Wondering what to watch on family movie night? Parental Guide has created a list of top family movies based on our criteria to ensure family fun.
Parental Guide’s Picks for the top 15 family movies were selected based on the following:
Engaging for both children and parents
Conveys valuable family messages and lessons
Extraordinary animation or technology
And just plain fun!
Our G and PG movie favorites will entertain children AND be fun for you to watch too! Some of these movies are old-time treasures and others are newer features that are sure to become an immediate family favorite. These top movies are so clever, adults will find themselves laughing and cheering along with the children. Enjoy your family movie time tonight!
101 Dalmatians (1961) – G
Using a classic blend of humor, fantasy and adventure, this favorite tells the tale of Pongo and Perdita, two Dalmatians who are the proud parents of 15 adorable puppies. The puppies are stolen by one of Disney’s most well-known villains, Cruella de Vil. Cruella wants to make a fur coat out of them, and all the other pups she has been collecting, 99 total. Pongo and Perdita must race to save all of the pups before it is too late. The pups’ fur-raising adventures combined with the cleverness of the film make it a DVD worth adding to your family friendly collection. Read our family movie review.
Babe (1995) – G
This is a great family movie is an Academy Award winner and Best Picture nominee. Babe is the inspirational story of a shy Yorkshire piglet who doesn't quite know his place in the world. When Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell) wins him at the county fair, Babe discovers with the help of his barnyard friends that if he works hard, he can do anything. This is an inspirational story about never giving up and having the faith and courage to succeed. See our parents movie review.
Back to the Future (1985) - PG
A science-fiction comedy about a typical American teenager of the 1980s, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox), is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a plutonium-powered DeLorean "time machine." During his whimsical and humorous trip back in time, Marty must make certain his parents, then teenagers meet and fall in love so he can get back to the future. This trip back in time will give your kids a glimpse of what it was like in your time and in their grandparents' time. Be prepared to answer lots of questions about the days before the iPod and Wii. Read our movie guide for parents.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) – G
Belle, a beautiful young girl, boldly takes her father’s place as prisoner in the dark, scary castle owned by the Beast. With the assistance of the enchanted staff of furniture and kitchenware, a tender romance develops between Belle and the Beast, teaching the lesson that true beauty comes from within. The music will have you humming and dancing for days. Read our movie review for parents.
Cinderella (1950) - G
Cinderella has every element of a perfect tale; a fairy Godmother, a prince, a down- trodden girl, a beautiful dress, glass slipper and an evil stepmother. The good-natured Cinderella and her story of hope, combined with the musical score, make it a classic worth rediscovering. Read our Cinderella family movie review for kids and parents.
E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – PG
Written and co-produced by the famed Steven Spielberg, this science-fiction story broke box office records and has been acclaimed as a timeless story of friendship – making it great for elementary school-aged kids. It tells the story of Elliott, who brings home a stranded, lovable extraterrestrial, dubbed “E.T.”. Elliott and his siblings hide E.T. from their mother and scientists and help him return home. With laughter and a few tears this flick captures your heart and takes it on a whirlwind adventure. Watch it together and use it to talk to your kids about the values of acceptance, unconditional love and friendship. Read our family entertainment movie review.
Finding Nemo (2003) – G
This whale of a fishy tale offers a great story that keeps both children and adults in uproarious laughter. Nemo is a little fish who wants to have some freedom outside of his father’s tight reins, but instead he winds up being fish-napped. His father, Marlin, leaves their home reef to travel the deep open sea to find his lost son. While Marlin, searches everywhere for his son, Nemo works on his own plan to get home, but time is running out. Be sure to sit and watch this one with your children, you won’t be disappointed. Read our kids's movie review for parents.
Ghostbusters (1984) - PG
A timeless classic, great for families with ‘tweens looking for a good laugh. This is exactly what this movie delivers, thanks to the amazing cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Harold Ramis. The movie is about three odd-ball parapsychologists who set up shop in an old firehouse and become Ghostbusters. They create New York mayhem while trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists for money. Come on, they’re just a bunch of guys trying to make ends meet. The foursome wise-crack their way through the city until they stumble upon a gateway to another dimension – one which will release untold evil upon the city. That is, unless Ghostbusters can save the Big Apple. Who ya gonna call? See our parental guide to this movie.
The Goonies (1985) – PG
Goonies is an American comedy-adventure, fun for families with ‘tween children. The story is about a bunch of misfit kids who take on a corrupt corporate developer with plans to flatten all their homes. With a bit of luck, the gang stumbles on a treasure map. In hopes of finding the treasure to buy back their houses, the Goonies embark on their quest that leads them through underground passages, behind waterfalls and to a pirate ship. This adventure with a classic good vs. evil theme is entertaining and captures the imagination. You will be cheering for the Goonies as they try to beat the clock. It also contains an underlying message about accepting others for who they are on the inside and the triumph of the underdog. Goonies is just an all around good time for the older children. Read our parents movie review before viewing.
The Lion King (1994) – G
The Lion King continues to be the highest grossing hand-drawn film in history. The inspirational musical score combined with delightful traditional African storytelling makes this an animated adventure that you will thoroughly enjoy. Oh, wait, this was for the children, right? This movie is so good that you won’t mind if the kids want to watch it 1,000 times. The Lion King follows young Simba through his journey to claim his title as king of all the land touched by the sun. You’ll find your toes tapping and hands clapping as you cheer Simba on along his journey. Read our family movie review for The Lion King.
Mary Poppins (1964) - G
An all-time favorite, this theatrical classic features the acclaimed Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. Not only will it bring the family on a magical journey, but on a musical adventure as well with whimsical tunes and catchy beats. The story is about two upscale children who have a strict, uninvolved father. When they seek a nanny the ultimate super nanny shows up on their doorstep, blown in by the wind. With the help of proper ways, an engaging musical score and whimsical fun, Mary Poppins shows the family a mesmerizing, enchanting view of the world like they'd never seen before. You’ll find yourselves creating ways to insert Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into conversations for days afterwards, but the real question is, can you spell it without looking? See our parents movie review for Mary Poppins.
Toy Story (1995) - G
Toy Story is the first Disney/Pixar film and first film to use entirely computer generated imagery. The characters quickly catch your heart as Woody, the toy cowboy, is replaced as the favorite toy when Buzz Lightyear joins them in the toy box. Woody isn’t about to whittle away on a shelf, but his endeavors create havoc for both himself and Buzz. It’s a fun tale that opened the way for Toy Story 2 and 3, which are also great family movies. Don’t miss it, Toy Story will take you “to infinity and beyond!” Read our review of this children's film.
The Parent Trap (1961) - G
While there have been many remakes of this film over the years, the original holds its own and is a must see. It is a fun and cleverly wholesome tale of separated twins who, unknown to their divorced parents, meet at a summer camp. Products of single parent households, they switch places when it’s time to return home in order to meet the parent they never knew. Then, they try to get them reunited. The Parent Trap is a fun movie that will make both young and old laugh. View our family-approved movie review.
UP (2009) - G
Our dreams never die, we just grow older. When an elderly man is forced to leave his home, he decides to fulfill a dream of his deceased wife and finds a way to break free from the city where he embarks on his own adventure. He unexpectedly discovers that an overeager 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer who has never ventured beyond his backyard has accompanied him. He learns that determination and perseverance may be all the tools he needs. This animated comedy adventure received both Academy Award and Golden Globe accolades and is worth some serious family snuggle time. View our family-friendly movie review for UP.
Wizard of Oz (1939) - G
Sometimes we forget where the wonderment of theatrical adventure comes from -- a visit back in time with the Wizard of Oz will leave both you and your children with a feeling that “there’s no place like home.” Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s timeless children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow. Today’s children will be asking “why aren’t things in color," which is an excellent conversation starter. Your children will be able to enjoy the grandeur of Oz with its stalking scarecrows and singing tin man. This is a historic movie well worth watching with your family. The colorized version is good too, but nothing beats the beauty of a black-and-white film! Read our family movie review information for parents.
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We want to help you make the best choice for your family. Rather than a movie solely being rated “G” or “PG-13,” we slide our scale to denote if there are some scenes that may be a bit more intense for younger audiences. Parental Guide's sliding scale, combined with our personal movie reviews, can help you make the right choice when determining which movies to see and which ones not to see with your family.