The 50 best kids movies to watch as a family
Dive into our list of the best kids movies around—you’ll find family favorites like Mary Poppins, The Goonies and Finding Nemo
Thu Apr 30 2015
Got a ‘lil film buff on your hands? We thought so. Thankfully, there are plenty of classics and new family favorites to make each popcorn and New York pizza–packed movie night better than the next. To help you make your selections, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids' movies to please all generations squeezed on the couch (plus the babysitter, if she’s left in charge).
As you can probably guess, the competition was pretty fierce—you’ll see a number of blockbusters that are in your regular rotation alongside some newer kid-pleasing picks, and we have no doubt we may have missed some of your favorite flicks. Weigh in below and let us know what titles you think deserve recognition (or to give us two thumbs up on our selections), and while you’re at it, check out our ideas for other free things to do with kids in New York.
Best kids' movies
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Literature's greatest boy wizard is turned into one of the movie's most charismatic under-12 heroes (a tip of the pointy hat to Daniel Radcliffe) as J.K. Rowling's world of muggles, monsters and mystical goings-on at Hogwarts is brought to life on screen. Things will get seriously PG-13 dark by the time this eight-film series ends, but Chris Columbus's kid-friendly adaptation of book ones truly makes viewers of all ages believe in magic. Rated PG.
A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter (Bradley Pierce) and Judy Shepherd (Kirsten Dunst). While exploring an old mansion, the youngsters find a curious, jungle-themed game called Jumanji in the attic. When they start playing, they free Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), who's been stuck in the game's inner world for decades. If they win Jumanji, the kids can free Alan for good– but that means braving giant bugs, ill-mannered monkeys and even stampeding rhinos! Rated PG.
Yes, it contains what may be the single most traumatic moment of any kids' movie, but the story of a young doe remains a prime example of Disney's ability to mingle sugary cuteness—we're looking at you, Thumper—with suspenseful storytelling. It's a movie near and "deer" to many viewers' hearts. Rated G.
The Goonies (1985)
A group of childhood friends, a treasure map, a scary (but ultimately sweet) giant named Sloth, thrills, spills, chills: This '80s adventure bears all of the hallmarks of exciting YA-lit drama and producer Steven Spielberg's brand of derring-do. Rated PG.
Rapunzel joins the Disney stable of princesses, only this young lady with the long, flowing locks isn't the passive type; she's adventurous, curious about the world outside her window and wields a mean frying pan. Disney's animation has rarely looked more gorgeous, and Alan Menken's raucous "I Have a Dream" number proves the old Mouse House magic still works wonders. Rated PG.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
A perennial Christmas favorite, this fairy tale about a department-store Santa who claims to be the real Kris Kringle never ceases to bring the seasonal cheer. Edmund Gwenn makes for the perfect jolly old elf, but it's joyful nine-year-old Natalie Wood that exemplifies what the holiday is really about: faith in the kindness of your fellow man. Not rated.
Our favorite of the many versions,1982’s Annie features a young girl who must live in an awful orphanage during the 1930s. Annie’s life is governed by a tyrannical woman named Miss Hannigan, but her luck seems to change when she’s selected to live with a wealthy local businessperson, Oliver Warbucks. Rated PG.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Part warped Broadway musical and part My First Goth Party, this stop-motion animated gem—courtesy of the prince of goofy darkness, Tim Burton—watches as Halloween's witches, zombies and showtune-singing skeletons try their hand at St. Nick's regular beat. The holidays have rarely seemed so ghoulishly giddy. Rated PG.
Little Fugitive (1953)
A seven-year-old Brooklyn kid (who erroneously thinks he's killed his prankster older brother) wanders through '50s Coney Island all by his lonesome—and in one fell swoop, this delicate independent movie reminds you of how confusing, painful, wonderful and glorious childhood can be. Not rated.
National Velvet (1944)
The original girl-meets-horse movie, in which Mickey Rooney and young Elizabeth Taylor turn a wild gelding into a contender at the Grand National Steeplechase, remains a charming, quaint look at going for equestrian gold. It still goes down as smooth as its title. Rated G.