Family movie nights have their challenges. What movies can a 4-year-old and a 12-year-old watch together? We’ve been curating this list for about two years now, and 6 top favorites of kid’s movies emerge.
What Are the Best Kid’s Movies for the Whole Family?
In an era of individual screen time, I value collective movie-watching experiences for my family. But what movies can a whole family of varying ages enjoy together? Specifically, I currently have an age range that spans vastly different developmental stages. There are only so many nights I can get away with showing “The Sound of Music”.
So here’s our list of the Top 6 Kid’s Movies Your Tween and Preschooler Will Watch Together, curated with the perspectives of trained movie consultants ages 12, 10, 6 and 4. There is adventure! There is animation! There is comedy!
1. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)
This Steve Carell Family Disaster Movie connects from the lost pacifier to the mangled mini-van, with just an edge of potty humor in between. Needless to say this is a popular kid’s movie that engages our crowd. Everyone understands horrible days and this movie particularly reflects the chaos of family as they each navigate their own challenges.
2. Cheaper By the Dozen (2003)
Packed with physical comedy and sibling dynamics, Steve Martin’s 2003 Remake of this 1950 classic, just works. There are a few more mature issues discussed but they are clearly upstaged by the visual circus of 12 kids, a wild dog, and a family that values its own uniqueness. Want to hear your 4-year old belly laugh? Wait for the scene with Ashton Kutcher and the family dog, Gunner.
3. National Treasure (2004)
This one was a shoo-in for my older kids, but I’m still surprised that it engages my 5 and 7 year old. But the mystery and adventure of the quest is non-stop energy and combined with a setting of historic national landmarks and an end-goal of a chasm filled with treasure…who could get bored?
4. Lego Batman (2017)
I mean, have you seen Lego Batman? What’s not to like?! The title exposes the ridiculous premise and the joy of the movie is that it never takes itself seriously. Kids love it for the animation and super heros. Adults love it for the dry humor and endless pop culture allusions. It moves fast and furious. You might feel dizzy. But your crowd will be pleased.
5. Ramona and Beezus (2010)
Fans of the Ramona Quimby books have resonated with both the antics and angst of their heroine for decades. “Ramona and Beezus” does an excellent job depicting both family life through a challenging season and the perspective of a nine-year old as she copes with the ups and downs of third grade. This sweet kid’s movie is full of color and slapstick as disaster-prone Ramona never gets too down to stop dancing. Your preschoolers will love the debacles as your older kids connect with the family issues, as well as the struggles of moody older-sister Beezus in early adolescence.
6. [Home Alone] (1990)
I bracket Home Alone due to its Christmas movie status. I know it’s a Christmas Movie! ( And yes, it will make all of my Family Christmas Movie Lists.) But it was this now- timeless tale of left-behind Kevin McAllister defending his home against bumbling robbers that the gaggle of cousins at the family beach house this summer watched on repeat. Thus, I include it here. The physical comedy engrosses all ages, as does the large house filled with crazed relatives. No, the McAllisters are not examples to any of us. But we do connect – and the themes of confession and forgiveness are poignantly emphasized.
How Do I Find Good Kids’ Movies?
What we allow our children to watch can vary from family to family. But I try never to go in blind. Consider using a site such as Plugged In, to vet movies before you commit. Plugged In provides every single factor that could be a deterrent- then you make your own, informed, decisions.