13 Classics for Family Movie Night

by Laura Decker
Oct 31, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Classics and New Films for the Whole Family: | Family Movie Night
Image: Images: Getty Images, Giphy/Design: Mike Commins/SheKnows

Ah, the age-old "spending all of Friday night trying to agree on a family movie" challenge. Maybe you just can’t sit through another showing of Frozen (who can, really?). Maybe your 8-year-old is being stubborn and won’t agree to anything but Ninja Turtles — again. But guess what: Kid-specific movies are overrated. Right? There are plenty of films out there that are appropriate for kids but don't necessarily scream, "I'm a kids' movie!" These are the old and new classics the whole family can enjoy.

From sports films that teach major life lessons (A League of Their Own 4ever) to the fantasies so many of us grew up on (we just can't quit you, Princess Bride), check out our list of great movies that will please kids of all ages — from toddlers to teens to, yes, parents. Because we're all just kids at heart, right?

See the whole movie night playlist and save it to your free SmartFeed Library.

1 /14: 'Back to the Future'

1/14 :'Back to the Future'

A fun mix of time travel, romantic comedy, unlikely friendship and of course plutonium, this movie will appeal to many. When teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is blasted to 1955 in a DeLorean converted into a time machine created by the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), he finds himself mixed up in an adventure that could leave him stranded in the past. Powered by innovative special effects, great '80s music and nonstop action, Back to the Future is an excellent adventure that entertains both kids and adults. Some iffy language and scenes mean this is probably best for kids 10 and up.  

2 /14: 'The Princess Bride'

2/14 :'The Princess Bride'

This funny fairy tale has all the elements needed for a great movie night: humor, a quest, great adventure, a rhyming giant and a six-fingered man. Starring Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn, The Princess Bride is staged as a book read by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his ill grandson (Fred Savage). Gramps promises much more than a love story, and boy does he follow through — with fencing, fighting, torture, death, magic, pirates and more. Seems almost... inconceivable.

3 /14: 'The Emperor's New Groove'

3/14 :'The Emperor's New Groove'

Looking for an adventure with a side of slapstick comedy? Look no further than this classic by Disney. Featuring the voices of David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt and Puddy from Seinfeld, The Emporer's New Groove is a kid hit that will leave adults giggling too. Emperor Kuzco (David Spade) is turned into a llama by his devious advisor and embarks on a great adventure with a local peasant (John Goodman) to pursue his only chance of changing back into a human — with great music and comedy throughout. 

4 /14: 'Freaky Friday'

4/14 :'Freaky Friday'

This is a great choice for a mother-daughter movie night, and you can even do a double feature with the Lindsay Lohan version and the original Freaky Friday, which stars the inimitable Jodie Foster at the disgruntled body-swapping teen.

5 /14: 'Chariots of Fire'

5/14 :'Chariots of Fire'

This movie will transport you to the 1924 Olympics in London. Two men from very different backgrounds come together to race. In this Academy Award winner for Best Picture, friendship triumphs over the strains of intense sports competition and cultural differences to make for an inspiring and uplifting film for tweens and up. Plus, just try to listen to that theme song without running slow-mo yourself.

6 /14: 'The Incredibles'

6/14 :'The Incredibles'

The vocal talents of Craig T. Nelson lead this family of undercover superheroes as they save the world from Jason Lee's evil mastermind, Syndrome — formerly the would-be Incrediboy. (Just goes to show what you get for snubbing a fan, Mr. Incredible.) Also starring Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Wallace Shawn, because do family movies without Wallace Shawn even exist?

7 /14: 'A League of Their Own'

7/14 :'A League of Their Own'

Remember when Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell were baseball besties? Remember when Geena Davis was in movies? Based on a real women’s baseball team, this film beautifully depicts their teamwork and camaraderie as well as the stress and difficulties they faced. Just remember: There's no crying in baseball. 

8 /14: 'Toy Story'

8/14 :'Toy Story'

Toy Story is nonstop action and comedy, plus toys that come to life. What's not to love? Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and — you guessed it — Wallace Shawn. 

9 /14: 'Star Wars: A New Hope'

9/14 :'Star Wars: A New Hope'

Otherwise known as just plain Star Wars for the non-kids among us, the original movie is a true classic — and a huge part of our culture. Start 'em on sci-fi young.

10 /14: 'Hidden Figures'

10/14 :'Hidden Figures'

Based on the book of the same name, this story appeals on many levels. Outer space? Check. Underdogs triumphing? Check. Badass women of color in STEM? Check. Basically, this movie has everything. 

11 /14: 'Up'

11/14 :'Up'

Beware: Your kids may witness you cry at this Pixar gem. But it's well worth it to share the heartwarming story of unlikely friendship between generations — and species. Plus, that house getting carried away by balloons is just the best.

12 /14: 'Inside Out'

12/14 :'Inside Out'

This beautifully animated masterpiece from Pixar explores emotions in a graceful way. An important takeaway for kids: You need to feel all of your feelings, good and bad, in order to appreciate the happy ones. This film gives parents a nice opportunity to talk about emotional intelligence — and it's a super-fun film to boot.

13 /14: 'Shaun the Sheep Movie'

13/14 :'Shaun the Sheep Movie'

A stop-motion delight from the creators of Wallace and Gromit, this film follows Shaun on an adventure in the big city. Even with virtually no dialogue, it manages to be hilarious. It's a great backseat choice for road trips.

14 /14: About SmartFeed

Best Films for Family Movie Night: About SmartFeed
Image: Smartfeed

14/14 :About SmartFeed

SmartFeed is a free family media resource to help parents find and organize books, movies, TV, podcasts and apps that are just right for each member of the family through an easy-to-use app and website. Our mission is to help parents access inspiring educational media that their kids will love. 
We offer savable, shareable playlists for families and communities. Titles are easily sortable by provider (e.g., Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, etc.), age and topic.