Family-friendly Movies flicks films
Entertainment,  Movies,  Parenting

15 Favorite Family-Friendly Flicks to Watch at Home With the Kids This Weekend

There are tons of great animated movies that we adults can love right alongside the littles, but this is a list of our family’s favorite real-life flicks when our kids were in elementary and middle school. Depending on your strict meter, most of these are for ages 8/10 and up, and they’re all rated G or PG.

Image by René Schindler from Pixabay 

Even when I got a movie recommendation from a friend, I still jumped on a review site to double-check how appropriate it was for our kids. My favorite is from Focus on the Family, but, and are also great.

In alphabetical order, so no one gets their feelings hurt…

Akeelah & The Bee – If you missed this one when it came out, it’ll be worth your time to go find it. Full of work ethic and positive messages, The National Spelling Bee just got fun.

Dolphin Tale (1 & 2) – I always wanted to be a dolphin trainer. By the end of these flicks it looked like our kids were thinking the same thing. Squeaky clean and endearing, part two left us wanting a third.

Eight Below – An engaging, emotional story about sled dogs, hope, friendship and, most of all, never giving up—no matter how cold it gets.

Evan Almighty – With Steve Carell as a quirky Noah, and Morgan Freeman playing God, this hilarious story almost makes me want to start a farm. And go back to wood shop. And bake unleavened bread.

The Greatest Game Ever Played – I played golf once. Not a fan. But I am a fan of this movie set in the early 1900s. It’s an encouraging story of dreaming, perseverance, honor, friendship and sportsmanship. Our oldest has seen this about nine times and still loves it.

Hugo – I’m pretty sure my kids wanted to live in a clock when this was over. Incredible camera angles, intriguing early robotics, and an inspirational story of forgotten talent.

McFarland, USA – This cross-cultural cross-country drama about a beleaguered teacher inspiring young kids beyond their own expectations is perfect for middle and upperclass tweens and teens who need a little kick in the pants. Since moving to Baja, our family has never related to a movie as much as this one. When the über white family moved into the über Mexican town, our empathy went through the roof. And we cheered for the inexperienced runners who were also learning the rewards of hard work, community, and intercultural acceptance. I give it a ten, and I’d watch it again.

Miracle – I don’t even like hockey, but I loved this movie. The athlete in me had a hard time accepting the fact that I never made it to my Olympic dream from the 6th grade, but the teamwork in this movie is beyond inspirational.

Nacho Libre – I didn’t really get it at first either, but that became the beauty of this random flick set in Oaxaca, Mexico. It got even funnier after living south of the border. (Word to the wise: don’t call anyone “Chancho.”)

Parent Trap – The original with Hayley Mills made me think twins were fascinating. Switching places and tricking adults? Classic. The whole thing is about girls, but our boys still loved the feistiness that goes along with practical jokes and trying to glue a broken family back together.

Radio – Set in 1976 and inspired by a true football story, Radio preaches compassion, challenges viewers to rethink their priorities, and testifies to the value of every human life. Patience. Kindness. Compassion. Justice. Plus, Cuba Gooding Jr. knocks it out of the park. Too much profanity for the littles, but a great message for tweens and teens.

Ramona & Beezus – If you ever read Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, you’ll know why I might have gotten a little too excited about the toothpaste in the sink scene.

Rudy – The first movie to be shot on the Notre Dame campus, Rudy was named one of the best 25 sports movies for the previous 25 years in two polls by ESPN. Even if you’re not a big football fan, this film will have you cheering for the underdog and liking Sean Astin all over again. (Did anyone remember that Vince Vaughn was in this? Not I!)

That Thing You Do! – “Written and directed by Tom Hanks (who also has a supporting role), That Thing You Do! recaptures the innocence and optimism of 1964 in a fun cautionary tale about the fleeting nature of fame.” ~Plugged In Besides the fact that this throwback is a jackpot for visual style, we couldn’t get the theme song out of our heads for days. But is singing and dancing around the kitchen with your kids ever a bad thing?

The Ultimate Gift – If you want to teach tweens and teens about work ethic, let them watch this. Twice. Manual labor and selfless giving? Yes, please. (P.S. The girlfriend is a tad sensual and slightly inappropriate.)

Family-friendly Movies flicks films

Now it’s your turn! After you pop the corn, grab that cozy blanket, and enjoy a family flick, let me know what I missed. Surely you have a few favorites that aren’t above, yes? Don’t keep them to yourself—please share in the comments! I respond to every one.

And may the force be with you.

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  • Jennifer Smith

    Simon Birch is an awesome PG movie that kids and teens can enjoy. I loved it. Also, ET, Because of Winn Dixie and The Goonies should be on the list. ????

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh, yeah! I saw Simon Birch years ago when it came out and remember it being good. And yes, ET is always a classic. Don’t think I’ve seen Winn Dixie though. Thanks for the recs, Jennifer!

  • Shelley Fields

    My boys (9 and 6) love E.T.! We also spent a few family movie nights watching the first Herbie movies. They cracked up at the car’s antics.
    I’ll have to check out Eight Below. We watched Iron Will together and it was wonderful, except when the lead dog was attacked my oldest was sobbing uncontrollably in my arms. ???? I kept telling him, “it’s PG… I’m pretty sure there’s a happy ending!” There was, thankfully.
    Thank you for the ideas for future family movie nights.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh my gosh, how sad! Great memories though. ???? Thank you for the new recommendations, Shelley. These are being added to my list for part 2 in the near future!

  • Wendy

    “Remember the Goal,” an inspirational drama about a high school girls cross-country team, and
    “The Perfect Race,” Coach Courtney Smith-Donnelly (played by Allee-Sutton Hethcoat) takes her coaching wisdom to the track and works with a female athlete at a small Christian college who tries to overcome long odds and win a national title in the 800 meter run.
    We found both of these to be outstanding…

    • Carrie Talbott

      I have not heard of either of those, but thanks for the recommendations, Wendy! I’ll see if I can find them….

  • Nicole

    Inside Out – it should be required watching… IMHO
    Newsies – cuz Christian Bale and singing and dancing… and a tiny bit of American history.
    Secretariat – for the horse lovers, plus wholesome messages of hard work, family support, and … I can’t find the right word but maybe it’s simply “dignity.”

    • Carrie Talbott

      Ooo… great recommendations, Nicole! Looks like I have to make a second list now. Gracias!

  • Karen A Garcia

    Thanks Carrie. We have seen all of your suggested titles except Miracle and own all of them except Miracle and Nacho Libre. Nacho Libre and McFarland are definitely enhanced by living south of the border. We have good friends who grew up in McFarland, so it was definitely exciting to watch that movie for that reason too. It’s really great!
    Having girls instead of boys, we also own the American Girl movies. Those were favorites as well.
    Thanks for sharing. I look forward to list #2.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Looks like we have the same taste! I would highly recommend Miracle, even if you’re not a hockey fan; it’s super inspirational. Plus it’s based on a true story, so that makes it even more fun. Agreed–Nacho Libre got way funnier after we moved to Baja and learned more Spanglish. 🙂 Cool McFarland connection! I guess I need to start crafting list #2 now. Haha. Send me more recs if you want. Thanks for reading, Karen!

  • Judy Morrow

    Carrie, these are wonderful–thanks! I’ve seen seven and loved them. Looking forward to the others and sharing a couple with my granddaughter before they move to Oklahoma June 9. We watched McFarland, USA together, per a recommendation from another friend, and we loved it. We also enjoyed Ramona and Beezus and several episodes of the Superbook series. Watching The Chosen series together has been a highlight of the past year.

    I also recommend Wonder, based on the book by the same title. The musicals Beth mentioned are also favorites, especially of three grandkids who are siblings. Thanks again for these terrific suggestions!

    • Carrie Talbott

      So glad you’ve seen and loved McFarland, USA! It’s definitely one of my faves. Yes, Wonder is an excellent addition. The ones I chose were all a little older, but maybe I’ll do a part 2 with newer recommendations someday. Thanks for reading, Judy!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Haha! Yeah, that would probably be a good bonus or alternate winner. But I was thinking of kiddos, and when ours were younger they weren’t that into it. Too many lines went right over their heads. Now of course it’s much funnier. Have a great weekend, Princess Buttercup!

  • Beth Hankoff

    When my first son was in preschool, he was really into musicals like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. He could watch them over and over again and had all the songs memorized to a T. I didn’t intend for him to spend so much time on screens, but my second was born when he was almost 3 and was VERY colicky. He would sit and sing along to the movie while I tried to figure out how to soothe his brother. Good times!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Those musicals are so fun! Sorry about the colicky baby though. I’m glad you had such great entertainment to help pass the time. Thanks for chiming in, Beth!