The Best Kids’ Movies for the Whole Family

Put these on your watch list.

So many movies, so little time. It can get overwhelming when it’s time to choose one to watch with your kids for family movie night. Here, we share our picks for the best kids’ movies and even get some input from Real Simple readers to help with the decision-making process.

These picks, for toddlers through teens, include age recommendations from Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization that provides reviews and advice to families as part of an effort to make media and technology safe for kids.

Ranging from recent hits to old favorites, from comedy to drama to documentary, set in Australia, England, Chicago and space, these movies are sometimes funny, sad, scary or all of the above. Portrayed via animation, Claymation or flesh-and-blood actors, the cast of characters include toys, extra-terrestrials, farm animals, teenage basketball players, a fairytale princess, and a cheese-loving English inventor and his cheeky dog.

So get the popcorn ready, settle into the couch, and enjoy!

1

Winnie the Pooh

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A short (69 minutes) and simple G-rated Disney animated take on A.A. Milne’s classic children’s books, this 2011 traditional family film is set in the Hundred Acre Wood where the bear Pooh and his memorable friends including Tigger, Eeyore, and Owl set off to save Christopher Robin from suspected harm, changing the nature of Pooh’s initial quest—to find some honey and, later, to help Eeyore find his tail. If the kids can’t get enough of Pooh and friends after watching this film, add A.A. Milne’s classic stories to your bedtime reading list.

Ages: 3 and up

To buy: $10; amazon.com.


2

Toy Story

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A 1995 Academy Award-winning classic, G-rated Toy Story tells the story of Woody, an old-fashioned cowboy doll who is the favorite toy of a young boy until the disruptive arrival of Buzz Lightyear, a cool new space action figure. Woody and Buzz ultimately team up to ward off a mutual threat—a neighborhood bully—and recognize the value of friendship, plus inspire the great Randy Newman theme song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” Let’s not forget the memorable cast of supporting characters, like Mr. Potato Head, Little Bo Peep, and Rex. Fun fact: this Disney-Pixar concoction that was the first completely computer-animated movie.

Ages: 5 and up

To buy: $24.99; amazon.com.


3

Babe

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This 1995 G-rated, Academy Award-winning, fantasy drama is an inspirational movie about the young pig Babe, who finds himself separated from his family on a strange Australian farm after he is won by a kind farmer named Arthur. He is befriended by a friendly border collie named Fly and gradually adjusts to his new life. But when he discovers that his fate may soon be as a dinner meal, he strives to become an invaluable contributing member of the farm—as a “sheep pig” that can herd sheep. If your kid is currently obsessed with animals, he will love this heartwarming film.

Ages: 6 and up

To buy: $8; amazon.com.



4

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

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“E.T. phone home,” the memorable catchphrase from this 1982 Academy Award-winning, PG-rated classic directed by Steven Spielberg still resonates, as does the sci-fi story about a young lonely boy who befriends an extra-terrestrial who looks scary at first but isn’t at all. The two develop a tender, mutually beneficial friendship that enables E.T. to return to his home in outer space and the boy to tread more boldly in his world. Plus, parents will get a kick out of seeing young and adorable Drew Barrymore in one of her first movie roles.

Ages: 7 and up

To buy: $10; amazon.com.


5

Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures

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This collection of three short (not rated) Claymation action adventures (from 1989, 1993 and 1995) shares the nerdy enthusiasms and slapstick exploits of two English eccentrics, owner Wallace, a kooky cheese-loving inventor, and his dog Gromit. Or is it Gromit and his man Wallace? It’s unclear who’s in charge with this duo. Adventures, including a trip in a homemade rocket to see if the moon is made of cheese, are told with British humor silly enough to be appreciated if not always understood by American kids (and their parents).

Ages: 7 and up

To buy: $44; amazon.com.


6

The Princess Bride

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A fresh take on the damsel-in-distress adventure fairy tale, this funny 1987 PG-rated cult classic directed by Rob Reiner stars a young Robin Wright—as a plucky farm girl chosen to marry a prince she doesn’t love—and comic greats including Billy Crystal, Carol Kane, and Mandy Patinkin who exchange witty repartee during sword fights and encounters with giants. This film has everything for the whole family: romance and action for the parents, plus humor and fantastical, mythical beings for the kids. It’s been a family favorite for years and is guaranteed to be a hit with yours.

Ages: 8 and up

To buy: $10; amazon.com.