20 Best Movies to Watch with Your Kids

20 Best Movies to Watch with Your Kids

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We understand the struggle of finding the right movie for your children—one that gives them something more substantial than just loud noises and bright colors, and one that you should enjoy watching with them too. Here at agoodmovietowatch, our critically-acclaimed and audience-approved recommendations might not be instantly recognizable to your young ones, but they should help any curios kid better appreciate different kinds of movies around the world. As for the parents and grown-ups, no need to worry about falling asleep halfway through; all these films have timeless qualities to them that should inspire great conversations with your family.

20. The Sea Beast (2022)

7.1

Country

United States of America

Director

Chris Williams

Actors

Brian T. Delaney, Dan Stevens, David S. Lee, Doon Mackichan

Moods

Action-packed, Character-driven, Easy

The Sea Beast tells the story of Jacob, a legendary sea monster hunter, and Maisie, a wannabe monster hunter herself. When a dangerous encounter isolates them from the rest of the crew, they’re forced to team up and reconcile their opposing beliefs—Maisie believes there’s good in the beasts, but Jacob has yet to be convinced.

Action-packed, fast-paced, and thoroughly entertaining, The Sea Beast is a perfect weekend watch. The part-Moana, part-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean tale also has the added bonus of being age-appropriate (rated PG), making it suitable for those spending their precious movie time with kids.

19. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

7.2

Country

United States of America

Director

Jon Avnet

Actors

Afton Smith, Bob Hannah, Carol Mitchell-Leon, Chris O'Donnell

Moods

A-list actors, Easy, Emotional

As southern movies go, Fried Green Tomatoes is inoffensively sweet and realistic—it’s not afraid to touch on the genuine issues that plagued America in the 1930s while also cushioning some blows, as feel-good movies are wont to do. But the film seems less interested in presenting a clear picture of the past than it is in telling a specific tale: that of outsiders forming bonds and making it together in an unforgiving society. 

The main narrator is Ninny, an 83-year-old woman seemingly forgotten by everyone except Evelyn, an unhappy housewife who is “too young to be old and too old to be young.” Ninny recalls the stories of Sipsey and Big George, Black laborers who dared to succeed in their deeply racist community; of Smokey, the town outcast, who still helped people even if he was denied it himself; of Ruth, the domestic abuse victim; and of Idgie, the tomboy who spat on the face of all decorum. Then, of course, there’s the unspoken relationship between Ruth and Idgie, which hint at something quite radical for its time. 

These are all the people conventionally denied happy endings, and in period films, you’d expect to be abandoned in tragedy. But here they sing; they win and lose in equal measure, and even though it might seem like light and familiar fare to some, it still goes down heartily and unforgettably—funnily enough, like a plate of fried green tomatoes.

18. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

7.2

Country

Netherlands, United States, United States of America

Director

Richard Linklater

Actors

Bill Wise, Brian Villalobos, Buzz Aldrin, David DeLao

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

Narrated by the familiar voice of Jack Black, Apollo 10 ½ is a throwback story told with admirable specificity and imagination. Black plays a grown-up Stan, who looks back on his younger years with a mix of fondness and wonder: how did they get away with the things they did then? American suburbia in the 1960s was both loose and conservative, caught between a generation holding on to the reins of the earlier century and one eager to launch into the next. 

Stan, as the youngest child of a big, rowdy family, gives us a charming look into the times, as well as a projection of his own fascination: Apollo 11 and the space age. He inserts himself in this monumental narrative and generously brings us along in his fantasy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Stan’s recruitment by NASA is actually fact or fiction, but that’s part of the fun, especially since Stan himself doesn’t seem to mind at all.

17. The Secret Garden (1993)

7.4

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Agnieszka Holland, Female director

Actors

Andrew Knott, Arthur Spreckley, Heydon Prowse, Irène Jacob

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Even if it seems like nothing really “happens” for much of The Secret Garden, its characters paint quite the moving picture of neglected children and their indomitable capacity to find hope in the world. Director Agnieszka Holland tells this story with just the right amount of whimsy: at times it’s spooky and magical, but everything is grounded in the charming performances of the film’s young actors, who are allowed to be difficult, smart, and sorrowful whenever they need to be. It may be old-fashioned, but watching it in this new decade—when we’re all trying to guard our kids from sickness and death—makes it feel all the more relevant.

16. Whale Rider (2002)

7.7

Country

Germany, New-Zealand

Director

Female director, Niki Caro

Actors

Cliff Curtis, Grant Roa, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Mana Taumaunu

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Feel-Good, Lovely

The story that Whale Rider tells is a familiar one: that of a young girl challenging the expectations of a patriarchal community in order to claim her rightful place in a position of authority. But this isn’t a superficial girl-power movie; writer/director Niki Caro maintains the utmost reverence for this Māori community, even if its customs might not appear fair to an outsider’s point of view. It’s a film full of realistically flawed people, whose struggles are all borne from a common love for their culture in their little corner of the world. What could have been generic and simplistic is made beautiful—especially thanks to a truly moving performance from Keisha Castle-Hughes, who at the time became the youngest nominee for the Best Actress Oscar.

15. Secondhand Lions (2003)

7.8

Country

United States of America

Director

Tim McCanlies

Actors

Adam Ozturk, Adrian Pasdar, Billy Joe Shaver, Brian Stanton

Moods

Easy, Lighthearted, No-brainer

This forgotten gem is the perfect family movie. It stars Michael Caine and Robert Duvall as the two eccentric uncles of Walter, a shy city kid (played by Haley Joel Osment). When Walter moves in with his uncles in rural Texas, he first has a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. However his routine is changed after he starts hearing local gossip about his uncles, and reminiscence spurs in all three an incredible eagerness for adventure. Secondhand Lions has gathered impressive cult following in the past few years, and rightfully so. Its fast-paced, entertaining yet substantial storyline shines a light on the amazing performances by the cast, and offers a surprising mix of funny, heartwarming and sad. Look out for the flashback scenes.

14. Ernest and Celestine (2012)

7.9

Country

Belgium, France, Luxembourg

Director

Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier

Actors

Adeline Chetail, Anne-Marie Loop, Brigitte Virtudes, Colleen O'Shaughnessey

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Feel-Good

Ernest is an old bear and Celestine a young mouse; he lives above ground, while she lives underground. Their kinds fear one another, and borders are set in place so that they never intermingle, but despite all the odds, Ernest and Celestine form a bond—they share one similarity, after all, which is that they’re both outcasts. 

Ernest & Celestine is a classic buddy tale of outsiders finding their place in the world. The story and its messages of acceptance and equality are already charming and weighty on their own, but the hand-drawn and watercolored animation gives the film an extra rush of nostalgia and delight. Beautifully made and surprisingly relevant, it’s a children’s film for all ages. It makes sense that it was nominated for Best Animation in the 86th Academy Awards (what doesn’t is it losing to Frozen).  

An English dub is available on most streaming platforms, but we highly recommend watching it in French, how it’s originally meant to be heard.

13. Song of the Sea (2014)

7.9

Country

Belgium, Denmark, France

Director

Tomm Moore

Actors

Brendan Gleeson, Colm ÓSnodaigh, Colm O'Snodaigh, David Rawle

Moods

Heart-warming, Original, Uplifting

This animated movie is absolutely wonderful. It’s an Irish production, and the drawings/graphics are so beautiful and different from what you usually see in this genre. This alone, along with the music, would be good reasons to watch this.

But what really makes this worth your time is the story – it’s about a boy dealing with the loss of his mother. He embarks on an adventure into a parallel world of feelings to save his sister.

I found it to be refreshingly original, sometimes quite intense (I cried, but I easily cry), and heartwarming. The details are great. And I love the way the story was interwoven with Irish mythology, making it magical.

12. Arthur Christmas (2011)

best

8.0

Country

United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Female director, Sarah Smith

Actors

Alistair McGowan, Andy Serkis, Ashley Jensen, Bill Nighy

Moods

Feel-Good, Funny, Heart-warming

A recent holiday classic you likely haven’t seen, Arthur Christmas uses its premise of the North Pole as a massive spy organization to touch on how commercialization tears people apart. It’s a surprisingly smart film with a fascinating dynamic among its family of Santas, with an incredibly funny script full of dry, British wit. And while the animation may already look dated at first glance, Arthur Christmas more than makes up for its looks with truly imaginative art direction and director Sarah Smith’s fast-paced set pieces. This is that rare Chirstmas movie that doesn’t just surrender to schmaltz; the lessons learned by the characters here are unique, complex, and timeless.

11. Summer Hours (2008)

best

8.0

Country

France

Director

Olivier Assayas

Actors

Alice de Lencquesaing, Charles Berling, Dominique Reymond, Edith Scob

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Lighthearted

Summer Hours centers on three siblings tasked with sorting the valuable pieces their mother left behind. Frédéric (Charles Berling), the eldest, has different ideas about inheritance than his overseas siblings. Will their beloved house stay or go? Will the art? The furniture? Can they afford to keep all these for sentimental reasons or would it be wiser to sell them? They go back and forth on these questions, rarely agreeing but always keeping in mind the life these seemingly inanimate objects occupy, as well as the memories they evoke, which are beyond priceless.  

Summer Hours resists melodrama, opting instead for the simple power of restraint—of unspoken words and charged glances. And the result is a quietly affecting movie that basks in the details to paint a wonderful, overall picture of home and family.

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