Top 17 Movies to Watch as a Family

Not every movie is meant to be watched with your family. The trailer might have a few too many buckets of blood or some suggestive themes you are uncomfortable showing to your young ones. And sometimes it feels like these are the only movies that are out.

In fact, between that and movies that are so obviously made for little kids you can only dread watching them yourself, it feels like it can be hard to find films that are good for people of all ages. However, they’re certainly around, and the whole family can have some laughs and excitement forever, whether around the TV screen or at a special screening that comes up. 

Here are 17 amazing movies, in no particular order, that we think can make for a great evening with your family:

1. Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is a fun superhero film for the family from Walt Disney Animation Studios using the best computer animation techniques of the time. It concerns Hiro Hamada, a young and gifted student of robotics who teams up with his late brother’s healthcare robot to make a superhero team. They do so to look into his brother’s death and get justice for him, while along the way interacting with a series of fun and colorful characters, including students and young geniuses of all types.

Yet it's not just the characters that deserve the attention in Big Hero 6, it’s the city of San Fransokyo, which is a wonderful futuristic world that is rendered and imagined beautifully, creating a backdrop for not only great (and age-appropriate) action set pieces but quieter moments as well. The film feels lived in, which is a hard quality to find in a film meant for the whole family. There is even a sequel reportedly in the works, so now is the perfect time to watch.

Big Hero 6 came out in 2014 and can be watched on Disney+ with a subscription.

2. The Iron Giant

One of the classics of animation and one of the best all-ages films ever made (and one of the best films in general), The Iron Giant is a film about a nine-year-old boy named Hogarth Hughes, who finds a 50-foot-tall alien robot near his town. It is a story of the boy accepting the robot and a society that is not so accepting. Anything more would be spoiling the story. In truth though, the film is also a cold war parable that will resonate with parents as much as children, and make your heart melt several times over.

At the time of release, it was a commercial flop, but this is because of one of the worst marketing efforts for a film ever created. Now, the film has the status it deserves and has been enjoyed by millions of families all over the world. Simply put, it’s a film everyone should watch once in their life and a film that is hard to top. If it feels familiar to you, it’s only because of the imitators that came after it.

The Iron Giant was the first film directed by Brad Bird. It came out in 1999 and is streaming on HBO Max.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

There have been a few films that have adapted the classic tale by Roald Dahl, but we still find the first film made in 1971 to be the best and an absolute must-watch by children and adults alike. It’s filled with imagination, creativity, a sense of wonder, and some amazing performances, with Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka still being one of the wildest, nuanced portrayals you can find in a family film. There’s a small sense of menace throughout, and it only adds to the wonder of the story being told.

You’ve likely seen or heard about the story yourself, so we won’t go into too much detail, but this is a great reminder that showing it to your kids can be a great night in and can give them a new favorite film.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) can be watched with an HBO Max subscription but is generally easy to find and watch.

4. Paddington

A more recent release about the beloved children’s book character, Paddington is a more emotional and better-made film than some would imagine could come from a story so old, and the heart of the original children’s story shines through all the while bringing the tale into a current age. It also looks wonderful, and you can easily see the work that went into making Paddington come to life in the world around him.

In it, an intelligent bear from Deepest Peru travels to London in search of someone who befriended his relatives decades prior. He meets the Brown family, who take him in and grow close to him. However, not everything is so simple, and there are people who would rather capture and stuff Paddington, being the rare bear that he is. It’s a heartwarming, if thrilling at times, a story that’s great for the whole family.

Paddington was originally released in 2014, and you can easily find it streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Crackle, Philo, and FuboTV.

5. The Addams Family

The Addams Family has been a part of the culture for a long time, known for being both creepy and spooky, among several other choice adjectives. Yet out of all the depictions of them over the years, we think a great place to start is the computer-animated film made recently. It might not feature the original cast, but it’s less daunting for new people to start watching, keeps a certain charm about it while remaining modern, and has some great stars in the leading voice roles.

It is a bit lighter than the source material for sure, but there’s nothing stopping you from popping in some other films or TV episodes once you’re done here. It’s great for groups of all ages!

The Addams Family was made in 2019 You can find The Addams Family on Philo, Sling TV, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Paramount Plus.

6. Enchanted

Another fantasy film a lot of people will love, Enchanted features a princess named Giselle who finds herself in New York City, with all the interesting things that offers. And while she hopes to get back home to her true love, she meets a jaded divorce attorney to help her find her way. There are some crazy characters, a clash of fairy-tale and the real world, and a lot of fun to be had here.

Yet while the plot might seem simple enough, Enchanted is so much more than its plot. It’s a musical fantasy romantic comedy, which means that it has a lot to live up to and a lot to do. Alen Menken worked on the soundtrack, and it has some lovely designs and effects throughout. And in our opinion, it does what it sets out to do and can be fun for most of the family. 

Enchanted was released in 2007 and can be found on Disney Plus.

7. Hugo

A film by one of the biggest film lovers about film and the love of film, Hugo is a feature by Martin Scorsese that is miles away from the rest of his not-so-family-friendly work but maintains the same level of quality and storytelling we come to expect from him.

Hugo is about a boy, an automaton, and the creation of the film itself. Much of the film was based on the story of Georges Méliès, one of the first filmmakers who developed the realm of special effects and direction in early film history. Yet it’s not so bogged down in the details that the storytelling suffers. Anyone of any age will appreciate what’s going on here and will connect with the characters.

Hugo also happens to feature some of the most gorgeous visuals on this list, featuring a style that pops off the screen while remaining true to the setting and themes. 

Hugo was released in 2011 and you can find it on Netflix.

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

There have been a ton of superhero movies that have come out in the last two decades or so, but many of them have been more on the PG-13 side of things. And while many of them are probably fine to watch in a family setting, we still want to recommend Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to everyone. Trust us when we say it might be one of the best superhero movies ever made, and there are a lot of them.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse also pops off the screen with a unique sense of style. It isn’t necessarily clean, but it fits so well with the story being told, and without spoiling too much a lot is done to break even the mold it sets down for itself. To mention anything else would be to do a disservice to you for when you do watch this with your family.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was released in 2018 and can be found on Hulu and Sling TV.

9. Finding Nemo

It's likely that you’ve seen Finding Nemo already yourself, but have you seen it with the rest of your family. We promise it is just as good now as it was the day it was released. In it, a single clownfish dad has to find his abducted son with the help of some friends along the way, including a somewhat forgetful fish named Dory.

And while the plot is thrilling, the real star is the imagination that went into creating the undersea world shown in the film. With a ton of cleverness, creativity, and character, this is one of those films you want to watch once for the story and again for the details. We know your family will love it for one reason or another.

Finding Nemo was released in 2003 and can be found on Disney Plus.

10. Edward Scissorhands

Tim Burton has always been an interesting choice in a family context. A lot of the films do not necessarily have anything that is objectionable in them, but they often present a creepy vibe that is great for some children and not so great for others. Yet for all his detractors and potential warnings, we think an occasional risk is a worthwhile effort.

And Edward Scissorhands, the tale of someone who has scissors for hands trying to find their place in the world (without hurting anyone) is fantastic, and Tim Burton brings his unique visual style to the film, and there are a lot of treats to find no matter whether this is your first or fifth time watching. It might be a little too intense for the youngest kids, but there’s a ton of imagination to be found here.

Edward Scissorhands came out in 1990 and is available to watch on Hulu.

11. Toy Story

Pixar has produced a ton of amazing movies over the years, and all three Toy Story movies have things to love about them, but if anyone in your family hasn’t seen the first one, you have to start there, which is still amazing by any standards. The tale of toys trying to figure out their place and stick with their child is heartwarming and gives a sense of adventure to something so small, and it makes everyone look at their toybox just a bit differently.

Along with an incredible story of production, the first Toy Story was groundbreaking on so many levels that it is a must-watch from a film fan’s perspective alone. And your kids will love it whether they know all of this or not.

Toy Story was released in 1995 and is available for streaming on Disney Plus.

12. Moana

One of the more modern Disney features and one of their forays into 3D animation (which they do practically exclusively now), Moana is a wonderful film with beautiful oceans, a strong main character, and inspiration from Polynesian myths. Like many Disney movies, it got acclaim for its animation quality, fun songs, and a nice sense of humor.

It features Moana as she leaves her home and travels the seas, with a bit of help from a god that is played by The Rock, who brings his own fun energy into things. It has a little bit of mythology, a fair bit of excitement, and is a great film for children to inspire them to broaden their horizons. It’s only a few hours, and if the family likes it there are more movies in the same vein.

Moana came out in 2016 and it is available for streaming on Disney Plus. 

13. The Princess Bride

A film filled with adventure, love, and miracles, The Princess Bride is one of the best fantasy films ever made, and it's a film with both a love for the medium and a ton of fun for anyone watching. It’s very practical in its effects, features a lovely framework, and feels like it's from a different era, even for when it was made. And everything comes together in an incredibly quotable movie. 

The Princess Bride was actually based on a book of the same name, though do note that while both have a certain charm to them, the book is slightly darker and a bit less family-friendly or comforting in parts. For that reason, we think the film is the better choice for the average family to enjoy together. 

The Princess Bride first came out in 1987 and is available to watch on Disney Plus. 

14. Spirited Away

Quite a few of the films by Studio Ghibli would fit on this list, being amazing works of animation that tell unique and wonderful stories that people of all ages can appreciate. Yet we and many fans think Spirited Away stands out as one of the best.

Spirited Away is about a girl who goes with her parents to a festival, only for her parents to make a horrible mistake and get turned into pigs in the process. Featuring one of the most detailed and amazing worlds to ever come alive on film, every frame seems like a painting and every scene holds more imagination and detail than some full features. It is a breath of fresh air for anyone watching. Outside of this, it’s hard to talk about except that we want you and your family to see it for yourself.

Spirited Away came out in 2001 and you can find it on HBO Max.

15. Inside Out

Another Pixar film that we think has a little something for everything, Inside Out is a story about emotions. Quite literally in this case. The main characters are named Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, and they live up to their names. That isn’t to say they’re all one-note, but instead, they’re all part of a cast that wouldn’t work without each other. Everyone does an amazing job bringing the film to light, and the inside of the mind is just the setting for Pixar to tackle. 

As for the plot, Riley (whose emotions are the main characters) is having a tough time dealing with the emotional effects of moving. And as things get worse, the emotions struggle with what to do and how to process the changes. The rest you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Inside Out came out in 2015 and is available on Disney Plus.

16. The Lego Movie

When was the last time you or your children played with Legos? Chances are you would still love to play with them yourself if you have the chance (though perhaps with some more complex builds). The Lego Movie captures a lot of that magic and nostalgia and puts it into a movie that is full of energy, perhaps a little too much depending on who you ask. No matter though, like your kids and the child inside you are sure to love it as it brightens the day and inspires creativity.

And if you’re looking for more, there are other Lego media that came out after the fact, including a sequel, Lego Batman, and several other films. Effectively, this is a movie that spawned a franchise. 

The Lego Movie was released in 2014 and you can rent it on several different platforms.

17. Coraline

Based on a children’s book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline might be a little scary for younger children, especially with parents and people who have button eyes and thrilling and creepy moments throughout, but there is a lot to love in this film. With a unique aesthetic, wonderful visuals (this is a stop-motion film), and a captivating story, Coraline is a great introduction to a whole new side of stories and the movies.

In it, Coraline, who feels neglected by her parents and is looking for something better, is guided by a doll into a parallel world where everyone seems the same, except that they have buttons for eyes. Everything seems better, but there is something sinister beneath the surface of this world and its characters.

Coraline came out in 2009 and it is available for rent on a wide range of platforms.

A Few Quick Notes

Before you get to watching, just a few more things we’d like to mention:

  • In general, we think all these films are appropriate for family viewing. However, only you can know for sure what is right for your kids.
  • While we mention where you can find these films, you might also catch some of them running on your favorite cable channel. Additionally, streaming rights change over time. The good news is that practically all these films are available for digital rental from plenty of different sources.
  • If some of these movies run too long, remember that you can pause them as you need to. An hour of family time is better than two hours of hypothetical family time you can’t get together.


After more than 100 years of filmmaking, there are tons of options available to watch with your family, whether streaming on a streaming service, on-demand from your cable provider, or available for rental. Not everything will be for every family, but we’re certain there will be a few picks above that will be perfect. We hope you have a fun time, everyone loves the films, and you grow closer to your loved ones as a result.

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