When you want to spend quality time together as a family on the weekend, consider starting a movie night tradition! There are countless quality films suitable for kids of all ages that don’t have to be boring for the adults in the room.
Here are nine of the best picks to kickstart your new tradition.
A wonderful movie for kids of all ages, My Neighbor Totoro follows two young girls in Japan who move to the countryside and discover magical creatures living in the area. Although their mother is in the hospital, the overwhelming feelings in the film are joy and wonder. Their friendship with Totoro (a magical forest creature) helps them through the changes in their lives. This movie is an excellent way to talk about the importance of friendships and family.
Any time you can use a fun activity to open up a conversation about emotions with your children, take advantage! Inside Out is one of Pixar’s best films. It introduces the idea that every person has a wide variety of emotions, memories, and motivations in life. Sometimes, they interact calmly, and sometimes, everything feels jumbled! This movie doesn’t sugarcoat things like sadness and anger. It’s a great film for teaching kids that everyone in the family can support one another.
The Wizard of Oz
This 1939 feature film is a classic for a reason. It transcends generations as one of the best for families. The colorful, imaginative characters are entertaining for all, while the lessons are perfect for kids in elementary school. They include believing in yourself, supporting friends, and accepting others for their differences. Be aware that many scenes with the wicked witch can be scary for younger viewers.
If animation is a family favorite, choose to watch The Incredibles this weekend for a dose of family bonding in action. A hilarious and relatively action-packed movie about a family of superheroes, the adults and kids alike will appreciate the recurring themes of courage, teamwork, and identity. The movie is a great conversation starter for kids to think about their own superhero abilities and how their family comes together to work through tough times. Be aware that the violence in this movie is heavier than in some animated films, so skip it if your kids don’t like lots of action and explosions.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Try Close Encounters of the Third Kind if you’re looking for a sci-fi film that won’t overwhelm your senses with constant CGI. Released in 1977, it’s a longer-running film at just over two hours, so prepare lots of popcorn! The aliens and sci-fi activity come at a slower pace in this movie than in more recent films, and the suspense builds steadily throughout. Themes of perseverance and humility are strong, with thoughtful intelligence held in high regard. Be aware that many of the “strange happenings” can feel scary.
The Princess Bride
If your kids are slightly older and “too cool” for most fairytale films, try The Princess Bride. A witty classic that follows Princess Buttercup as she reunites with her mysterious love and escapes an arranged marriage, the cast of characters is rich in breadth and depth. The violence and suspense aren’t intense, but the themes are fairly mature, and many jokes are meant for the older kids and adults.
The Call of the Wild
A wonderful film adaptation of the book, The Call of the Wild follows Buck (a wonderfully-produced CGI dog) and his friends through their trials and tribulations in the Yukon frontier. The overwhelming message is that hardships and successes are parts of life, and perseverance and courage are paramount. Be aware that much of the conflict involves animals, and there are several suspenseful moments.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Choosing a Marvel movie to watch as a family is a monumental task, but this Spider-Man installment is an excellent choice for almost all ages. The movie is animated (rather than live-action) and stars teen Spider-Man Miles Morales as he meets other Spider-people from alternate universes. This is a solid movie for introducing a diverse cast as superheroes. The themes of teamwork, responsibility, and courage shine through. There is a fair amount of violence, so the youngest kids might be overwhelmed.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
For families with tweens and teens, this true story is a heartwarming (but somewhat violent and sad) depiction of William Kamkwamba, a 13-year-old from Malawi, Africa whose invention saved his village. The positive role models and encouraging messages are perfect for sharing with older kids who are starting to make their way in the world.
So dim the lights, grab the popcorn, and enjoy a family movie night this weekend with one of these great titles!