Family movie night should be for the whole family, not just the kids. It can be hard to pick a movie that mom won't fall asleep on, that dad won't leave early to go do work and that teenagers won't roll their eyes through the entire time. That's where family-friendly movies come in.
The family-friendly movie scene is at a peak right now. From "The Little Mermaid" to "Elemental," TODAY's picks for family movies are ones that kids and adults will enjoy equally, and they're available in theatres and on streaming platforms. Plus, TODAY includes some classics, contemporary favorites, musicals and comedies that are sure to keep the sing-alongs fresh and the laughs rolling in.
Here's to the new memories these movies may help create.
Movies for families with teenagers
Miss Juneteenth (2020)
In this drama, a former beauty pageant winner and single mom prepares her rebellious daughter for her first pageant. “Miss Juneteenth” shows the joys and sorrows of Black motherhood and girlhood in a new and refreshing way.
‘Fighting With My Family’ (2019)
Perfect for watching with teenagers, “Fighting With My Family” is the story of an English family who lives and breathes wrestling, and what happens when two of the children are invited to try out to be part of WWE.
‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ (2022)
Thor is one of the few remaining original Avengers and in the last ensemble movie, “Avengers: Endgame,” Thor struggles with maintaining his mental health and aimlessly joins the Guardians of the Galaxy due to lack of other options. “Thor: Love and Thunder” picks up here, and apparently Thor has turned things around and is working on something big.
“The Fabelmans” (2022)
It only takes one inspirational experience to completely change the direction of a kid’s life. Director Steven Spielberg had that moment in “The Fabelmans,” an award-winning film that shows how he first fell in love with movies and how, step-by-step, he became the beloved director he is today. The Oscar nominated movie may inspire the young people in your life to follow their dreams.
‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)
“Good Will Hunting” is a classic starring Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Robin Williams. Will (Damon) and Chuckie (Affleck) are bootstrapping their way through life in a run down Boston neighborhood, often fighting their way through troubles. Will works as a janitor at MIT and a professor discovers Will is a young prodigy who should be in college, not on the streets. The movie follows Will as he tries to reach his potential while also figuring out what he wants to do, not what the professor is forcing on him.
'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' (2023)
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” finally answers the questions that previous Marvel movies have teased regarding what’s actually in the quantum realm and how did Ant-Man’s mother-in-law survive down there for 30 years. In the movie, the superhero’s teenage daughter gets them, Hope (her dad’s wife) and her grandparents all sucked into the quantum realm, which leads to a lot of arguments. But throughout the movie, they find common ground and she ends up saving the day.
“Elf” is a classic starring Will Ferrell (Buddy), who plays a human raised by Santa’s elves before journeying to New York City to meet his biological father. Leaving the North Pole is hard, but so is bringing its culture to the big apple, so Buddy has to decide who he is in this new city.
'Jerry Maguire' (1996)
The title character in “Jerry Maguire” is a knuckle-busting sports agent who suddenly has a change of heart and wants to do things the right way. He’s fired over it, and only one person at the company, a single mother, leaves with him and they start a new company together. They somehow manage to fall in love despite losing clients, money and Jerry’s less than warm words at times.
'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' (2023)
Multiverses is the name of the game in Marvel's world these days. In "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," Miles Morales, who is Spider-Man in the comic book, is thrown to the multiverse. Shameik Moore stars as Miles; Daniel Kaluuya and Issa Rae also star.
'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' (2022)
"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is a eulogy to King T'Challa and his original actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020. It's also a celebration of Wakandans coming together and finding their new leader as they thwart off new attacks.
'Flamin' Hot' (2023)
Is "Flamin' Hot" based on a true story? The movie supposedly tells the tale of how a janitor created the Flamin' Hot Cheetos flavor, which is disputed by Frito-Lay. But the movie still has lessons to share.
'Draft Day' (2014)
Kevin Costner and the last Chadwick Boseman star in "Draft Day," the story of how Costner's character, Sonny Weaver Jr., landed the No. 1 draft pick for the NFL's Cleveland Browns in a true uphill battle. Boseman plays Vontae Mack, who Sonny wants to draft, but he has no support from his team to do it since they think there are better players available.
'Freaky Friday' (2003)
"Freaky Friday" is a classic starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as mother and daughter who just are not seeing eye-to-eye. They literally have to walk in each other's shoes to have empathy and more respect for each other.
‘Coach Carter’ (2005)
Samuel L. Jackson plays the title character in “Coach Carter,” a classic film that shows what a high school basketball team can do when their coach believes in them and is a great teacher. Their city, Richmond, California, needs something to believe in and some good news to share. The high school’s potential boy’s basketball championship would be perfect.
‘Honk for Jesus’ (2022)
Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall shine in “Honk For Jesus,” a parody that points out double standards related to the institution of the church and the pros and cons of being a part of mega churches or smaller, local churches.
“Uncharted” is a modern day treasure hunt. Two orphaned brothers (Tom Holland and Mark Walhberg) join forces to stop a corrupt billionaire from finding the treasure before they do. But the treasure is hidden and most people don’t think it exist at all, so the friends have their work cut out for them.
Movies for families with middle grade kids
‘Sky High’ (2005)
Every student in “Sky High” has super powers. Their high school trains them to use their skills — an investment that proves useful when their school comes under attack.
‘Akeelah And The Bee’ (2006)
Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishbourne star in this classic about students from different socioeconomic backgrounds and high schools competing in spelling bees. It’s a lighthearted story with some heavier moments sprinkled in (not to mention oodles of star talent).
‘High School Musical’ (2006)
The original “High School Musical” set the foundation for all the spinoffs that have since happened (and are available on Disney+). Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) fall in love as he reconciles being a basketball player who wants to perform theatre and she prepares for a big science competition.
‘The Greatest Showman’ (2017)
Ideal for families with older kids, “The Greatest Showman” is an irresistible musical starring Hugh Jackman, consummate showman himself, as circus maestro P.T. Barnum. The musical takes its liberties with Barnum’s life story, but — featuring music by duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul — is likely more entertaining for the editorializing.
“Holes” has a dark premise — but kids will enjoy the movie’s twists nevertheless. The movie is set at a brutal boot camp where teens in need of “straightening out” are sent. There, they dig holes. All day. eventually, they find out what their days of toil are for, but it takes some ... digging.
‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993)
In one of his most enduring roles, the late Robin Williams plays Daniel Hillard, a dad who, amid a divorce, goes to great lengths to get more time with his kids. He dresses up as a nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, in the hopes that he can remain a caregiver — and his ex-wife hires him, not knowing who’s really behind that prosthetic nose. As Mrs. Doubtfire, he learns what’s really going on with his family, and how to fix it. The movie’s legacy is continued in a Broadway show.
‘Inside Out’ (2015)
Feel every feeling through this Pixar movie, which alternates between showing a teenage girl’s perspective and the viewpoints of the five main emotions in her brain. “Inside Out” shows how to balance the voices of joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust — for we all have them inside us.
‘Spy Kids’ (2001)
Carmen (Alexa PenaVega) and Juni (Daryl Sabara) are roped into their parents’ gadget-filled life as spies. All four “Spy Kids” movies are a blend of “James Bond” and kid-friendly hijinks.
‘The Princess Bride’ (1987)
As you wish. With its blend of adventure, comedy and romance, “The Princess Bride” is likely to appeal to everyone in the family. Based on the novel by William Goldman, “The Princess Bride” is about a couple wrenched apart by a king — but the side characters, from Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) to Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), are largely what render the spoof film a cult classic.
People are fire, water, earth or air in "Elemental" and have to figure out how to live together even though they are complete opposites. The experimental movie is a great followup to "Inside Out," prompting questions as it elicits laughs.
'The Little Mermaid' (2023)
The live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" is spectacular in its emotion, visual effects and storyline. The plot is the same as the original: Ariel the mermaid wants to live on land and trades her voice to the sea witch Ursula for legs. While on land, Ariel falls in love, but has to figure out a way to get her voice back and keep her new legs. But the vivid visuals are more dramatic (and scary!) in live-action form, making it appeal to older kids as well as younger.
'High School Musical' (2006)
Who says jocks have to choose between their sport and theater? In “High School Musical,” Troy (Zac Efron) thinks he has to choose between the two, but Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) shows him that it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation, but a both-and. How they work it out, and fall in love, remains a classic, as do the songs they sing in the musical film, which led to sequels and TV show remakes.
‘Queen of Katwe’ (2016)
A 10-year-old chess prodigy (played by the late Nikita Pearl Waligwa) from the slums of Kampala, Uganda becomes a widely recognized chess player and uses the opportunity to escape her impoverished lifestyle. Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo star in this family drama, based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi.
‘Turning Red’ (2022)
“Turning Red” sparked conversation between parents when it premiered on Disney+ in 2022. For all its use of fantasy plot lines — our protagonist is from a line of women who turn into red panda bears — the animated movie takes a real look at what it’s like to be a preteen girl, marked by unabashed enthusiasm, intense feelings and forever friendship.
‘National Treasure’ (2004)
“National Treasure” is the first in a three movie series in which Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage) uses U.S. history facts to uncover clues that lead to a treasure. Along the way, he falls in love and grows even closer to his aging father.
Movies for families with elementary schoolers
‘Dr. Dolittle’ (1998)
Eddie Murphy can talk to animals in “Dr. Dolittle” and his kids don’t know what to think. He tries to bond with them while also helping as many animals as he can.
‘Over The Hedge’ (2006)
Scrappy woodland friends uncharacteristically wake up in the middle of their hibernation season and have to band together to withstand the bounty that humans in their neighborhood put on their heads.
‘Stuart Little’ (1999)
"Stuart Little," an adaptation of E.B. White's novel of the same name, is a spin on pet adoption. The Little family adopts an anthropomorphic mouse, Stuart, and expects their son, George, to treat him like his real brother. It takes time, as you might expect.
This Scotland-set animated film tells the story of Merida, a teenager set on defying a patriarchal tradition her village follows, and Queen Elinor, her mother who tries at all cost to prevent Merida from achieving her goal. Even though it’s a kid’s movie, the mother and daughter’s rocky relationship is likely to resonate with adults, too.
Young Andres and his cute pet kinkajou, straight out of the local Cuban rainforest, off to find Andres’ best friend in an eventful road trip adventure. The musical .
‘Horton Hears A Who’ (2008)
Jim Carrey played the Grinch in one Dr. Seuss adaptation; here, he plays an animated elephant named Horton who, oddly enough, hears sounds coming from a tiny speck of dust. Turns out these the speck of dust is home to Whos of Whoville (where “The Grinch” takes place). Horton mounts a campaign to convince others what he hears is real.
‘Despicable Me’ (2010)
Gru (Steve Carrell) is a proud supervillain, and with good reason — he’s good at it. When he ends up getting custody of three orphaned sisters, though, he has to get a whole new skill set. “Despicable Me” will open up a universe of movies, including sequels and movies based on the minion side characters.
‘The Princess and the Frog’ (2009)
“The Princess and the Frog” uses Disney’s classic style of animation for a new story. In this New Orleans-set story, Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) kisses a frog and becomes one herself. There go her dreams of starting a restaurant — or so she thinks.
‘The Sandlot’ (1993)
“The Sandlot” captures the feeling of childhood, especially for those ‘90s kids who grew up watching it over and over. Set in the ‘60s, the movie follows a group of baseball-loving kids over the course of one pivotal summer.
‘Finding Dory’ (2016)
In the "Finding Nemo" sequel, all the questions surrounding Dory’s parents and short attentions pan are finally answered, and she’s reunited with her family, at last.
'Shark Tale' (2004)
The ocean is literally full of loan sharks and indebted fish in "Shark Tale." Lenny the shark decides he doesn't want to be a part of his family's shady business — but how does he get out? He meets Oscar the fish, who owes Lenny's family a lot of money. The two hatch a plan that's supposed to solve both their problems. But, of course, it just creates more. These two are in deep.
A family game night goes completely wrong in "Jumanji" when the kids find an old, sketchy looking board game in the attic. Turns out, the game is magical and as they play, random people emerge from the board and the family has to figure out how to help them, if they can. Robin Williams stars. The 2017 and 2019 remakes star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black.
'Wizard of Oz' (1939)
Follow the yellow brick road through a spirited journey in "Wizard of Oz." This classic musical's favorite characters are Dorothy, the Lion, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, who each lack something and travel to the Wizard of Oz hoping he can fulfill their requests. Unfortunately, the wizard turns out to be a complete sham and the quartet realizes they already had what they were seeking.
'How to Train Your Dragon' (2010)
It's already hard being the chief's son, but it's doubly difficult when Hiccup disagrees with some of the clan's ways of life, such as hunting and killing dragons. Forced into dragon-fighting school, Hiccup actually befriends a dragon and creates a new possibility for his clan: How to train dragons and co-exist.
'Aliens in the Attic' (2009)
"Aliens in the Attic" is exactly what the title suggests. So much for a peaceful family vacation! When a few kids find aliens in their attic, they concoct a plan to drive them out. Piecing clues together, they learn that the aliens can only control adults. So, for the plan to work, the kids must ban together and keep the adults completely in the dark.
Ella Enchanted (2004)
Parents who have wished their kids always did as they were told may rethink that after watching "Ella Enchanted." In the movie, Ella (Anne Hathaway) has a spell cast on her that makes her obey every command. People later use it against her and she internally struggles to find a way to break the spell.
"Toy Story" fans already know Buzz Lightyear. Or, do they? In "Lightyear," fans finally get the back story how how Buzz ended up on Earth and what he wanted to do before becoming one of Andy's toys.
'Me Time' (2022)
Finally! One dad managed to stumble into some free time when his wife and kids are away with her family. So he meets up with an old childhood friend for a hilarious adventure while his wife and kids have one of their own. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg, Regina Hall and Kevin Hart.
'E.T. the Extra Terrestrial' (1982)
"E.T." is all about letting possibility into your universe. Oh, and it's also about aliens. This Steven Spielberg classic follows what happens when a boy (Henry Thomas) discovers a friendly alien and tries to help him find his way home.
Paddington the Bear, the classic character from children's literature, was revived for a new generation through these charming movies featuring just about every famous English actor. You might even like the sequel more than the first one.
'The Goonies' (1985)
"The Goonies" was a classic children's movie for one generation, and still holds up. An old pirate map found in an attic leads to real-life treasure. This movie will have kids looking for avenues for magic in their own lives.
Travel to the coast of Italy in this Pixar movie about a pre-teen sea monster who explores the land, and finds there's a lot to love (including gelato).
This animated movie takes place in a world where anthropomorphic animals live side-by-side, and follows a particularly talented bunch. Matthew McConaughey is a koala bear theater owner who launches a singing contest to save his theater. Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Taron Egerton are among the animals shooting for stardom. "Sing 2," out in 2022, is just as song-filled (and might even be your favorite of the two).
‘Are We There Yet’ (2005)
Suzanne Kingston's (Nia Long) two kids are determined to keep her from finding a romantic connection. And while Nick Persons (Ice Cube) has a crush on Suzanne, he's not interested in raising anyone's kids. Nick offers Suzanne and her kids a ride to the airport — but ends up driving them all the way from Oregon to Canada. The road trip is long, not only in miles, but teaches everyone a few lessons along the way. This family comedy has a sequel, "Are We Done Yet" (2007), that's worth watching next.
The Madrigal family, the family at the center of this Pixar move, captivated viewers with their array of powers, their enchanted magic house, and their original songs written by Lin-Manuel. One family member, Mirabel, doesn't have any powers but ends up being the key to solving a family dilemma. We all ended up talking about Bruno, thanks to this movie.
'Cheaper By The Dozen' (2003)
"Cheaper By The Dozen" features Steve Martin and Kate Baker as parents who've put their career and dreams on the back burner to raise 12 rambunctious kids. The 2022 remake starring Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff puts a new age spin on the classic movie.
'Ice Age' (2002)
For parents who can handle talking animals (and we know that some simply cannot), "Ice Age" is for you. In the movie, animals across species band together to survive in a changing environment. Ray Ramano and Queen Latifah lead this four-movie series that, despite its name, is nothing if not warm.
'The Parent Trap' (1998)
Imagine Hallie and Annie's surprise when they learn they are each other's twin while at summer camp. Their parents, they realize, split them up as kids. At the end of the summer, the twins go home with the unknown parent to get their questions answered and reunite their family. This classic stars Lindsey Lohan as both the twins.
'Finding Nemo' (2003)
"Finding Nemo" might cause tears before laughter, and that's thanks to the sad opening scene. In this classic Pixar movie, a clownfish named Marlin tragically loses his wife in an accident that destroyed all their unhatched babies — except one, Nemo. When Nemo goes missing, Marlin has to face his agoraphobic tendencies and venture out into the ocean.
Matilda Wormwood (Mara Wilson) is a genius — but hardly anyone seems to acknowledge this. The only bright spots in her life are her beloved books and her teacher, Mrs. Honey (Embeth Davidtz), who's sympathetic to her situation. Matilda's unused brainpower leads her to develop powers that surprise her family and delight the rest of us. The musical adaptation on Netflix is equally memorable.
'Honey I Shrunk The Kids' (1989)
This classic family comedy is a whirlwind of adventure. A scientist (Rick Moranis) accidentally shrinks his four kids with a shrink ray he thought didn't work. When he throws it out, his quarter-of-an-inch-sized kids have to get from the garbage can in the yard back to the house while combatting now-dangerous sprinkler systems and stampedes of ants.
'Lion King' (1994)
Sing along in this coming-of-age classic as Simba rediscovers who he is after tragically losing his dad, Mufasa, and learns to inherit his birthright.
'Home Alone' (1990)
As his family prepares for a Christmas vacation to Paris, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) gets accidentally left behind. While home alone, hence the title, Kevin tries to outsmart the two criminals trying to ransack his family's house. Kevin is initially criticized for his mischievousness — but that quality ultimately saves the day.
'The Incredibles' (2004)
When they're not suiting up and saving the world, the family in "The Incredibles" are doing laundry and homework. They're almost normal — but not quite, and that's why they've been tasked with taking down villains. This classic movie and its sequel feature America's favorite superhero family.
'Johnson Family Vacation' (2004)
This road trip movie stars Cedric the Entertainer, Vanessa Williams, Bow Wow, Solange Knowles and Steve Harvey as estranged family members heading on a road trip from California to Missouri for a reunion.
Moana (Auli'i Cravalho) is a princess of a Pacific island that no one ever leaves — but she wants to. The daring teenager hopes to save her community by sailing away and embarking on an ancestral quest. Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda punctuates her journey. After seeing this movie, which co-stars Dwyane Johnson as a demigod, you'll say, "You're welcome."
Journey into Shrek's swamp — actually, on second thought, best not to. This Scottish ogre, voiced by Mike Meyers, hates visitors on his land. Follow, instead, as Shrek falls in love with the princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz).
'Ramona and Beezus' (2010)
Joey King and Selena Gomez star as sisters (and total opposites) trying to save their family home. Ramona (King) is a rambunctious grade schooler who uses her imagination to make sense of her changing reality. Beezus (Gomez) is an older sister just trying to keep up with all Ramona's shenanigans, all the while trying to secure their family home. The movies is based on a children's book series by Beverly Cleary.
'Bridge to Terabithia' (2007)
In this classic book adaptation, two teenagers (AnnaSophia Robb and Josh Hutcherson) create an imaginary world that magical creatures inhabit. The young adults find freedom and empowerment in this world, a stark contrast to the their home lives. "Bridge to Terabithia" has a notoriously tear-jerking ending — you've been warned.
'The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl' (2005)
What's a lonely boy to do? Create an imaginary world filled with superheroes, of course. In this film, a kid with an overactive imagination is drawn into the world that might be more real than he originally thought.
'Because of Winn-Dixie' (2005)
Families with pets will appreciate "Because of Winn-Dixie," the story of Opal Buloni (AnnaSophia Robb), a 10-year-old girl who finds companionship in a stray dog she encounters outside of a Winn-Dixie supermarket. Through the relationship she has with Winn-Dixie and new friends in the community, Opal helps come to terms with the mom who abandoned her, and connect with the preacher father who she's suddenly living with.
Since "Up" celebrates intergenerational friendships, it's a great pick for grandparents to watch with their grandkids. In "Up," 78-year-old widower Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner) is about to fulfill his and his wife's lifelong dream of flying, via balloon, to a vista in South America. To his surprise, a kid named Russell (Jordan Nagai) and his dog are in the house when he takes off, disrupting his plans of a solitary, contemplative journey.
'The Lorax' (2012)
12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron) is on a mission: He wants to win over his crush, Audrey (Taylor Swift), and she loves Truffula trees. Unfortunately, that simple gift is impossible to get in their town, which completely lacks vegetation. His efforts to find a tree lead him closer to an explanation of why all the plants disappeared.