is a tiny bit of adult language/humor.
49. Superman (1978 – PG, 2h 23min)
After the Incredibles, Superman might be your best intro to the world of superheroes. The sense of scope and wonder still holds up.
50. The Avengers (2012 – PG-13, 2h 23min)
It’s a more violent film than Superman with a few choice phrases sprinkled in, but The Avengers is also undoubtedly more kinetic and the MCU as a whole has been more family friendly than other recent superhero offerings. And if your family enjoys this, you’ve got another 20+ movies in the series to experience with them.
And now that you’ve read the top 50 family movies … here are 70 more great family movies!
More Disney/Pixar animated family movies: Aladdin (51), The Aristocats (52), Big Hero 6 (53), Brave (54), Cinderella (55), Frozen (56), The Great Mouse Detective (57), Inside Out (58), Lady and the Tramp (59), Lilo & Stitch (60), Monsters Inc. (61), The Nightmare before Christmas (62), Pinocchio (63), The Rescuers (64), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (65), Tangled (66), Up (67), Wreck it Ralph (68)
More animated family movies: An American Tale (69), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (70), The Croods (71), Fantastic Mr. Fox (72), The Hobbit (73), Hotel Transylvania (74), Kung Fu Panda (75), The Land before Time (76), My Life as a Zucchini (77), My Neighbor Totoro (78), Rio (79), The Secret Life of Pets (80), Shrek (81), Transformers (82)
More live action family movies: Akeela and the Bee (83), Annie (84), Back to the Future (85), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (86), BFG (87), A Christmas Story (88), Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (89), Clash of the Titans (90), Enchanted (91), Flash Gordon (92), The Golden Compass (93), Good Burger (94), High School Musical (95), Hocus Pocus (96), Holes (97), Home Alone (98), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (99), Hook (100), Jason and the Argonauts (101), The Karate Kid (102), Labyrinth (103), Life of Pi (104), Little Giants (105), Matilda (106), The Mighty Ducks (107), Miracle on 34th Street (108), Mirror Mirror (109), Nanny McPhee (110), The Neverending Story (111), Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (112), The Princess Diaries (113), School of Rock (114), Space Jam (115), Spy Kids (116), We Bought a Zoo (117), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (118), Willow (119), Wonder Woman (120)
And finally, 15 more family movies for when they’re a little older: My Girl, Singin’ in the Rain, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Young Frankenstein, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Stand By Me, To Kill a Mockingbird, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Jurassic Park, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
- Related to family movies: 10 Non-traditional Christmas movies you can watch this holiday season
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