Family movie night ideas | Cool Mom Picks

We don’t know about you, but with summer in full swing and later sunsets/later bedtimes a fact of life, we’ve been indulging in quite a few family movie nights. As we look for some new ideas, it’s been super fun digging into our Netflix accounts to find some of our own childhood favorites to introduce to the next generation. And now we get to share them with you too, thanks to our sponsor Netflix Families.

If you’ve checked out the new Just for Kids section on Netflix, you’ll know it’s super easy finding great movies and shows for kids 2-12.

Here are a few of our favorite family-friendly films that will jar some memories and definitely create some new ones. Best part: You can watch them this very second; they’re all available for immediate streaming with your monthly Netflix membership. –Liz


The Red Balloon: I was so thrilled that my girls were instantly captivated by this 1957 French film about the flight of a red balloon, told with almost no dialogue at all. Preschool-aged kids will enjoy the film’s visuals. Kids 6 and older can have great conversations about its themes and messages. Plus it’s a nice break from so much of the crazy, fast-paced insanity that pretty much defines kids’ movies today.

The Muppet Movie: I was worried that the references in this 1979 film would go over my kids’ heads–and some of them did–but it didn’t matter a bit. It also doesn’t matter that they don’t get a kick out of seeing an Orson Welles or Richard Pryor cameo they way they do with Jack Black in the newest Muppet film. It’s still a ton of fun to learn how the Muppets “met” and they’ll want to play Movin’ Right Along over and over until they know all the words.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) A purist, I was determined to watch this Christmas classic with my girls before any of the remakes. Admittedly they couldn’t quite follow it until they were in kindergarten and second grade, at which point they really loved it. Some of the references are dated or a little adult, so you’ll need to talk them through references to courthouses, a drunk Kris Kringle, and retail competition; but the story of a little girl who can’t quite believe in Santa, until she does, still strikes a nerve. Bonus: If your kids are still believers, it’s a great way to “explain” all the Santas in the street and in the stores without bursting their bubbles quite yet.

Alice in Wonderland: Disney’s original animated film still holds up better than some others, and isn’t neary as dark as the Tim Burton version (though my kids happen to love that one too). I also like that’s free of some of the more… concerning gender stereotypes that you find in other older animated films.

Heidi (1937) I wasn’t quite sure how my girls would take to Shirley Temple, but they sure did in the original Heidi. They got so attached to the characters they found some of the scenes a little emotional, like when Heidi is separated from her Grandfather. But nothing like a happy ending (and some song and dance numbers) to bring it back around.

The Great Mouse Detective: Early tweens will appreciate Disney’s animated, anthropomorphic, Sherlock Holmes-esque detective film that children of the 80’s may have loved too. (And their younger siblings may be happy being along for the ride.) It’s a detective film so obviously there’s some intensity here, and like other films of this era, expect some smoking and drinking. But it’s still fun to watch as an adult. And it’s totally fun hearing Vincent Price as the bad guy.

Duck Soup: Raise your hands if you’re still a Marx Brothers fan like me? (Yay you!) If so, this is the perfect intro to their unparalleled brand of slapstick comedy. Plus, it convinced my kids that black and white movies aren’t so bad. The anarchic slapstick is so over-the-top, for me it takes away any “reality” that might be uncomfortable, plus the mirror scene is still absolutely one of the best of all times. It’s also wonderful that my kids can bond with their grandparents over this one; I know their grandfather could watch it with them every time they come over.

What favorite films did you love as a kid that you’re excited to share with your kids now?

And thanks to Netflix Families for sponsoring this post on great family movie night ideas–and for allowing us this wonderful walk down celluloid memory lane. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the “watch instantly” section–Streaming is super easy! We use it a lot. (A LOT.)