I wanted to title this article, Life’s Short, Watch Good Movies, but Google wouldn’t like me if I did that. But really, I like the other title better. I don’t know about you but I get tired of watching bad movies. I don’t equate animated with bad but I can only handle so many talking, dancing animals. 

Tasty photo by Charles Deluvio from Unsplash.

Non-Animated Family Movie Night

15 Non-Animated Movies for Family Movie Night

Am I the only one who hates sitting through a bad movie?

Every Saturday we have a family movie night and there’s a little piece of me that cringes in fear, scared I may have to sit and watch an annoying cartoon movie. To be fair, I do not equate animated with bad but I’m not a fan of sarcastic talking animals, bad soundtracks, or ridiculous plots – a few things I commonly find in animated movies.

{Sigh}…the movie has to appeal to a boy and a girl

Not only is there the animated issue but finding movies that both my tween boy and 7-year-old daughter at least semi-enjoy can be tough. We usually avoid anything that’s overly “girlie” or overly “boyish” and try to make sure that the movie is {mostly} suitable for both an 11 and 7-year-old.

When movies appeal more to one of them than the other, we still expect that they have a good attitude and deal with it. After all, family life is full of compromises and we want them to be flexible without a lot of grumbling. {It’s a work in progress!!}

Our {pretty awesome} family movie night list

We’ve watched lots of movies over the years and have had success with the following ones. Not only are they interesting and appropriate {see disclaimer}  movies, but we all enjoyed them to one degree or another. I’ve linked to Common Sense Media so you can read the reviews and judge for yourself.

Alrighty, drum roll please….here’s our list of Fun Family Movies for Kids and Tweens!!

1 – Babe 1995

This charming and sweet film set in the countryside of England is about a pig, Babe, who ends up being quite a talented sheepdog. Her stoic owner endures flack for this but Babe and him persevere. Warning: Do not serve bacon on the day you watch this movie.

2 – Parent Trap 1999

I watched the old Halley Mill’s version about 100 times as a kid so I was reluctant to give this one a go. Turns out, I loved it. This is the classic tale of twins, split up when they were babies (as if!), due to their parent’s divorce. When the girls meet each other at camp, they switch places in order to meet their other parent. Eventually they make funny attempts to get them back together.

3 – Spy Kids 2001

With Antonio Banderas, Spy Kids, is a fun, action-packed movie where two kids, Carmen and Juni, have to save their secret agent parents. Along the way they fight villains and end up doing a lot more than simply saving Mom and Dad.

4 – Daddy Day Care 2003

Eddie Murphy gets together with two of his friends to start a daycare after getting laid off. As you can imagine, things aren’t as easy as he anticipates, and the group deals with crazy kids, bathroom issues, and some playful “physical assaults’ by their charges. It’s not my favorite but my kids really like this one.

5 – Sky High 2005

With Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, this is one of my favorite movies! The son of Russell and Preston is starting high school – which means it’s time for superhero training. His parents are superstar heros and everyone expects the same things from him. The only  problem? He doesn’t have any powers.

6 – Yours, Mine & Ours 2005

Fun and zany movie with Dennis Quaid and Renee Russo. He is an organized dad of 6 and she is a creative, free-spirited mother of 6. What happens when they fall in love and try to combine households? Let’s just say that the kids aren’t exactly thrilled….and they aren’t afraid to show it.

7 – Nanny McPhee 2006

With the wonderful Emma Thompson and Colin Firth, Nanny McPhee is the story of a strict but loving nanny who gets the chaotic brood of Firth’s under control. At first the kids resist Nanny’s authoritative rules, but once they realize she loves them, they end up loving her back. That’s when things turn pretty magical. 

8 – Evan Almighty 2007

This movie is a hilarious mix of animals, beards, and touching moments about one man’s reluctance to listen to God. This is basically a Noah’s Ark story set in modern day Washington D.C. and we had a blast watching this. The all-star cast didn’t hurt! (This is a spin off from Bruce Almighty which we haven’t seen.) With Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Laureen Graham, and Wanda Sykes.

9 – Soul Surfer 2011

This is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer who was attacked by a shark and lost her arm. This movie is substantial – from the plot to the acting to the uplifting message about perseverance and faith in the face of serious challenges. This movie does require a bit of discussion about the rare danger of sharks -there is a shark attack and I wouldn’t watch if you are about to go to the beach – as well as a discussion about what makes Bethany such as inspiration. With Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid. 

Family Movie Night List

10 – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 2014

The book by the same name was one of my favorites growing up and I had a total blast seeing what would happen next in this movie…but it is very loosely based on the book. This movie focuses on Alexander’s wish that his “lucky” family would see what it’s like to have his type of bad luck. With Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell. 

11- Goosebumps 2015

With Jack Black as author R.L Stine, this movie is about the author of the famous book series for kids, Goosebumps. When Stine’s books accidentally open, various monsters are let loose and it’s up to his daughter and her friend to trap them again. My kids do not like scary movies and this one didn’t freak them out at all so it’s pretty mild.

12 – Little Lunch 2015

Although there are two Little Lunch “movies,” they are actually just extra episodes of this Australian TV series. I know this is not a movie but I have to include Little Lunch because you could easily string together episodes and make a few movie nights out of them. This series is unique and kooky and seriously worth watching. It is filmed mockumentary style (think The Office) and each episode takes place during lunch. The cast is made up of six friends who deal with the usual elementary school drama. This was a big hit in Australia and the whole family loved this show. 

13 – Paddington 2015

Hugh Bonneville, the father from Downton Abbey, is the dad in this movie and one of the most enjoyable things for me was checking out the English setting and their fantastic home. While this is geared towards younger kids, there is enough of a plot – a bear from the woods must find a new home – to keep the older ones interested enough.

14 – Pete’s Dragon 2016

This remake is totally different from the original Disney version, FYI. This is a story about Pete, a boy who was raised by a dragon, and the chaos that ensues whenever people discover him and his dragon deep in the woods. Warning: At the start of the movie there is a car accident and Pete’s parents die.

15 – The Great Gilly Hopkins 2016

Kathy Bates and Glenn Close are in this movie based on the famous book. This movie is about a foster child with a serious chip on her shoulder, adjusting to a new and loving foster family. In order for the whole family to understand this movie, you may need to spend a bit of time talking about foster care and what it is. While we all liked this movie, it is a heavier movie than some of the others.

Friendly Disclaimer

Appropriate means different things to different people. We aren’t overly strict about the movies we watch but we certainly have standards and try to stay away from movies that glorify sarcasm or sassiness. If there is really inappropriate behavior or bad language or other situations along those lines, we use that time to have a quick discussion or to point something out to the kids. Please use the reviews from Common Sense Media if you are unsure about a suggested movie.

Now that I’ve shared my list, please list others that your family likes below. Please keep me from bad movies, people!!!

P.S. Want to print out a 1-page list of these movies to post on your fridge or put in your family book? No problem – here’s your Cheat Sheet to Non-Animated Family Movies You’ll Actually Enjoy! (Coming Soon!)


family movie list