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One of the best reasons to have a child: Vicariously reliving your own childhood by forcing them to watch the classic films that shaped you into the fine human being you are today. Here, 50 films every kid should see by the time they turn 12. (PSA: Some are better viewed when they reach the older end of that spectrum, of course.)
Introduce them to Buzz and Woody now, then sucker punch them with Toy Story 3 when they turn 13.
All hail the OG Jim Hensen production. (There won’t be a dry eye in the room after Kermit’s “Rainbow Connection” ballad.)
Speaking of dry eyes, your kids will never forget the film version of this classic by E.B. White.
Two sisters move to the country and befriend the nearby forest spirits (notably, the cute and cuddly Totoro). Tons of fun-filled adventures ensue. You can’t go wrong.
This quintessential summer film will have your kid picking up a baseball mitt before the credits start rolling.
Ditto on this one. (We love you, Tom Hanks.)
Two words: Julie Andrews. Also, don’t be surprised if “So Long, Farewell” becomes your kid’s bedtime send-off in the weeks immediately following.
Not only does it include the voice of 90s icon Jonathan Taylor Thomas (a throwback that’s mom and dad-approved), there’s the “Circle of Life” opening sequence. Disney gold.
This film about a pig raised by sheepdogs comes with a solid reminder: The little guy doesn’t always finish last.
Cue your kids’ new Pixar-inspired life motto: Just keep swimming.
Fairy tales? Ew, gross. Your kids will love the way this film pokes fun at love. (Fred Savage eye roll included.)
This is empowering story about a girl from South Los Angeles and her journey to win the National Spelling Bee is the perfect film to inspire daughters and instill fearlessness.
Coolest animated superhero family of all time.
Perfect for any kid nearing the age of not believing.
Or, on the flip side, any kid with a runaway (and Technicolor) imagination.
Tale as old as time: inner beauty beats outer beauty every time.
A film with a topical lesson: Teamwork—regardless of skin color—makes the dream work. (And let’s not forget the Ryan Gosling cameo.)
More life lessons: Never ever in any circumstances touch your tongue to an icy flagpole.
Some of the best Claymation we’ve ever seen.
Vintage Harrison Ford + archeological adventures = best family movie night ever.
Ditto the adventures. (And nostalgia.)
Your kids aren’t crying, you’re crying.
There’s no dialogue for the first 30 minutes, but your kids will still be mesmerized.
RIP FAO Schwartz.
Either the Hayley Mills version or the Lindsay Lohan one. Your call.
Rufio, Rufio, Ruf-ee-ohhhhhh will be chanted in your household for days.
It’s set in Hawaii…so the opposite of Frozen.
Equal parts magical and ominous, aka Roald Dahl at his finest.
A classic whodunit that merges cartoons with real life.
No kid (however cool) will be able to resist the magic of Gene Kelly tap dancing in puddles.
Sure, this one’s for the older kids, but the modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet is one they won’t soon forget.
A boy-meets-robot turned unlikely friendship that’s a total tearjerker.
Yep, it still holds up.
Baseball movies are the best movies (especially when Christopher Lloyd shows up).
Just be sure they read the book first.
Robin Williams is a cross-dressing nanny—or as we like to call it, the modern Mary Poppins.
Steven Spielberg at his finest.
PSA: “Everything is Awesome” will get stuck in your head.
Just don’t time the first viewing with back-to-school.
Come on, it’s a Christmas classic.
Also included: Some of the coolest flight sequences of all time.
A good reminder at all ages: Don’t mess with science.
For kids who love superheroes, this is the perfect starter film.
An emotional roller coaster that is as delightful for kids as it is for the adults.
OK, so it has an R rating (for foul language and pie-eating contest, probably) but waiting until your kid turns 17 to watch this coming-of-age film just feels wrong.
A Wes Anderson retelling of the Roald Dahl classic. (George Clooney and Meryl Streep voices included.)
The allure of time travel (and Marty McFly) transcends all ages.
Fun fact for the parents: Yes, that is Pacey Witter.
Just be ready to listen to the soundtrack on repeat…for the rest of your life.
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