Originally published by Samantha Lowe
Good job, you! You got your whole family in the same room, at the same time, and even managed to watch the same movie together! Bring on the family movies!
But 90 minutes later, you’re wondering what the point was. The string of fart jokes, excessive glitter, and musical numbers that someone deemed “the best family movie of the year” is often vapid, vulgar, and leaves us cringing at what we just spoon-fed our children.
We’ve got your back! Here are 14 of the best family movies you can watch together and actually have a good conversation about afterward. (Disclaimer: They’re not all free of fart jokes and glitter.)
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Miles Morales develops spider-powers, then finds the friends he needs from another universe. Your kids will eat this movie up for more than the action and ground-breaking animation—it is heart-felt and relatable as a boy learns he needs faith to take on the challenges ahead of him. When you watch the movie, ask your kids what Miles needed to believe in the most, and what they believe in, personally. Talk about how faith in Jesus is different than having faith in other things. Age Suggestion: Pre-teen and up.
Hebrews 11:1 NIRV Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see.
2. Zootopia (2016)
Judy (a bunny) and Nick (a fox) have a lot of stereotypes to overcome as they build their friendship and try to get to the bottom of a mysterious outbreak of feral predators. Ask your kids what they think a stereotype is, what makes people believe stereotypes, and how stereotypes are harmful. Talk about the stereotypes they see people fall victim to—racism, gender bias, ageism—and what they can do to fight it in a way that honors God. Age suggestion: Everybody!
1 Samuel 16:7 NLT … “People judge by outward appearance, but the lord looks at the heart.”
3. Toy Story 4 (2019)
Woody, Buzz, and the gang are back—and there’s a new toy in town. Woody struggles with his purpose when he has to play second fiddle to a spork who doesn’t even want to be a toy. The whole team sets out on a road trip with Bonnie, and when they run into an old friend along the way, they learn there’s more to life than they thought. Take time to ask your kids how Forky is different at the end of the movie from when Bonnie first created him and what they think Woody learned from Bo-Peep. Talk about the importance of not only being loved but also passing along that love to others through acts of service. Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
1 John 3:18 NLT What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Who points you in the right direction? Do you have the right guide? Who determines your purpose? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
And—if you haven’t seen the three previous Toy Story movies, what are you waiting for? Here are some themes from each one to discuss as a family:
- Toy Story (1995): humility and courage
- Toy Story 2 (1999): loyalty
- Toy Story 3 (2010): teamwork and sacrifice
4. Christopher Robin (2018)
Christopher Robin is all grown up with a lovely wife and son, but he’s too busy to appreciate them. Until, that is, his childhood friends show up. Get nostalgic for your own childhood journeys with Pooh and the gang while your family learns to make time for what matters most. Ask your kids what matters most to them, and what usually distracts them from it. Age Suggestion: Everybody!
Psalm 127:2 NLT It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
5. Instant Family (2018)
What’s it like to add a few teenagers to your kid-free family? It’s drama, love, messy struggles, and hilarity all rolled into one. This sweet (but very real) movie teaches us to have empathy, to learn from each other, and to step back and realize things aren’t always as black and white as they seem. Ask your kids who they think learned more in the movie—the kids or the adults—and what truly makes a family. Ask if they think fostering the teenagers was really worth it—and what hard things God has put in their hearts that they know they should pursue. Age Suggestion: Mature pre-teen and up.
James 1:27 NIV Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
6. Abominable (2019)
Teenage Yi grieves the death of her father by growing increasingly ambitious and distant instead of connecting with her loving friends and family. When Everest drops into her life, she learns she has never been alone. Ask your kids what they think it means to be lonely and what advice they have for someone who is feeling that way. Talk about what they think it means to be loved, to love others, and to truly know you are loved by God. Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
John 13:34 NLT “… Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
7. Finding Dory (2016)
Who can resist Dory’s super cute baby fish face? Nobody. Watch this fun movie about friendship, family, and never giving up, then talk about the situations you’re all facing that are hard and make you want to give up. Pray together, and ask God for His courage and strength to carry on! Age Suggestion—Everybody!
Galatians 6:9 NLT So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
8. Frozen 2 (2019)
In this second tale of two sisters, Elsa and Anna work together to get to the bottom of a dark secret, until Anna is suddenly forced to take the journey alone. She learns that some things do change, and doing the next right thing isn’t always easy. Ask your kids how they think Anna felt when she found herself alone on her journey, and what they think would help them do the next right thing if they were in her place. Talk about how to center yourself in Christ when your plans have to change unexpectedly, and who you can reach out to for help when you feel stuck. Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
Proverbs 3:6 NLT Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
If you missed the original Frozen (2013), check it out, too! Talk about the healing power of godly love and relationships.
9. Paddington 2 (2018)
Paddington is a bear beloved for his kindness and generosity. Unfortunately, when a valuable book is stolen, Paddington is framed for it. But he doesn’t skip a beat spreading love and marmalade to his fellow prisoners, truly showing that, “If you look for the good in people, you’ll find it.” Ask your kids what it is about Paddington that brings out the best in people—and ask them what can help them see the good in others. Talk about how praying for those who treat us with cruelty and disrespect not only benefits those we pray for, but also invites God to reframe our attitudes and builds forgiveness in us. Brainstorm action steps your family can take to bring healthy love, kindness, and empathy into difficult interactions. Age Suggestion: Everybody!
Matthew 5:44 NIRV “… Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.”
10. The Greatest Showman (2017)
This musical tale outlines a man’s change of heart and a group of outcasts who embrace who they are, band together, and become a family. Help your kids identify how P.T. Barnum changed—what was most important to him in the beginning, and what became most important to him by the end of the movie? What do your kids think gave the circus performers courage to perform and be seen by the public who made fun of them? Ask your kids why they think God calls us His masterpieces and what that means for the way we treat others. Age Suggestion: Pre-teen and up.
Ephesians 2:10 NLT For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
11. Aladdin (2019)
Remember that amazing cartoon you swooned over back in the 90s? Well, it’s back in real life, and the genie is as blue and hilarious as ever! But there are a few new twists, making this movie perfect for your family. After watching it together, you can have great discussions about what really satisfies, why you should be honest in your relationships, and how important it is to step up and speak up for what’s right even if you’re told to shut up. Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
Hebrews 13:5-6 NLT Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
12. The Jungle Book (2016)
Mowgli was just a little, weak man-cub who needed protection from the vengeful tiger Shere Khan. But once Mowgli knew his purpose, nothing stopped him from fighting to save the animals he loved! Ask your kids if they’ve ever felt like the little guy with nothing to offer. Talk about the big dreams they have inside their hearts, and how they can listen to God’s direction and rely on His strength as they pursue them. Age Suggestion: Upper elementary and up.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT … “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” …
Trying to conform to someone else’s idea of perfection and beauty never satisfies, but appreciating yourself just as God made you does!
13. UglyDolls (2019)
How can something “ugly” be so cute?! This movie has a relevant message for our littles—trying to conform to someone else’s idea of perfection and beauty never satisfies, but appreciating yourself just as God made you does! Talk to your kids about what they think makes people want to fit in, and why you shouldn’t have to conform to fit in or be loved. Talk about the quirks everyone in your family has, and why you think God made each of you that way. Age Suggestion: Everybody!
Psalm 139:14 NIRV How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.
14. Lego Batman (2017)
Batman doesn’t need anybody. Or so he thinks. Turns out, his strengths are pretty great, but when you pull together the strengths of family and friends, you can accomplish what you couldn’t on your own. After you watch this hilarious, action-packed movie together, ask your kids what they think about people having different gifts, talents, and weaknesses. What do you think God’s purpose is in making us need each other? Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
Focus on how time and events, tragic or not, can teach you and shape your character when you submit them to God.
15. Alice—Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Once Alice finds a way to travel through time, she starts a mad adventure trying to right the wrongs of the past, only to find that doing so could potentially end the world of her fantasy friends. Think about the concept of time with your family. Talk about some things you wish you could have changed in the past or some things you wish you could speed toward in the future. Focus on how time and events, tragic or not, can teach you and shape your character when you submit them to God. Age Suggestion: Upper elementary and up.
Isaiah 60:22 NLT “… At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”
16. Wonder (2017)
Auggie is charming, funny, and sweet—in a world that’s raw, heartbreaking, and full of challenges. This movie is full of characters who feel outcast, not good enough, and driven to bullying, and offers reasons behind their pain. But in the end, they’re able to overcome the separate challenges they face by standing up for what’s right, together. Ask your kids what struggles they face and what struggles they think the people around them are facing. Talk through steps they can take to reach out to God and to others when they need help, and what they can do to share God’s love with others who need help. Age Suggestion: Upper elementary and up.
Romans 12:21 NLT Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
17. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
We parents grew up on the cartoon version, and now our kids have a new version of this magical tale of a foolish prince who must learn to love, and the beauty who can look past his flaws to teach him. Ask your kids what they think made Beauty change from hating the Beast to loving him, and how her love helped him to change. Talk about the fact that we are all like the beast before we choose to follow Jesus and know God’s love. Talk about ways we can share God’s love with everybody so they can be transformed, too. Age Suggestion: Elementary and up.
Luke 6:27 NLT “… love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.”
Ask your kids what fears hold them back from using their talents or standing up for what’s right. How can relying on God change us and give us courage to pursue the purpose He’s given us?
18. Sing (2016)
Pigs, gorillas, and elephants sing their way to fame with a stage manager who can’t keep his life—or his theater—together. It’s fun, silly, and lighthearted, but there are some honest threads your family can pick up on. Talk about the fears that held each of the performers back, especially Meenah the elephant and Johnny the gorilla. Ask your kids what fears hold them back from using their talents or standing up for what’s right. How can relying on God change us and give us courage to pursue the purpose He’s given us? Age Suggestion: Everybody!
Isaiah 41:13 NIV “… the Lord your God … says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
19. Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Gru has turned from his evil, super-villain past, but lately it seems the universe is trying to turn him back to it in a hilarious, minion-tastic, 80s pop culture kind of way. Gru’s struggle is something that can get your kids talking—what tempts them to want to do what’s wrong instead of what’s right? When does sin look easier than living God’s way, and when does it seem like sin is the only option? Help your kids come up with ways they can be honest and get help from the ones who love them most when they’re struggling. Age Suggestion: Everybody!
1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.