10 Great Movies That Both Kids and Parents Will Love
- Jaime Jo Wright Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 24 Mar
Friday night pizza and a movie is our family tradition. Is it yours? We love to curl up on our couches with blankets, balance plates of pizza on our knees, the kids get to have their one weekly can of soda, and Mom gets to pick the movie. (I gave them birth, I get movie rights).
There’s also a reason why I became the movie picker, (and it’s really not because I gave them birth). The arguments--oy, the arguments--over which movie to watch, who didn’t like such and such a movie, and then when Dad inserts the “that actually looks pretty boring” opinion, well then, all is lost. We’ve been known to send over forty-five minutes just trying to find a movie to watch that we can all agree upon.
So now, to avoid such extreme time wastage, prior to cooking the pizza, I browse the currents and the classics to find age-appropriate kid’s movies that will keep Dad engaged and keep me from falling asleep. I look for movies with good family qualities, but also adventure, mystery, humor, and of course, a little something for everyone so we’re all happy.
It’s not a small feat. One child loves animation, while the other simply refuses to watch anything that’s not live-action.
So we came up with some compromises to get us started. Such as, we can alternate animation and live-action week to week, and there’s always the option of too much whining and we’ll go truly classic and hit up family movies from the ’70s.
That’s typically enough to silence the major resistance and give me an opportunity to preview the buffet of options now available through multiple streaming media services.
Lately, it’s been a slam dunk of success every week. I’ll see how long I can keep this streak up, but I’d like to share some successes with you, and hopefully have family-pleasing movies that you yourself will look forward to watching… and maybe spare you a forty-five-minute family debate.
1. Finding ‘Ohana (2021)
This Netflix film was a major hit for our family. Not only does it capture the love of all things Hawaii and ancestral, it throws in a treasure hunt, pirates, humor, family dynamics, and even an underlying feeling of Indiana Jones meets Moana.
While the kids can be a bit sassy, the movie focuses on building relationships on a strong family foundation. Siblings end up having each other’s backs, daughter is reunited with father, and a family seeks to reconcile the loss of a loved one. If your family enjoys adventure with a lot of wit, you’ll love this one.
2. Yes Day (2021)
Netflix hasn’t disappointed with the release of Yes Day.
Starring Jennifer Garner, this functional family has strong relationships but the kids seem to think the parents are becoming a bit boring. The parents make a deal to say “yes” to the kids for the entire day with a few agreed-upon restrictions--they have a set budget, for one--and the family goes on an adventure of ups and downs that leave them all with a much higher appreciation for each other. The kids, for what their parents do to protect and guide them, and the parents for what their kids need for family fun time.
There is a lot of family humor, warm feelings, and an ending that will leave you all smiling.
3. Onward (2020)
Every family night needs a good animated movie to curl up to. Onward is the story of two elf brothers who go on an adventure after a crazy opportunity is presented to them to reunite with their late dad. With their mom in full pursuit to find the boys and bring them home, the adventures send them all catapulting through cartoon trauma, laughter, and the opportunity to begin again.
There’s a heartwarming ending, a great emphasis on the bond between brothers, and even the magical quest and chaos of the elf family lend toward moments that may leave every family member a little choked up.
4. Night at the Museum Trilogy (2006, 2009, 2014)
Parents may not want to admit this, but the Night at the Museum Trilogy is already in the classic family films category and they do not disappoint. With Ben Stiller leading the charge, the movies bring museums alive (literally) and chaos and danger ensue with each movie installment.
Historical characters like Teddy Roosevelt, Pocahontas, and Amelia Earhart liven up the tales, while we’re also introduced to other fictional contributors like a rowdy cowboy, a stiff-necked Roman soldier, a bone-fetching dinosaur and more. Kids and parents alike will be entertained and laugh out loud with any one of the Night at the Museum installments.
5. Mulan (1998, 2020)
An epic story of a girl willing to sacrifice for her father and family, Mulan takes us into battle as she becomes a warrior who defies all the odds.
With spirit and tenacity, Mulan will do whatever she must so her father need not give his life, as she joins the Chinese army posing as a male soldier. And when she is asked to give all for family and the love of her nation, Mulan will inspire parent and child alike. Available in Disney animation or live-action.
Photo Credit: ©Prime
6. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)
Don’t let the name of Dora the Explorer cheat you out of a fun, family film. This movie is not geared toward toddlers, and your kids (and you!) will enjoy the rousing adventure of a high-school-aged Dora who still has an infectious personality bent on exploring her beloved jungle.
Fraught with adventure and mystery, Dora leads her friends on an exploration of a lost Incan civilization. It is a family-friendly watch, and kids of both genders will be entertained (so will Mom and Dad!).
7. Black Beauty (2020)
The 2020 Disney adaptation of this classic novel, does a fabulous job of maintaining the integrity of the original story and the point of view of Black Beauty’s narrative, while also bringing it into a more modern setting and introducing a few new characters--namely, Beauty’s friend Jo, who has no intentions of ever losing Beauty from their beloved Birtwick Stables.
While Beauty’s journey is still heartbreaking and real, the newer angle of Jo’s journey in parallel to Beauty’s, brings this movie a fresh new perspective that all horse lovers will adore.
8. Wonderpark (2019)
A colorfully animated film follows June, a little girl who dreams up a fictional amusement park with her mother only to face fear and loss as her mother fights a life-threatening illness. Determined to never have anything to do with their amusement park again, June packs it all away.
But in a curious stroke of events, a few years later, June discovers a real abandoned amusement park in the woods that is remarkably identical to the one she’d dreamed up with her mother. Pulled into an adventure to save the park, June also goes on a journey to rediscover joy and reunite with the imagination her mother had first ignited in her.
This was a surprising two-thumbs up by some skeptical children in my family, and we all agreed, the heartwarming ending left us satisfied and anxious to ride a roller coaster.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia (2005, 2008, 2010)
The three movies of the Narnia franchise bring to life the stories first penned by C.S. Lewis. They come with mixed reviews if you’re a diehard Narnia buff, but for kids, the adventures, morals, and characters make these a must-watch for families.
Parents and kids alike will grow a fond loyalty for the Pevensie children and for the snobbish and later likable Eustace Scrubb. It’s a fabulous opportunity to introduce your children to the classic Narnian characters such as the noble Aslan, the wicked White Witch, and the all too loveable Mr. Tumnus and Reepicheep. Do not linger too long outside the wardrobe, your entire family will have quite the adventure if you explore the inside!
10. Soul Surfer (2011)
When surfer Bethany Hamilton tangles with a shark and loses her arm in a horrific attack, she must learn not only to surf again, but to live again.
Facing challenges of health, mental stamina, and faith, Bethany and her family journey to find a new purpose for moving forward, and a new outlook on life as they know it. A strong family movie with strong faith values, some caution should be considered for younger children or shark-fearers.
So plan your next family movie night with confidence! Revel in the laughter and community of being together, and don’t forget the snuggles, the hugs, the shared looks of enjoyment, and the moments that will soon become memories of some great family time spent together.
Oh, and we love to throw in some ice cream, popcorn, or even a hot fudge sundae cake as a follow-up to the pizza. You may need to roll yourselves off the couch later, or... simply press play on another family movie and pull a late-nighter.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/evgenyatamanenko
Jaime Jo Wright is the winner of the Christy, Carol, Daphne du Maurier, and INSPY Awards. She's also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of three novellas. Jaime works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children.