55 Best Movie Night Ideas For Family

Best Movie Night Ideas For Family

Image: Shutterstock

Are you zoned after a frantic week? You have the perfect reason to curl yourself and your entire family up and enjoy some wonderful movies.

However, with several attractive options available, it could be a tricky task choosing a movie that appeals to different ages. We have tried to give you a head start with a list of the most enjoyable and critically acclaimed movies of all time.

So plump up that blanket, stock up on snacks, pass on mugs of hot chocolate, and let the smell of freshly popped buttered corn lure your family into the TV room. Turn on your deluminator and say, “action!” 

Movies For Family Movie Night

If you are looking to run a movie marathon with your loved ones, we have an assortment of irresistible movies classics, Disney favorites, latest hits, and all those flicks that fit the ‘family time’ bill.

1. The Big Friendly Giant – 2016 (PG)

The BFG, based on Roald Dahl’s fantasy book of the same name, narrates the story of Sophie, an orphaned girl, and the Big Friendly Giant, who she befriends. The two of them join forces to fight the other giants, who love to eat children and human beings. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie explores unlikely friendships and will have the youngest family members shutting their eyes tightly and also roaring at the plentiful fart jokes.

2.  The Baby-sitters Club – 1995 (PG)

Celebrated as a classic, this ‘90s film captures the lives of energetic, young girls who love to babysit. They wish to turn their baby-sitting jobs into a happening and legally-run day camp. They tackle family issues, endure deep crushes, and face opposition from a grumpy old neighbor who is opposed to their ‘enterprising’ idea.

3. School of Rock – 2003 (PG-13)

This one is for all the hard rock fans. The movie follows the story of Dewey, who isn’t the best of rock artists. He is thrown out of his band and has to pose as a substitute teacher to pay his bills. Just allowing every day to pass by as it comes; he finds a new purpose when he hears the prep school students practicing orchestra. He decides to create the perfect team for the Battle of the Bands. This film would be the right choice to expose your kids to metal and rock.

4. Freaky Friday – 2003 (PG)

This Disney hit depicts the crazy transformations that a punk-rock teen and her uptight psychiatrist mother undergo when they switch bodies after eating fortune cookies on a freaky Friday. This gives them the opportunity to understand each other and get back on the same page with their own bodies. The film offers some hilarious moments; for instance,  the mother performs as the lead guitarist at a competition.

5. The Princess Diaries – 2001 (PG)

Anne Hathaway plays Mia Thermopolis in this high school drama, which focuses on the challenges she faces, such as the mean batchmates, unrequited crushes, and royal responsibilities. As Mia Thermopolis discovers she is the princess of Genovia, she has to learn some real-life lessons from her grandmother and also manage her school life.

6. The Parent Trap – 1998 (PG)

A beautiful film depicting the effect parental separation can have on young minds can be a tear-jerker. When Nick and Liz decide to end their marriage, their twin daughters get caught in the nasty split. Each parent claims a child and moves to different destinations. However, fate brings the two sisters together at a sleepaway camp, where they discover their twin bond. They devise a plan to switch places with each other and reunite their parents.

7. The Naked Gun – 1988 (PG-15)

This parody cop film traces the adventures of Detective Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielson), who tries to prevent The Queen’s assassination while on a state visit to the USA. Based on a classic ‘80s TV series called Police Squad, The Naked Gun offers you classic slapstick comedy with loads of puns that will have you rolling.

8. 13 Going on 30 – 2004 (PG-13)

How would you react if you suddenly find yourself jumping age – from 13 to 30? Jenna Pink, played by Jennifer Garner, experiences the same dilemma. She longs for adulthood, but finds herself in a mess after being magically transformed into a 30-year-old grown-up. Mark Ruffalo portrays Jenna’s neighbor in this romcom, which also features the Michael Jackson hit, Thriller, as the two friends sway at a party.

9. The Beatles Yellow Submarine – 1968 (G)

This animated musical adventure could introduce the younger members of your family to the legendary band The Beatles and their delightful music. The music-loving inhabitants of Pepperland face trouble from the music-hating Blue Meanies, so the Mayor sends a sailor to England to seek the help of the Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr) to solve the musical crisis. The awesome foursome come in a yellow submarine to fight a musical battle with the Meanies and also win it.

10. Big – 1988 (PG)

Directed by Penny Marshall, this 20th Century Fox, fantasy comedy narrates the unusual story of Josh Baskin (played by Tom Hanks), a young boy who makes a wish to be big at a carnival. The wish comes true, and he finds himself surrounded by the challenges that adulthood poses. He later joins a toy firm and his young mind proves advantageous to the company. Big reflects on emotional challenges and friendship.

11. The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) (PG)

Lily Tomlin plays Pat Kramer, who suddenly starts shrinking as a result of a chemical reaction from the cosmetic and household items she purchases. The film reels through hilarious situations as Kramer attempts to manage her tasks as a mother and housewife while living in a dollhouse. Later, she also has to escape from a lab that kidnaps her to carry out tests. It may sound a bit far-fetched and ridiculous, but the movie is highly entertaining for all age groups.

12. Flubber – 1997 (PG)

A hilarious science-fiction film, this classic starring Robin Williams is a remake of the 1961 movie The Absent-Minded Professor. It revolves around an absent-minded professor. He creates an amazing compound called flubber at the cost of his own wedding. Featuring crazy stunts such as basketball players jumping to crazy heights and cars flying in the sky, this movie with its jiggly green compound star will tickle your funny bones.

13. To Sir, with Love – 1967 (PG-13)

This British drama portrays social and racial issues in a city school. Starring Sidney Poitier, Christian Roberts, Judy Geeson, Suzy Kendall, and singer Lulu, the movie is based on E R Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel of the same name. Poitier plays the teacher who has to discipline students, who were rejected by most schools because of their behavior. Facing a lot of opposition initially, he finally wins them over with his calm demeanor.

14. Eight Below – 2006 (PG)

This Disney movie retells the story of the Second Cross-Winter Expedition of the Japanese Antarctic Surveying Team. The movie has Jerry Shepard, who works with the National Science Foundation and helps a UCLA professor find a rare meteorite. They can reach the spot only with the help of a dog sled. How the dogs achieve this despite all the odds makes for the rest of the movie. The movie will appeal to all dog lovers.

15. The Incredibles – and sequel (PG)

The movie narrates the story of the superhero couple, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, who have to stop their work because of a ban imposed by the government. However, they don their special costumes when they have to fight a supervillain and destroy his killer robot. The sequel to the film also has the youngest baby exhibiting his power to breathe fire, blow up, and become invisible. Go ahead and watch them back-to-back.

16. Despicable Me, 2 & 3 – 2010, 2013, 2017 (PG)

Everybody adores this bald, bad-guy-turns-good-guy tale about a soft-hearted villain who adopts three little girls, around whom his life revolves. The film follows the eccentric but lovable Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), a supervillain who tries to make jams for a living and give up the bad ways. He has an army of the adorable Minions to help him. Quirky and funny, the movie also has a prequel, Minions, which you will enjoy.

17. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – 1982 (PG)

Hailed as one of the best movies of all time, this movie is a heart-warmer and narrates the story of a boy who makes friends with an alien. This Steven Spielberg classic finds inspiration in his own childhood, when he created an imaginary alien friend to help him cope with his parents’ divorce. What’s more interesting is the awesome performance given by the young cast. The movie teaches children the invaluable lesson of true friendship.

18. Jumanji – 1995 (PG)

Wild, imaginative, and incredibly adventurous, the movie is a must-watch for all who love to explore the wild. It is the story of two children who find and play a magical board game that releases a man who’s been trapped inside for years. The movie takes us through various twists and turns. Robin Williams gives a stellar performance as the trapped man who has faced his own set of adventures. The wild ride can end only when the game finishes.

19. Remember the Titans – 2000 (PG)

Exploring racial tensions and brilliant sporting drama, this is a biographical movie about the African American coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), who puts in all his efforts to create and integrate the TC Williams High School football team in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1971. The movie highlights the importance of teamwork and teaches children the importance of living in harmony with people of all races.

20. Up – 2009 (PG)

This animated offering from Pixar depicts the heart-warming story of a cute old man who has lost his wife. His dream is to fly to South America along with his house, with the power of balloons. An unexpected twist comes in the form of a boy scout named Russell, who gets on board by chance. The movie follows their bond and how they overcome their fears and troubles.

21. Little Women – 2019/1994 (PG)

Based on the celebrated book of the same name written by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women follows the coming-of-age story of the Marsh sisters in 19th century New England. The nearly perfect Meg, the tomboyish Jo, the shy but wise Beth, and the artistically inclined Amy brighten up the plot with their trials and attempts at living life on their own terms.

22. To Kill a Mockingbird – 1962 (PG)

Although it explores a grown-up theme, the movie, based on Harper Lee’s classic book, tells the story of a black man accused of a crime from a six-year-old child’s perspective. Starring Gregory Peck in the role of Atticus Finch, the movie has him defending the man. The treatment of the movie and the theme is what makes it suitable as a family movie. Consider watching it as an additional activity if your child has read the book.

23. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey – 1993 (G)

Featuring an American bulldog, a golden retriever, and a Himalayan cat, the film traces the adventurous journey of these pets to find their owners. However, the twist in the tale comes when the audience realizes that the Seaver family is on vacation to San Francisco. The movie gives you plenty of rib-tickling moments and highlights the importance of companionship and new friendships.

24. Finding Nemo – 2003 (G)

This brilliantly animated adventure drama by Pixar and Disney leaves you spellbound with its narrative and imagination. Nemo is a clownfish who gets separated from his family, and the film revolves around his father, Marlin, who tries to find him. The task is arduous, but Marlin and his friends keep reminding themselves to “Just keep swimming” and never give up. This is one lesson that we all need to apply in our lives.

25. Moana – 2016 (PG)

Moana is a deviation made by Disney, when it shifted its focus from princesses and presented a free-spirited and strong-willed girl from the Pacific Islands. Ready to take on challenges and prove a point, Moana loves adventures, and her only wish is to return the heart of Mother Earth. In the process, she meets Maui, a demigod, who she helps.

26. Bedknobs and Broomsticks – 1971 (G)

The movie explores the lives of three siblings during World War II and traces their adventures from the time they are evacuated from London to the time they land in the care of an apprentice witch. The chaos deepens when they come to the island of Naboombu and have to face Nazi invaders. The film may contain some disturbing scenes of the Nazi army, but the hilarity covers it all up to make it enjoyable for the entire family.

27. Soul – 2021 (PG)

The latest offering from Pixar and Disney tells the story of jazz musician and teacher Joe, who has lost his passion for music. Joe travels to the Great Before instead of the Great Beyond. Upon realizing this, he makes up his mind to get back home with the help of an infant soul. The amazing music the movie offers is a bonus for the entire family.

28. Happy Feet – 2006 (PG)

We all love penguins, and this wonderful movie has hundreds of them singing and dancing. The story revolves around a penguin that can’t find his song but has killer dance moves. The movie also tries to impart a few important messages about global warming and the perilous state of affairs for animals facing a serious shortage of food sources. Beautifully directed with an awesome music score, the movie will have your feet tapping.

29. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids – 1989 (PG)

The hilarious adventurous science fiction film about a scientist, whose experimental shrinking ray ends up shrinking his children and neighbor’s sons, is sure to appeal to all ages. How the children find their way back home from their own backyard and land up in the scientist’s bowl of cereal makes for an interesting and enjoyable plot.

30. Ratatouille (2007) (G)

“Anybody can cook!” That’s the message the movie tries to give, while at the same time it leaves you wondering at the oddity of the events that unfold. Ratatouille is the story of a cute rat who wants to be a gourmet chef, and the son of a renowned chef, who wishes to become a famous chef in the culinary capital of the world. Remy, the rat defies all odds to teach the young and clumsy Linguini the fine art of cooking.

31. Free Willy (1993) (PG)

You will love this one if you are an animal lover. Free Willy is a feel-good movie about a boy who befriends an orca, Willy. Jesse starts working at the orca park and looks forward to his interactions with Willy. Unfortunately, their friendship is not acceptable to the park’s owner, who arranges for Willy to be transported to a different location. Jesse manages to save the killer whale and free it in the open waters.

32. Toy Story 1, 2, 3, 4 (1995 – 2019) (G)

These movies will make you believe that toys can talk and have a life of their own. An iconic film about the secret life of toys, the movie and all its sequels follow the travels and adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato, Bo Beep, and other toys that belong to Andy. Some of the scenes offer nail-biting suspense and can also have you rolling.

33. A League of Their Own (1992) (PG)

The film is a must-watch for your young girls who are often told that baseball is a boys’ game. The movie not only has girls playing Major League Baseball, but also winning accolades for their brilliant performance. It traces the real-life story of the 1940s All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, with Tom Hanks playing the coach.

34. Star Wars Series (1977-) (PG)

If you wish to introduce the young members of your family to this space saga, there’s no better time than a family movie night. With its space flight adventures, telepathic powers, unusual plots and twists, and never-ending excitement, the Star Wars series is bound to keep you sitting on the edge of your seats. The mighty heroes and scary villains and the mysteries of the Jedi will leave you asking for more space time!

35. Coco (2017) (PG)

Would you willingly go to the land of the dead? Miguel, the 12-year-old protagonist of the movie does so, to look into the reason why music is banned in his family. He is helped in this task by his great-great-grandfather. Coco is based on Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead, observed in Mexico. The musically colorful movie gives out strong family vibes and stresses the importance of relationships, trust, and bonding.

36. Beauty and the Beast – 2017 (PG)

This live-action version of the Disney classic will transport you to the world of fantasy where clocks talk, teapots cook, wardrobes walk and shoot out wonderful clothes, and a candle stand escorts you through the mysterious castle. Belle (Emma Watson) switches places with her father, who has been imprisoned by an arrogant prince who looks like a beast. She, however, realizes that he is not as tough as he would want others to believe. It features an interesting cast, including Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Emma Thompson.

37. Frozen – 2013, 2019 (PG)

Have fun sliding through snow mountains and build a snowman or just tap your feet to raise an ice castle, the adventures promised by the movie are wildly imaginative and fun to witness. Frozen will definitely have your little girls swooning and singing ‘let it go…’ and ‘Do you want to build a snowman…’ Celebrating the bond between two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who are the princesses of Arendelle, the movie has a lot to offer.

38. Night at the Museum – 2006-2014 (PG)

This action-packed adventure drama is every child’s dream and nightmare packaged together in one roller-coaster ride. The story revolves around a night guard at the natural history museum. At the outset, the job looks dull, but the guard is in for a surprise, as all the exhibits in the museum come to life every day at midnight. He is helped in the task of handling the situation by his son and a statue of former US president Theodore Roosevelt. You will enjoy all the parts released between 2006 and 2014.

39. National Treasure – 2004 (PG)

An amazingly coded, cryptic, modern-day hunt for a lost national treasure, the movie is loaded with interesting lessons in history. Nicholas Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, an amateur cryptologist and historian trying to find the Templar treasure. A coded map of the location is placed on the back of the Declaration of Independence. However, things take an ugly turn when Gates realizes that he is not alone in the quest. A sequel to the movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was released in 2007.

40. Harry Potter series – 2001-2011 (PG)

Taking you through an exciting, magical ride, the Harry Potter series will surely cast a spell on your children. You will find yourself getting deeply involved in the story, from the minute Harry discovers his true identity as a wizard to the time he finishes the Dark Lord. Based on J K Rowling’s books that have become a rage, the movies have some interesting cinematography and a cast that match the pace of the story. So get yourself to Platform 9 3/4 and board the train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

41. Home Alone – 1990 (PG)

The McCallister family is excited to spend the Christmas holiday in Paris and all set to leave the suburbs behind. However, things get worrisome when they realize they have left their youngest son Kevin behind. Alone at home, Kevin has the entire house to himself and enjoys watching gangster flicks and having tubs of ice cream. But things soon turn messy when two burglars try to break into the house, and Kevin has to fend for himself. It is a hilarious entertainer for the entire family.

42. Inside Out – 2015 (PG)

Hailed as one of Pixar’s most creative movies, the film has an unusual storyline, where the main characters are personified forms of a little girl’s emotions and feelings – Disgust, Joy, and Sadness, to name a few. They accompany her when the family moves to the West Coast. Charmingly narrated and sensitively handled, the movie will have you laughing even after the last minute.

43. The Karate Kid – 1984 (PG)

You will never tire of watching this movie because of the deep lessons it imparts. Tracing the life of a young boy Danny, the movie starts with a group of bullies who trouble Danny. Although raring to avenge himself, Danny finds himself lacking in the art of self-defense. However, with the help of repairman and martial arts master Mr. Miyagi, he trains in martial arts and eventually competes to win against his attackers. Your energetic little boys will want to make sure they enroll in martial arts and master the crane pose after watching the movie.

44. The Sandlot – 1993 (PG)

This coming-of-age movie is a true classic, telling the tale of America’s love for baseball. The story has a young and quirky boy, Scottie Smalls, moving into a new neighborhood. After several trials, he befriends some of the local boys at a local baseball field. The team gets together for some amazing sporting time and also land themselves in several tight spots. Their teamwork pays off when they have to retrieve a piece of precious baseball memorabilia.

45. Matilda – 1996 (PG)

This ’90s classic based on Roald Dahl’s book brings to life the sweet little Matilda, played perfectly by Mara Wilson. Matilda is always discouraged from reading, and she is always in want of attention. Her school is run by an equally terrible and cunning principal. She takes refuge in a library and starts reading books. Matilda is encouraged by her kind-hearted teacher, Miss Honey. Finally, everybody realizes Matilda has telekinetic powers and starts acknowledging her.

46. Elf – 2003 (PG)

Buddy, one of the elves working with Santa in the North Pole, finds himself oddly placed. And rightly so, because Buddy is part human, part elf. When he realizes this, he wishes to be reunited with his family in New York City. However, upon reaching there, he understands that it is not an easy task. The movie will have you in splits and make you run for more candy to substitute the energy lost in rolling on the floor.

47. The Witches – 1990 (PG)

This magic-filled drama will have your hair standing, as it explores the trial and tribulations of Luke, a naughty child who lives with his grandma at a hotel. Chaos ensues as Luke is caught spying on a gathering of evil witches, who have come to the hotel to attend a convention. The boy is turned into a rat by the witches, and his grandmother fights against the conniving witches.

48. Zootopia – 2016 (PG)

Judy Hopps, a cute little rabbit, nurses a childhood dream of becoming an adventurous police officer at the bustling metropolis Zootopia. She leaves behind her family and farm to achieve this goal. However, she is in for a big surprise because none of her fellow officers take her seriously, owing to her being a rabbit. She takes up the mission of finding the missing people to prove her worth. A fox named Nick Wilde helps her uncover a scandalous secret.

49. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory – 1971 / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 2005 (PG)

Whether you choose to watch the classic version or delve deep into the chocolaty waterfalls of the newer version, starring Johnny Depp, you are sure to have one helluva magical ride into the land of sweets and candy. Based on Roald Dahl’s classic book, the movies tell the story of a poor little boy who dreams of visiting Willy Wonka’s mysterious enterprise. Once the Golden Ticket winners enter the factory, there are several lessons in attitude and manners to be learned. However, it turns out there’s something even bigger at stake, as Willy Wonka is actually looking for an heir to run his business.

50. Dr Dolittle – 1998 (PG)

This Eddie Murphy starrer will have you rolling at the eccentricities of veterinarian Dr Dolittle, who is gifted with the ability to communicate with exotic animals. The American fantasy comedy is based on a series of children’s stories written by Hugh Lofting. The movie has become a cult classic due to the unusual storyline and wonderful performances by the lead cast.

51. The LEGO Movie – 2014 (PG)

A must-watch for all the LEGO fans, this movie promises you loads of LEGO excitement in an animated avatar. Featuring an amazing cast of Will Ferrell, Chris Pratt, and Elizabeth Banks, the movie explores the adventures of an ordinary construction worker Emmet Brickowski, who tries to defend the LEGO world from the evil plans of Lord Business. How he manages to achieve this makes for some nail-biting suspense.

52. The Pursuit of Happyness – 2006 (PG)

This heart-warming drama of a homeless salesman, portrayed by Will Smith, will surely touch your emotional cords. The story revolves around Chris Gardner, who tries to sell portable bone density scanners to doctors and scanning centers. However, he faces a lot of financial difficulties, which in turn affect his marriage. He promises his son much happiness and works towards this end.

53. Ice Age – 2002-2022 (PG)

An amazing saga that explores the lives of a group of adorable mammals fighting complete extinction and surviving the Paleolithic ice age, the movie and all its sequels are a must watch for the entire family. The story follows Sid, a lazy sloth, Manny, a humongous woolly mammoth, and Diego, a sabre tooth tiger, who become friends despite their differences. The crazy gimmicks of Scrat, a prehistoric combination of a squirrel and rat, will leave you in splits.

54. Bee Movie – 2007 (PG)

This beautifully animated movie based on the lives of honeybees is truly an eye-opener for most of us who dismiss the hard work that these tiny creatures do and their importance to our food cycle. The story follows the life of Barry, the bee, who finds it extremely boring to work with honey after he graduates from the Bee College. He breaks the cardinal rule of his species by interacting with a human. She tells him that humans have been stealing and eating honey for centuries and encourages him to seek justice by suing humanity for theft.

55. Wreck-it Ralph – 2012 (PG)

This computer-animated Disney comedy tells the story of an arcade game villain who goes against his ‘bad-guy’ image to become a hero. In an attempt to fulfill his dream of becoming a hero, Ralph has to first clean up the mess that he himself has created in the arcade. Hilarity ensues as he attempts to achieve this. Your video game loving children will enjoy this sci-fi movie as much as the Star Wars series.

With this amazing list of movies to choose from, the only thing left for you and your family to do is press the start button on your remote. So go ahead, and spend that much-needed quality time with your loved ones and make family movie nights a tradition.