There’s nothing better than finding the best family movies that appeal to every member of your fam. You want films that are engaging for all ages that feature narratives about overcoming adversity, discovering new worlds, or learning a lesson that we would all be wise to apply to our real lives. Depending on the ages of your kids, the best family movies are going to vary. If you have an older family, consider watching challenging films that you can all try to decipher. For younger families, keep things light and fun to hold their attention.
For the best family movies, think back to your own childhood when you were your kids’ age. What films spoke to you at that time? Would they be appropriate for your children? Chances are, probably! If you need some family movie reccomendations you have come to the right place as we love finding the most rewarding movies that are true crowd-pleasers. Let’s get rolling!
These Are the Best Family Movies to Cuddle Up & Watch with the Ones You Love Most!
Free Willy (1993)
Apologies in advance for getting “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson stuck in your head! Free Willy was ahead of its time in its indictment of keeping killer whales in captivity. As an adult, you probably saw the documentary Blackfish, and it confirmed all that this movie told you as a child. Let this movie start a conversation about wildlife, conservation, and our responsibilities to the planet Earth.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit might be a fun-for-all-ages movie, but its technological advances were groundbreaking at the time. The movie centers around Detective Eddie Valiant, a cartoon-hating detective who ends up being a cartoon rabbit’s only hope to prove his innocence after being accused of murder. It’s a wild romp that you should really check out if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s rated PG and it’s a blast to watch with your kids!
The Witches (1990)
Want to scare the kids a little bit? The Witches is one of the best family movies to do just that. Anjelica Huston is positively terrifying as the Grand High Witch in this classic. Did you secretly want to be turned into a mouse after seeing this one as a child? Perhaps! But, that didn’t make the creepiness of this movie any less palpable.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures tells the story of three genius African-American women at NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The trio of women are the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. It’s a winner and one of the best family movies to inspire young minds!
My Girl (1991)
Want to teach your kids about loss? My Girl is one of the best family movies that deals with topic. As a child, My Girl most likely made you fear bees in an illogical way. The nineties most sought after child actors, Anna Chlumsky and Macaulay Culkin star as two unlikely friends on the verge of their teens trying to understand life and aging out of childhood. What a tearjerker!
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Princess Bride is as hilarious today as it was 30 years ago. The movie is structured as a children’s story being told to a sick boy by his grandfather who reads him the story of a farmboy-turned-pirate and his quest to be reunited with his one true love. It’s a complete blast that’s truly a timeless classic. This is the best family movie for kids who love fairy tales.
Did you see Matilda and long to have her TK powers? Did you want Ms. Honey to be your actual parent? You were not the only one! This classic movie was such an enjoyable romp. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman probably scared you a little, but they make the movie! Matilda is one of the best family movies for those who crave a little bit of magic.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
There have been a number of developments in CGI since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was released in the late 1980s. The premise is the perfect vehicle for an adventure film: a scientist shrinks his kids and they must survive the big scary world while being very, very small. The movie has all the elements you need to make it one of the best family movies with plenty of excitement.
The Iron Giant (1999)
The Iron Giant is an animated film that premiered in 1999 to great acclaim. It’s an adaptation of Ted Hughes‘ Cold War fable. Vin Diesel, Jennifer Anniston, and Harry Connick Jr. all did voice work for the heartwarming film.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
This dark children’s fantasy movie is very strange and somehow managed to scare every small child that saw it in the 1980s. The characters are wonderful and the adventure plot of a boy saving a fictional world from demise feels timely. It’s one of the best family movies for mature children and imaginative adults.
Now and Then (1995)
Melanie Griffith, Demi Moore, Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffmann, need we say more? This coming of age story felt so real and spoke to a time of great social and political change in the early seventies. Fun trivia fact: the movie was directed by Lesli Linka Glatter who has directed at least one episode of your favorite TV shows over the last decade. No joke. She’s helmed episodes of Homeland, The Walking Dead, Masters of Sex, The Leftovers, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Justified… The list goes on and on. She’s prolific! Now and then is one of the best family movies to watch with mature kids.
A League of Their Own (1993)
A League of Their Own tells the story of an all-female baseball league that springs up after many of the male players become involved with WWII. Tom Hanks, Rosie O’Donnell, Geena Davis, and Madonna make this film an absolute treat for the whole family.
Drop Dead Fred (1991)
Drop Dead Fred is rated PG-13 but somehow we all got away with seeing it before that age. Perhaps our parents just thought because the movie was about an imaginary friend it was okay. Who knows? This movie did encourage us kids to believe in ourselves above all else which makes it one of the best family movies. However, watch it with your preteens and teenagers if you’re worried it’s too mature.
The Black Stallion (1979)
The Black Stallion combines the ever-popular lost-kid and beloved-pet movie sub-genres for one of the most winning and visually stunning and best family movies on this list. We know there have been subsequent reboots of this movie, but we are fond of the original and think your family will be too!
The Addams Family (1991)
Before you were obsessed with the creepiness of Hocus Pocus as a child, chances are you were big on The Addams Family. If you went through a “goth phase,” you probably have this funny movie to thank. We all wanted to be as darkly cool as Wednesday Addams, right? The Addams Family is one of the best family movies with an offbeat sense of humor that children and adults both can enjoy.
Sixteen Candles (1984)
Molly Ringwald was the 1980s it-girl beloved in many John Hughes films that really defined the era for teens coming up in it. Sixteen Candles is one of the very best teen movies of all time and a true contender for one of the best family movies to watch with your kids.
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King is considered one of the best animated films for an entire generation. The movie has amazing music, lovable characters, and a heartfelt story that will make you feel like a child again. Let your kids discover the magic of this Disney movie with you!
A classic Tim Burton film, Beetlejuice is delightfully weird and is slightly scary at times. The cast of this film, alone, is reason enough to revisit it. We think kids will love Michael Keaton’s unhinged performance in this fun horror film. It’s so off base that it feels like one of the best family movies that truly captures the ethos of the 1980s.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
If you haven’t watched Hocus Pocus every Halloween from 1993 on, have you even lived? This horror-musical-comedy delight was roundly enjoyed by nineties kids and people still love this wacky movie today. It’s one of the best family movies to watch on a stormy night or around Halloween!
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
This odd kids movie based on Roald Dahl‘s beloved children’s tale (the third on this list!) is very weird in the best sort of way. James and the Giant Peach is nearly 25 years old which is hard to believe. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the story, James is an orphaned British boy who ends up on an adventure sailing in an enchanted peach for New York City. The film features stop-motion animation and live-action to keep the kids interested. The team that brought you The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton included) created this very inventive movie.
Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
A movie that made you eco-conscious at a very young age, Ferngully probably inspired you to save a rainforest. Who could forget Robin Williams‘ work in this film as a short-circuiting bat? Sadly, the issues the film raised so many years ago are still present today. Use this film as a teachable one to inform your kids about climate change.
Spirited Away (2001)
Hayao Miyazaki‘s masterpiece (one of many), Spirited Away follows a 10-year-old Japanese girl named Chihiro who is upset that she and her family are moving to the suburbs. On the way there, the family stumbles onto an abandoned amusement park which is ruled by magic. After Chihiro’s parents are transformed into animals, the girl must navigate through the strange world she finds herself in to return to the human world. It’s an absolute gem and one of the best family movies about family.
Home Alone (1990)
Ah, yes. Home Alone, the film that made us all try our hand at a million booby traps. Let your kids discover the magic of this movie and allow them to laugh at all of the lowbrow slapstick humor. This is one of the best family movies to watch over the holidays.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The 80s were all about the Steven Spielberg and the thrilling blockbusters he served happy audiences. Raiders of the Lost Ark is possibly one of his finest that, for the most part, holds up rather well. Yes, we all need to watch a Nazi-killing archeologist played by Harrison Ford. It’s one of the best family movies for mature children to watch.
A Little Princess (1995)
Are you a parent of a little princess? Alfonso Cuarón artfully directs one of the best family movies of all time in A Little Princess. This film has magic, mystery, thrills, and is full of beauty. If you have not seen this one since you were a kid, revisit it and you will not be disappointed.
Jennifer Lopez shines as the Mexican American icon Selena Quintanilla. The film perfectly captures the magic of the singer whose life ended far too soon. Although it’s not the happiest films, it’s one of the best family movies to share a bit of history with your children.
The Parent Trap (1998)
It was a more innocent time for Lindsey Lohan, but she plays a set of twins in this nineties remake of The Parent Trap. Lohan steals the show! It’s one of the best family movies that has great music, zesty dialogue, and a whole lot of intrigue that the entire family will enjoy.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz is the gold standard as far as movie musicals go. The film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy a young girl who is transported from her Kansas home to the magical Land of Oz. She teams with a ragtag group to confront the Wizard and ask to return her home. It’s one of the best family movies to watch if you’re craving escapism and fantasy.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
Three pets are left behind while their owners go on vacation. Thinking they have been abandoned, the pets embark on a journey to California to be reunited with them. Do you think a movie like Homeward Bound would be made today? The talking animal genre was all the rage and we just don’t see this happening for a live-action feature. Treat your animal-loving family to one of the best family movies that young kids will love!
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The Sound of Music (1965)
We could just write “Julie Andrews” and be done with it, but The Sound of Music is a landmark musical movie that deserves further praise. The film follows a nun who gets a job as a nanny for a wealthy, widowed, Naval officer. Her quirky antics endear her to the children in her care and garner reluctant attraction from her employer. The music and scenery are lush and Andrews is dynamite.
There you go! We hope you enjoyed this list of the best family movies and will consider choosing some to share with your clan. Films that challenge convention and transport us to new worlds and realities are truly a joy that all of us can indulge in. Bust out that dusty VHS player and have a ball with some older films or try something fresh!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
- 1 These Are the Best Family Movies to Cuddle Up & Watch with the Ones You Love Most!
- 1.1 Free Willy (1993)
- 1.2 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
- 1.3 The Witches (1990)
- 1.4 Hidden Figures (2016)
- 1.5 My Girl (1991)
- 1.6 The Princess Bride (1987)
- 1.7 Matilda (1996)
- 1.8 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
- 1.9 The Iron Giant (1999)
- 1.10 The NeverEnding Story (1984)
- 1.11 Now and Then (1995)
- 1.12 A League of Their Own (1993)
- 1.13 Drop Dead Fred (1991)
- 1.14 The Black Stallion (1979)
- 1.15 The Addams Family (1991)
- 1.16 Sixteen Candles (1984)
- 1.17 The Lion King (1994)
- 1.18 Beetlejuice (1988)
- 1.19 Hocus Pocus (1993)
- 1.20 James and the Giant Peach (1996)
- 1.21 Ferngully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
- 1.22 Spirited Away (2001)
- 1.23 Home Alone (1990)
- 1.24 Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- 1.25 A Little Princess (1995)
- 1.26 Selena (1997)
- 1.27 The Parent Trap (1998)
- 1.28 The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- 1.29 Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
- 1.30 The Sound of Music (1965)
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