Motherhood

The 10 Best and Worst Family Movies (According to Toby and Anton)

The Best and Worst Family Movies (According to Kids)

Eight-year-old Toby loves a good ritual, and he recently named Wednesday evenings “Family Fun Night,” where we order pizza and watch a movie. Fine by me! Here, Toby and five-year-old Anton share their favorite and least favorite movies we have seen (and I’d love to hear yours)…

Parent Trap

The Parent Trap
Toby: If I could have a sister, it would be the girl in Parent Trap. Hallie lives in California, and Annie and her mom have a butler! They do a special handshake. I think kids would like it. I could teach kids how to do it, if they want to know. I’ve watched Parent Trap three or five times!
Anton: I’ve seen Parent Trap two times. I like the pranks. They put a lizard on a lady’s head.
Toby: I also wrote a letter to Dennis Quaid. I said, I’m a fan!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Toby: It rains food, and I would like it to rain pasta every day. I would have rigatoni with marinara and parmesan cheese. I have the book, too.
Anton: I like that movie. I would have it rain anchovies because I love anchovies and Daddy loves anchovies.

Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Toby: I love Spider-Man. He is very cool and learns how to swing from trees. But at the beginning, Peter Parker died because of Kingpin. I would not recommend watching that movie if you don’t like death scenes. It was so sad. All the people in the movie were crying and covering their mouths. It made me feel sad the next day, too.

Enchanted

Enchanted
Toby: I would recommend this movie to kids. They live in New York, and all the animals come to help clean the apartment but they are rats and pigeons and cockroaches. It’s funny and gross. I like when they get married at the end and the dad does a funny dance.
Anton: (Does the funny dance)

Sing

Sing
Toby: You get to hear all the animals singing in a competition. I liked the part where Johnny’s dad says, ‘Son, I’m so proud of you.’
Anton: I like Johnny and his song, ‘I’m Still Standing.’ If I could sing a song, I would sing ‘Take on Me’ or ‘Let My Love Open the Door.’

Sound of Music

The Sound of Music
Toby: I didn’t like this one as much. I guess it’s okay, but I think there are better movies.
Anton: I love the Sound of Music. (hiccups) I liked the chase scene, and I like when they sing Edelweiss because we sing that at home.

Inside Out

Inside Out
Toby: I think this movie is boring. The family moves to this house that’s really annoying. And Joy is annoying because she’s always happy. And it’s confusing. Also, they say Fear keeps Riley scared but he actually keeps her safe. They should call him ‘safe.’

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Toby: This movie makes us laugh all the time. The door of their minivan falls off. Alexander’s big brother goes to prom. I kind of think I look like the big brother.
Anton: You do look like the big brother!

Coco

Coco
Toby: This movie is really good. You think it will be scary because of the skeletons but it’s not scary. Daddy cried when we watched it. But I thought it was happy because you get to see your family who died.

Trolls

Trolls
Toby: Trolls has a lot of good Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick songs. And it’s all about how to be happy. Everyone has it inside them to be happy. Basically, you don’t need to eat a troll to be happy.

And for the future?
Toby: I would recommend Freaky Friday. It’s PG. I haven’t seen it but I want to.
Anton: I just want to watch any grown-up thing.

Thoughts? What would you — or the little ones in your life — add to the list?

P.S. A seven-year-old’s guide to surviving family travel, and parenting in 10 words or less.

(Photo illustration by Maud Passini for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Ashley says...

    Anton and Toby do it again! Love to hear these little voices. We will have to check out Coco.

  2. h says...

    the only way i could adore them more is if i actually knew them. so precious and soulful. i read the whole thing aloud to my husband and he said, “oh tobes!!” like we know him. <3

  3. Tracey says...

    For years I’ve been searching for André (the seal movie) online and on dvd and it’s nowhere, at least in Australia. I desperately wanted to show it to my nieces and nephews. Last week I had a terrible week and a friend invited me thrift shopping, in between copies of Beethoven and Little Rascals my heart skipped a beat, a perfect, mint condition André on VHS! For just ONE DOLLAR! Thanks universe! And begrudgingly, thanks husband, for hoarding that VCR I repeatedly moaned about for the last 15 years.

  4. Julee says...

    “I like the sound of music. (Hiccups)”
    😍😂😍😂😍😂
    (I like it too, Anton)

  5. Katie says...

    BEE MOVIE, legit funny and a nice message.

  6. Sandra says...

    So we started out watching movies with our 8 y.o. that we saw when we were younger that we *thought* are kids movies, but they aren’t (“Big,” “Teen Wolf,” etc.). Note to self, check Common Sense Media beforehand to make sure we know what we’re about to show him! Anyway, we have watched the first two movies in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series recently and we all enjoyed those.

  7. janee says...

    The Last Mimzy
    Rango and all Pixar
    The Bridge to Terabithia
    Polar Express – for Christmas
    My Neighbor Totoro/Spirited Away and all Miyazake
    Hugo
    All are on regular rotation lol.

    • Leah says...

      Great picks! Love love love Miyazaki and anything Pixar. I’ve never seen the last mimsy, but will give it a shot since we seem to have similar tastes. Thanks!

  8. Laurel says...

    oh my stars, Toby’s take on Inside Out is ❤️💥 That movie turned me Inside Out and then into a puddle, while my two daughters sat there either impassive or lightly amused.

  9. Marissa says...

    This seriously made my day. Toby’s comment on Coco made my heart swell and is the sweetest thing.

  10. Margaret says...

    A Little Princess was my favorite as a kid.

  11. Christina says...

    My son recently watched Swiss Family Robinson and Honey I Shrunk the Kids and loved them both.

  12. Christy says...

    *hiccups* 😀

  13. Movies I think they would like and you would enjoy :)
    Big Hero 6
    Night at the Museum – 1, 2 and 3. The first one is at the National History Museum New York.
    Mary Poppins – such a classic! Also the new one is great too :)
    Peter Rabbit
    Christopher Robbin
    Disney Descendants- 1 and 2 (the 3rd one comes out later this year), I can just see the boys singing along to them and loving all the costumes.

    • Hannah says...

      I really want to watch Christopher Robin! YES to Night at the Museum!!!

  14. Kate Dwyer says...

    He did NOT write to Dennis Quaid, I’m screaming!! I want Toby to be my friend so bad.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahahahaha he also wrote to the whole cast of fuller house. It’s so so cute :)

  15. Kristin says...

    Best movie reviews I’ve read all year. “Anton: (Does the funny dance)” definitely made me crack up! Have they seen the original Parent Trap? I much prefer that and would love to hear their take on it :)

  16. Kiley says...

    Coco makes me cry too! In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a Pixar movie that doesn’t make me cry. Ratatouille maybe?

  17. Kiana says...

    Joana, perhaps your kids would like Escape to Witch mountain. My little and sister and I so badly wanted to have telekinesis like the protagonists. I haven’t rewatched it as an adult but I don’t think there’s any problematic scenes. ALSO THE PRINCESS BRIDE!

  18. Christie says...

    Meatballs is a huge fave in this house, I think my daughter has watched it 5 times. It’s her default to put on when friends come over and nobody can agree on a movie.

    Also, I know it’s not a movie but my daughter and I have been really into Beastmaster lately on Netflix. It’s GRIPPING! You watch teams of people compete through obstacle courses. My daughter has been talking a lot about physical strength lately (being strong, having muscles, being healthy) and is inspired by the athletes. We’ll bring snacks and cheer really loudly as if we are in the audience.
    It’s easy to get sucked into and before you know it, you’ve watched hours!

    • Christie says...

      Also, You vs Wild is great on Netflix! A choose your own adventure show with Bear Grylls.

  19. Eliza says...

    A sentence with a hiccup in the middle is adorable.

  20. Katie says...

    Yes!!! The Parent Trap! I’ve seen it almost every forth of July since I was two (I’ll be 23 this month.) it was our family tradition! Great movie the whole family (still!) adores.

  21. Sarah says...

    I would watch Sound of Music every day as a child. And that had TWO casettes! I loved it so much. Also loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Marry Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks! All so classic.

  22. Bonnie says...

    Two movies from the 80s that will appeal to late elementary/early middle school boys, especially: The Neverending Story and Flight of the Navigator. I’m not going to try to explain them…just check them out. :)

    • Bonnie says...

      And…this isn’t exactly a “kids” movie, but more of an early/mid teens movie that I thought was the coolest, spookiest show ever–does anyone remember The Watcher in the Woods? Oddly, a Disney movie, but not typical of Disney at all. Loved it!!

  23. Ani says...

    I wonder If they have seen The never ending story, and their opinion!!! your kids are sweet and kind!

  24. Sarah says...

    oh my goodness, these sweet, funny, charming kids of yours!!! how lucky you are. <3

    "Basically, you don’t need to eat a troll to be happy." LOL But also!…"I liked the part where Johnny’s dad says, ‘Son, I’m so proud of you.’". What a sweet soul he is.

    And Anton, "I just want to watch any grown-up thing."

  25. Anonymous says...

    I always thought GODZILLA was female!?!

  26. Robin says...

    This is adorable! They are the new Siskel and Ebert!

  27. Carolina says...

    can we please have more of Toby and Anton’s brainpicking?
    I just love how they think!!!

  28. Anne says...

    National Treasure has it all – history! Chase scenes! And of course, treasure! No bad language to speak of and only a couple scenes that might be too scary, depending on the kid.

    • Katie says...

      Oh yes! I’m 23 and I still regularly watch this one. Gotta love Nicholas Cage.

    • Amy says...

      Yes!!! National Treasure has aged so well – what a rollicking good adventure film. My son loved it so much he planned his seven year old bday party to be a “sleep under” (they watch a movie in sleeping bags but all kids head home at bedtime) with his two besties watching National Treasure 1. The second isn’t quite as good, but we still liked it and are doing a Mt Rushmore road trip this summer bc the kids are enthralled with the idea that someone carved a mountain. Love this post btw!! More of Toby and Anton reviewing, please :)

  29. Colleen S. says...

    I’m a nearly 36-year-old woman who watches kids films, and I loved Meet the Robinson’s (dinosaurs, talking frogs, and time machines) and Wall-E. I always get choked up at the end of Meet the Robinson’s with Rob Thomas’s “Little Wonders,” because I’m a big softie.

    • liz mulholland says...

      TOTALLY second meet the robinsons! A great and sweet movie.

    • M says...

      I’m with you, Colleen :)

    • Erin says...

      Me too, that part always gets me!

    • Karin says...

      I’m getting teared up just reading your comment about Meet the Robinsons! Such a wonderful film.

  30. Katie says...

    Have you all watched ever after? I grew up watching it and it was a family favorite when I was a kid.

    • Faith says...

      My family loved that movie, too!

    • Lindsay Beck says...

      You should have them watch The Count of Monte Cristo :)

    • Trudy says...

      It’s wonderful. Great pick.

  31. Hannah says...

    As a kid I loved The Sound of Music, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain (watched that a least once a month in second and third grade), and The Adventures of Milo and Otis (US version).

    For older kids (maybe 10ish?) and parents to enjoy, we watched What About Bob?, The Three Amigos, Big, The Princess Bride, Anne of Green Gables (1985 Canadian miniseries version is the best – still watch that to this day!), and Some Like it Hot (perhaps totally inappropriate, but found the cross-dressing hilarious and the innuendo went over my head).

    In animated films, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, WALL*E, and Coco are some all time favorites.

    • Hannah says...

      Wait, are you me? We even have the same name! This was EXACTLY my childhood!

  32. Meghan says...

    My boys (7 & 4) love Baby’s Day Out, Home Alone, Sandlot, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Homeward Bound and to my utmost chagrin, the Woody Woodpecker movie.

    • Christina says...

      Home Alone was one of my son’s favorites, too.

    • Hannah says...

      Baby’s Day Out is one of my kids’ absolute favorites!!!

  33. MB says...

    Pippi Longstocking! I loved her as a kid and even tried to clean the kitchen with scrub brushes on my feet. :)

    • Lauren E. says...

      YES! One of my absolute favorites. Also I knew my now-husband was the one the first time he came to my apartment, saw the DVD, and started singing, “We live on the seas, we do as we please!”

    • Hannah says...

      Yes! We love her too!

  34. Jane I. says...

    Funny story. My mom, sister and I took my niece (then 4) and nephew (then 7) to see Inside Out in theaters. In the climax of the movie you could hear most of the adults in the theater sniffling. Meanwhile, in the midsts of a tender moment, my nephew let out an exasperated cry: “THIS IS BORING!!!” he yelled. This will forever be one of my favorite nephew memories. Also, did anyone see the SNL nephew skit? Because that is my real life. I’d do anything for that kid.

  35. Lindsay says...

    Not a movie but my 3, 6 and 8 year olds love watching Survivor. We hadn’t watched if for years and years but all sat down one night as a family and they were totally enthralled. It feels very adult and thrilling to them and we are actually enjoying it too. Bonus: my three-year-old calls is “va-viver” and its the cutest mispronunciation ever.

  36. Megan says...

    My little one (8 months!) is still too young to enjoy a family movie night- but one of my very favorites as a kid was Wallace and Gromit. Shaun the Sheep spun off of this

    • Elisabeth says...

      Shaun the Sheep was my son’s first movie in the theater — he was 2 and looooooved it, except when he started bawling because of an emotional Coldplay song in the film, for some reason?

  37. Amy Ward says...

    Swiss Family Robinson. They are shipwrecked and build treehouses, make coconut bombs, ride and race ostriches and zebras, and trap a lion in a pit. It will blow their minds!

    • Laura C. says...

      LOVE this one, I saw it when I was like six years old!

    • Suzanne says...

      My kids are obsessed with this movie!! It’s so wacky and wild!

      (Slightly problematic racial themes we just fast forward)

  38. A Martin says...

    Paddington 1 and 2! The best!

  39. RP says...

    Not liking the Sound of Music, how can this be?!? Was raised on this film and it taught me all the things I needed to know: Nazis are bad, you always need a set of play clothes.

    Have you watched School of Rock? Came out when I was in school and my younger brother, my parents, and I ALL thoroughly enjoyed it.

  40. Paula says...

    We bought a Zoo!!!

  41. Katie says...

    Coco! It’s so wonderful. I cried while watching it (Poco Loco is also my girls’ favorite song) and then teared up again reading Toby’s comments. He and Alex are both right. XOXO

  42. OK, so this might just be my favorite post of all time. I am crying with laughter. And I didn’t have to eat a troll to be happy.

    Love!
    Tamara

  43. Rosie says...

    Have you done many of the classic Disney movies? I assumed my daughter would love Pixar as much as everyone else, but she prefers OG Disney. Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Aristocats, Fantasia, and Alice in Wonderland. She appreciates my old favorite Bednobs and Broomsticks because of the WWII elements and the Harry Potter movies which her mom introduced her to all in one weekend when I was out of town. I thought six would be too young to appreciate Harry Potter, but she loves the scarier parts. She threw a tantrum when on a playdate her friend wanted to fast forward through the Beast in Beauty and the Beast because she thinks he is the best part. She loves the scarier scenes and wanted to be the Beast for Halloween last year. My wife jokes that the next movie she is going to share with her is Saw.

  44. Jenny says...

    As a child, the Sound of Music was my absolute favorite. However, my grandparents, being of the WW2 generation, thought the Nazis would be too scary, so they’d turn it off when the von Trapp children sang good night and went to bed at the end of the party scene. I was 10 or 11 before I watched it on my own and was shocked when THE MOVIE KEPT GOING!

    • Mary says...

      Jenny, this is too funny! Reminds me of one of my friends who was an elementary education major in college. She would sometimes come back to the dorm and tell our friend group about how, during her first graders’ story time, she’d had to improvise a more age-appropriate ending for certain books. I guess those kids are in for a surprise if they ever reread the books with their families!

    • Erin says...

      EVERY Hayley Mills movie! Including original Parent Trap and Pollyanna

  45. lomavistagirl says...

    One movie I haven’t seen mentioned yet is the Eddie Murphy movie Daddy Day Care. My 6-year old daughter loved it! She even wrote a flyer that she asked me to post around our neighborhood advising people to email me if they also liked the movie or wanted more information about it.

    • This reminds me sp much of my 8 yo son. He LOVES Godzilla and asked me last weekend to please ask everyone in my office if their kids like Godzilla and if they know that he’s a boy even though his name ends with an “a.”

    • janine says...

      My son LOVES this movie. He howls with laughter at it!

  46. Every Saturday my 7-year-old niece and her two younger brothers go to my parents’ farm for the day, and late in the afternoon the kids watch Candleshoe.

    Every. Single. Week.

    • Laura C. says...

      Oh my goodness Anna, I absolutely LOVE this movie, I had an old VHS videotape but the video player doesn’t exist anymore, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to find it on DVD in Spanish!! I would love to have it for my girls!!
      I love the part when the kids are selling goods at the local market!

    • Laura, it’s such a great movie! And the cast–could it get any better?? May you one day find it on DVD in Spanish!

  47. Stacey says...

    My kids are you guys’ ages now, so here’s a real throwback to a very sweet film: Milo & Otis.

  48. We read Charlotte’s Web every year, we start on the Spring Equinox. When we finish the book, we watch the movie to hear the music! “How very special are we, for just a moment to be, part of life’s eternal rhyme?”
    My daughter is also obsessed with School of Rock (my husband loves that she loves it because it has exposed her to rock music). ((insert shrug emoji))

  49. Claire says...

    Excellent list, and absolutely first-rate review comments. They could start a youtube series: Kids at the Movies with Anton & Toby.
    Also I did a double-take over Toby’s comment: “They say Fear keeps Riley scared but he actually keeps her safe. They should call him ‘safe.’
    So that’s basically one of the major ironies of life and human nature right there, succinctly and eloquently explained by your 8 year old. His other youtube video series could be of him sitting in a chair on the stoop and counseling passerby: “Free Advice by Toby”.

    • Claire says...

      Also I recommend “Monsters Vs. Aliens”, which still always makes us laugh every time, even though we’ve seen it over and over. .

    • Bailey says...

      No kidding! Fear = Safe was basically my topic of discussion with my therapist last week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Sweetest comments, thank you:) xoxo

    • Nicola says...

      So true – Toby is impressively insightful!

  50. Caroline says...

    Thank you so much for all the recommendations! My 7 and 9 (!) year old girls love the Shaun the Sheep movie!

  51. GISELA DOMINGUES says...

    They are soooo adorable!!! “Everyone has it inside them to be happy.” Love it!!!

  52. Julee says...

    Some “older kid” movies that mine watched over and over again (and my husband and I also enjoyed):

    The Rookie (with Denis Quaid!)
    Galaxy Quest (slightly adult, so they might not be old enough yet and there is some death/sadness)
    Unaccompanied Minors

  53. Rachel says...

    Never not crying during Coco.

  54. Andrea Chapman says...

    Did not expect this to make me cry!! What sweet and poignant observations. “It made me feel sad the next day, too.” How wonderful to feel so much & put it in to words so beautifully. Love your boys, good job Mama!!

  55. Kristen Bross says...

    My almost 3 year old daughter had a her first “date” night last Friday. We picked up pizza and ice cream, sat on the floor and watched Ponyo. It was amazing and now she keeps asking when we can do another date ❤️ She also loves Totoro, Coco and Toy Story right now.

    • Sarah says...

      My 6 year old daughter and I love the Studio Ghibli movies, too! Especially, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, The Cat Returns, and Howl’s Moving Castle. They’re all wonderful.

  56. Estee says...

    Reading this completely made my day. Thank you Toby and Anton for the recommendations and commentary. :)

  57. Megan Snyder says...

    My husband also cried during Coco! Also, I obviously don’t know Toby the individual, but from the little things you’ve shared about him over the years, this seems very true to his personality: “They say Fear keeps Riley scared but he actually keeps her safe. They should call him ‘safe.’

  58. I love movie night with our six year old. Our current favorites are;

    Ponyo on a Cliff
    My Neighbor Totoro
    Given

    Also, just discovered they have some Bob Ross collections on Netflix. He’s enthralled by his painting process. It’s pretty cool! It always feels hard to find new movies that are age appropriate and not too scary or have guns etc. Love reading the parent comments on Common Sense Media too.

  59. stacey says...

    well, that was adorable!

  60. Kristen says...

    “Basically, you don’t need to eat a troll to be happy”…this is the perfect summary.

    My 4 and 7 year old get really stressed out by movies. No matter how many times we explain that the scary or sad part is there to make you feel extra happy when it turns out okay, they would rather watch twenty 7 minute episodes of Shaun the Sheep (basically slapstick humor with claymation sheep). Recently though, we’ve been watching documentaries as a family. It started with Planet Earth (which often has slapstick humor with animals), but has led us to some pretty unexpected movies like Rivers and Tides about the sculptor Andy Goldsworthy and Exit Through the Gift Shop about the graffiti artist Banksy. I kind of love that Finding Nemo is truly terrifying to them, but a real life polar bear stalking a seal is just fascinating.

    • Mansi says...

      Our almost 6 year old son simply doesn’t want to watch any movies or go to the theatre ! We do however watch loads of documentaries . The fact that he has been able to recognise David Attenborough ‘ s voice for a long time makes my heart sing !

    • Quinn says...

      Can totally relate to this! My son (3-1/2) refuses to watch half the movies his older sister (7) picks because he deems them too scary, but he loves the Blue Planet series.

    • JB says...

      Did not expect to find a doc recommendation in this thread about one of my favourite artists, Goldsworthy! Thanks!

  61. Our three (and a half!) year old, Lou, is super particular about movies. Sing is one of the few we can watch all the way through. Moana’s lava monster and Frozen’s snow monster preclude us from enjoying those; Coco is viewed through Lou’s fingers, and Finding Nemo/Dory are “too sad.” So instead of snuggling in to watch Disney movies, we watch “The Great British Baking Show”. We made our way through every season and, upon request, just started back up again. Lou remembers which bakers were eliminated from our first go-round, and now critiques them based on this prior knowledge. His favorites are Stacey, Kim-Joy, and Ruby, and Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are frequently quoted at dinner time. I definitely thought we’d be tucking into the movies from my childhood by now, but this weird little twist is quite welcome.

    • Alice says...

      Haha that is the best thing I’ve heard in awhile. Did you post the flyer?

    • I was like this about movies as a kid-most things were absolutely terrifying! My worst nightmare was watching things at school, I remember one teacher wouldn’t let me out of the room even though I was sobbing with fear; everything my friends watched was “too scary” right into late teenagerdom. Go you for finding an alternative-I wish I had had one

    • My (new) 4-year-old is scared by most movies! My son who is now 11 was also scared by movies – we made the mistake of taking him to the theater to see the Lego Movie when he was 5 and he was terrified. Teachers at his school were so kind – would take him to the office and let him read while the other kids watched a movie. Movies should be fun! But they’re optional! He was MUCH happier and because no one made fun of him, he gradually grew into movies and now he watches what other kids his age watch.

  62. ace says...

    Sounds like Toby has a crush on young Lindsey Lohan! Love Freaky Friday and The Parent Trip, have they ever watched the originals?

  63. Jill says...

    Beethoven! (first one only) That movie!!
    Also Spirit!

    Beethoven and Spirit for the win!!

    • Paula says...

      Spirit was a huge favorite with my three daughters and Billy Elliot

  64. Joy says...

    instead of “fear” they should call him “safe”! what a precious and insightful observation, Toby!

    • Thea says...

      Ditto!! Wise child.

  65. Erin says...

    We didn’t care for Inside Out either! My boys LOVE the Paddington movies (the sequel is as good as the first) and Wreck It Ralph.

  66. Their review of Coco made me cry. xo

  67. K says...

    My boys 6 and 3 thought Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was hilarious

    • Katy says...

      Same for my boys- 3 and 5!

    • Catharine says...

      Oh good call!

  68. K says...

    Assessment of Inside Out is spot on!
    Lol @ Anton does the dance

  69. EB says...

    When we do movie nights, we make old-school root beer floats. It’s the only time the kids can have soda and they love it.

  70. jillian says...

    saturday night is our official movie night with my 4-year old daughter. she looks forward to it all week! we have popcorn and a small sweet treat and she likes to curl up on the couch with her sleeping bag “like a big kid” — we just went through the toy story trilogy last month and now she’s into Hotel Transylvania :)

  71. Jessica says...

    I’m so curious when parents start to introduce movies to their kids! My kiddo is 2 and has never watched TV. She’s seen short clips about animals related to books we’ve read — a frog egg turning into a tadpole and then frog, some penguins, an octopus, etc. — but she’s never sat with us to watch anything. I’m excited about watching full length movies with her, but I have no idea when I can reasonably expect her to want to watch with me! Any thoughts?

    • Amanda says...

      I am certainly no expert, but I think it all depends on the kid. My 3 year old does not like watching movies. I’ve tried a few times on airplanes and then one night I tried to watch Frozen with him because he had a Frozen book that he was enjoying, but he just isn’t into it. (Except for the opening scene where the workers are cutting up the blocks of ice and loading them on a wagon, he really loved that scene.) For him, I think it’s a combination of feeling scared of a lot of things in movies and also just attention span. The only show he watches, which he loves, is Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.

    • Heather says...

      I’d say at least 3. We have four kids ages 2-11, and do a weekly movie night. My almost 5 year old still has a hard time sitting through some movies (though she gets through most) but my 2 year old will only watch a few minutes at a time. If you want a little tradition I would recommend watching a 20-30 min show together and working up. We love Shaun the Sheep at age 2!

    • Jessica says...

      Around age 5, mine would watch a whole movie if it was interesting to them. But, even now, if a movie doesn’t keep my 7 year old’s interest enough, she moves on. My 9 year old is more inclined to watch, even if parts get slow for a bit.

    • janee says...

      Kids that age love love love watching other kids the same age – so if you can find movies that feature babies and toddlers there’s a good chance they’ll enjoy them. The only one I can recommend is an animated classic – My Neighbor Totoro. The dubbed version in English (a young Elle Fanning voices the lead) is easy to find.

    • agnes says...

      Wait as long as you can, I would say! Movies have to be magic!
      I think the way you expose children to images is important, images have to be beautiful and inspiring! Start with short cartoons; the little mole is great (no words, beautiful music, cute characters); longer movies can come when they’re 4 I would say. Enjoy!

    • Louise says...

      Around the 3rd birthday for my daughter. Watching together isn’t really a communal activity for us though as she turns into a bit of a zombie when there’s anything animated on

    • We waited until the kids started asking for family movies – so maybe age 7 or 8? And our youngest is 4 and generally terrified by movies yet. She likes Daniel Tiger episodes. So if we’re having a family movie night, our little one watches for 15 minutes maybe if there’s nothing scary and then we put her to bed and continue watching!
      I think there’s every reason to delay screen time until the kids can appreciate it. Now it’s so much fun watching movies with my big kids!

  72. My five your old loves the Paddington movies! The first one more than the second one, because the second one “he’s in jail and that’s a bit sad”

  73. Ella says...

    I know the Sound of Music is technically a family movie, but it is about Nazis. It was Holocaust Memorial Day this past week, not that it was mentioned here, and it’s on all of us to be more sensitive and aware, especially as we transition to a new generation that will be without living eye witnesses. Not at all snarking on a child who wouldn’t know the difference, but as parents we should do better than to market heavy themes as ‘chase scenes’ and not show whole movies to our kids until we’re ready to talk about the entire story honestly. I’m sure people will say I’m being too sensitive, but I’m a granddaughter of survivors and I believe we can and must do better.
    And on a lighter note, Sing is a favorite in our house too:)

    • Quinn says...

      I think these are very important points – thank you for raising them. The Sound of Music is a favourite of my daughter’s. My kids ask a lot of questions about the Nazis as they show up in the film (they know it’s based on a true story) and my husband and I do our best to answer the questions in an honest, age-appropriate manner. This is an important reminder that we will need to make sure their knowledge and understanding of the history deepens as they grow.

    • Colleen S says...

      I knew nothing of Nazi Germany and Austria when I saw the movie as a kid. My dad would mention at parts involving soldiers or the Anschluss (sorry if I spelt that wrong), but it fell on deaf ears. Of course, now I’m a walking WWII history file (I don’t know why I find learning about Hitler’s rise to power and the hell Europeans went through so interesting), and the movie makes more sense and you understand why Captain von Trapp got out of Austria because he wouldn’t work for Hitler.

    • Michelle says...

      Hmmm, I respectfully disagree with you on waiting until you can explain the whole story. I think of teaching history to my kids as something like peeling an onion- you have to pass the outer layers before you get to the deeper ones. For my lower elementary school-aged kids, it’s enough to know a simplified version: a not-so-long time ago where these people lived, there was a terrible group of people in charge, who were dangerous to the happy people who lived there. As they get older they start asking more questions and have a broader understanding.
      If I waited until my kids were older to even start talking about important things, I feel like it would be a type of dishonesty. Suddenly: “Surprise! The world is actually terrible sometimes!”

    • Erin says...

      I’ve seen “The Sound of Music” many times (starting around age 7, I think) and my family also read the book out loud together when I was growing up. The book is wonderful for so, so many reasons — everything is much more vivid, heartwarming and REAL than in the movie, both the good and the bad parts. It remains one of my all-time favorites in part because the happy parts are so lovely.

      The book also provides a much more nuanced and detailed view than the movie of the family’s experience with the Nazis and with fleeing Austria. It was a good starting point for some conversations in my family about that part of history. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to start having those same conversations with their kids.

    • C says...

      I am the daughter of German immigrants and survivors and grew up watching the Sound of Music. It was my families history and the trauma has defined their and our lives in subtle and more pronounced ways. What I have learned, and what I try my best now to pass to my small kids, is that it is truly best to be truthful. Kids are smart! They know when not everything is said. Half told or unspoken stories and truths remain mysteries and can be tremendous burdens as children try to piece things together. We all have our own ways of speaking the truth but we should not be scared to share them with our children. They take things in in the most wonderful and unique of ways and their resilience and insights are truly remarkable.

  74. OHMYGOSH! my favorite review!!!! I laughed at everyone of them! Also?? how insightful of Toby to call fear SAFE!

  75. Sarah says...

    We have recently watched some older movies as a family and the kids were reluctant at first but ended up loving them! My kids are 8,5,3 for reference. The Princess Bride, Swiss Family Robinson, Jumanji (the original), and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Another all-time favorite is The Book of Life. Amazing story, animation and soundtrack. For a more recent movie, we all loved Into the Spider-verse!
    I have thought about watching Back to the Future with them but I worry about the near sexual assault the occurs between Bif and Lorraine. Do you fast forward it? A discussion of the wrongness of that behavior would be appropriate but kind of diminishes the fun of the movie. ???

    • Elisabeth says...

      Sarah, I had the same feelings about Beauty and the Beast (animated version, we haven’t seen the live-action one). My son was 4, and I stopped the movie to get his take on Gaston’s behavior — and the Beast’s, too, for that matter — toward Belle, in terms of entitlement, ownership, and abuse. It evolved into a great conversation about how we treat people we care about. Similar conversation happened when he was 5 and watched Return of the Jedi. My husband took the lead and it was quite a productive conversation about why Jabba makes Leia wear that gold outfit, and how she must feel about it, and how everyone should get to be the “boss of their body.” I have a feeling that with an 8-year-old, BTTF could yield a great conversation about consent and social/gender issues in both the 1950s and today…. I don’t know that it has to diminish the fun of the movie. Kids do have a lot of fun when talking about justice and why the bad guys are bad….

  76. Diana says...

    My 8 year old and I have loved many Miyazaki films . She doesn’t like super sad or scary so the ones we have watched so far and loved are Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Whisper of the Heart, Arrietty, From Up On Poppy Hill, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and the Cat Returns. We also both loved Just Add Magic which is free on Amazon Prime and such a beautiful example of healthy teenage friendship. Bonus that there are a ton of them as it is a series so our weekly pizza movie night had a much anticipated show for weeks.

  77. Jana says...

    “Anton: I just want to watch any grown-up thing.”

    This.

    My 9 year old just wants to be able to watch anything I watch after he goes to bed (although lately, I crash when he does!)

    I love you recording their conversations and opinions at this stage – they matter!

  78. Susan Mills says...

    Your boys are great movie reviewers, I have to agree with all of their choices!

  79. Rebecca says...

    These reviews are hysterical, and so adorable. I will definitely be showing some of these to my kiddos.

  80. Carrie says...

    These are all great! Here are some I didn’t see mentioned yet that my girls (9 and 6) also like: Kubo and the Two Strings, Akeela and the Bee, Because of Winn Dixie, and The Borrowers.

  81. Liz says...

    For something different try Totoro, or Ponyo. Both are Japanese anime. We’ve watched them more times than I can count!

  82. Molly says...

    I love the “it’s PG.” ha! Like, just so you know.
    My kids favorite recents are Cheaper By The Dozen (1&2) and Matilda.

  83. I too would like it to rain pasta sometimes. Anchovies, which I do love, might be a bit stinky though. Either way, I looooved the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs as a kid, so maybe now I have to watch the movie.

  84. LOVED this. I especially loved the insight on Spider Man. My boys loved Rock Dog. And we are very eager to see Toy Story 4.

  85. Lisa says...

    My 6 year old and 3 year old love “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Swiss Family Robinson” :)

  86. celeste says...

    Haha, I agree with their reviews of The Sound of Music and Inside Out. And Coco made me cry too. We recently watched two hits in a row – “A Dog’s Way Home” and “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”. Both kids kept grabbing my arm and asking what would happen next?

  87. Roxana says...

    Love this! Friday nights are pizza and movie night.

    Our current rotation includes the following (in no particular order)
    -Up
    -Incredibles
    -Finding Nemo
    -Kung Fu Panda
    -Beauty and the Beast
    -Cinderella
    -Swiss Family Robinson (our 7 year old son LOVES this)
    -Muppets from Space
    -Herbie the Lovebug (1960s version)
    -The Jungle Book (interesting conversations)
    -Dennis the Menace
    -Ratatouille

    Love reading these comments, and your boys’ reviews are hilarious and precious! Thanks for sharing!

  88. Lauren says...

    @EMILY – Also, the quicksand I think was Neverending Story, which is possibly the saddest movie on the planet.

  89. Rob says...

    Sing is such a great movie! We’ve watched it a few times with our boys (5 and 3) and every time by the end we’re all up and dancing together!

    Another great one for us is Moana. My older son and I watched it like 30 times last summer, no joke.

    And recently we’ve watched the Back to the Future trilogy. So good. Flying train time machine, what!?! :)

    • summer of 2017, i think my kids and i watched sing, moana, and trolls a hundred times 😂 and then last summer they were bummed that there was no 2018 movie that they wanted to watch EVERY DAY like those three movies :)

  90. Blythe says...

    Does anyone remember watching “The Last Unicorn” as a kid? I remember being equal parts mesmerized and terrified during that film!
    A random series my girls (4 and 8) NEVER get sick of is the old Disney True Life Adventures. There is great time-lapse footage of places like the Living Desert. An oldie but a goodie– the series really appeals to kids interested in science.

    • celeste says...

      The Last Unicorn was my FAVORITE! That skeleton who drank an entire bottle of wine and I could see it – that was terrifying!

    • my childhood friends and i watched that movie EVERY sleepover! i have such fond memories of it :)

    • Jane says...

      Yes to the “Last Unicorn”. I actually bought it for my husband for one of his birthdays (28th, I think??) because he would.not.stop. talking about how he loved it as a kid and simultaneously found it soooo scary 😉

  91. Heather says...

    We just started watching the “Rocky” series with our boys..age 3, 6, 8 and 11..our youngest asks if we’re going to watch the “rocky bad boy” movie for movie night and it’s hilarious..we knew they were into it when they started asking me to cut the ends off all their gloves..ha!

  92. TG says...

    Who doesn’t love Dennis Quaid? :) What about The Rookie; Yours, Mine & Ours; A Dog’s Purpose; A Dog’s Journey for more Dennis Quaid?

  93. Ro says...

    My 5 year old likes the song Bohemian Rhapsody and for some dumb reason, I decided to show her the scene from Wayne’s World which then spiraled out of control.

    I might have the only pre-schooler who says things like “Shhhyeah and monkeys might fly out of my butt!” or points to ice cream at the store and says, with a perfect dead pan face, “It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.”

    I can’t tell if it’s a parent fail or parent win, but at least she doesn’t get the inappropriate jokes AND I get to watch something funny.

    • JB says...

      Absolute WIN.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahahaha

    • Hannah says...

      Definitely a major parent win!! This is too funny.

    • Laura says...

      That is amazing!

    • Colleen S says...

      I feel in love with that song at nine years old when my friends and I were kicked out of their living room so their parents could watch the movie. They didn’t shut the sliding glass door, so I heard that song, and that was the beginning of a now 27 year love affair with Queen. Wayne’s World is definitely a “win,” so long as your son doesn’t start saying “a sphincter says what?”

    • Colleen Sweeney says...

      *Sorry! Your child is a girl.

  94. Abby says...

    Toby writing Dennis Quaid a fan letter makes me giddy. He and Anton are such gems!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      omg it was SO cute. on the envelope, he just wrote “dennis quaid, los angeles” and stuck it in the mailbox! :)

  95. Rachel says...

    Ok, this was absolutely adorable! Loved it.
    My kids loved Hotel for Dogs passionately when they were this age, and we all still love My Neighbor Totoro. So magical.

  96. These are adorable! My four year old loves so many of the same movies. We recently watched intro the Spider-Verse at home and he shouted “they speak Spanish, like us!” It excited him so much. Representation matters!
    Other ones we’ve watched lately that he’s liked are Wall-E, Peter Rabbit (loves the physical hijinx), and a history channel documentary on the Edmund Fitzgerald (don’t ask).
    Moana is STILL a favorite in our home after years on repeat.

    • J.J. says...

      Every 4 year old boy seems to go through an Edmund Fitzgerald phase!

  97. Julia says...

    My 7 year old obviously has very mature tastes… we are on our third consecutive watch-thru of Les Miserables (Hugh Jackman version), a little each night before bed. His past obsessions include Jaws and Titanic. We are careful about tricky scenes – I explained Javert’s suicide the best I could, but we always fast forward Quint getting eaten in Jaws (with eyes covered. He thinks Quint just fell off the boat and can’t be found). I enjoy sharing these ‘grown up’ movies with him, but he definitely is still into kid movies! Ralph Breaks the Internet was a recent fave.

  98. Inge says...

    One of the only movies I went to see in the cinema with my parents when I was little, was “Mrs. Doubtfire”. Hilarious!

    Also, “Home Alone” and the sequel are movies I will watch with my own children every christmas.

  99. Cindy says...

    Toby’s review of “Inside Out” is spot on. Also profound.

    Our whole family enjoyed the first “How to Train your Dragon.” Also, “Megamind,” which is highly quotable and ripe for creating family inside jokes.

  100. Dee says...

    I babysat my eleven (11) month old nephew alone for the first time on Friday. We watched Beauty and the Beast, and sang and danced along. Needless to say he was a fan of the movie and the dancing.

  101. Kara says...

    Our 5 yr old has a few favorite movies that we watch on repeat. Here are the ones that I still don’t hate, even after approximately one million viewings: Tangled, Ferdinand, Sing, Finding Dory, and The Peanuts Movie.

  102. Erika Tracy says...

    Your guys are so cute! I especially appreciate Anton’s warning on the sad parts and honesty that it made him sad the next day. These things are important to us, kiddo.

    We haven’t made it to Parent Trap, though I loved the Hayley Mills version when I was a kid. Adding that to the list!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      loved the hayley mills version! my sister and i watched it a million times.

  103. Marnie says...

    My girls (5&8) are dragon-obsessed, thanks to the Dragon Master chapter book series. They LOVE the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy as well as the related Netflix Race to the Edge series.

    They also love Incredibles 1 & 2, and I love that the mama is just as much (more!) of a hero as the dad.

    • Kara says...

      Oooh, my 5 yr old is also a fan of dragons but I did not know about the Dragon Master series. Can’t wait to check it out!

    • Abbe says...

      If they love dragons, check out the animated series The Dragon Prince on Netflix! My boyfriend and I (two full grown adults haha) love it, but I think it would be great for kids too (and was originally created for them lol). Lots of great themes about dealing with anger and relationships and they also do an awesome job of including non-traditional family structures (the main characters are step-brothers) and diversity in general. Although to be fair, the main dragons don’t show up until the second season.

  104. Lorraine says...

    I recently watched “Mirai” with my 6-year-old son. It was beautiful, although there are some scary scenes, mainly one at the end, so I wouldn’t show this to a child younger than 6. But overall it’s a happy movie, including the ending (My 2-year-old daughter and I watch the ending all the time).

    I probably loved it more than my son because it was like watching my kids in the movie – they look exactly like the kids, have the same toys, same age difference, and it was the same story we experienced in 2016. My daughter calls it our “family movie”.

  105. Jess says...

    My daughters (5 and 6) are obsessed with musicals. Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma! Although when they walk around singing “I Can’t Say No” I think, what have I done?!

    • Hannah says...

      hahahahahaha! I did this as a kid, too! I can’t wait for my 6 month old daughter to do this, too. Those movies are just the best.

  106. Stephanie says...

    My four and a half year old loves movies so this list is great! Sandlot and Honey I Shrunk the Kids are two of his favorites…along with Lion king!

  107. Emily says...

    My 4-year old just watched his first movies (Frozen & Trolls). He loves to hear music in the car from movies he knows which is fun. Next up might be Cars since he knows who Lightning “the” Queen is. I want to convince my tween nephews to watch Camp Nowhere which was a fav of mine. I just need to get them over that they don’t know anyone in it.

  108. Abbe says...

    This is the cutest thing. I love how Toby and Anton interact! They are clearly such buddies. Also, I too LOVED the Parent Trap when I was younger (and let’s be honest, now)! I could never decide if I wanted to be cool-girl Hallie or sophisticated Annie. Another movie I watched over and over again was the Great Mouse Detective — I think I just liked how cozy Basil’s apartment was with the cheese crumpets haha.

  109. Jenna says...

    Love this! We’ve watched most of these, however, my 3yo REFUSES to watch Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs :( So sad. Haha, I’ve never seen it but it looks so good!

  110. Julia says...

    Reading the boys Coco review about Daddy crying made me tear up all over again!! I watched that on the plane to Ireland, where I was I going to meet my Grandfathers extended family and cousins for the first time and lost my mind crying. Lol like full on sobbing!! Also the Great Grandma reminded me of my Grandma before she passed.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, how sweet and meaningful, julia. xo

    • Em says...

      I coordinate an English conversation class for international students, and one of the Taiwanese students told me about “Coco.” “It is so good, and it will make you CRY!” he said. So, a few weekends ago, my husband and I queued it up on Netflix. I peeked over at him a ways through, and there we both were, red-faced and tears streaming down our faces. That movie spans cultures and generations! We need more good movies that are sensitive to the real challenges and pains and joys of aging and dementia.

  111. Kali says...

    My girls, almost 6 and 8, loved a lot of the same movies! Ones in current high rotation are Pete the Dragon, Hotel for Dogs, How To Train Your Dragon (newest one), The Greatest Showman and the new Mary Poppins. We’ve been revisiting our childhood favorites as well. They loved Cool Runnings, Homeward Bound, The Mighty Ducks, and Sandlot, but hated Harry and the Hendersons (Harry was too scary). :)

    It kind of alarms me just how many movies they’ve seen… but it’s something we all enjoy to do together. Our goal is to get to an outside movie this summer or project one on our house and watch from the trampoline in sleeping bags. Childhood is the best!

  112. Polly says...

    These are the best reviews. I want all films to be reviewed by Toby and Anton from now on.

  113. LM says...

    I always cry at Coco too and my kids look at me like I’m crazy, haha. It’s a movie that makes grown-ups cry and kids not understand why (hopefully).

  114. Cece says...

    My three year old is super into the Disney staples – Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmations (or as she calls it, ‘‘ation dogs’. And in terms of newer stuff she loves Frozen and Moana.

    But her real love is Mary Poppins – listening to her little tuneless voice singing ‘our daughters’ daughters will adore us and they’ll sing in grateful chorus’ just melts my stony heart! She even had a Mary Poppins themed birthday party last year, I had a worrying amount of fun with themed party bags for the kids to take home.

  115. Amy says...

    My 3 Year-old LOVES Pippi Longstocking (and happens to be a freckle-faced red-haired girl too)! and has gotten really into Secret Life of Pets and the Grinch (the Jim Carrey one).

  116. Tessa says...

    Tell Toby I think ‘Safe’ is a far better name for Fear. With you all the way Toby!

    • Julia Belsante says...

      My favorite part of their reviews! SO wise!

  117. Caitlin says...

    OMG, Willow! That movie was always in the rotation during my childhood. We had about 15 VHS tapes and that was one of them. It definitely has very scary trolls that my kids would not be able to deal with yet, but I am very excited to show it to them someday. My siblings and I still quote that movie all the time!

  118. Home Alone has stood the test of time for me! It’s a Christmas movies, but we watched it year round in my house growing up. I remember the adults watching with us would laugh too.

    Now I’m 30 and watch with my nieces and nephews and we all find it to be hilarious. My husbands Italian grandmother watches with us too– she doesn’t speak English but she LOVES Home Alone. That movie knows no age, and watching Marv get smacked in the head with a paint can is funny in any language.

  119. Tammy says...

    I watched the original Anne of Green Gables miniseries with my daughters (5 + 8 at the time) and they LOVED it. Also Little Women was a hit. (The Winona version, although I’m partial to Elizabeth Taylor and June Allyson.) They also loved “Fly Away Home.”

    • Katy says...

      OMG – my sister and I (and pretty much everyone I knew) LOVED the original Anne of Green Gables. Secretly, one of my regrets of not having a daughter is not (likely) being able to share my fandom of the mini-series / full collection of books. I KNOW that I can share them with my son, but also I know the series never captured my brother’s attention when my sister and I watched it on repeat, and we only had the one TV in the house.

    • Rebecca says...

      Of late my 7 and 5 year old girls love documentaries about animals—The Pick of the Litter, Born to be Wild. Their constant favorites: Singing in the Rain, Secret Life of Pets, Parent Trap, Miyazaki: My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo

  120. I want to see Toby’s letter to Dennis Quaid! Your kiddos sound so sweet.

  121. Maggie says...

    My 5.5 and 3.5 year-olds just watched “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” for the first time and loved it! They’ve since requested it a few times. My husband and I couldn’t believe how much of the movie we remembered from so long ago.
    They also love “Balto”.

  122. katie says...

    It’s definitely for when the kids are older, say, 8 and up (??) — but man, Goonies holds up.

    Also, Dennis Quaid is white hot in that Parent Trap. In the suede jacket with the popped collar at the end? Hubba hubba.

    Finally, I really loved these film reviews. Your little critics are the cutest.

  123. Connie says...

    We are WAY into the Night at the Museum series. We kind of took a chance (Will our 6 and 7 year old understand this at all?!), and they LOVED it. These are great ideas, though. We’ll be adding them in.

  124. Kathleen says...

    Our two boys – almost 4 and almost 6 – love Room on the Broom and the Gruffalo short movies. We also have them on audible for car rides, and those are hits, too. And, recently, Honey I Shrunk the Kids has snuck into the movie night rotation. And, Into the Spider Verse, for sure. That one is a fav for my husband and two boys! And I hear the song Sunflower probably five times a day – boys request to Echo. :)

  125. Amy says...

    We do a Friday movie night every week and my 6 and 9 year old girls are currently into the Chronicles of Narnia movies (Prince Caspian is our favorite and surprisingly funny)! We’ve read all of the books together and the movies are beautifully done.

  126. I’ve been told many times that I have the same taste in movies as an 8-year-old boy (which I take as a total compliment), and I love all your sons’ picks! I would add Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, The Lego Movie, Up, Shrek, and then a live action one we have watched to death is National Treasure. (I wonder don’t they make more movies like this — it’s totally clean with a bit of suspense and very mild violence. My kids are teenagers now and we all still love to watch it.)

  127. Rachel says...

    I would love this post to become a series! We do “Frakes Family Friday Food and Film Night” in our home. We make homemade pizza and we let the kids eat on a blanket in the family room. Our favorite thing is, when we finish our family read aloud, to watch the accompanying movie. My 8 year old loves to compare and contrast his favorite scenes (and what was missing!). We made our way through many of the Roald Dahl books/movies that way last summer!

  128. Alex says...

    Back to the Future was a family favorite in my house growing up! My oldest is only 3 but I can’t wait until the kids are bigger and we can watch it together. Funny now that the “future” is in the past…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      where are our hoverboards????

    • Andrea says...

      I just watched Back to the Future with my now-teen sons, and we all agreed it hadn’t aged well at all. Really irritating gender roles, sexism, etc, and what had seemed really suspenseful and exciting to me when I saw it as a teen just bored my kids. YMMV!

  129. Nicole says...

    We just watched the original (Halie Mills) Parent Trip with our girls (ages 4.5 and 8) and they LOVED it as much as I did as a kid!

    Madagascar is also a favorite of my youngest.
    My 8 year old loved Greatest Showman (although we skipped the fire scene – she’s pretty sensitive to anything scary).

  130. Leslie says...

    These are many of our faves too! Our kiddos (3, 9, 11) also LOVE:
    Cheaper by the Dozen (1&2!)
    The Great Outdoors
    Mamma Mia (1&2!)

  131. agnes says...

    We don’t watch a lot of movies yet, but here are my son’s favourite: Totoro and Coco. Also, shorter movies (on youtube): Little Mole and also Pat and Mat (that I find hilarious).

    I can’ wait to watch my favourite movies together (but… will he like musicals?)

  132. Jamie says...

    “Also, they say Fear keeps Riley scared but he actually keeps her safe. They should call him ‘safe.’”

    Oh Toby. This just melted my heart. And as someone who deals with anxiety and the dreaded FEAR of anxiety, this made me feel such peace and acceptance.

  133. T says...

    This is the best news I’ve ever read.

  134. Betsy says...

    This is adorable! My kids also love Sing, and my 5.5 year old boy’s favorite part is Johnny singing “I’m Still Standing!” We are still finding movies we can watch together, and Sing is the definite favorite. They also love The Land Before Time!

  135. Katy says...

    Our two boys – almost 4 and almost 6 – love Room and the Broom and the Gruffalo short movies. We also have them on audible for car rides, and those are hits, too. And, recently, Honey I Shrunk the Kids has snuck into the movie night rotation. And, Into the Spider Verse, for sure. That one is a fav for my husband and two boys! And I hear the song Sunflower probably five times a day – boys request to Echo. :)

  136. Ashley says...

    Delightful. AS USUAL! xoxoxo

  137. Emma says...

    Joanna, did your boys ever go through the stage of finding every movie “too scary”? We’re trying to introduce movies to our 5 year old, and she refuses to watch because of a small detail that’s “too scary” – even though it’s not. For example, we started Ratatouille the other day and she asked to turn it off in the first 5 minutes because the rats were running in the field and “might get lost”. I feel torn between wanting to respect her sensitivities and also wanting to introduce her to the joy that is a family movie night.

    • Erin G. says...

      Emma! I have a six-year-old and have the exact same problem. I feel so defeated (even when I pre-screen stuff and feel it’s going to be TOTALLY FINE I’m often wrong). It’s really hard to know what a sensitive kid might find “scary” (and then dealing with bedtime repercussions for weeks after make it extra hard). I hope someone has suggestions for us – just know you are not alone.

    • Roxana says...

      My kids are 7 (almost 8), 5 and 2 (our 2 year old doesn’t have much to say, but he HATES the cat in Cinderella, so one of us leaves the room with him). My 7 year old son was (sometimes still is) afraid of a lot of things for a long time, and we just waited it out. My 5 year old daughter, on the other hand, isn’t fazed by much. My oldest seems to grapple more with existential questions and is comparatively more of a “worrier.” My daughter takes things more at face-value and doesn’t struggle with fears the way her older brother does.

      My advice (not that you’re asking me! Your’e asking Joanna :) would be to just wait until she’s ready. That said, sometimes movies/stories can be an opportunity to address fears or answer questions. E.g. “It would be scary to get lost (like the rats in Ratatouille), but rats are not like people, etc.” or maybe address the underlying fear? Maybe she’s afraid of getting lost from you? Not necessarily easy questions. Also, if you do try some movies, you may have some hits and misses. We just watched Muppets from Space and I was afraid my oldest would be up all night, but he thought it was HILARIOUS. But, there is a part in Jungle Book that makes him uncomfortable.

      I hope this helps! Parenting is so hard! And little people are so much more complicated than we give them credit for, huh?

    • EllenK says...

      Also have a 5 year old with this issue. So far we just stick to episodes of PBS kids shows, that is all she’ll watch.

    • Jennifer says...

      Erin G and Emma, I too have a highly sensitive child who was afraid of movies when he was younger. I think mileage may vary on my thoughts here, so use what helps and leave the rest, but when he was four, we started a family movie night. We screened movies carefully, but there was invariably something that made him very nervous (of course! The best movies make you feel things!). I was ready to shut it down when my husband handled it with beautiful finesse, every time. He paid close attention, and when our son started to get nervous about what was happening on screen, he would pause the movie and talk about it—either why this part wasn’t really scary, even though it felt that way, or why it maybe was scary, and then what would happen next that made it better. We had the best talks about feelings and what they mean and how we should use them as guides but not let them control us. Our son liked being treated like a grown-up in these discussions and it helped him to differentiate between reality and imagination. We certainly didn’t change his sensitivity, but I do think we helped him learn one way to manage it. Good luck. It’s hard to parent anxiety, but sensitive kids are so unique and caring and beautiful inside.

    • CJ says...

      Same here! We took our 4 year old to see Wonder Park a few weeks ago and he was absolutely upset and terrified. We had to leave the theater to calm down and then he refused to go back in. I thought it was supposed to be a sweet (FUN) movie but the mom gets very sick and goes away and the “park” shuts down and becomes almost sickly itself. Some weird themes for a PHP movie- we never got to finish it. I think each kiddo is sensitive to different themes- no matter the age.

    • Amy says...

      Emma- my girls were like this from around 3-6 years old. I had to turn off the Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and The Jungle Book because they were too scared. They did like Singin’ In the Rain and Mary Poppins, as well as Frozen- even though there are definitely scary parts, for some reason they were not bothered. I think it just depends on the child. My kids will now watch pretty much anything at ages 6 and 9.

  138. That’s so sweet! My almost 4yo boy is into the original Alice in Wonderland now. Have tou showed to your boys yet? Also, Coco has been a hit here since forever… I love it!

  139. AP says...

    I could read Toby and Anton reviews forever. Could they do a book round-up? Would love to hear their favorites and the ones the simply don’t dig. This comment by Toby is one for the ages, “Basically, you don’t need to eat a troll to be happy.” Amen, Toby! I think this applies to SO many things in life.

    • Lily says...

      Someone make a cross stitch of that quote, stat!

  140. Gaylen says...

    THANK YOU for including Enchanted…..I laughed to hard food spat out of my mouth. SO unexpected and delicious…..great film.

  141. Emily says...

    Omg. I love them so much. Kids are so matter-of-fact, haha. “I think this movie is boring. The family moves to this house that’s really annoying. And Joy is annoying because she’s always happy.” DYING. 😂

  142. K says...

    Love this post! My favorite movie from my childhood is Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The opening credits have some eerie music and I remember being a little afraid to watch it (I was probably 5 or 6), but once it started, I was enthralled. I showed this movie to my husband years ago, when we were in our twenties (he’d never seen it), and he loved it and said he wished he’d seen it as a kid. Highly recommend (if you need more info, it has a good witch, cartoon-live action, and Angela Lansbury singing!).

  143. Rachel says...

    My son. 1.5, just watched his first movie. We left him with a babysitter and didn’t think to tell her he doesn’t watch TV. She put on the incredibles 2 and he has not stopped talking about it! “Momma go zoom zoom need helm”. He is very concerned that the mom drove a motorcycle without a helmet. Is toddler enthusiasm has me questioning our screen time rules. It is just so cute to hear his thoughts.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, that’s so cute :) (also kind of a weird babysitting move, haha!)

  144. Saba says...

    This is the sweetest and best movie review I’ve ever read.

    Our daughter prefers movies that aren’t scary (read lack any conflict or suspense), and her favorite for years was The Great Muppet Caper. It was such a fun throw back for me to watch too.

  145. Becky says...

    When I was a kid we watch Homeward Bound The Incredible Journey SO. MANY. TIMES along with the Sand Lot and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ( 1 and 2). So nostalgic! Whenever I see them on TV I stop what I’m doing haha

    • Lena says...

      Were you in our family because those are the exact movies we watched over and over again! You cannot beat The Sandlot!

    • E says...

      Sandlot is such a classic … when my husband and I were wedding planning we watched it and decided to use “This Magic Moment” as our first dance song (it’s from the famous pool kiss scene).

  146. Catharine says...

    We have Friday night movies! ET is a favorite, The Black Stallion, Sandlot, all the older Disney movies, we loved Enchanted!

    • Gaylen says...

      Oooooh, The Black Stallion was incredible. Need to see that again.

    • Jenny says...

      So cute!! Especially loved Anton confirming that Toby looks like the big brother 🥰. My 3 year old was definitely a fan of the original Mary Poppins, I haven’t seen the new one yet, but would like to!

  147. Marisa says...

    The two of them are beyond cute!! I don’t know how you kept a straight face during this, Joanna. (if you did) What a great memory from their childhoods that you will always have, as well.

    This is a bit of an older age group, (teens) but when we first told our kids about “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, they were totally uninterested, as the title put them off. We made them watch it anyway, and they loved it, of course! They insisted on watching it again. Same with the “Back to the Future” series.

  148. Janine says...

    LOL at Anton, “I just want to watch any grown-up thing.”

    He sounds like every parent I know.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha

  149. Lauren says...

    We have been exploring this territory, too, with a 5 year old girl. She prefers “real people” to animation, so we’ve been liking Princess Bride, the first Harry Potter, Matilda, The BFG (the newer one), and I recorded Troop Beverly Hills off of TV and she LOVES IT! She’s been begging to watch Willow, that weird movie from the 80s, after my husband brought it up and has been asking about Pirates of the Caribbean. Not sure if she’s ready for that yet!

    • Kate says...

      Oh my gosh, WILLOW! Completely forgot about it even though I saw that odd film so many times!

    • Brigid says...

      OMG Willow!!! That was the only “kid friendly” movie my aunt and uncle had (they didn’t have kids of their own), so my siblings and I would watch it every summer when we visited while eating half-cooked brownies and Ben & Jerry’s for dinner. Hilarious! I haven’t thought of it in the longest time!

    • Emily says...

      OMG NO. I had nightmares for YEARS, no — DECADES — after catching a glimpse of Willow while my sitter was watching it and I pretended to be asleep on the couch. I was maybe six or seven? Don’t let her watch it! Those wicked, furry, beast-dog creatures eating the mom (or at least that’s what I remember) have haunted my subconscious for more than 30 years!!! Wasn’t there a dreaded QUICKSAND scene in there as well?!

    • Bonnie says...

      Lauren – Have you seen Savannah Smiles? It’s been years and years since I’ve seen it but it was a sweet movie about a very young girl (who has no attention at home and gets in a car with bumbling crooks, who end up being kind of good “parents” to her). Your library might have a copy to lend.

    • Lauren says...

      @EMILY – She’s kind of a “dark” kid (as was I) and I think she may actually be INTO it… Also YOUNG VAL KILMER! She also somehow heard about The Dark Crystal and I’m drawing the line because that movie is WHACKED OUT. But I love it.

      @Bonnie – I will look it up! Thank you for the suggestion.

    • Greta says...

      @Emily It sounds like you may be thinking of The Princess Bride? That one has ROUSes (rodents of unusual size) which try to munch some people, and almost disastrous quicksand.