Whether it is movies in the park, DVDs or streaming, we tend to see the same movie offerings – a few that we can call the “movies of the year” and some classics that keep coming around. We are gathering Family Movie Night ideas into one place with short reviews, parental guidance, and links to longer reviews when we have them. I’ve also included reviews from past film festivals because many of these movies are now streaming or available through your public library. In these cases, I’ve added a language notation.
Click this link for: FFTC’S GUIDE TO FREE & CHEAP SUMMER MOVIES
Note: No one on the FFTC staff has a film background. We are parents with opinions. If you disagree with these reviews or just want to add your own thoughts, we welcome your opinions in the comments, the more real parent opinions the better.
Preschool Family Movie Night Idea:
If your children are preschool and younger, TPT offers a weekly “family movie night” every Friday at 6pm and again at 8pm. It is usually just extended versions or marathons of their regular pre-K programming – perfect for short attention spans and specifically made for the very young. Bonus: You might even own a book that can take the movie night theme into bedtime storytime. Watch TPT PBS KIDS every Friday at 6 or 8 pm or watch on the PBS KIDS App.
Family Movie Night Alphabetical Movie List
Family Movies A through B
A Bug’s Life • Rated G • Woo Hoo a Rated G Movie!
Adama • Not Rated • French • This movie was dark, a bit scary, and deep. The artwork is beautiful but the subject of war is not. Definitely for the older child. Read my full review here.
A League Of Their Own • Rated PG • Finally, my kids will understand the joke when I say, “Are you crying? There’s no crying in baseball!”
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day • PG • This is one of Gianna’s favorite books and she said the movie was one the whole family, parents included, would love.
Annie (1984) or (2014) (or any other version for that matter) • Rated PG • This is always a good family film but has some intense parts. The worst part about this show is that it draws in the little ones with fun music and then gets pretty scary in the last scene.
Antboy, Antboy:Revenge of the Red Fury, and Antboy 3 • Rated PG • These films started out in the film festival circuit. I’ve only ever seen them in English, but they look dubbed. Either way they are kind of cute and can be equally enjoyed by adults and kids.
Aquaman • Rated PG-13 • A DC Superhero Movie.
Avengers: Infinity War • Rated PG-13 • The Avengers Movies just keep getting longer and more violent. I still let my grade school boys watch it because all their friends did (horrible reasoning, but the truth).
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) • Rated PG • Gianna felt this film was a overall positive family experience. Read her full review here..
Back to the Future Trilogy • Rated PG • I know its rated PG, but this is really a tween plus movie. While I wouldn’t have any objection to my kids watching it, I just wouldn’t bother dragging them out for the original or any of its sequels.
Battle Of The Sexes • Rated PG-13 • I have not seen this movie and it had very mixed reviews from parents and reviewers on Common Sense Media. No matter your opinions for older kids, this is not for younger kids.
Belle & Sebastian and Belle & Sebastian, The Adventure Continues • Not Rated • French • I adore both of these movies but they are intense and are in French. Because these are action adventures, dialogue is less important than in some films. Read my full review of the Adventure Continues here.
Beauty and the Beast (2017) • Rated PG • This is basically a more violent version of the animated Beauty and the Beast (1991). There was a lot of negative hype preceding this film that turned out, in my opinion, to be overblown. I guess, given a choice, I’d choose the animated version, which is Rated G.. I thought Lisa from Twin Cities Frugal Mom wrote a nice review of this movie.
The BFG • Rated PG • Some of this was very scary for the little ones. I have not read the book, but I felt like there was enough missing from the movie that I was unable to get invested in any of the characters. Read Gianna’s review here.
The Birds • Not Rated • Alfred Hitchcock Classic will be scary to younger kids, but I loved it as a grade schooler.
Birds of Passage (Les oiseaux de passage) • Not Rated • French • 2016 was an awesome year for the children’s films at the film festival. This is one I saw by myself that I wished I could share with my family. My full review is here. (Note: This movie is not yet available in the United States that I can find. There is an unrelated French book with the same title and an unrelated crime film about the Columbian drug trade with the same title. Neither are particularly family friendly)
Black Panther • Rated PG-13 • Yet another Marvel movie that I regret letting my grade school kids watch.
Born in China • Rated G • A Disneynature movie that follows a panda, a golden monkey and a snow leopard – as their stories unfold over China’s vast terrain.
The Boss Baby • Rated PG • My 4-year-old can’t get enough of this movie and the spin-off Netflix series. I despise both.
Brave • Rated PG • This can be scary for smaller kids. Brave seems to get the raw end of the Disney Princess deal, getting a lot less attention that her Frozen fellows. Princess Merida is by far my favorite princess and a mother/daughter tale is a nice change from the predictable.
Bumblebee • Rated PG-13 • From the Transformers universe, Bumblebee hides out in a junkyard until he meets new friend, Charlie.
Bunyan & Babe • Rated PG • Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox get help of their new friends Travis and Whitney save a town from an evil developer.
Family Movies C through D
Captain Marvel • Rated PG-13 • Finally a female Marvel Superhero.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie • Rated PG • I definitely like the books better, but the movie is okay too.
Cars 3 • Rated G • This was a much better movie than I expected. I brought along a book to read while the kids watched it, but never picked it up. Despite the fact that it was a bit predictable, it had a good message and the story really got the audience rooting for Lightening and his new trainer, Cruz. I felt the same way about the Cars (G) and Cars 2 (G). I had to be dragged to see them, but then thoroughly enjoyed all three movies. I also truly appreciate the fact that Disney can still pull off a G rated film that the whole family can enjoy.
Christopher Robin • Rated PG • Heartwarming and hilarious. Your whole family will enjoy. Check out Gianna’s Review Here.
COCO • Rated PG • This movie was entirely too scary for my 5-year-old. It didn’t matter that the subject matter itself was rather more funny than scary, the sugar skull characters were too frightening for him to relax and follow the plot. For older kids though, it sparked theological discussions and was just an enjoyable movie.
The Croods • Rated PG • A sweet, but somewhat forgettable film that explores family relationships.
Descendants & Descendants 2 • Rated G • There were some really good songs in these, and one family movie night wouldn’t be bad, but they don’t hold up to for re-watching for adults.
Despicable Me 1, 2 & 3 • Rated PG • I hate these movies and their minion spin-offs.
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story • Rated PG-13 • This is a shock-humor movie, best for adults and older teens.
Family Movies E through H
Eighth Grade • Rated R • Joy feels this movie has a limited audience of middle graders and their parents, you can read her full review here.
Fanny’s Journey (Le voyage de Fanny) • Not Rated • French • This was the youth jury winner for the 2017 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and was also my pick. Heavy on French dialogue and very intense with adults who do terrible things to children (mostly implied), this is for parents and older kids. Read my full review here.
Ferdinand • Rated PG • Gianna found the movie to be very different than the book and had some parental guidance to offer here.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off • Rated PG-13 • This classic 80s film is probably best with older kids (or sleeping kids). I don’t feel it is as bad as some 80s teen comedies for normalizing bad behavior, but I also think younger kids would find it boring. As an adult, I found Ferris annoying and over-privileged.
Flight of the Butterflies • NR • Follow the Monarch Butterfly on its journey to Mexico and meet the scientist who found the Monarch wintering grounds in Mexico.
Fortune Favors the Brave (Ente gut!) • Not Rated • German/Vietnamese • This is a cute story and isn’t scary, but its heavy on German dialogue. Read my full review here.
Frozen • Rated PG • As expected from Disney, this movie offers catchy tunes (perhaps too catchy) and an uplifting message – this time about the love of two sisters.
Ghostbusters (1984) • Rated PG • We just re-watched this as a family. It is DEFINITELY too scary in parts for smaller children, but it is a whole lot funnier than I remembered. It surprisingly stood the test of time.
The Goonies • Rated PG • 1985 Classic Steven Spielberg adventure story. A great summer park movie.
Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2 • Rated PG • Years ago, I picked up a Goosebumps book off my young brother-in-law’s nightstand and was more scared than I like to be. I have not gone back, but commonsense media suggests an age recommendation of 8 or 9+.
Guardians of the Galaxy and Volume 2 • Rated PG-13 • My favorite of the Marvel Comic movies because it mixes in humorous sci-fi. Age appropriate for parents and teens. Although younger kids would enjoy it, Marvel movies tend to be violent.
Hidden Figures • Rated PG • This was a good movie to watch as a family at home. The smaller kids lost interest and wandered away, but we followed up with the wonderful picture book of the same name. This could be a good way to prepare for the Stages Play on the same topic that is coming in the 2018/2019 season.
Hocus Pocus • Rated PG • This comedy from 1993 gets somewhat mixed reviews from parents on Commonsense Media. I think this is mainly due to the subject matter of witchcraft. You may want to review content advisories before making up your own mind.
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids • Rated PG • Now conisdered a classic, I think you either like Rick Moranis movies or you don’t, so my mini-review is “Rick Moranis”.
Hotel Transylvania, Hotel Transylvania 2 & Hotel Transylvania 3 • Rated PG • A Hotel for monsters – no humans allowed. A small twist on the cliche monsters-don’t-believe-in-humans theme.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966 (NR), Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas 2000 (PG) and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) • Rated PG • Three distinctly different versions probably deserve three separate reviews, but in all cases, I’d rather stick with the book.
How to Steal A Dog • Not Rated • Korean • Based on an American children’s book of the same name, this is a cute film. My original review says its heavy on dialogue, but I mostly remember the action scenes. Younger children may still enjoy it. Read my full review here. Still not available through Amazon, but it was on Netflix last I checked.
How to Train Your Dragon, How to Train Your Dragon 2 & How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World • Rated PG • A family-friendly fantasy trilogy that follows a viking boy and his dragon.
The Hunger Games Series • PG-13 • Gianna has it on good authority from her husband that these movies do a fairly decent job of following the books, which I have found to be tamer than I expected. I am reading these books and watching the movies with my 13-year-old and feel pretty good so far. (We’ll update when we’re through the whole series).
Family Movies I through L
The Incredibles & Incredibles 2 • Rated PG • This move ranks among my top favorite kids films ever. What mom doesn’t want to be Helen? The sequel did not disappoint, but Jack Jack definitely stole the show.
Inside Out • Rated PG • I had to look up what made this movie PG, instead of G. Apparently, because a character gets angry and lashes out. I find that ironic since it is a movie that was made to help children deal with emotions. You can read Gianna’s full review here.
The Iron Giant • Rated PG • This sweet and poignant movie has a retro feel and ends on a good note but can be a little scary for the smallest kids.
Jumanji Series • Rated PG-13 • The Parks do not shy away from PG-13 films during the summer movie season, but that gives us offerings for family fun with our teens and tweens.
Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom • Rated PG-13 • If your kids don’t find dinosaurs eating people to be scary, than I guess its fine.
Kick It (Kule kidz gråter ikke) • Not Rated • Norwegian • My favorite film of the wonderfully awesome 2016 MSPIFF children’s series. I can’t currently find it anywhere, but continue to watch for it. Read my full review here.
La La Land • Rated PG-13 • This was a Grammy sweetheart last year and already I see it popping up in family park events, but it is a teen/adult movie. However, if you bring pillows and sleeping bags maybe they’ll fall asleep and you can have a date night minus the babysitter.
Leap! • Rated PG • I adored this movie and loved that it made my kids want to try dance, but it got middling reviews overall.
The Lego Movie & The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part • Rated PG • I do love the humor of Lego Movies even if I tend to fall asleep before they are over.
The LEGO Batman Movie • Rated PG • I saw this one in the park. Mosquitoes are a good defense against falling asleep during a movie but not a pleasant defense. Bug spray is a good idea.
Lego Ninjago Movie • Rated PG • I so wanted to like this movie based on the trailers, and it did have some particularly funny one liners, but it didn’t hold my attention. I did appreciate that they didn’t try to reform the dad; instead it was a story about loving someone even when that person is (very, very) imperfect. I also love that there were hints throughout the movie that the whole story was just pretend play, using Lego’s and other household items (and cats) as props. Maybe it will inspire kids to play with their toys and not just watch movies about them.
Little Big League • Rated PG • Why do movies that could otherwise be G-rated feel the need to use objectionable language? Is it really necessary? I don’t like sports films anyway. If you do, and you can get past the language, this is otherwise a family film and it was filmed in the Twin Cities, so you can look for landmarks you recognize.
Family Movies M through P
Marshall • Rated PG-13 • The story of Thurgood Marshall, the nations first African-American U.S. Supreme Court justice. Most appropriate to watch with teens.
Mary Poppins Returns • Rated PG • A modern sequel to Mary Poppins.
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Moana • Rated PG • I found this movie very okay. Gianna had a different opinion, you can read her 10 Things For Parents.
Mr. Frog (Meester Kikker) • Not Rated • Dutch • I loved this film. It’s a little bit fairy tale and a little bit real life. I hope it comes to streaming soon. Read my full review here.
Murder On The Orient Express • Rated PG-13 • An Agatha Christie murder mystery best for teens and adults.
My Friend Raffi (Rettet Raffi!) • Not Rated • German • This film reminds me of a 1970s family film like Benji, where the adults are either bad guys or too busy to notice the bad guys, so its up to the kids and some fuzzy creature (here a hamster) to save the day. It’s just a fun family film. Read my full review here.
My Little Pony: The Movie • Rated PG • We do not have a personal review of this, although after watching the trailer half my family wanted to MST3K it and the other half were just super excited about it. We have links to coloring pages here.
Ocean’s 8 • Rated PG-13 • Heist movie. I just don’t see this being interesting to younger kids. Maybe your teen, possibly tween?
Operation Arctic (Operacion Artico) • Not Rated • Norwegian • Very good, but very real-life scary polar bears. Not for the faint-hearted. Read my review here.
Paddington, Paddington 2 • Rated PG • I found the first Paddington very average, but it wouldn’t be bad for a family movie night at a park.
Pete’s Dragon • Rated PG • I LOVED this movie and when it was over, I added the soundtrack to my Spotify playlist. I think my kids liked it, too.
Peter Rabbit • Rated PG • This movie based on the books combines computer animated animals with live action actors.
Planes: Fire & Rescue • Rated PG • Read why Gianna Highly recommends this movie here.
The Post • Rated PG-13 • Steven Spielberg historical drama about freedom of the press in context of the 1971 Pentagon Papers.
The Princess Bride • Rated PG • I love the Princess Bride, but it is a little scary for smaller kids. Without the nostalgia of the adults, the older kids like it but “have already seen it”. While its an enjoyable movie for kids, I think a lot of what makes it a great movie, goes over their heads.
Family Movies Q through U
Ralph Breaks the Internet • Rated PG • A sequel to Wreck-It Ralph.
The Sandlot • Rated PG • Always a fun movie to watch during little league season. There are two sequels, but they don’t seem to have the same magic as the first.
Say Anything • Rated PG-13 • This is an teen/adult film, but may be boring enough for little kids to fall asleep to at a dusk showing.
The Secret Life of Pets • Rated PG • Cute, but forgettable kids film.
Secrets of War (Oorlogsgeheimen) • Not Rated • Dutch • WWII resistance film. Any realistic film of this genre is going to be a bit intense, plus strong reading skills are helpful. Best for families with older kids.
Selena • Rated PG • Movie based on the true story of pop star Selena Quintanilla.
Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After, Shrek V (coming in 2019) • Rated PG • We did a comparison of the original book, the movie and the musical here. The subsequent sequels are worth watching, but not nearly as revolutionary as the first.
Sing • Rated PG • The pop music soundtrack might save this film for some adults. Otherwise its a very predictable kids film. I’d prefer to turn this one on at home so I can fall asleep. However, I note that some scenes are rather mature for their intended audience. If this is your first time through, you may want to stay awake to offer some parental guidance.
Singin’ in the Rain • Rated G • Its ironic how many “kids movies” are rated PG, while this adult movie is Rated G. It just goes to show you can make a great movie and keep it family friendly. I would expect my kids to find the movie boring, but the music is good and I like it. so guess who is getting dragged to Lake Harriet to watch this movie this summer.
Smallfoot • Rated PG • Another movie where mythical creatures don’t believe humans are real until they meet one.
Space Jam • Rated PG • I honestly can’t think of a movie I’d like to see less, except maybe a sequel. I’ve heard that 90s kids consider this a classic. Common Sense Media gives it 3 out of 5 stars and suggests ages 7+.
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse • Rated PG • An animated sequel in the Marvel Spider-Man Series.
Star Wars (any of them) • Star Wars, you either love them or you hate them. I tend to love them. Common Sense Media has an Age-by-Age Guide to the Star Wars Franchise. We have a review of The Last Jedi.
Strange Magic • Rated PG • A 2015 LucasFilms/Disney version of A Midsummer NIght’s Dream that received middling reviews, but might be a fun way to end a family reading of the Shakespeare play.
Take the Lead • PG-13 • This movie is rated PG-13 for language, violence and sexual content, including a near-rape scene. It’s probably best watched with teens.
Tesoros • Not Rated • Spanish • This is a really slow film that extols the virtues of a slower life, but also really puts you to sleep. A perfect film for a rainy Sunday afternoon. If you drift off, you won’t miss too much, but while you are awake you’ll enjoy the secenery. Read my full review here.
Trolls • Rated PG • If you like pop music and characters that are so ugly and annoying that they are cute, this show is for you. It’s good to turn on when I want to sleep and my kids don’t.
Up • Rated PG • Its weird to see a movie that came out when my oldest was in preschool achieve classic status, but this movie is definitely a classic to me. It’s worth getting out to see in the parks because its getting harder to find streaming. This movie is PG because the dogs can be a bit scary for little kids.
Family Movies V through Z
The Water Horse • Rated PG • This is a sweet story about a boy and the Loch Ness Monster set during WWII. It had many intense scenes and was a bit too scary for my preschooler. The grade school kids loved it.
West Side Story • Not Rated • This classic musical is unrated because it came out in 1961. While the modern day Romeo & Juliet story deals with mature subjects and violence, it does it in musical style with violent scenes turned into dance numbers. Kids might be bored.
Wonder • Rated PG • Gianna tells me the book is amazing. This is on my shortlist of movies I want to see and books I want to read.
Wonder Park • Rated PG • This movie has received poor to middling reviews.
Wonder Woman • Rated PG-13 • I am not usually big fan of the super hero genre, but this is one of two comic book hero movies that I want to see this summer. While the Motion Picture Association suggests 13+, Common Sense Media actually suggests age 12+.
Wreck-It Ralph • Rated PG • An mostly unobjectionable, but forgettable movie.
Zootopia • Rated PG • This movie got good ratings and my kids enjoyed it, but it put me to sleep. It’s a good movie to turn on for the kids when you have a book you want to read but they just won’t stop interrupting.
- FFTC’s Guide to Free and Cheap Summer Movies
- How to Turn Family Movie Night into a Cozy Act of Kindness
- Twin Cities Cheap Flicks: $2 Movies at Riverview Theater + More Discounts
- Want some real reviews? We recommend Common Sense Media for that?
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