16 Classic Family Movies to Stream With Your Kids
Make family movie night special by revisiting one of these beloved family films.
We're all spending a lot more time at home these days—and for many of us, that means time with the whole family. There's only so many hours we can spend playing games on our phones and contemplating DIY home haircuts, but one thing we can do together is watch a movie. While there are plentiful streaming platforms at our fingertips, the question is—what movies can the whole family watch together? They truly don't make family films the way they used to, but the good news is that the movies of yesteryear are still available for new generations to discover. These 16 classic family movies are all currently available to stream, and their charms are just as apparent now as they were when they were first released. And if your kids are a little older, you might want to check out The 30 Funniest Movies of All Time and Where to Stream Them.
Mary Poppins (Disney+)
Julie Andrews won the 1965 Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a magical nanny who floats down on her umbrella and promptly turns around the lives of the Banks family, included their buttoned-up patriarch. Among the live-action Disney films (this one incorporates some animation, but it's limited to one sequence), Mary Poppins sits right at the top of the heap with its charming tunes and heartwarming story. And when you're done watching the movie, try these 9 Fun Indoor Activities for Kids During Quarantine.
The Parent Trap (Disney+)
If you're worried that your loyalties will be torn between the 1961 Parent Trap that starred Hayley Mills as reunited twins who scheme to get their parents back together, or the 1998 remake that starred Lindsay Lohan, you're in luck—Disney+ is streaming both versions! It's no surprise that both films were so successful: This is a classic wish-fulfillment tale for any kid who's either longed for a sibling or wished they could use their juvenile ingenuity and tricksiness to get the family they've always wanted. And if the '90s version has you feeling some nostalgia for the decade, revisit these 30 Movie Quotes Every '90s Kid Knows by Heart.
Director Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Peter Pan tale—which cast the late Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter who'd forgotten all about his time in Neverland, and an imperious Dustin Hoffman as the fearsome Captain Hook—had its share of detractors when it premiered in 1991. But a generation who grew up watching it on VHS and cable remember it more fondly. Williams is a natural at blending childlike enthusiasm with adult gravity, while Hoffman is meticulous as Hook's facade steadily crumbles. Also, Hook gives us Rufio, a character who's half-bratty teen and half-dreamy anarchist.
The Muppet Movie (Disney+)
Numerous follow-up films took the Muppets on adventures to New York City and through great works of literature, but there is nothing like watching the original. The Muppet Movie is an origin story for those quirky, cuddly showbiz puppets, with Kermit following his heart's desire to the end of his rainbow—which, in this case, is Hollywood. Watching all the Muppets we know and love come together one by one is like watching a puzzle get assembled, albeit a puzzle bedecked with late-'70s celebrity cameos. And for a longer trip down memory lane, here are 30 Movie Quotes Every '70s Kid Knows by Heart.
A Little Princess (Netflix)
Before he was winning Oscars for films like Gravity and Roma, director Alfonso Cuarón made his American film debut with this story of a young girl whose father is presumed dead in World War I, so she's shut away in an American boarding school to be a servant. Based on the novel by the author of The Secret Garden, this is a film full of imagination, courage, and friendship—and also, thanks to Cuarón, some stunningly beautiful filmmaking. It's been an under-the-radar fave for decades; if you haven't seen it, you really should.
Free Willy (Hulu)
That shot of the titular orca jumping clear over both the wall and his tween-boy liberator was an iconic shot in the early '90s, but strangely the film itself has faded over the years. Which is too bad, because it's a sweet and honestly influential film about the cruelty of keeping giant sea creatures like this in captivity. It's also the only heartwarming family movie you're likely to see that co-stars Michael Madsen, Michael Ironside, and Lori Petty.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Disney+)
One fun fact about the classic Disney adventure Bedknobs and Broomsticks is that its similarities to Mary Poppins (including casting actor David Tomlinson) are not accidental. When Disney was having trouble obtaining the rights to Mary Poppins, they put this movie into production instead, and when Mary got back on track, Bedknobs was shelved for many years. Thank goodness it finally emerged, as it gave Angela Lansbury one of her most delightful film roles, as a reclusive but delightful witch who takes in some English children during the Blitz for a live-action/animated adventure.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Disney+)
Rick Moranis plays a bumbling scientist and inattentive family man conducting fruitless experiments in the attic. One day he falls backwards into discovering a working shrink ray—only he doesn't know it works, and it accidentally shrinks his two kids and the next-door neighbors' kids. It's surprisingly easy to get invested in the kids' plight—especially once the genuinely cool practical effects for giant ants and massive blades of grass enter in—while Moranis and the rest of the adults (including a pre-Buffy Kristine Sutherland) are somewhat more madcap. A great throwback to good old-fashioned family entertainment.
Chicken Run (Hulu)
Nick Park and Peter Lord, the gents behind the hugely popular Wallace and Gromit cartoons took their stop-motion animation talents to American shores in 2000 for this unexpected triumph about a farm full of chickens who plan a jailbreak after the farm owners decide to get into the chicken pot pie business. Mel Gibson voices the brash outsider rooster who teaches the other chickens to fly, alongside the voice talents of Miranda Richardson, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, and presumably some other Brits who were also in the Harry Potter franchise.
The Karate Kid (Netflix)
The Karate Kid was such a sensation in its day that Pat Morita was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Mr. Miyagi. But this is no mere relic of the '80s. The film presents an iconic battle of good versus evil in the guise of a teenage misfit who learns karate and then must prove himself against an elite school of ruthless, snarling teens and their sadistic coach. It's incredibly inspiring, in that way that only '80s sports movies can be, with their training montages and dramatic finishes. And if you want to feel inspired by more '80s classics, try these 30 Movie Quotes Every '80s Kid Knows by Heart.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Netflix)
Take the technicolor fantasy vibe of Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and transport it to an even more surreal landscape populated with strange, delightful, and sometimes scary characters, and you might begin to brush the surface of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Dick Van Dyke plays a crackpot inventor who devises a flying car, which transports him and his companions across the globe to thrilling and dangerous adventures. The script was co-written by Roald Dahl, based on the novel by James Bond creator Ian Fleming, which might account for some of the more outlandish characters, like the creepy Child Catcher.
Long before Christian Bale was an Oscar-winning, body-transforming, deeply committed actor, he was the accidental leader of a juvenile labor movement in the Disney musical Newsies. Based on the real-life newsboys strike of 1899, the film is a New York-set musical extravaganza featuring major production numbers, not to mention the talents of Bill Pullman, Ann-Margret, and Oscar winner Robert Duvall as Joseph Pulitzer. Yes, that Pulitzer. Bale makes for a magnetic teenage lead, and while the film was a financial disappointment in its day, it's no surprise that it went on to become a successful Broadway musical.
Mouse Hunt (Amazon Prime)
Nathan Lane and Lee Evans star as two brothers who inherit an abandoned old mansion in the middle of nowhere and can't even enjoy it because they're pestered by a mouse. The more the brothers try to restore the house, the more the mouse fights back, and soon the two sides are plunged into a high-stakes battle over the property. It's an almost cartoonish premise with a dark edge provided by director Gore Verbinski, who would go on to direct the Pirates of the Caribbean films and also The Ring.
The Rocketeer (Disney+)
Although Joe Johnston earned praise for the first Captain America movie, he had already done a stylized, old-timey adventure-serial version of the superhero tale with The Rocketeer. Set during the World War II era, the film follows Billy Campbell as Cliff, who happens upon a rocket pack that inspires him to become the flying, masked hero known as the Rocketeer. All the while, gangsters and an Errol Flynn-esque movie star (Timothy Dalton) are in hot pursuit of the rocket pack. Pretty soon it's hitmen and Nazis and a young Jennifer Connelly, and the whole thing is a delightful little throwback.
The Sound of Music (Disney+)
No matter how many times you've seen this movie, an annual television tradition for countless families, it's still a certified classic whose charms absolutely hold up. Julie Andrews sets a standard that few movie-musical performances have ever been able to match, and Christopher Plummer is her ideal patrician/softie match. How many other movies can deliver nuns and Nazis and still be as family-friendly as you please?
It Takes Two (Amazon Prime)
It was a no-brainer that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen would make their spin on The Parent Trap during their heyday, and that's what It Takes Two is. The twist is that the twins play two unrelated yet strikingly identical looking girls who nonetheless meet and begin scheming to fix up their single parents (Kirstie Alley and Steve Guttenberg). If you grew up amid the whole Olsen Twins phenomenon—and your kids were born too late to have heard of them—this could be a fun look back.