How Do I Choose the Best Family Movies?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
Family movies are intended for a wide range of audience ages.
Family movies are intended for a wide range of audience ages.

When considering family movies, you should look for films that are appropriate for the age range of your audience and consider movies that include subjects the audience is interested in watching. These movies are typically intended for a wide range of viewers, rather than movies for kids that are usually aimed primarily at younger children. As you are looking for movies for your family, you should consider numerous books and websites that provide listings and reviews of movies, and look for movies with subjects or storylines similar to what your audience has enjoyed in the past.

A film rated PG13 is probably not appropriate for younger children.
A film rated PG13 is probably not appropriate for younger children.

Family movies are those films intended for a wide range of audience ages and preferences. In the US, for example, these movies are usually rated G for general audiences or PG for parental guidance, but usually exclude higher ratings such as R for restricted audiences. You can use these ratings guidelines to help you consider different movies and have a sense of what audience they may be appropriate for. If you see a movie with animated characters, but notice that it has a higher rating such as PG-13, meaning it is intended primarily for people over the age of 13, then you should typically not choose this movie for an audience with young children.

Just about every genre represented in films for older consumers can be found in some form for younger viewers as well.
Just about every genre represented in films for older consumers can be found in some form for younger viewers as well.

On the other hand, you do not want to choose family movies that are purely intended for young children, which are likely to bore older children and parents. There are numerous books and websites you can use with lists of different family films and reviews posted of each movie. These lists can give you a sense of how friendly such movies are for kids and adults, and also an idea of the actual content. Some of these sites even detail each specific usage of language or imagery that may be too intense for younger viewers, which can help you choose the most appropriate family movies possible.

You should also consider the types of family movies your audience has enjoyed in the past. If you know that most of the group enjoys fantasy films, for example, then you should look for more movies with fantasy themes and settings. Just about every genre represented in adult or young adult films can be found in some form for younger viewers as well. Considering the preferences of your audience can help you choose a movie that appeals to as much of your audience as possible.

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Discussion Comments


The best family movie is in the eye of the family beholding the movie. It is important to look at the rating of the movie, and I generally think that whoever rates the movies seems to be liberal than me, so I keep this in mind when I rent a movie for myself, or for my family.

My favorite family movies growing up, that I can remember, were the Sound of Music, and Home Alone. I can remember watching those movies countless times, and always staying entertained. My parents probably didn't share my same enthusiasm for Home Alone, but not everyone is going to like a movie as much as the next person.

I also enjoyed a lot of animated movies growing up, there were so many though, I really can not remember all of them.

Holiday family movies, especially around Christmas, was a joyful time for our whole family. I remember getting together as a family and laughing and/or crying at whatever movie our parent's or we chose to watch.

We even had a favorite Christmas-themed animated movie, called the Nativity, and about the nativity, that we would happily watch at least around Christmas-time.


@hamje32 - I used to watch ABC family movies when I was a kid. It was a favorite after school activity. While I think these movies are fairly safe, I notice that the subject matter has become quite mature in recent years, dealing with issues like sexuality and teen pregnancy.

It might be age appropriate for your teenagers but don’t assume that the film will always advance your ideas of what is right and wrong in these matters.

Typically the movies just reflect a teenager’s worldview. It’s not like they are going to preach abstinence or anything like that.


Frankly I’ve become a bit disillusioned with the rating system as a guide in enabling me to choose family friendly films.

I’ve seen films rated PG-13 that were borderline R in my opinion, meaning that they had partial nudity but they didn’t exactly show the private parts. It’s always a shock to come across something like that while watching with your family.

That’s why I keep my finger on the fast forward button on the remote at all times; but still it would be better not to have to deal with it in the first place.

A family movie review helps, but it’s still pretty subjective. What works for me is to go to IMDB (Internet Movie Database) and click on the “Parent advisory” link. That gives me a blow by blow account of what is shown in each scene, down to the number and kind of curse words that appear in the film and any suggestive scenes.


If you are looking for some good ideas for family movies, there are some online family movie guide websites.

I have found these very helpful when it comes to picking out movies for my kids to watch. I like to read this even before I go to the video store to rent a movie.

This way whether I rent or buy a movie, I know what to expect and can read the reviews on it. Since I don't really have the time to preview it before I watch it with my kids, this gives me the advantage I want ahead of time.

There is nothing more frustrating than sitting down to watch a movie only to be disappointed in what you see. There have been times I have even turned the movie off and this never makes anybody happy.

I usually feel confident in a G rating for my kids, but there are times when even that can be misleading. One of my kids is very sensitive when it comes to scary situations, so I am always mindful of this when I am reviewing movies for my family.


Every year at Thanksgiving I try to find a good family movie that everyone will be interested in watching.

This can sometimes be quite a challenge trying to find something from the youngest to the oldest. I will usually go through the list of top family movies to get some good ideas.

What I have found interesting, is that usually the movies I end up choosing are older movies and not the ones that have been released in the last few years.

I have also found that you can never go wrong with Disney movies. There is usually enough action and plot that everyone will sit down and watch it without being bored.

The whole idea is to watch something together as a family, so I don't get much flack from anyone. Most of them really look forward to the tradition - unless they want to watch the football game!


My kids love the old Three Stooges shorts. I have a bunch of them on DVD and we have probably watched at least half of the episodes ever made.

Some people might be shocked that I let my kids watch so much Three Stooges. After all, it is just a series of eye gouges, face slaps and relentless insults. But it is also really funny in an old timey slap stick way.

You should hear my kids peel with laughter as they watch. I have honestly never heard them laugh so loud. I think a good family movie is first and foremost about keeping the kids entertained. This works.


@fify, @ysmina-- I think I have to agree with both of you!

I love both animated films and Christmas films! Toy Story has to be the best animated family movie ever, and a favorite Christmas film since childhood has been A Christmas Story. Back when I was in school, the best films were Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I guess if I were to add onto the list of categories, I would say that Disney family movies are also great. I've always loved Lion King and my kids love it too.


I have found that most family movies these days have the exact same formula. You get a B list actor, a couple of cute kids, some talking animals and a loose adventure plot. While there is nothing wrong with this kind of story, it gets old after a while and it might not be the right movie for all families.

I think my kids are pretty mature for their age and I try and respect them. Our favorite movie to watch together as a family is Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Now, I know that that movie had some pretty dark moments, but it is also one of the funnest, silliest most imaginative movies I have ever seen.

Now my kids are huge Pee Wee fans and they will run around the house doing impressions. My little boy even dressed as Pee Wee for Halloween.


Especially around the holidays, Christmas movies are a must watch in my house.

I'm very particular about film ratings and always check before showing my kids anything because I don't want them to be negatively affected. Thankfully, many of the Christmas movies are G rated for General Audience so I don't have to monitor the TV as much during the holidays. Sometimes, I rent Christmas family movies on DVD so that we don't have to watch the reruns on TV the second and third day.

I also like that Christmas films always have a theme about family and togetherness because that's the most important part of holidays- spending time with family and appreciating them.


Most of the animated films that are made now are equally entertaining for both parents and kids. My kids love going to the cinema, so I take them almost every weekend. We usually go to animated films and I think more and more children's films are animated now.

As much as these are aimed for a children audience, I think the filmmakers make it in a way that it's funny and entertaining for the older audience as well. For example, we saw Kung Fu Panda 2 recently and both my kids and I loved that film.

So I'm pretty convinced that animated films are the best funny family movies out there.

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    • Family movies are intended for a wide range of audience ages.
      By: HaywireMedia
      Family movies are intended for a wide range of audience ages.
    • A film rated PG13 is probably not appropriate for younger children.
      By: goodluz
      A film rated PG13 is probably not appropriate for younger children.
    • Just about every genre represented in films for older consumers can be found in some form for younger viewers as well.
      By: Alena Ozerova
      Just about every genre represented in films for older consumers can be found in some form for younger viewers as well.