The 40 Best Family Movies of All Time
Snuggling up together on the couch with your little munchkins, an entertaining flick and a giant bowl of popcorn is hands down one of the best ways to enjoy some quality family time. But deciding on a film that everybody wants to watch ain’t easy (cue the sibling bickering). Here, 40 family movies that all generations will love, including plenty of throwbacks from your own childhood. Dim the lights, get the snacks ready and enjoy.
1. “The Goonies”
This coming-of-age ’80s classic has got it all: hidden treasure, everlasting friendship, edge-of-your-seat thrills and a young Josh Brolin. The bad guys (the thieving Fratellis) are a little scary, so we recommend saving this one for kiddies ten years and up.
2. “Dr. Dolittle”
Meet Dr. John Dolittle (Eddie Murphy), an eccentric veterinarian who can communicate with a variety of exotic animals.
3. “The greatest Showman”
Get into your comfy clothes and bring out the popcorn because this family-friendly musical will keep everyone entertained. Hugh Jackman plays legendary Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus showman P.T. Barnum, on his rise into showbiz and worldwide fame. Did we mention Zac Efron also stars?
The first of many Disney flicks on our list, this musical adventure earns extra points for its killer soundtrack (courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda) and total badass heroine (no prince swooping in to rescue her). Follow brave Moana as she sets out to explore the Polynesian seas with the help of demigod sidekick Maui (Dwayne Johnson) in order to save her island. #girlpower
If your kids like to complain about doing their chores, wait until they see what poor Annie (Quvenzhanè Wallis) has to put up with. There have been a few versions of this musical rags-to-riches story, but we think this 2014 rendition, with its unforgettable characters and catchy tunes, is the best.
6. “The LEGO Movie”
Everything is awesome in this animated movie inspired by the popular toys, especially its stellar cast featuring Will Ferrell, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and more. Will ordinary construction worker Emmet Brickowski be able to defeat the evil Lord Business from Kragling (i.e., gluing) the Lego universe? Watch to find out.
7. “Princess and The Frog”
Tiana’s dream of opening a restaurant is put on hold when she meets Prince Naveen, who was turned into a frog by the evil villain, Dr. Facilier.
8. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”
Steven Spielberg's classic sci-fi story of an extraterrestrial stranded on planet Earth is pure movie magic. Parents will love the nostalgia throwback (baby-faced Drew Barrymore) and little ones will love the adorable E.T. and his friendship with his earthling family (although keep in mind that there is some light swearing and a few sad moments). Oh, and Reese’s Pieces are a must while watching.
9. “The Secret Life of Bees”
In an attempt to learn more about her late mother, Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) travels to a small South Carolina town. While there, she meets the Boatwright sisters (Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, Sophie Okonedo), who take her in and teach her about beekeeping.
Your kids may be too young for Goodfellas, but Martin Scorsese’s kid-friendly flick is just as entertaining. This ode to cinema set in a romantic Parisian atmosphere has enough adventure, mystery and laughs to keep kids of all ages enthralled.
11. “Daddy Day Care”
When Charlie (Eddie Murphy) is let go from his job, he makes the drastic decision of turning his home into a daycare center.
12. “Stand By Me”
This coming-of-age story about four 12-year-old boys in 1950s Oregon is an inspiring tale of friendship, growing up and doing the right thing. Featuring some darker themes (so best for teens and up), this moving film strikes the right balance of childhood adventure, grown-up drama and chubby Jerry O’Connell.
13. “Toy Story”
With enough inside jokes for adults, this animated film of toys coming to life is perfect for family movie night. It’s so good, it spawned three more films and numerous spin-offs, setting you up for the next couple of weekends.
14. “The Karate Kid”
Daniel (Ralph Macchio) is the new kid in school. In an attempt to defend himself from bullies, he enlists Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), a repairman who just so happens to be a martial arts master.
Another Disney classic. Who doesn’t love this Arabian nights musical featuring Robin Williams in one of the most iconic roles of his career? Clear your living room carpet and have a family sing-along to "A Whole New World." Watch the original before the live-action Aladdin remake hits theaters in May.
16. “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”
A group of best friends are preparing to spend their first summer apart. In an attempt to stay connected, they create a custody schedule…for a pair of jeans.
17. “Where the Wild Things Are”
Exploring themes of loneliness and insecurity, director Spike Jonze revisits the classic children’s story in a dreamlike atmosphere. Read the book to your five-year-old, but save the film for your teenager.
Amy Adams shines in this sweet musical comedy in which she plays a fairy-tale princess trying to live happily ever after in Andalasia. That is, until her evil mother-in-law banishes her to real-life New York City. She sings, she dances—is there anything Adams can’t do?
19. “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey”
Make room on the couch and let your furry friends watch this uplifting adventure film with you as lovable pups Shadow and Chance and kitty cat Sassy journey across the country to be reunited with their humans.
20. “The Hunger Games”
In this film based on the hugely popular YA series, plucky Katniss Everdeen (played by the brilliant Jennifer Lawrence) is the perfect role model for teenage girls, as she bravely fights against the evil Panem nation.
21. “Finding Nemo”
Dive into this adorable underwater flick that’s got plenty of giggles and morals for younger viewers (and adults) including the importance of teamwork, embracing what makes you unique and how a little bit of determination goes a long way. Don't miss the equally sweet follow-up, Finding Dory.
22. “Inside Out”
In this feel-good Pixar flick, we follow young Riley as she’s uprooted from her childhood home and forced to move to a new city. Her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust) try to guide her through this difficult transition but it’s not easy being an 11-year-old girl in a new place.
23. All the “Harry Potter” films
Revisiting J.K. Rowling’s magical story of a young wizard fighting against evil Voldemort is one of the best parts of having children. Just kidding (sort of). Read the books first, then snuggle up for multiple weekends of world-class entertainment (there are eight films, plus numerous spin-offs in the works).
24. “Remember the Titans”
The ultimate sports movie (inspired by a true story) about a newly integrated high school football team in 1971 Alexandria, Virginia. Full of ups and downs, this all-star flick (yep, that’s a young Ryan Gosling singing in the changing room) gives parents an opportunity to talk to kids about race and prejudice. Teachable moments, people.
25. “Home Alone”
While the thought of going on vacation and leaving your eight-year-old child behind is totally inconceivable, you’ll be happy the McAllisters accidentally did. This holiday classic (that makes for great viewing all year round) has got plenty of hilarious high jinks to keep the whole family entertained.
Based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name, this story of a telekinetic young girl will teach your kids that with a little encouragement (and a lot of reading), they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to. And who doesn’t want to teach their kids that?
27. “The Red Balloon”
Inspire your child’s inner cinephile with this 34-minute French film from 1956 about a young child named Pascal who traipses around Paris with, yep, a red balloon. Très cute.
28. “Spirited Away”
Studio Ghibli’s beautiful and surreal animation about a young girl trying to save her family after they’ve all been turned into pigs by an evil witch will captivate audiences of all ages (you might even enjoy it more than your kids).
29. “Akeelah and the Bee”
This movie is super c-u-t-e and chock-full of important lessons for kids, including how to stand up to peer pressure and how to work hard to achieve your goals. (Not to mention how much it’ll help them with their spelling.)
Fact: Every child loves this movie. And the sweet story of two sisters living in a perpetual winter (plus the ridiculously catchy songs) will warm your grown-up heart, too.
31. “The Princess Bride”
Before she ruled on Capitol Hill, Robin Wright starred in this fantasy adventure comedy about a farm girl (Buttercup), her one true love (Westley) and their quest to be together. It’s inconceivable that your family won’t totally love it. (See what we did there?)
This Oscar-winning film follows Miguel on his quest to become an accomplished musician, despite his family’s ban on music. Through a series of unfortunate events, he finds himself in the Land of the Dead where he meets some interesting characters and learns about his family's mysterious past. A thoughtful film that tackles a difficult subject matter beautifully.
Follow this adventurous (and not to mention, totally adorable) Peruvian bear as he travels to London in search of a home. After finding himself lost in Paddington Station, his luck begins to change when he meets the kind Brown family. For a fun-filled weekend, watch the first movie on Friday night and then enjoy the just-as-good sequel on Saturday. Don't forget the popcorn.
34. “Wreck-It Ralph”
Youngsters who can’t get enough of video games will love this sci-fi comedy about an arcade game villain who decides to rebel against his role and fulfill his lifelong dream of being a hero instead. But things don’t go quite according to plan, and Ralph has to save the arcade world from his own mess. Hilarity ensues, of course.
35. “The Land Before Time”
Bring out the tissues for this sweet flick that follows orphaned Brontosaurus Littlefoot (sob!) and his dino pals as they journey to the Great Valley to reunite with their families. (No really, you will need tissues.)
36. ‘The secret life of pets”
From the creators of Despicable Me, this adorable family film gives audiences a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what pets do when their owners aren’t home. (Ahem, eat all of your food and get totally lost roaming around the city.)
37. “Jurassic Park”
You probably remember the story of a remote island where real dinosaurs come to life thanks to dormant DNA, but you’ll be surprised at how the special effects and suspense still hold up. Watch on a Friday night, then watch Jurassic World on Saturday (do yourself a favor and skip films two and three).
Forget the reboot, the original 1995 movie is guaranteed fun for the whole family. When two youngsters find a magical board game, they release a world full of excitement (including Robin Williams, who’s been trapped inside the game for decades) and dangers that can only be stopped by finishing the game.
39. “The Incredibles”
In this 2004 animated film, the Parrs are just trying to live a normal, quiet suburban life. But that’s not exactly easy when you’re a family of undercover superheroes. Kids of all ages will love watching to find out if these guys manage to save the world from a superhero wannabe.
40. “Kubo and the Two Strings”
Featuring an A-list voiceover cast (Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes and Matthew McConaughey) and seriously impressive animation, this action-adventure follows a young boy, Kubo, as he sets out to locate a magical suit of armor that once belonged to his father. With some dark and scary themes, this one's better to watch with older kids.