Family Movie Night with Tweens


I’ve previously written about why I think it’s important to take kids to concerts, shows and public events.  This concept has carried over into our family movie nights as well – my husband and I are consciously trying to move beyond Disney and Pixar as our kids become tweens, yet still find movies that are age-appropriate and that our whole family will enjoy. 


When we first decided to expand our movie repertoire, the choices seemed easy – I was thrilled to share some of my favorite childhood movies with my kids.  But we soon found that some of the most popular movies of my time had more foul language, sexual content or other inappropriate subject matter than I remembered.   We also had to consider that my son does not enjoy movies with an abundance of violence or hand-to-hand combat scenes, so some well-known movie franchises such as X-Men, Avengers and the like were out.   So we primarily relied on friends with older children for ideas, or chose movies based on book series so we had some idea of the content.

Later, I came across an extremely helpful website called Common Sense Media (available at that has helped to guide our choices.  The website has an extensive database of movies, TV shows, apps, books and games, each with a summary as well as rankings of the amount of positive messages, violence, sex, language and drug abuse.  It also gives a suggested age for viewing and user reviews.  There are even sections called “What Parents Need to Know” and “Talk to Your Kids About…”, both of which have been very helpful in stimulating discussion about the movie afterwards.   The site also maintains numerous lists of movies by category if you need some fresh ideas, such as “50 Movies All Kids Should Watch Before They’re 12,” “Best Football Movies,” “Best Smart Movie Girls” and “Hidden Gems.”


Available at


Here are the movies that we’ve watched over past two and half years, starting when my kids were approximately 8 and 11 years old:

National Treasure

Apollo 13

The Matrix

Star Trek

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Night at the Museum

Jurassic Park

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Secondhand Lions

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


Harry Potter (all 8 movies!)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Mission: Impossible

Lego Batman

Three Amigos!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Sky High

Star Wars (any and all of them!)

Saving Mr. Banks

Hidden Figures

The Princess Bride

Short Circuit

Men in Black

Despicable Me 3

Mrs. Doubtfire


E. T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Back to the Future


Home Alone



My kids are now 11 and almost 14, and this is the list of movies we’ll be choosing from on our upcoming movie nights:


Mr. Holland’s Opus

Pitch Perfect

A League of Their Own

Man of Steel



Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Julie and Julia

The Sandlot

Lemony Snickett’s A Series of Unfortunate Events


The Jungle Book (the 2016 version)

The Emperor’s New Groove

Iron Giant


Cool Runnings





Field of Dreams

Remember the Titans

The Karate Kid

Catch Me If You Can

Stand By Me

We’d love to hear what your family’s favorite movies are!  Happy viewing!