30 Movies to Watch With Your Relatives

This Thanksgiving, my dad and aunt came to visit, and after the babies were in bed, we relaxed at home and tried to find a crowd-pleasing movie. It was surprisingly tough, but we finally landed on…

…”The Great Escape.” Whew. And it was great.

So! As we head into the holidays, in case you’re stuck surfing for a movie, here’s a handy list of 30 movies that would be fun to watch with relatives. Dealbreakers included awkward sex scenes, depressing plots, gratuitous violence, goofy humor or unnecessary swear words. (I’m 35, but if I swear in front of my dad, he’ll still say, “Jo! Language!”)

The Truman Show
Up in the Air
Say Anything
Royal Tenenbaums
Little Miss Sunshine

Gangster movies: (The constant swear words in mob movies are part of the plot and not unnecessary:)
The Godfather (btw, this is crazy!)
The Godfather Part II
Donnie Brasco
The Departed

The King’s Speech
The Graduate
Harold and Maude

When Harry Met Sally (of course)
Sense and Sensibility
West Side Story
Her (intense sex scenes and a depressing plot but the movie is so good I have to include it)

The Great Escape
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cool Hand Luke
The Sting

The Whole Family:
My Fair Lady
The Sound of Music
Back to the Future
13 Going on 30 (my mom and I watched this on a trip recently and it was really fun:)

Thoughts? Thumbs up or down? Any more to add to the list? I’d love to hear!!!

P.S. Best romantic comedies, and 25 favorite documentaries.

  1. I loved the Godfather movie series very much. This is the movie I can watch again and again. The list seems good. I will try to watch some of these.

  2. Beth says...

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles! is one of our family favs–funny and sweet. We also love Scrooge with Albert Finney–it has to be the one with Albert Finney.

  3. I wish this was in your Romance list – Walk To Remember :(
    but its not there.

  4. KATHY L says...

    The Family Stone is a great Christmas movie but can be enjoyed any time of year.

  5. I would add Chef – have you seen it? So good and it’d be so fun to watch with family! Also, Swedish film Force Majeure. Kinda depressing but in a hilarious way if that’s possible.

  6. Dan in Real Life, The Family Stone and Meet Me in St. Louis are our family favourites. We watch these all the time when we get the whole family together.

  7. Dan in Real Life is one of my faves. So lovely. And clean enough that I watch it with my 10-year-old daughter. Steve Carell all sweet and funny. :)

    Jo (I’m also a “Jo” but my dad gets mad when people call me that. “That’s not your name!”) He swears with the best of them btw. ;)

  8. I’m laughing about not watching The Graduate with older relatives. The older relatives have probably already seen The Graduate.

  9. We heart Keeping the Faith (Ed Norton and Ben Stiller) and The Family Stone.

  10. A River Runs Through It

    So good!

  11. Some good recommendations in the comments! We tend to gravitate toward classics and BBC programs: Sherlock Holmes is really good along with Poirot series. Also all the Star Wars movies are good go-to’s. Everyone seems to be a fan!

    Also, multi-generational ladies group would enjoy “Rebecca”: Alfred Hitchcock’s first movie and a great psychological thriller.

  12. ‘The Chef’ is a recent movie that is a sweet story and good for kids and adults. I don’t remember if there’s swearing but definitely no sex, which is much more than I can say for ‘Her’! One of the first things after watching ‘The Chef’ that I thought of was how family-friendly it was. I also think you have to take into consideration the story the movie is telling, when thinking about a crowd pleaser. ‘Her’ seemed to me to be to avant garde for everyone.

    And I love The Great Escape! It is amazingly based on real events. I especially recommend watching it with older relatives (50s-70s) because they’ll likely enjoy seeing movie starts of their era in their prime. Steve McQueen of course, but James Garner, too, makes for great viewing!

  13. Love Actually would be perfect if not for the super awkward porn storyline.

    My parents would hate Tenenbaums unfortunately.

    Walk the Line works though.

  14. Haha, the idea of Grease as a movie for the whole family reminds me of when I desperately wanted to watch it in middle school, and my mother said I had to watch it with her and discuss the messages at the end (she didn’t like that it encourages changing yourself for a man. Also, she pointed out in “Summer Lovin'” that when women think they’re in love, men just want to make out under the boardwalk. She is a tough cookie).

  15. O Brother Where Art Thou? is the perfect everyone-has-fun / nothing-awkward movie. Enjoyable but smart, funny but not gross, and nobody can complain about looking at George Clooney for two hours.

  16. I would add Spanglish to the list. That is such an underrated movie. Great cast, great message, leaves you feeling good!

  17. I scanned the comments quickly…did anyone mention The Family Stone? It’s not amazing or anything but fun to watch at Christmas (love Diane Keaton). Yes, there’s a little sadness, but a lot of sweet family stuff too(:

  18. Ratatouille!

  19. Thanks so much for this! I’ll never forget watching Mullholland Drive with my dad and stepmom one holiday season. Awkward!!! I’d like to give another shout out to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Amazing movie and an amazing soundtrack!

  20. Grosse Pointe Blank, Oceans 11, The Italian Job, Master and Commander, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Hugo…

    All excellent. I would, of course, add It’s A Wonderful Life.

  21. I saw The Hundred-Foot Journey in the theater with my husband, mom and 83-year old grandmother, and we all loved it – gorgeous scenery and costumes, a cute love and family story, and food that makes your mouth water. It just came out on DVD and is PG, so nothing awkward at all. Highly recommend!

  22. Love Actually is good, but there is a whole side story about adult film actors in there that gets a little awkward.

    My pick would be The Holiday… Not too Christmassy, and the love scenes are pretty normal. Plus there’s Jude Law. ;)

  23. How about some awesome 70’s spy thrillers like “The Day of the Jackal”, “The Parallex View” and “3 Days of the Condor”?
    And, although not really kid oriented, there are always “The Thin Man” movies-just make sure you watch them with all the provisions for sophisticated cocktail making-drinking is an art form when practiced by the lovable Nick and Nora:)

  24. Warning: Amelie has the “orgasm heard around the world” in it.

  25. Her?!?!?

    I watched this with my FRIENDS and it was crazy awkward. Just trying to picture watching it with my mom is hilarious and reminds me of the time I watched “Vanilla Sky” with my super conservative mother in high school. Remember when Cameron Diaz yells, “I let you come in my mouth!!” Yep. My mom looked at me, horrified, and I just blurted out “I don’t know what that means!”

    But, I did know.

  26. I adore The Family Stone :)

  27. I just watched Muscle Shoales (documentary on Netflix!) with my mom at Thanksgiving and it was a WINNER. About her era music, but it is really about this tiny Alabama town that has a music studio that pushed out some of the best hits of the 60s/70s/80s… like you won’t believe! Also, we’re into Serial and so we watched The Devil’s Knot–about the West Memphis Three. ALSO SO GOOD! A bit sad / crazy and not great for someone with a super conservative / religious family, but it generated a lot of good convo for us.

  28. My husband and I recently watched We Bought a Zoo and it was really sweet and fun. I think I would have a hard time watching Fargo with anyone from my extended family. I remember when I watched it with my mom and when it came to the sex scene with the hookers in the motel she just looked at me and said, “okay, i’ve had enough of this movie”…very awkward. Stardust is fun and a big yes to all the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. My husband loves all of them!

  29. I absolutely adore The Royal Tenenbaums (all time favourite movie, I think), but there are four reasons why I won’t watch it with my mother or my in-laws: naked lesbian makeout scene.

  30. I absolutely second the suggestion for ‘Chef’ we’ve bought that for a dvd crowd pleaser this Christmas, saw it at the cinema and its great!

  31. I agree with most movies recommendations but I personally thought that “Her” was theeee worst movie I have ever watched. I even went to bed half way I just couldn’t. The story is weird, the acting is so-so and the plot made me want to slit my wrist.

    I think any Woody Allen movie would be a good idea and I also want to add The Grand Budapest Hotel :)

  32. Awesome list, Jo.

    I would recommend:

    Beethoven(one of my all-time favourites)
    Mrs. Doubtfire
    Curly Sue
    Home Alone
    The Family Man
    Honey,I Shrunk the Kids
    Adventures in Babysitting
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
    The Never Ending Story

    Happy watching!

  33. There are some great ones on that list!! I definitely couldn’t handle watching The Graduate or Her in front of anyone… I can’t even watch them alone, had to turn them off!! I echo what others have said about Walter Mitty, Dan in Real Life, and Little Women… 3 or my favorites. What about Lars and the Real Girl and Confessions of a Shopaholic?

  34. I received the DVD of Amelie for Christmas one year and I watched it with my family that afternoon. I think that they liked it and I am sure would never have seen it otherwise. I tried not to be too nervous about their impressions! ^_^

    My favorite movie to watch this time of year is Little Women. And I am always down for a Jane Austen flick!

  35. A few years back I was part of a wide age group who watched and enjoyed “Men in Black”. I’m talking about ages 6 to 70.

  36. I love chicken run, which is not without some references to the great escape.
    Fargo( although violent at the end) is my all time favorite!!!!

  37. Definitely second The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Also, What About Bob, You’ve Got Mail, and Love Actually.

  38. Her is great, but I definitely wouldn’t want to be next to my mother during the phone sex scenes. And for everyone who’s suggesting Love Actually- if there are children around, make sure it’s the TBS version and not the actual film! (One of my favorite Christmas movies though!)

  39. Love Actually, Definitely Maybe and Little Manhattan would be my picks :)

  40. “I really wish this would just be over” – my dad, while watching Her sex scenes with me, my mom, and my boyfriend. Hah!

  41. I think all the people suggesting Love Actually mean the ABC family version aka the one where they take out the entire story line of the movie stand ins, definitely scenes you don’t want to forget about before popping the DVD in with a house full of family members! You’ve Got Mail (and it’s earlier inspiration, The Shop Around The Corner) are great picks!

  42. Our best family movie experience was THE HANGOVER!!!! No joke. I’ve never —- never seen my mom laugh like that. :) Who knew?! My brother, that’s who! Haha!!

  43. Sweet land. Clean, funny and cute while serious regarding post war rural American immigrants

  44. The Family Stone and Dan in Real LIfe! Both are heartfelt and hilarious!

  45. What a great list!
    We keep coming back to all of the Toy Story movies, The Princess Bride, & Back to School. My dad can’t stop laughing with the triple lindy. I’m really excited for Into the Woods to come out because I think it is a great story!

  46. my family will stop whatever they’re doing to get together and watch labyrinth, ghostbusters, ¡three amigos!, old episodes of masterpiece’s sherlock holmes with jeremy brett, and, randomly, romancing the stone.

  47. The Royal Tenenbaums has always been my favorite movie…so happy to see that still heading this post :)

  48. Love Actually and 2 Days in New York are fun movies to watch also.

  49. Ahh The Graduate and Harold and Maude are movies I like to watch with potential life partners to gauge how well we mesh, not at all movies I watch with my family!

    Personal favorite is Little Women with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder, it’s wintery and cozy and uplifting.

  50. Ocean’s Eleven, Rainman, Ghost, E.T., Speed…

  51. Random…but All the President’s Men. Love that one.

  52. One more- The Family Stone! Perfect for the holidays. Thanks for the great list :).

  53. My mom and I just watched Chef with John Favreau and it was so great! Nothing scary, spooky or too sexy. Just a total feel-good, fun movie. Have snacks handy because it will make you hungry :).

  54. Love this list! I would add Casablanca and surprisingly enough I think the Lego Movie should be added to the fm silt list!

  55. Love Actually is a holiday favorite, and I think Silver Linings Playbook is hilarious and heartwarming.

  56. I thought Up in the Air was so sad. Some funny moments, but ultimately so very sad.

    I nominate Moonstruck.

  57. We watched “This is 40” with my in laws (a sweet “apple pie” type Midwest couple). Talk about an awkward family movie choice.

  58. This reminds me of a headline I saw on the Onion the other day — Millions Of Holiday Travelers Return From Parents’ Homes All Caught Up On ‘The Mentalist’ :)

  59. Hi Jo, it sure seems like you’ve taken it up a notch lately. Thanks got all the great content. This list will be invaluable when my 89 year old mother arrives next week!

  60. We had our grandparents for thanksgiving and we ended up watching The Blind Side and everyone loved it- even if you’ve seen it. I hadn’t even thought to think of something to do after we ate and it was perfect. This list is great!

  61. Doesn’t The Departed have a million f-bombs? Also, pretty sure in Fargo the kidnappers have sex in the same hotel room (not with each other!) There’s some great ones, and also listed here in the comments. Loved The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with my parents. also surprisingly, American Hustle has very few swear words and no sex, hurrah for pretence abstinence during family time!
    I’d also add Stardust (fun!), The Princess Bride, Grand Budapest Hotel :)

  62. We always love Dan in Real Life because it’s such a feel good family movie.
    I would also agree with the previous commenters that the “sex scene” in Her would be insanely awkward with relatives watching with you!

  63. Oh my gosh this is such a great idea! And I feel like I will be using this movie list for random saturday nights when my husband and I are browsing movies for what seems like hours, trying to find the right one. I would add Super 8.

  64. Just watched “the sure thing” from 1987 with john cusack… Hilarious and sweet and had the whole family laughing

  65. I have to add Home For The Holidays. really good Robert Downey jr.

  66. There is definite potential awkwardness with the movie Her…. I would be mortified to watch this with my in-laws….

  67. I’d throw The Hundred Foot Journey into the hat, too. That was darn good.

  68. While You Were Sleeping–with Sandra Bullock. It’s a little older movie but so so good. The in-laws big Victorian house scenes were actually filmed at a home across the street from my in-laws in Chicago. So when we used to live on the East coast (and couldn’t travel with our newborns at Xmas) we would watch this movie to remind us of home. Love me some Sandra Bullock!

  69. I would for sure add The Sting! Also Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And my father in law LOVES Hello Dolly! ;)

  70. I’d add anything from Harry Potter. You really can’t go wrong!

    Totally agree with Indiana Jones, though I personally loved The Last Crusade best.

  71. Departed has a very awkward sex scene to watch with one’s dad… but it’s such a good movie!
    Worst memory of watching a movie with my parents was when my high school boyfriend and I went to see Fear with my parents. Do you remember that one? Still blush.

  72. What about some fun movies that are Christmassy but not TOO Chrismassy? We’re going to watch Die Hard, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (ok, it’s pretty Chrismassy but it’s hilarious)… and some others of that ilk.

  73. Casablanca. :-)

  74. Hmm I disagree with some of these! There’s no way I’d watch “Her” or “The Graduate” with my family (specifically thinking of my dad here).

    However, I would add “Sleepless in Seattle”, “You’ve Got Mail”, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, “Love Actually” and “Jurassic Park” to the list! As well as a few others I’m sure I just can’t think of right now.


  75. I think “The Graduate” would be super awkward to watch with older relatives. It is all about the sex.

  76. Back to the Future trilogy (the future he goes to is 2015!) is good for families. Goodfellas definitely doesn’t pass the language test!

  77. I get really awkward when any unexpected sex scene crops up in a movie when watching with my mum… A serious case of hide behind my hands comes into play!

    I love watching Grease with my family though, just a classic and such a great movie to sing along to.

    Charli | Beauty and Lifestyle Blogger at CHARLI B

  78. great movies, but how does Goodfellas pass the language and violence test?
    Going to a movie with my parents at Christmastime last year, I was really glad in retrospect that we chose American Hustle and not Wolf of Wall Street! I recommend Back to Future trilogy as family friendly, especially as the future is meant to 2015.

  79. The Princess Bride. So great!

  80. Well..Goodfellas? Like every other word is a curse word and there’s TONS of gratuitous violence. I love it and everything, but.

  81. Great list! Such great movies. I also enjoy “The Way Way Back” with family, and think the movie “Chef” would be a good family movie, too.

  82. I love The Departed, but I think the language caviot wasn’t taken into consideration. There are a LOT of f-bombs dropped.

  83. Jo! Language! Love it.

  84. ak says...

    The ones you listed under adventure are my standbys for movie night with my dad (I’ll have to try The Great Escape)

  85. My mom only likes watching family movies, because those are the only storylines she can follow, or maybe she only pays attention to those movies haha. My Christmas family movie recommendations are Elf, Arthur Christmas, and Rise of the Guardians! Eloise at Christmastime is cute too :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  86. I second The Secret Life of Walter Mitty–that movie has family-friendly crowd-pleaser written all over it! In fact, I saw it in the theater on Christmas Day with my siblings last year :)

  87. Every Christmas break without fail we sit down and watch The Lord of the Rings. It might be the extended DVDs or just an hour or two on TNT (it seems to be constantly running in Decembet,) or even The Hobbit in theaters, but it’s always there in some capacity- It’s our family tradition! Merry Christmas!

  88. Ooohh, I don’t know about “Her”. I watched that on a plane and I definitely felt mildly ashamed that people could see what I was watching (and of course, having seen the film, it really doesn’t matter what you are seeing, but what you are hearing).

  89. Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for the awesome list! My family always gets stuck on movie choices during the holidays.

    Word of warning though: Her has a really awkward phone sex scene at the very beginning (learned this the hard way sitting next to my dad on the couch!)


  90. No Christmas movies to recommend? I would like to add Miracle on 34th St is one of my favorite movies to watch with my family around the holidays

  91. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — add to your Adventure list!

    I can NOT deal with watching any bit of sexual material in front of family members. If something unexpected comes up, I usually start talking and asking questions during those scenes to distract everyone. They humor me, and I suspect they know what I’m doing.

  92. This is an incredible documentary about an almost unbelievable story:
    Just saw it the other night with my husband and thought of you and your documentary posts. : )