Time for another family movie night, but would should we watch? I asked my kids to help me make this big list of 100 movies for family movie night based on their favorites. We had a great time reminiscing!
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Having a family movie night is one of our favorite ways to have frugal family fun. Setting up a tradition like this when your kids are young helps it continue through their older years.
If your kids are young, family movie time doesn't have to happen at night! Plan for an afternoon movie, or even after lunch (though I would fall asleep then…).
How do you have a family movie night?
Getting everyone in one spot and spending time together is a great tradition to start early. Family movie night can be whatever level works for you and your family:
- Keep it simple. Everyone just cuddles up and watches a favorite DVD or rental.
- Add food and make it a tradition. Some families do “Pizza and a movie” every Friday night, for example.
- Go all out! Choose a themed meal, snacks or desserts. Add some light decorations, or even dress as a favorite character.
When should you start family movie nights?
We started having “family movie nights” way back when the twins turned 4. Before that, they would just fall asleep during a movie!
Practicing sitting through a movie is a lot easier at home. We didn't want to take them to a real movie theater when they couldn't last through even a short kid film. Plus–they were both afraid of the loud noises and the dark.
Why should we have family movie nights?
There are lots of benefits to family movie nights!
- We have had so many great discussions with our kids after watching a movie together. We talk about the characters and their relationships, choices they make, and how it would play out in our world.
- Family movie nights are an easy way for families to bond and make memories. You're modeling that everyone stops working and comes together to rest and relax.
- Kids (and their parents) can learn a lot by watching movies together. It's an opportunity to visit other countries, go into outer space, or see animals up close in their own environment.
- As a family of five, going to the movie theater is really expensive. Save money and reduce your family's entertainment expenses is to watch movies at home.
100 Movies for Family Movie Night
My teens helped me make this fun list of the 100 family movies we've watched the most in the past 13 years:
Favorite Musical Movies
- Mary Poppins (1964)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- High School Musical (2006)
- Charlotte's Web (1973)
- Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
- The Music Man (1962)
- Singin' in the Rain (1952)
- Enchanted (2007)
- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
- The Muppet Movie (1979)
Favorites from the 80s
- The Princess Bride (1987)
- The Neverending Story (1984)
- Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)
- Back to the Future (1985)
- The Goonies (1985)
- A Christmas Story (1983)
- E.T. (1982)
- Annie (1982)
- Gremlins (1984)
- Big (1988)
- Born in China (2017)
- Jane (2017)
- Born to be Wild (2011)
- The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
- Planet Earth (2007)
- Wings of Life (2013)
- March of the Penguins (2005)
- Spellbound (2003)
- Blue Planet (1990)
Disney/Pixar Animated Movies
- Big Hero 6 (2014)
- A Bug's Life (1998)
- Bolt (2008)
- The Incredibles (2004)
- Hercules (1997)
- Toy Story (1995)
- Toy Story 2 (1999)
- Ratatouille (2007)
- Meet the Robinsons (2007)
- Moana (2016)
- Lilo & Stitch (2002)
- Wall-E (2008)
- Monsters, Inc. (2001)
- Mulan (1998)
- The Little Mermaid (1989)
- The Lion King (1994)
- James and the Giant Peach (1996)
- Finding Nemo (2003)
- Cars (2006)
- Zootopia (2016)
- Curious George (2006)
- Anastasia (1997)
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- The Secret of NIMH (1982)
- Spirited Away (2003)
- Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
- Ponyo (2008)
- Shrek (2001)
- Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)
- Howl's Moving Castle (2005)
- How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
- The Lego Movie (2014)
- The Iron Giant (1999)
- Over the Hedge (2006)
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
- Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
- Shaun the Sheep: The Movie (2015)
- Madagascar (2005)
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
- Flushed Away (2006)
- Babe (1995)
- Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)
- A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
- Hugo (2011)
- Sky High (2005)
- Jumanji (my kids loved the 1995 original, but I prefer the 2017 remake, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
- The Sandlot (1993)
- Fly Away Home (1998)
- Elf (2003)
- Spy Kids (2001)
- School of Rock (2003)
- 13 Going on 30 (2004)
- Cool Runnings (1993)
- Hoosiers (1986)
For Older Tweens/Teens
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- A League of Their Own (1992)
- Tremors (1990)
- Remember the Titans (2000)
- Clueless (1995)
- Stand by Me (1986)
- Groundhog Day (1993)
- Mean Girls (2004)
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
- 12 Angry Men (1957)
- Rear Window (1954)
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- Raising Arizona (1987)
- Die Hard (1988)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
How do you choose a movie?
Every family has different values and a different threshold for what their kids can watch. I know that we've shown our kids movies that other families have not, and vice versa.
I use the site Common Sense Media all the time when choosing movies for my family to watch. I appreciate how they summarize the plot and then list out what to look for regarding swearing, drinking, sexual situations, violence, etc. They also note positives like what role models and messages like teamwork, friendship, empowering women, and more.
How to save money on family movies
Making a family tradition doesn't have to be expensive. There are lots of ways to save on the movies for your family movie nights:
- Check your local library. Many rent DVDs and BluRays!
- You can get free night rentals from Redbox by using coupon codes.
- Borrow or trade with your neighbors and friends.
- Sign up for DVD Netflix and get one month for free. This is a great way to get classic movies to watch.
Watch movies on Amazon Prime
With an Amazon Prime subscription, you can stream thousands of movies and TV shows at home, on your devices, etc. And if a movie isn't free (they call that “Included with Prime”), you can often rent it for just a few dollars.
Of course, with Amazon Prime, you also get free 2-day shipping, streaming music, and lot sof other benefits. Sign up for a 30-day Trial for FREE.
Family movie night snacks
One of my kids' favorite memories of when they were little was when we'd do a “picnic” in the living room. It was a big deal to them to eat in there, since it wasn't allowed regularly. I'd spread a blanket on the floor, and they would eat there while we watched a movie together. They loved it!
Popcorn is a traditional movie snack, so give some of these Savory Popcorn Recipes a try.