What Movies Do You Watch With Kids?

What Movies Do You Watch With Kids?

On Saturday, Toby, Anton and I went to the theatre, took five escalators up, and sat down to see…

Wonder. Have you seen it? Based on the bestselling book, the film features a boy with facial differences who heads to mainstream school for the first time. The boys LOVED it — and,
now that the boys are in school (with all those ups and downs), I loved the message of how kindness prevails over bullying.

We’ve gotten into watching movies with the boys, and every Sunday, we’ll make dinner — this yummy soup yesterday — and watch one. Luckily, since they’re 4 and 7, they’re close enough in age to like the same movies.

Movies we all enjoyed:
Shrek was the first movie Toby and Anton saw, and they were fully obsessed for a year. (Evidenced here:)
Home Alone (1 and 2)
Back to the Future (The skateboards! The guitars! The DeLorean!)
Mary Poppins
Toy Story
Coco (Alex hadn’t cried in his entire adult life until this movie.)
Despicable Me
Hotel Transylvania (1 and 2)
The Incredibles
The Boss Baby (In Italy this past summer, Toby and Anton were chatting with their four-year-old friend, who kept calling it, “Boss BAYYYY-be” in his Italian accent. Too cute.)
Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Star Wars

Movies that didn’t quite work:
Inside Out and Storks were a little over their heads. The Harry Potter movies were too scary. Same with 101 Dalmations. They were TERRIFIED of Cruella de Vil. Toby spent the entire month afterward cowering under the covers at bedtime, thinking she might be approaching. (I think there’s something extra scary about being separated from your parents?) And the Sound of Music felt slow to them (heartbreak!) so I’ll try it again in a few years.

Movies we haven’t watched together yet, but I’d like to try:
Spirited Away
Charlotte’s Web
Finding Nemo
Lilo & Stitch
My Neighbor Totoro
Freaky Friday
How to Train Your Dragon
Goonies (I actually never saw this as a kid, did you like it?)

And, funnily enough, the boys also adore the grown-up movie God Help the Girl by the Scottish musician Stuart Murdoch (of Belle & Sebastian). They’re probably seen it 20 times and know all the song lyrics.

What about you? What movies do your family like? Which did you like growing up? I’d love to hear your recommendations…

P.S. 21 surprising parenting tips, and movie accents, rated.

(Photo by Wayne Miller.)

  1. Linda Z says...

    This is a rather old post, but I’ve raised a couple boys and here and many they’ve enjoyed: Megamind, Thunderbirds, Sky High, Hidden Figures, Ramona and Beezus, The Greatest Showman, 42, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (original), Big Hero 6, Enchanted, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Lion King, Charlotte’s Web, the Kevin Sullivan “Anne of Green Gables” series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Alexander and the Terrible…, Up, Star Wars, Ant Man, Wonder Woman, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Ratatouille, ET, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Because of Winn Dixie, Lemony Snicket, the Narnia series, Ever After, The Black Stallion, Spy Kids, Tangled, The Karate Kid, Lilo and Stitch, Mad Hot Ballroom, Hook, Jurassic Park, Holes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Parent Trap, and Nim’s Island. These were the ones which got multiple views at our house.

  2. You can’t go wrong with watching a Disney movie with your kids. Growing up, I enjoyed watching Beauty and the Beast.

  3. Emilie says...

    My 3yo thought Finding Nemo was scary, but loves Finding Dory (Sing is her all time fave). We just watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it was a big hit, as was Mary Poppins. Another great one from yester-year is Homeward Bound.

  4. Meredith Blake says...

    If Alex hadn’t cried until Coco, you clearly haven’t watched UP as a family yet. It makes me ugly, choke-sob EVERY TIME (and we’ve watched it many times). Not only is it one of my favorite kids movies, it’s one of my favorites PERIOD!

    Other favs: The Secret of Roan Inish and A Song of the Sea (which is similar but animated), Totoro, or really, anything Ghibli.

  5. We have a Studio Ghibli box set. My son LOVES Totoro! We got him one of those full bodied plush costumes and he has worn it at least 3-4 times. Also Ponyo.

    Other favorite: Moana, Trolls, Cars, Fantastic Mr Fox.

  6. Elizabeth says...

    A must watch for kids and adults is Song of the Sea. Just check out the reviews on Amazon, you won’t be disappointed.

    • Christine says...

      I second Song of the Sea! And, The Secret of Kells by the same people. Also, from Studio Ghibli (in addition to Totoro, which many people have mentioned): Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo are both really sweet. Kubo and the Two Strings, too, for when they’re a bit older.

  7. Sara says...

    I’ve had a no-animated-movies policy most of my adult life because “someday they might be all I watch so I’m saving them up.” Well, now we have a baby and the catching up will begin soon!

    • Aimee says...

      I thought I was the only one who did this!!

  8. Jennifer says...

    I tried out La La Land with my 3 1/2 year olds last year…success! They even planned a La La Land birthday party. This year we saw The Greatest Showman and have been discussing themes and singing the soundtrack ever since.

  9. Lisa says...

    Olive Us! These are the cutest short videos created by the Blair (Design Mom) family. Our kids love them because they are easy to relate to (they are the same ages, 4 & 7, as some of the Blair kids).

    From their website ( “The series is made up of short episodes (typically 2 to 5 minutes) and showcases values we care about like working hard, being kind, helping each other, being creative, problem solving and staying positive even when frustrating things happen.
    Our family relationships aren’t perfect, but we hope by modeling positive examples in the videos that it will help us practice better relationships in real life.”
    Some of our favorites:
    -Stacking Wood
    -Lemonade Stand
    -How to be 2
    -Lemon Waffles
    -Kitchen Clean Up Dance Party

  10. Malika says...

    I have 12, 10 and 3 year old boys. I agree with all the above but I have to say, it’s a GREAT day when you can watch The Blues Brothers with your older kids and laugh and laugh (and ignore the swear words – you can make it no big deal) and enjoy the terrific music. Gremlins is another great one for a bit older kids, and ET was not so much scary, as MEGA STRESSFUL – do you remember that bit when he’s sick and the whole house is covered in a plastic bubble? Awful!!

  11. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a major classic in our house and swept through the primary school (in Australia). Its a beautiful and funny NZ film but has a bit of swearing – no more than Back to the Future though.

  12. Claudia says...

    Just watched God Help the Girl at your reco. We all loved it, even my 15yo son who who practically eye-rolled his eyeballs out when I said we all had to be in the room for it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that is so awesome, claudia!!

  13. Aileen Johnston says...

    Myself and my 5 year old absolutely love watching The BFG. Some bits might be a bit scary for little ones (although it doesnt bother my daughter) but I genuinely love it. I also like Matilda again which has some scary bits but if you think about it Roald Dahl books were quite scary. We also love Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory but neither of us like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp. Its just weird!! Christmas movies, she absolutely adores The Grinch, Home Alone 1&2 and Miracle on 34th Street (the 1994 version). For movies she loves but I cant stand are, Sing, All the Minion/Despicable Me ones, The Croods (I actually love that one myself) and Trolls.

  14. Erin says...

    Paddington! And we just saw Paddington 2 today in the theater and my daughter (5.5) and son (3.5) both loved it. I cried it was so wonderful!

  15. Amy says...

    My sister introduced our boys (2 and 5) to My Neighbor Totoro, and they both loved it! I bet Toby and Anton would too. How to Train Your Dragon is actually the first movie that our oldest latched into when he was younger. He wanted to watch it all the time. Then one day we were watching Sleeping Beauty and he was so upset when the dragon (Maleficent) died. I remember being so scared of her growing up, but he was all concerned about “what happened to the dragon?!”

  16. Katie says...

    Milo and Otis
    Charlotte’s Web
    Secret Life of Pets

  17. Rachel says...

    The Emperor’s New Groove is a great one for boys!

    • Kirsty Magallon says...

      and girls!

  18. So far our kid hasn’t loved many of my childhood favorites (Jim Henson flicks like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal). She did love Ghostbusters, Home Alone 1 & 2, Freaky Friday. All the Lilo & Stitch movies are a fave in our house.

    A few I didn’t see mentioned:
    • Monsters vs. Aliens
    • Ella Enchanted
    • All the new Smurfs movies
    • Brave
    • Minions (great music!)
    • The Incredibles

  19. Jennifer says...

    My eight-year-old daughter and five-year-old son fell completely in love with Home Alone 1 and 2 this past Christmas season. They continue to quote the line, “Keep the change, ya filthy animal!” in an old time movie voice. It’s adorable and makes me smile every time I hear them say it. In the fall, we watched “Baby’s Day Out,” which (unbeknownst to me at the time) is also a John Hughes movie. My son giggled so much during that movie. Growing up in the 80s, I was and still am a huge fan of John Hughes and became an official member of his fan club when I was 14! I received a 45 with “Beat City” on it from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and “She’s Having A Baby” and “Some Kind of Wonderful” pins, which I wore proudly in 8th grade. Last week, my daughter was talking about a scene in some other movie and said, “I mean, it was funny, but not John Hughes funny.” The legend lives on.

  20. Maggie says...

    Bedknobs and Broomsticks
    I remember loving it as a kid.

  21. Micha says...

    I’ve just remembered Short circuit to watch with my 4 year old son

  22. Emma says...

    From the sound of your list, I think you guys might love Zootopia.

    When I was little (2-3) I used to watch Mark Morris’s silly version of the nutcracker, The Hard Nut, over and over and over. It was the first full length anything I ever watched was hypnotized by the music and the dancing.

  23. Declan says...

    Yea, as much as people make out Harry Potter to be super child friendly, it’s really the exact opposite.

    I always know it sounds mean and exclusionary to other people when I say young children really shouldn’t be consuming Harry Potter, but the blockbuster success of a fantasy story leads a lot to assume it’s fine for kids because everyone watches it, right? And it includes magic, and young people, and a boarding school. Right? But it also includes a lot of politics, discrimination and bigotry, mass amounts of character death and murder, torture, sadomasochism, fascism, righteous anger, depression, and self-sacrifice.

    Harry Potter, and the wider J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World brand, is really quite obviously a brand meant for and marketed to teenagers and younger adult audiences. I believe they’re the oldest skewing films you mention in this post.

    Seriously, it’s relatively common knowledge that three of the 8 films had to really push against the R rating.

    And with the content being coming-of-age and loss of innocence oriented, the films and the books especially contain a lot of bloody violence, strong horror elements, true tragedy in which the main character comes to sacrifice himself, extremely complex plotting and characterizations, sensual and moderately sexual elements between teens and adults, profanity, including the words slut, bastard, arse, and bitch, and scenes where the teen and adult characters drink, sometimes to drunkenness, and sometimes to numb the pain of death. The amount of tough, really adult situations and emotionally deep realms it handles is, for a mainstream fantasy blockbuster, quite shocking.

    Saying Harry Potter is “too scary” for little kids is putting it mildly. It’s simply not a story that’s crafted for them. Some parents think it’s great for them because they like some of the more whimsical magical details of the series, but seriously, its audience is adolescents at youngest. Please wait till then, or you might risk spoiling the experience for your child, as they’ll either find it too dark and frightening, they won’t understand it (the reading level is also, at youngest, middle school/high school oriented,) or they’ll enjoy it for extremely immaterial reasons while not understanding anything remotely plot or character related, and they won’t come back to it again. The series does grade into darker territory than the first installment, but the first installment is still, again, quite dark relative to most or all of the films you list, and I think they shouldn’t be introduced to the first one if they can’t near understand and handle the entire series. It’s a journey of a story, adapted from novels, inspired by the author’s personal struggles with death, depression, single motherhood, abuse, trauma, and poverty. Its not as much a sit down piece of entertainment. And while it has its lighter moments, it is, overall, quite dark, and needs to be taken fairly seriously for all of the themes to hit and the entire story and array of character motivations to be clearly understood. Most of the themes a child just will not be old enough to make sense of or even understand at the most basic level. And when the last installment includes the bloody murder of a whole room of people, girls being tortured, branded with slurs, and almost murdered, near-rape, self-strangulation, bloody animal mauling, snakes bursting out of old women’s necks, naked make-outs between teens, and a brief image of a man cannibalizing a schoolgirl? Yea, no. I’m frustrated that people just sort of encourage the Harry Potter stories to be read and watched by young audiences who it clearly wasn’t written or made for. This has started to show up even in newer marketing for the Wizarding World brand. Not only is it just inappropriate, it really does a lot to trivialize and cartoon-ize an otherwise very dark and quite mature coming-of-age fantasy epic.

    • Cheryl says...

      Holy shit! You certainly given this some thought.
      My less thought out opinion is Harry Potter book 1 Sorcerer’s Stone was written for children who could read independently. So about 4th, 5th grade.
      Then those little people had to wait years on between books while Rowling did her thing. By the time book 7 came out her audience had matured considerably! It was magical for my stepdaughter to grow with Potter and by the time she finished the series (with all those sexual, violent, death saturated scenes) she had been hit by a car, lost multiple family members and had sex herself. In short, she didn’t need protecting from life itself.
      It’s up to us parents to force our children to wait as Rowling did. And that means the movies, too!

  24. Kelley says...

    Ramona and Beezus is a great movie.

  25. T says...

    Neverending story!

  26. Jessie says...

    We have family movie night each Saturday. We rotate who’s turn it is by birthday month. My daughters are 8, 6.5 and 3 .5 years old. My Neighbor Totoro is THE FAVORITE. They also like Kiki’s delivery service. Spirited Away is scary for them. My 3.5 year didn’t really get it my the older two were scared especially when the parents turn into pigs. My 8 year old LOVED Goonies but my younger once were too scared. They all actually loved The movie Clue especially the singing Telegram girl. Winnie the Pooh movie was good along with Barbie movies. They also really liked Mama Mia because they’ve been listening to Abba on the way to school. Another hit was The Santa clause movies with Tim Allen. They also really liked Mary Poppins, Home Alone, Inside Out, Moana. They only saw the first Harry Potter because my oldest is close to his age in the movie. Some others were Swiss Family Robinson, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Pippy Longstocking and Herbie. Oh! A really good one that they LOVED was Adventures of The Wilderness Family Parts 1, and 2. We did have to keep telling them, how they can’t sleep with a raccoon and have a picnic with a black bear.

  27. Liz says...

    My 2-1/2 year old loves E.T.! It is a little scary though. I almost feel like it would be scarier for slightly older kids because they have more of a context as to what scary is. He also loves Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Toy Story and Moana (of course). He was pretty into The Sandlot when I showed it to him, and Free Willy, which I actually found pretty boring as an adult. Very much agree on Inside Out. I loved it but he was bored.

    • Frances says...

      I was absolutely TERRIFIED of E.T. when I was little. I remember running away from the TV in fright. My older siblings used to torment me by extending a pointed finger and saying “E.T. phone home”. Naturally, I would run screaming to Mum. I think I still have some residual fear of E.T.; the thought of watching the movie now makes me a little bit scared…

  28. JB says...

    THANK YOU. This is such a hot topic for us right now as we have started movie nights on Friday but my little fella is pretty sensitive. He’s 4 1/2 and I’m scared of terrifying him, so this is great advice!

    I usually refer to common sense media for some guidance and it’s great, but it seems to say everything is for ages 8+. We did just watch My Neighbor Totoro and they loved it! We’re going to try Ponyo next (also Studio Ghibli). I wanted to try Spirited Awat too but my cousin who loved it warned me it’s more for 10-12 year olds (scary parts I guess). And don’t lose faith in the Sound of Music! Im sure there’ll come a time.

    Thanks again! Can’t wait to read the comments!

  29. Anneka says...

    Go with the first shirt!

  30. Megan says...

    Labyrinth and the Princess Bride are both favorites of mine that I’ve recently shared with my kiddos and they loved them!

  31. KRA says...

    I never watched it growing up, but my partner was a huge fan, so we watched “The Princess Bride” with our 6yo (at the time) twins. They LOVED it. Hearing them repeat scenes is the funniest thing. It’s become a family favorite. We also loved Coco–all four of us were crying throughout.

  32. Natalie T. says...

    My favourite movie growing up was Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
    I still remember how excited I was to see that movie in the theatre!

  33. ST says...

    My son has loved movies since he was 2.5. His favorite to date is the new version of Pete’s Dragon. He watched it soon after turning 3. The soundtrack is beautiful too.

  34. Meredith says...

    My 3 year old is obsessed with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – the older version. There are a few parts that I find to be a bit spooky; for example, the scene where the boat travels down the chocolate river. However, my little gal doesn’t bat an eye to it. I think we have watched it 20ish times? I think I’ll be digging into your list for some new flicks to try! :)

  35. Betsy says...

    Any suggestions for movies with zero scary parts? My 4.5 found both Happy Feet and Moana too scary.

    • kg says...

      Same! We watch Cars 1 & 3 (the harvester is “scary” & the demolition derby is “scary” but survivable b/c racecars).

    • Jessie says...

      Have you tried My Neighbor Totoro? My daughters loved it when they were 2 and 3.5 and my 3.5 year old now loves it too.

    • Jenni says...

      The Gruffo is very mild

    • Laura says...

      My 4.5 year old doesn’t like to be scared, either. She loves the new Peanuts, any Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s animated Cinderella. Lately all she requests is Amazon’s The Snowy Day, which is lovely.

    • Ajs says...

      Just tried watching Gruffalo with my 4-yr-old and he was so scared we had to stop after 10 minutes. “Big children can watch it, I don’t even want to watch it when I am 5”. We may try at 6… Would also love suggestions for movies with zero scariness.

  36. Rosemary says...

    When my nephew was a toddler, he fell in love with the movie Napoleon Dynamite. He loved Napoleon’s talent show dance so much that my sister would find him dancing along to that scene of the movie. He once tried to make friends with the cool 6/7 year olds that lived near his grandmother by walking up to them and doing his version of the dance. He was about 3 years old at that time. It was the coolest thing he could think of :D

  37. Samantha says...

    I saw Coco with my mom and my 19yo brother, and we ALL cried. I hadn’t seen my brother cry since we were kids. So beautiful and touching!

  38. The Snowman can be watched anytime of the year. Beautiful music and graphics!

  39. Leah says...

    My 7 yr old LOVED the first Indiana Jones (we watched it together a few weeks ago).

    Other favorites that I don’t think I saw on the list:
    The Lego Movie – kind of huge around here
    Monsters inc
    Chitty chitty bang bang

    • Leah says...

      Oh, and also all the Ice Age movies!

    • Elizabeth says...

      Cars 1 was on loop in my house when my son was little. We used to joke that his wedding would feature Lightning Mcqueen!

      Home Alone (1&2), Ice Age movies, Toy story all of them (I still cry at the end of the 3rd one).
      More recent movies, Diary of a Whimpy Kid movies (my kiddos are 10) and Captain Underpants were hits.

      We’re watching Back to the Future this weekend for our movie night! Can’t wait!

  40. Anne says...

    Was “captain underpants” suggested? It was really fun for the parents and the kids (4 and 7 years old).

  41. Kelcie says...

    It’s funny you mention how scary separation from parents is. We hadn’t considered that; but when we watched Moanna with my 3 year old son, the scary part was not the fire breathing volcano monster for him. He became emotional and tearful when she sailed into the ocean, saying “where are her mama and papa?!” We had to finish the movie with him in my lap.

  42. Annemie de Jager says...

    Agreed on your entire list! My 4-year old boy also loves The Fantastic Mr Fox by Wes Anderson, and another favourite is The Cat Returns, also by Studio Ghibli.

    • Samantha says...

      I found The fantastic Mr Fox kinda scary as a teen. Human bodies with animal heads freak me out!

  43. Shannon Keely says...

    My Neighbor Totoro has always been a favorite of mine! Kiki’s Delivery Service is another good one by Studio Ghibli. I was obsessed with Balto as a kid, and the classic animated Robin Hood.

  44. Elly says...

    WRECK IT RALPH! It’s so funny and has a great lesson. Bonus: the sequel is coming out this fall!

    Coco is my current favorite. Such a lovely story and the film itself was beautiful.

  45. Ellie says...

    My mom made us watch classic musicals growing up. Many of them didn’t stick, Singing in the Rain was and still is a favorite! The dancing and plot and actors are adorable. Also, the Princess Bride will forever have a place in my heart! Might be better for when they’re a little older.

  46. Andrea says...

    I haven’t seen it yet in the comments — the old Disney Pete’s Dragon was a favorite of mine growing up! I loved the songs, the lighthouse and of course, the dragon.

  47. Greta says...

    High School Musical (the third one especially) is an abosulte favorite of my 3 year old daughter. Also Newsies! And Singing in the Rain!

    • Samantha says...

      My brother and I loved it when we were kids! We even saw HSM on Ice!

  48. tina k says...

    The Peanuts Movie! There are no scary parts to fast forward and my two-year-old son actually laughs out loud watching it :)

  49. Monica says...

    I recommend Ponyo on the cliff by the sea, from studio Gigli, as Totoro and Spirited Away but, at least for me, more sweet and happy.
    Thanks a lot for your blog, I really enjoy it, keep on doing it so good!

  50. Susan says...

    You HAVE to watch My Neighbour Totoro! My boys are 4 and 7 also and they were absolutely transfixed the first time they watched it a few months ago (the scene with Totoro at the bus stop is divine!) And as an adult it’s a beautifully constructed film to watch and appreciate, with its depictions of childhood so well done. Ponyo on the Cliff is another beautiful Studio Ghibli film, as is Kiki’s Delivery Service. I adore the bitter sweet sub-themes of kids growing up and finding their place in the world.

  51. Karyn says...

    How to Train Your Dragon (1 &2)!

  52. CB says...

    To add my whole family have loved:

    The Iron Giant
    The Illusionist (French)

  53. MissEm says...

    My kids are also 4 and 7 but are suuuuuuper sensitive to movies, even things like Elf, Cars, Frozen…nope. No go. They leave the room in tears and ask to turn them off (Elf – the dad was on the naughty list and didn’t know he had a son – it was too much to handle!). So all we’ve been able to attempt so far is Totoro (beautiful), Sound of Music, Mary Poppins (always ask to fast forward the bank scene), Kiki’s Delivery Service, and lots and lots of shorter shows like 70s Paddington shorts and Peter Rabbit & Friends. I was a really sensitive kid, and people often pushed things on me thinking it would help me “get over” whatever was cutting me to the quick, but that never worked. When I watched something in my own time, there was peace and growth, when I watched it on their timeline, there was seemingly endless anxiety. So I try to listen to my littles and watch for the moment when we can start having REAL family movie nights (instead of family Bake-Off viewings with the weekly “kids leave the room sniffling when they announce the loser”!).

  54. Marie says...

    Ernest & Celestine ! The sweetest most beautiful French animation movie !! A wonderful friendship story between a bear and a mouse. My kiddos loved it

  55. Lael says...

    Dont do Goonies yet!! Had some very scary imagery when I saw it again yesterday! Man hanging from a noose, to start things off! I was surprised by this.

    Also, Totoro was my sister and I’s absolute favorite! We would have my mom rent it ever. single. week. It is magical!!

  56. Thank you for these ideas!

    We have a 4yo boy and a 2yo girl and they love My Neighbor Totoro. I think they have watched it about 20 times already!

  57. Great post! First of all, hello to all you wonderful people that comment – I have enjoyed reading your comments for a while now. This however, is MY FIRST EVER COMMENT!

    This post caused a stir in my memory, and took me right back to being a 9 year old girl, opening up one of my favourite ever christmas presents on Christmas Day… A VHS of the Disney film Mulan. I fell asleep on the coach that afternoon, during the SECOND viewing. I. Was. Obsessed. I’m 26 years old now, and this still remains my favourite kids/family movie. As a young girl myself, it blew my mind that a young Chinese girl living in a patriarchal would cut her beautiful long hair and impersonate a boy, to sneak off in the dead of night to save her aging father from being drafted in the military. She would take his place. The bravery! The complete lack of self-consciousness! And the love a young girl has for her father. Quite a story for an impressionable young person to take in…

    I highly recommend watching this one.

    • Patriarchal society * :)

  58. Nicole says...

    Song of the Sea! Right up there with Totoro and Spirited Away.

  59. Anna Louise Cohen says...

    So funny about ones that didn’t work. ‘Tangled’ didn’t work for my boys – they freaked over the Mum faking being loving when really was a villain – as they said Mums can’t be like that!?!?!? Star Wars is still too much for my 7 year old, so he has only seen a few. Also agree with ‘inside out’ – we adults loved it, them not so much. i have a rule : if it’s a book, we read it first, then see the movie. Favourites have been Marley and me (we all ugly cried), the secret garden, wonder. Saw the recent Jumangi this week and it was a HIT!!!

  60. kimberly says...

    in additional to many of the movies that i see were mentioned, my 2-year-old loves the muppet movie and even jim henson’s the dark crystal. she also likes zootopia, the fantastic mr. fox and the tale of despereaux. oh and babe ?

  61. JASMINE PAYNE says...

    My Neighbor Totoro
    Kiki’s Delivery Service

  62. Ashley Koehn says...

    Love this post! My sister and I are four years apart, and below were some of our favorite movies growing up (and let’s be honest, still are today). Hope you and your boys enjoy!
    – Mrs. Doubtfire (Modern day Mary Poppins)
    – Sister Act 1 and 2
    – Hook

    • Sara says...

      Hook! I was obsessed with that movie as a kid. I still watch Mrs. Doubtfire on the regs :-D

  63. Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella, Mulan, and Kiki’s Delivery Service!

  64. Ilona says...

    Not sure if it’s been mentioned (over 600 comments!) but Song of the Sea is a film my daughter LOVED. We saw it when she was five and we have it on DVD now. She’s easily scared and this didn’t freak her out.

    • Totally agree with Song of the Sea. Beautiful imagery and a soft story that doesn’t feel scary even though there are big moments. Also, Ernest and Celestine based on a French series of books was cute and with such an economy of line that the scenes sometimes just come out of the air. Like watercolour painting come to life. There is also a fun caper in the middle as the bear and mouse are fugitives.

    • Sarah says...

      It is beautiful and moving but I have to disagree that it’s not scary! It is rather dark. I think it depends on the kid. It scared my daughter at around age 4 but she liked it at age 6.

  65. Lisette says...

    Great list, thank you!
    My 4 year old son loves Paddington (I and II) and Stuart Little (I and II)! And I love watching him laugh out loud about the jokes :-)

  66. meghan says...

    We love the Goonies. Also big Indiana Jones Fans (my son is 8 and was Indiana for Halloween this year.) He also enjoyed Mighty Ducks and I can not wait for him to watch Anne of Green Gables (the original 1980s version). We’re reading through Harry Potter and he watches the movie after he finishes each book.

  67. Naomi P. says...

    Having a daughter with a cleft lip scar… I’m not sure I am ready for Wonder… I think I will find it uplifting and wonderful – but too real. She doesn’t have any issues, but I’m now hypersensitive about kids being bullied for facial differences… I just want to hug and love them all! My daughter (6 yo) was given the book for Christmas – perhaps we will read it first (for my sake). :)

    That being said – I agree with your list and want to add the following:
    -How to train your dragon – a bit scary at first, but so so lovely after.
    – Aristocats – lovely, funny, exciting all in one – and nostalgic old school animation
    – Jungle Book and Robin Hood both get double/triple thumbs up (esp Jungle Book)
    – Monsters Inc and Monsters University for sure! Again, funny, silly, and exciting (and a bit scary – but not evil like Cruella DeVille)

    There are just too many to mention.

    Do you know It’s our go-to to review movies and books.

  68. Sarah says...

    ET is the first movie I saw in theaters. I still remember it vividly as my 7 year old self. The Egyptian theater in downtown Boise and my dad. The best. I hope my daughters first movie theater experience is memorable.

  69. Kit says...

    I’ve got a houseful of girls, but some favourites are Now and Then, The Baby-Sitters Club, A League of Their Own, Beethoven 1 & 2, Heavyweights, Homeward Bound, The Secret Garden, Addams Family and Addams Family Values, She’s the Man, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Harriet the Spy (which I have a feeling Toby would love, then run around the park with a composition notebook).

  70. Every Friday night in our house is “Pizza Movie Night”. Its sacred to us — Kirk and I never go out that night (well, with very few exceptions) and we all stay in as a family and watch a movie together while eating pizza. (The only time we let the kids eat while watching something, ha!) I feel like we’re making such good memories and it’s a lot of fun for all of us.

    We love a lot of the same ones you mentioned above, although, it’s funny… my kids are fine with 101 Dalmatians but Star Wars scares them.

    Some more of our favorites:
    Swallows and Amazons
    Kung Fun Panda
    A Little Princess
    The Secret Garden
    The Jungle Book (animated)
    Robin Hood (animated)
    Sword and the Stone
    Pippi Longstocking (dubbed from Swedish)
    Bedknobs and Broomsticks
    Lion King
    Monsters Inc.
    Singing in the Rain
    Wizard of Oz

  71. Erin says...

    Wall-E was a hit for my robot lover.

  72. Alyssa says...

    I must be the only person in the world who was obsessed with ET as a 3 year old. I am not sure how my parents (well, my dad – my mom was horrified!) convinced me that ET was “so cuuuute.” But we have video evidence of me delighted and dancing around the living room once ET and Elliot fly off into the sky on their bike.

    TL; DR – every kid is different! But sometimes parents can manipulate their kids into liking movies that they do ;)

    • Alyssa says...

      As for a recommendation, what about Anastasia? Rasputin might be a little scary still, but the bat could make up for that. Especially since the musical is now on Broadway – maybe that could be your bridge to Sound of Music :)

  73. Hallie says...

    My 6yo loves The Nightmare Before Christmas!

  74. Katie says...

    swiss family robinson!!! that tree house!

  75. Abby says...

    I highly recommend the 1973 Pippi Longstocking films, which my 5 year old and almost-3 year old both loved.

    • Christi says...

      Ahh yeah! Tralalalala!

  76. Marcy K says...

    Big Hero 6 was a surprisingly great movie for my kids (3 and 6) and for adults!

  77. One of my favorite movies growing up was “Polly,” a live action Disney movie that’s a riff on Polyanna. It’s set in a segregated neighborhood in the mid-20th century, and Polly and her aunt (and of course many of the other main characters) are both Black. The ending is so sweet and heartwarming, I still tear up thinking about it. I can’t wait until my son is old enough to watch it with me!

  78. Tiffany says...

    My boys love The Goonies, and we do, too. Just be aware that the PG rating of the 1980s was a bit different than that of today. The first time we sat down to watch it, I was a bit shocked at the language (and strangely did not remember it from my childhood viewing). But overall, a very entertaining film for the family!

  79. Lena says...

    Penguins of Madagascar is HILARIOUS! I love it and my son loves it. An absolute must. We can watch it every month and we probably do. I wish it had sequels. Madagascar series are really fun for all family.

    Secret Life of Pets is amazing as well.

  80. Brittni D says...

    Karate Kid and 3 Ninjas!

  81. Twyla says...

    I haven’t met a boy yet that didn’t love the Sandlot. It’s so funny and bang-on their level (“Pee drinking crap face!”). Definitely great for the age 7-11.

    • Tiffany says...

      Yes- my boys love The Sandlot, too! They watched it (and re-enacted it ) all summer.

  82. We’ve been watching Space Jam, 3 Ninjas, and all the other movies I watched growing up that are on Netflix and Hulu. I’m always surprised when my kids really like them.

  83. Betsy says...

    My kids love Fantastic Mr. Fox and Paddington Bear.

    • Kel says...

      Yes! Paddington is just too beautiful for words. My 8 year old listened to the audio first and then laughed all the way through the movie, while I drooled at the styling.

    • Kk says...

      My kiddos 3 and 5 love fantastic mr Fox!

    • Maggie says...

      After reading the book first, my then 6 yo. HATED Paddington! She didn’t like how they deviated from the plot, and y the villain was very scary for her.

  84. Katherine says...

    I don’t have kids of my own yet but I love all these movies myself! Just saw Boss Baby recently and I mean Alex Baldwin as a baby is just about the best thing ever. There’s one line that made me sob with laughter: When the older brother says that his parents wrote the Blackbird lullaby for him, the baby says “Are your parents Lennon and McCartney?!” Hahahhaa I don’t know why that tickles me so much but even just thinking about it has me giggling again. I so appreciate when kids movies have subtle jokes for the adults watching, too.

  85. Liz says...

    I don’t have kids, but am a fan of kids movies :)
    Since you mentioned Spirited Away, I would think that most Studio Ghibli movies would be wonderful. A couple are scary but My Friend Totoro and Ponyo would go over well with kids.
    Ponyo is a gem, loosely based off of the little mermaid. I find it heartwarming and the underwater creatures and depictions are stunning. Also Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Matt Damon and Kate Blanchett voice acting??? Perfection.

    • C says...

      This is my favorite kids movie of all time. So beautiful – Song of the Sea would be a close second.

  86. I also tried HP but my son was too scared of it. And then he started reading the book and when we watched the movie again he is not as scared and wants me to buy the next ones.

    We saw Totoro and it became my son’s fave. He would actually stop the scenes in Toy Story 3 where Totoro is part of just to see his amazing smile.

    I would suggest Narnia and Spiderwick Chronicles when they are ready. I admit its a bit scary but its also so magical and movie and effects are done well =)

    We need to see Wonder as my son loves the book!

    • Kel says...

      I also agree about reading Harry Potter first. We listened to the amazing Jim Dale narration first, and then the movie. My 8 year old’s obsessed. Each movie gets darker and heavier so, for my older three kids, we’ve had a 1 book & movie per year guideline. It’s torture for them to wait, but that’s what most of us had to do when they first came out! Makes a great birthday bonus.

  87. Chelsea says...

    Homeward Bound was a favorite of ours as kids that we couldn’t wait to show our 3-year-old son. He loves it, too! Planes: Fire & Rescue is highly under-rated. We LOVE the movie – the music, message, and humor is all so great. It also proved to be a great one to see because this year our neighbors had a house fire in the middle of the night, and we had to run outside as it spread to our house too. It was very traumatic for all of us. It was sort of a relief that my son already had a grid for fire and what firefighters do from that movie.

    Other family faves so far: Cars, The Polar Express, How To Train Your Dragon, Zootopia, and Secret Life of Pets. What a perfect post for January! Thanks for the inspiration!

  88. SR says...

    I remember watching Forrest Gump on repeat as a child, which looking back, was a terrible option for children!

    We do a lot of Fantastic Mr. Fox!

  89. Laura says...

    Just popping down to say I LOVE that they’re obsessed with God Help the Girl! Such a good film! I never thought about showing it kids! Thanks for the tip :)

  90. Jad says...


  91. As a kid and adult I love(d) Neverending Story and Wizard of Oz. Others I loved growing up: Little Rascals, Little Giants, Tom & Huck, Casper, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Fantasia, the Parent Trap, Fly Away Home, the Jungle Book (live and cartoon versions), Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan (cartoon) and Hook.

    • One summer as a kid, I watched The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, and Return to Oz (sequel with Fairuza Balk and a seriously, seriously, messed up movie but also amazing, check it out if you’ve never heard of it) every single day. Every SINGLE day. My mom was super thrilled.

      If they like fantasy at all these might be good choices, but I could also see how they might be scary? Especially if 101 Dalmatians scared them. I was always able to handle those sorts of themes as a kid pretty well, so it’s all a matter of knowing your kids.

  92. Gretchen says...

    One my kids loved and I don’t often see of lists of movies for kids is “Milo and Otis”. It’s a live action movie about the friendship between a cat and a dog and their adventures narrated by Dudley Moore

  93. Katie says...

    Just letting you know that I’m STILL traumatized by watching ET when I was in Elementary school. I want to rewatch it but know I’d be crying the whole time in anticipation.

    • Trust me, time has not been kind to that movie, in my opinion.

      I was also traumatized, but in a different way … I was forced to watch it by at least 3 different teachers in one week, and then that same week my grandparents made me watch it AND a friend played it at their birthday party. I was so sick of that stupid alien by the end of the week! I tried watching it as an adult and the feelings of rage I have for that movie have not diminished. I still hate it.

  94. Alice says...

    Babe! :)

    If you’re not familiar with it already, the website is a great resource for finding movies (and games, tv, books, etc. ) that are just the right age for you kids. I like that they have their own rating, as well as ratings from kids and parents. They also suggest questions or theme to talk about related to that content.