Best Family Movies

I’ve been wanting to ask about your favorite family movies for a while, but the subject just became much more pressing.

Every family movie night, Aron and I would find ourselves dual-scrolling through reviews on Common Sense Media for opinions on whether that movie we loved as kids was actually full of problematic gender roles or racial stereotypes. Our ’80s nostalgia is strong, but man—there are some land mines! On the other hand, sometimes the reviews skew conservative on the age suggestions for reasons less bothersome to us—like a history lesson that might be a little over their head.

The other day I showed off my So-Cal surfer-speak chops to Hudson and he was so impressed. It really made me want to show him Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But is it actually any good? I can’t remember. And then that made me think of how much I used to love movies like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. (Would they love the dance offs?) I feel like this fits into that genre of movie where it’s fun for kids, but it’s really for me. Back to the Future is on this spectrum, too—if a bit more skewed toward the “for kids” end.

But at Hudson’s age, I went to the theaters with my parents and watched all of these: Top Gun, Aliens, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Platoon, Stand By Me, The Fly, Crocodile Dundee, Pretty in Pink, and The Karate Kid Part 2. I loved Chevy Chase in Spies Like Us and thought Eddie Murphy was the coolest after watching Down & Out in Beverly Hills. So I just can’t tell sometimes!

I recently asked for your favorites on Instagram. Here are the answers (so many recs for Parent Trap). I’ve broken up by the age ranges for which Common Sense Media recommends them, but that’s just for one point of reference. I’d love to hear more in the comments—including for documentaries…

Ages 5+

Farmageddon (Shaun the Sheep)


My Neighbor Totoro

Kiki’s Delivery Service


Ages 6+

Paddington (series)

Inside Out


Parent Trap (1961)

Parent Trap (1999)

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins Returns

Homeward Bound

Sword & The Stone

Free Willy

Madagascar (series)


Sound of Music

The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear

Love Bug 


Ages 7+

Fantastic Mr Fox

Big Hero 6

Song of the Sea


The Secret World of Arrietty


Harry Potter (1st movie)

Secret Life of Pets 2

Night at the Museum

Pete’s Dragon


The Book of Life

Lego Batman

Star Wars (Episode IV)

Ages 8+



Incredibles 2


Cool Runnings

Harry Potter (2nd movie)

The Croods

Swiss Family Robinson


Fly Away Home

The Secret of Roan Inish


The Odd Life of Timothy Green


The Princess Bride

The NeverEnding Story


Ages 9+

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Spirited Away

Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Ages 10+


A Dog’s Way Home

Dan in Real Life


Harry Potter (3rd movie and beyond)

Father of the Bride

Cheaper by the Dozen

Kindergarten Cop

So We Bought a Zoo

Mrs Doubtfire

Mighty Ducks

The Kid Who Would Be King


Troop Beverly Hills

School of Rock

The Greatest Showman

The 100 Foot Journey

Groundhog Day

Jumanji (original)

The Chronicles of Narnia

Pitch Perfect

Robin Hood Men in Tights


What would you add? 

I would add Shaun the Sheep, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, Enchanted, and Peter Rabbit. The Paddington movies have been some of my favorite.  We also just watched A League of Their Own.

P.S. Tips for first TV picks during the preschool years.

[Lead photo from The Red Balloon]

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