Family Movie Nights, Are They Even Possible? . . . Our Favorite Movies (Mostly) Appropriate for All Ages

by | Jul 29, 2019 | Catholic Mom Movie Review, Hey Watch This, Mailbag | 69 comments

Just a reminder: The August Prayer Booklet is available in the blog shop as a print at home PDF, and on Amazon as a paperback booklet. The first devotion for the month is Our Lady, Queen of Angels and the very cool associated Portiuncula Indulgence of St. Francis of Assisi on August 2nd, so get ready now. 🙂 Each month’s new booklet is available on the 20th of the preceding month, assuming I can get all of them done before (or with) new baby! About a month to go on that front, keep us in your prayers!

It’s been a while since we had a mailbag post on the blog, but it seemed like this one would be of interest to many.


Dear Kendra,
We have eight children ages 10 months-17 years. For the last few years we’ve been having a hard time finding a movie that we can all enjoy as a family. On family movie night, we’ll often end up with three or four groups watching different movies on separate laptops in different rooms–not the effect we were going for in having a family movie night. But the older kids’ movies are either inappropriate for little kids or won’t hold their attention, and the little kids want to watch a cartoon or children’s movie that the older kids are bored with. It’s also becoming difficult because we feel there are movies that the teenage girls could watch but the 12- and 10-year-old boys should not, and these younger kids are always chomping at the bit to watch the movies the older kids are watching. We’re having trouble coming up with old classic movies that would be appropriate (and interesting) for any audience that we haven’t seen a million times. How does your family solve this problem?
You’re in our prayers.
Thanks and God bless,


Hey Beth!

Thank you for your prayers. Such a good question. But . . . it sounds like two issues to me. I agree that true “family entertainment” is hard to find, but, really, in our home the main point of family movie night is to be together and have a shared experience, not to cater to every personal preference.

It makes me think of my old “I Do Not Cook Two Dinners” post. I also do not put on two movies. That means that sometimes the teenagers watch Pinocchio (as we all did together on Father’s Day and everyone really enjoyed) and sometimes the toddlers watch I Confess which we also watched recently and which obviously went over the little guys’ heads.

We allow input from all parties in the choice of movie, but once it’s chosen, there’s no whining or complaining, especially from teenagers, unless they’d prefer to go vacuum out the cars instead of watching a movie.

We don’t expect everyone to love every movie, and, of course, every movie night is a chance to practice discernment. We have often paused something to have a quick discussion and we would certainly switch to a different movie if we had inadvertently chosen something inappropriate. But if the family activity just doesn’t happen to be your favorite, that’s okay, you can be polite and watch anyway. And we can discuss it together afterwards.

We tend to watch movies in the evening, so if something isn’t holding the interest of the little kids, we can just pause it and put them to bed. And if we want to share a movie with just our teens, we’ll start it after the younger ones are in bed, so as not to cause unhappiness amongst the littles.

But we do it together. I want to be there to guide my kids’ understanding of a movie, and I want us to have that shared family experience and be able to have conversations or inside jokes about it afterwards. So, it’s rare that any of our kids would watch a movie for the first time without a parent. If they’re watching on their own, it’s from a limited selection of TV shows that I’m comfortable with, or a movie we’ve watched before. Our teenagers will occasionally go out to the movies with friends, if we’ve read reviews online or talked to someone who has seen it.

So, all that to say . . . perhaps you won’t agree with me, but I think the shared experience is more important than how much any particular individual likes the movie, and even if that unicorn of the perfect family movie doesn’t exist, family movie night is still a worthwhile thing to do!

Movies and TV show recommendations have been some of my most controversial posts on the blog. People feel VERY strongly about what’s appropriate for family viewing or for Catholic viewing. Different folks have very different comfort levels with different types of content.

In our home, we avoid movies with more than a very small amount of swearing (we are okay with a bit more language in movies for our oldest kids, who understand why we avoid using swear words ourselves) and any sexual nudity (unfortunately these two preferences leave out most of the movies from my 80s childhood), sex and toilet humor, sex scenes, mindless violence, divorce/remarriage/living together before marriage as a prominent theme, or anything that celebrates evil or sassiness or disobedience, as we think that these influences have the potential to be disruptive to happy family life. I also dislike the standard Girls Just Wanna Have Fun trope of the parents not understanding the child’s passion for something, the kid doing it anyway, and the parents learning learning that they were wrong the whole time, so so wrong. (See The Little Mermaid, Brave, Coco.)

Note: I am very careful about how much family fighting a movie shows. There are a few movies that we watch that contain family fighting but we always talk about what’s going on, as that isn’t something that happens in our home. Kids shouting things at their parents (especially something like, “I hate you!” at their parents) is almost always a deal-breaker for me. I have been a mom for seventeen years and nine kids so far and NOT ONCE has anyone shouted, “I hate you,” or “You’re stupid!” or “I wish you weren’t my mom!” at me. This is certainly not because I am a perfect and never stupid mom. I am (often) imperfect and (occasionally) stupid. But the husband and I don’t speak like that to each other and we don’t speak like that to our children, and we are very careful about our kids seeing other kids speaking like that in movies or TV shows. I think that does the trick.

See also: The Problem With Every Movie From My Youth: and ten family movies that won’t teach your kids to swear like a sailor

We only very rarely fast forward through scenes, and we haven’t used services that allow you to skip scenes or language, because I don’t want to cause scandal among our friends by seeming to have shown my kids movies with scenes that we would certainly consider inappropriate. There are a handful of movies that are an exception to this policy, mostly ones that the husband has wanted to share with our teenage sons, and he is willing to fast forward through a couple scenes to make that possible.

But even more than the specific hot button content issues, the MESSAGE of a movie is really important to me. Does it undermine our values and what I’m trying to teach my kids about the world? If so, we don’t watch it, even if “everyone else” is. Is the message a really good one? Then I can tolerate a bit more edginess.

So, all that said, to answer your question, there is no way to create a list of “movies appropriate for all Catholic families” that will satisfy everyone, but here are a few movies we’ve shared and enjoyed on family movie nights over the past few years . . .


  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Going My Way
  • The Bells of St. Mary’s
  • The Sound of Music Jack wants it known that he does NOT approve of the lack of war violence in this movie, and didn’t even as a small child.
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Court Jester
  • Duck Soup
  • A Night at the Opera Marx Brothers
  • The Nutty Professor
  • The Shaggy Dog These two are kind of hit or miss in our family, some of the kids find them pretty boring.
  • Darby O’Gill and the Little People Scary parts, but all my kids were okay with it. Young Sean Connery . . . singing!
  • I Confess All my kids have seen this, but there is murder, and talk of extramarital relations, and suspicions of such of a priest, so it’s probably best for teens and up.
  • The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin Very loosely based on one of our favorite books: By The Great Horned Spoon
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Really REALLY long, and all over the place plot-wise, but it’s entertaining, and the romance and family relationships are sweet.
  • North by Northwest Good for teens. Innuendo, implied funny business, but a clever and thrilling classic Hitchcock tale.
  • Charade For older teens. Innuendo, violence, divorce, murder, but non-graphic and a good story!

See also: 12 Days of Family Christmas Movies -mostly- on Netflix Streaming

See also: If Irish Eyes Are Smiling, You Can Bet They’re NOT Watching an Irish Movie, or: Eleven Irish Movies That it’s Entirely Possible That You Would Want to Watch

See also: Is the Seal of Confession Worth Protecting?


  • The Emperor’s New Groove Such a good father figure!
  • Prince of Egypt This movie is just so well done, and the songs are hauntingly beautiful.
  • The Princess and the Frog Some scary parts, and Mama Odie needs a pause to discuss, but the message of not messing around with demons, I like!
  • Lilo and Stitch Some serious family fighting, but overall a good message about overcoming bad inclinations that can be helpful when talking to stinker kids about not giving in to their every whim.
  • Pinocchio We have a tradition of watching this on Father’s Day.
  • The Lion King We just saw the 2019 version of this, see my take at the bottom.
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Toy Story 1-3
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • The Incredibles Mature themes like temptation to infidelity and family fighting, but again, a good overall message.
  • WALL-E Very pro-life robot romance!
  • Tangled
  • The Iron Giant
  • Cars
  • Hercules
  • Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse This new movie is surprisingly great, with a good father figure, and good messages about sacrifice and responsibility and marriage.
  • LEGO Movie
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • We like all of the classic pre-1980s Disney animated movies
  • Bolt
  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs Just like most animated movies, it features a kid with a passion for something that his dad just doesn’t understand. However, in a very unusual twist, in this movie, THE DAD is the one who gets vindicated! There’s a monkey throwing poop joke I could do without.
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie

See also: Movies for Father’s Day That Don’t Hate Dad

See also: Family Movies for Holy Week on Netflix and Amazon

See also: I Have Some Thoughts About Frozen

See also: Brave: I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

70s/80s/90s MOVIES

Some people are likely going to disagree with me on the appropriateness of some of these, and that’s okay! But we think the hilarity and overall message is worth the few swear words and the awkward moments that require discussion.

  • The Princess Bride Some kid swearing, talk of suicide and piracy, and an immoral revenge plot line that needs to be discussed.
  • Pee Wee’s Big Adventure 1985
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Star Wars We have watched all of them as of 2019, and have been okay with the content and message.
  • Home Alone Some family fighting, and an “adult” magazine in Buzz’s room that we fast forward past.
  • A Christmas Story
  • E.T. Family fighting, divorce, some kid swearing, but in the end the siblings look out for each other.
  • The Addams Family Overall a good message, but does have some questionable moments.
  • The Secret of Roan Inish
  • The Muppet Movie
  • Muppet Treasure Island
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Muppets in Space
  • The Goonies There is some swearing and toilet humor and inappropriate handsiness by a teenager.
  • Jurassic Park Might be too scary for some little kids, but mine are okay with it.
  • Cool Runnings
  • Willow
  • Annie
  • Back to the Future Older kids, as there is some allusion to premarital sex and a non graphic attempted rape scene.
  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure There is weirdness with the stepmom, that we discuss or skip.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail We skip the vestal virgins scene.
  • Groundhog Day There is discussion of suicide and premarital sex and a non graphic scene of the main characters in bed.
  • Little Women 1994 with Winona Ryder
  • The Blues Brothers 1980 The good: They’re on a “mission from God” to save their Catholic orphanage, amazing music. The bad: lots of language. We’ve enjoyed it with our older teens.
  • Rudy 1993 Some language, but a really well-done, inspiring movie.
  • The Book Thief Intense but sweet WWII movie, good for older kids.
  • The Hiding Place 1975 A very well-done adaptation of Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography of her time helping Jews in occupied Holland, and, after her arrest, in a nazi concentration camp. Very Christian. Good for older kids.

See also: A Star Wars Birthday Party (in the van) *with spoiler-free movie review*

See also: A Shortage of Perfect (Chicken) Breasts: Another Princess Bride Birthday Party (with free food tag printables!)


  • Holes
  • The Greatest Showman Temptation to infidelity, but a good message and good songs.
  • Captain America For older kids because of some bloody war violence, but so great.
  • Harry Potter The later ones have more mature themes that we save for older kids.
  • Lord of the Rings For older kids because of orc scariness.
  • Hugo
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • Earth to Echo Features a teen party with inappropriate behavior.
  • Black Panther
  • Guardians of the Galaxy A fun movie for teens, but it does break my rule against bad guys being the good guys.
  • Cinderella The live action version is really a beautiful update.
  • Pride and Prejudice The 2005 version with Kiera Knightley was a surprise hit with even the older boys in our family. It’s really funny!
  • Chicken Run
  • Super 8 A fun pseudo-eighties movie good for older kids.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Good to share with teens, I think, but only if a grownup is there to discuss things like avoiding the appearance of sin. I would skip Sierra Burgess is a Loser.
  • Les Miserables I think the new adaptation is excellent for older teens. It requires some discussion about heavy themes, like suicide and fornication and prostitution and pharisaical justice, but we want to discuss those at some point.
  • Our family really enjoys DisneyNature documentaries (like Growing Up Wild)
  • Penelope I like this one for teen girls looking for a romantic movie to watch. The opening exposition references fornication, adultery, and suicide, but I think for older kids it’s okay to explain. The mother is a problematic character, but I appreciate that Penelope treats her with respect anyway.
  • Wonder Woman Good for teens. Some talk of human sexuality and pleasure, and some innuendo, but all in a pretty innocent and charming way, in my opinion.
  • Inkheart 2008 Fantasy/action/adventure. All ages enjoyed it in our house.

See also: Happee Birthdae Betty (a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 11th Birthday Party)

See also: What Went Wrong With The Hobbit Movie, and How to Discuss it with Smart Kids

See also: What’s All This, Now, About “Guardians of the Galaxy”?

See also: Maleficent vs Cinderella and the Heroes We Give Our Children

See also: A Twelve Year Old Boy Reviews Cinderella

See also: What Went Right With Les Misérables: and Why I’m Sad My Kids Can’t See It Yet

See also: A Pride and Prejudice 2nd Birthday Party to Ardently Admire and Love

I hope these give you some choices for your next movie night!


Bonus Movie Review: Lion King 2019

It bugs me that people are calling this movie “live action.” It’s definitely still animated, it’s just differently animated. End of rant.

Anyway, I’ve heard a lot of folks online wondering if this needed to be remade, as the original was so good, and the remake is really very similar. But I think there’s an important clarification in the remake that makes it worth redoing and worth seeing.

In the 1994 version, it’s easy to miss the point that the Hakuna Matata worldview is WRONG. After all, it’s a really catchy song, and we like Timon and Pumba, and the ramifications of the song aren’t addressed. In the 2019 version, we still get the song, but we also get a more in depth look at what that philosophy means: that life has no purpose or greater meaning or eternal consequences and that we should just look out for ourselves, and bother none about those around us.

Mufasa’s Circle of Life worldview, on the other hand, is one where our actions and choices affect one another, where life has meaning and purpose, where sacrifice and responsibility exist, and where there is an afterlife from which the noble dead can inspire and support us. Yay! It’s made clear in this version that Mufasa’s Circle of Life philosophy is the correct one. I think that’s an important message! And aside from adding in the word “farted” to a song from which it was awfully nice to have had it skipped all these years, the remakers avoided the temptation to get edgy with the source martial. The characters are the characters, the actors are good, the jokes are funny. I think it’s worth a watch.

As always, I encourage you to look up other reviews or preview movies before watching in case what you think is appropriate for your family isn’t the same as what I think is appropriate for mine.

I’d love to hear what you would add to the list! And if I forgot a warning note for a particular movie on the list, please feel free to share that too. It has been a while since I’ve seen some of these!


  1. Jen @ Bookish Family

    Some others we like are Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Swiss Family Robinson, and Old Yeller . . . and all are based on books so we can read aloud first, watch, and compare.

    • Kathy M Dobrowolski

      Amen to these three movies!

    • Jenna

      I’d love to hear if your family does any Westerns. It’s a genre I’d love to try with the kids, but I’m not familiar enough to know what would be appropriate.

      • Kendra

        We haven’t really, but I definitely feel like we should. Bullwhip Griffin is western-ish but really just Classic Disney live action. I think it’s hard to avoid the hooker with a heart of gold trope with most “real” westerns.

        • Andy

          You should really watch The Man From Snowy River. An Australian western coming of age film. A couple of swear words. The romance is handled well. Themes of family, forgiveness, and beautiful settings.

      • Jesica

        A little late to the thread, but The Rifleman starring Chuck Conners is by far our favorite family western. It’s all in black and white, but it’s about a boy and his father and each episode seems to have a wholesome message. Also, no hookers and the violence is extremely mild.

  2. JLC

    Thanks, Kendra, for the list. We needed some fresh ideas! I always appreciate your insight as well as the time and effort it takes you to help us fellow mommas out

    Prayers for you and your family as you prepare to welcome another little sweetie

    • Tiffany Robinson

      But but but… You DO admit that the BBC version of P&P (with Colin Firth) is the one, true, perfect, and romantic version, yes?? Or I’m going to go ahead and call you a heretic.

      • Kendra

        I DO NOT! Pride and Prejudice 2005 forevah! 😀

        • Tiffany Robinson

          Oh, so you haven’t seen the BBC version. I get it.

          • Kendra

            This is only going to make things worse, I know, but I don’t like Colin Firth’s Darcy. He’s handsome, he’s rich, but I don’t get why she’d LIKE him. All he does is smirk. That’s not endearing to me. Matthew Macfayden’s Darcy has a vulnerability that would make her fall in love with him. He opens up to her, like he does with his sister but almost no one else. It’s all so charming. Colin Firth is never vulnerable. He is still smirking at the double wedding. I just don’t get why anyone likes him.

          • Emily Ruegg

            You don’t think the way he bails out her sister and then sweetly, nervously, boyishly, yet with refinement, asks her if she approves of Pemberley, after rushing to get properly attired to greet her family? I CANNOT EVEN!!! <3 LOL This version and Sound of Music are my two favorite romances EVAHHH!! By the way, BLESSINGS to you with your upcoming arrival, and my prayers for a safe and healthy delivery for you both. 🙂 <3 Also, have you seen The Secret of Roan Inish? Its a personal favorite, and I feel you would like it…it's Irish! 🙂

          • Kendra

            Yes, the Secret of Roan Inish is great! I’ll have to add it to the 90s list.

        • Mary

          Ahhhhh I thought I was the only one who preferred the 2005 version!! Feeling a real kinship with you right now, Kendra. :oD

  3. Alea

    Thanks! There’s some great new movie material for our family here! I’m glad you mentioned filtering services. We are subscribed to one, but I too worry about telling someone we watched a certain movie with the kids and them not knowing it was filtered.

  4. Regina

    Have you watched Goodbye, Christopher Robin? I saw it (alone, on a plane) and thought it might be good for a family movie.

    • Kendra

      I haven’t but I think I saw it on Netflix, so maybe I’ll give it a peek!

  5. Kristin

    We just watched Paper Planes on Amazon (free for Prime). It’s rated G and overall enjoyable and positive movie.

  6. Sarah S

    What do you think about “Bedknobs & Brooms”? On one hand, a classic. On the other, she’s a witch.

    • Sarah S

      Sorry, “Broomsticks”

    • Kendra

      We’ve seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but my kids didn’t like it as much as other Disney movies, but the witch thing isn’t a problem for me. It seems like fantasy not occult, which is the distinction I look for.

      • Cami

        Can you elaborate on this? Fantasy vs occult? Or maybe you already have a post? We avoid anything that makes sorcery look good since the Bible condemns it and we’d like to keep clear good vs evil. I’m curious how you get the right message through to your kids without clouding it with a “sometimes” reasoning. I do not claim to be an expert and look to holy, experienced moms to help me discern.

        • Kendra

          Yes! There are lots of fantasy stories/picture books/fairy tales that contain magic. Stories like these can be good or bad depending on what their message is, but the magic itself is just part of that world and used as a fun and creative way to tell a story. That’s different than the occult, which is what’s usually called “dark” magic, or devil worship, or satanism, or what have you.

          Most stories that contain magic don’t have anything to do with God or the devil at all, it’s just another name for superpowers, basically. My children, and almost all children, I would think, don’t have any trouble distinguishing between a make-believe fantasy/magical world and the real world. It seems entirely unlikely that a child who does not otherwise have a temptation toward occult practices would read a fairy tale that contains magic and randomly make a leap to a completely unrelated interest in devil worship.

          We do not avoid fantasy and fairy tale and magical stories if they have a good message. We do avoid them if they have a bad message. We largely avoid stories that have occult-type magic, with pentagrams and invoking demons and whatnot. That’s a different thing entirely. We largely avoid stories about the devil, but not entirely. One of our favorite picture books is a Grimm’s fairy tale about a guy who makes a deal with the devil, called the Bearskinner. It’s a really beautiful story of redemption and the efficacy of prayer, and the message is . . . DON’T make deals with the devil.

          We like The Princess and the Frog for the same reason. It’s got dark magic and demons in it, but presented in the correct way, as a BAD thing that doesn’t work out well for ya. (Mama Odie seems to be some sort of good witch, which is a bit problematic, so I just explain that to my kids.) Also, the frogs get married and that changes what she is, which changes the magic. I think it’s a beautiful Truth! Then they get actually married in a Catholic Church because that’s what people have to do! It’s pretty great overall. So, while I can see why people might see that it’s a movie for kids about dark magic and demons, and think they’d better avoid it, the MESSAGE is right, so I like it. I actually MUCH prefer it to stories like Book of Kells and Coco that take Catholic imagery and tradition and strip it of all religion and sanitize it into a cultural folk tale. We skip those in our house.

          I’ve got this post that has more details on what the catechism and the Bible actually say about magic: Sorcery in the Bible vs Living in a Magical World

  7. Amanda

    LOVE this list! You need to add Finding Nemo to the animated section for sure!

  8. Debbie

    Freaky Friday. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids 1,2,3, There is a new Netflix series called Malibu Rescue and the pilot is a good family movie for all ages. Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarons (animated).

  9. Candace

    Thank you for taking the time (it must have taken quite a while!) to make this list for us all. I’m bookmarking it for lots of use! God bless you & your family.

  10. Lindsay

    I’m so glad to hear that you liked Into the Spider-Verse as family viewing! I’ve been trying to get everyone I know to watch it. It’s a hidden gem.

    • Kendra

      It’s SO good. I just kept watching, waiting for them to blow the message, and they DIDN’T. I’m really impressed. Not to mention that it’s also really funny.

    • Amanda

      I’m surprised to see Harry Potter on this list for the spells in it. In any case, thank you for the list and your posts!

      • Kendra

        There are quite a few fantasy movies that include magic and spells on the list, including Harry Potter, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Wizard of Oz, The Princess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Tangled, Lord of the Rings, Cinderella, and Penelope. It’s a genre we enjoy, with a long history of entertaining children and adults, and we don’t have any trouble distinguishing between fantasy stories and real life. The particular messages and lessons of each of these movies are ones I agree with.

  11. lesley sargent

    We have enjoyed Nacho Libre and School of Rock with a 12 1/2 year old girl and 9 year old girl

  12. Karen

    We really liked (and didn’t expect to like) Finding Dory. No parents die in the story! And Dory is taught that she can learn, just differently, and she never gives up and accepts who she is! Also the octopus is my spirit animal.

    • Kendra

      The octopus, wait no, septopus, was hilarious. And the cuddle party was great. But overall I felt like all it did was give kind of mundane backstory for all the cutest, cleverest things in Finding Nemo. I didn’t really WANT those to all lose their magic. ‍♀️

  13. Marion

    Kendra you and the baby as well as your husband are always in my prayers. Kendra do your children like the Shirley Temple movies? I saw them years ago and can watch them over and over.

    • Kendra

      Thank you for your prayers!

      And I don’t think we’ve seen a Shirley Temple movie. That’s a fun idea.

      • SleepyPrairieMama

        The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer is not the typical Shirley Temple but combines her with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy and is soooo great!

  14. LeahR

    Beware of some in your face promiscuity in the scene after she cuts her hair in Les Miserables. I don’t like to watch as an adult, and would not want my kids of any age watching that part.

  15. Marilyn

    Thank you for the list of movies. The Yearling is another good one.

  16. Anna

    Mary Poppins was hands down my favorite movie growing up and one I enjoy even today. I love David Tomlinson’s character I think he’s hilarious and aspire to be Mary Poppins. “Enough is as a good as a feast.”

    We watched Home Alone back when VidAngel was a thing and that’s one I’m really glad have had that service for, but you’re right. My kids talk about it a lot and I always need to give that qualifier to the parents. We let the kids watch 2 sentences of The Passion of Christ (some of the Latin bits) and they talk about that movie like they’ve seen the whole thing, which is humbling for me, and I hope no one has shown it to children because of us.

    • Amy

      I totally stole “enough is as good as a feast” from Mary Poppins! It use it on my children regularly (and on myself to be honest.)

  17. Ann-Marie Ulczynski

    A staple in my family as a child is It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. So many good conversations from that movie . . . Along with hilarious moments.

  18. Iris

    What are your thoughts on Nanny McPhee?
    Also, what do you mean by avoiding the appearance of sin?

    • Kendra

      I haven’t seen Nanny McPhee, it SEEMED like it was going to celebrate naughty behavior by children. Even if they come around in the end, I’m not sure I want to put those ideas in my kids’ heads! But someone correct me if I’m wrong. I haven’t previewed it.

      As for the appearance of sin, as Christians, we have an obligation to God to avoid sin, but we also have an obligation to our fellow man to avoid the appearance of sin. If I, for instance, stay in a hotel room with a man who is not my husband, people are likely to assume that I’m having an affair. Even if I’m NOT, that appearance of sin might lead someone else to conclude that Catholics are a bunch of fakes, that no one is actually faithful to their husbands, etc. If that person abandons the faith or her marriage, well, I bear some part of responsibility for that.

      In To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it *appears* that she’s having relations in a hot tub. Since she’s considered a “nice girl” that might lead others to conclude that even “nice girls” do things like that. If it were the case that she was known to be Catholic, as my kids are, APPEARING to do that might lead other Catholics to sin.

      So we should avoid actually sinning, and avoid leading others to think we are sinning. (Not to mention the fact that passionate kissing in hot tubs is pretty likely to actually lead to more-than-kissing in hot tubs, so it’s also a near occasion of sin.)

      • Blayne

        This is so late, but I love nanny McPhee! Nanny mcphee returns is honestly one of my favorite movies, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t get very excited about children’s movies. The “naughtiness” of the children is not celebrated; quite the opposite! I think you should watch! I’d love to know if your love it!

  19. Annie

    Jack’s comment about war violence in The Sound of Music made me laugh. One of my mom’s friends told her son (my age, now late 20s) that it was a war movie so he would watch it with her. He was… less than pleased.

  20. Karen

    Anne of Green Gables series with Megan Follows is one of yearly summer watches. The last one involves war scenes!

    A few good musicals we love:
    Singing in the Rain
    Phantom of the Opera (live version)
    Newsies (live)

    The Water Horse
    Mary Poppins Returns
    The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
    Little Men series on Hallmark movies now is a cute show that follows widowed Jo as a runs a boarding school. (One of the early episodes involves a child dying, but the rest are not that heavy)
    Walt before Mickey
    Swiss Family Robinson

    • Kendra

      Oh, yes, Rudy! We really liked that one.

    • Elise

      Anne of Green Gables the Megan Followe’s one. The last movie in the trilogy we never watch though because it doesn’t follow the books at all Thanks for the list we had been running out of ideas!

  21. Catherine Strand

    Some of my more mainstream favorites:
    101 Dalmatians (the original animated version) – I love Pongo and Perdita! They are perhaps my favorite animated parents.
    Atlantis (Disney) – I thought I wasn’t going to like this and didn’t even bother for some 16 years – but I really enjoyed it.
    The Book Thief – The book of course was better and admittedly I wouldn’t consider it a ‘family’ film but still hits all the emotional points.
    Charade – My favorite thriller – much more low-key than most of the genre.
    Legend of the Guardians – I love the books, not sure how someone that hasn’t read them might view this movie. But the animation is gorgeous.

    I also love a fair number of off-the-beaten path movies. Like Behind the Waterfall, Rigoletto, Lost in the Barrens, and Friendship’s Field.

    • Kendra

      Oh yes, we’ve watched Charade as a family. That one’s good, and North by Northwest, too.

      And the Book Thief! I can’t remember why now, but I remember liking the movie more than the book. I saw the movie first, then read the book and remember being disappointed by . . . something?! That’s not very helpful.

  22. Rose

    We like the cartoon UP. A widower, little boy on a balloon ride. Good story!

  23. Stacey Joy

    What about the Disney animation, the Robinsons? Our a smart little boy who is adopted to a unique family… that one always makes me smile

  24. Antonia

    The Scarlet & The Black

  25. Marissa

    What about Toy story? I really like toy story 2, especially Buzz’ lines about not being a friend if he didn’t try to save woody.

    • Kendra

      Yes, those are on the list!

  26. Campbell

    One of our favorites is the Disney’s underrated “Meet the Robinsons” about an orphan on the verge of 13 desperate to find a family after so many failed interviews.

  27. Nicole Son

    Your comment about “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” reminded me of a movie I love to watch with my teens that I think manages to avoid this – “October Sky.” The viewer’s sympathy is definitely with the son, as it should be, but the father, with whom he has a troubled relationship, is portrayed sympathetically even while he is in the wrong, perhaps because he is played by the very talented Chris Cooper. But this movie is more aimed at older kids, who are definitely capable of handling the idea that not all parents support their kids as they should – after all, plenty of real life biographies (e.g. Abraham Lincoln’s father) and lives of the saints show that.

  28. Mary

    Whoa, these are great lists! The only caveat I have is that The Emperor’s New Groove is not a great one for little kids who REALLY like to pick up behavior/phrases. My husband and I recently rewatched it to see if it would be a good movie for our 4-year-old and Cuzco’s sassiness made it a hard NOPE. (Besides that factor, it’s one of our favorite movies.)

    Disney’s Ratatouille is also a good one. My kiddo loved it when she was three and I still call her ‘little chef’ when she helps me in the kitchen. :o)

  29. theresa louise

    I remember loving Princess Bride and my very conservative, Tridentine mass-saying priest would always, hilariously, pronounce “marriage” as ”mawwiage.” I recently rewatched it and was crushed when the child used the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ as a curse. The entertainment value is just not worth it to me.
    One of our favorite families movies is The War Of the Vendee from Navis Pictures. All of the acting is done by children and it is SO well done! You have to buy the dvd, but it’s worth it.

  30. KNC

    Night Crossing (an old Disney live-action movie) is excellent and made for a great family movie night for us. Eight Below was also great, but our younger kids found some parts to be scary.

  31. Beth Lauver

    Some favorites from our family with 1 7yo boy and triplet 3yo boys –
    Homeward Bound (kids like the sequel, I’m devoted to the original)
    Babe (again, original needed no improvement!)
    Shaun the Sheep
    Peanuts Movie
    Dolphin Tale – DO like both sequel and original
    Charlotte’s Web (we’ve only seen the Julia Roberts / Dakota Fanning edition)
    Herbie (can’t remember the details of various versions, but generally they were good)
    Boss Baby – surprisingly pro-life!
    The Bee Movie
    Cars 1-3 – major sacrificial love theme in Cars 3, and 1 for that matter!
    We also have really utilized the website Common Sense Media to spell out any concerns with the material in something we haven’t seen!

  32. Rochelle

    Hi Kendra, I’m a little confused why you listed The Addams Family here, but in a previous post about Halloween movies on Netflix you put it on the “ugly” list? Did you change your mind thinking it’s okay for teens now that yours are a little older? I was going to rent it at the library for my children but then figured they were too young and found some picture books about them instead. I also saw that video of a family walking out of the new animated one because it’s demonic, so I question whether I should introduce the Addams family at all now via books. Appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Kendra

      Hah! I’m sorry for the confusion. I didn’t remember having mentioned it before! In that older post, I was reporting a different site’s review of the (90s live action) Addams Family movie. They claim it has “strong sexual content” which, having seen it more recently now, seems to me like an exaggeration. Noises are made. The noises are awkward. But the actual situation seems more innocent to me than Common Sense Media’s take. You can see the scene for yourself here:

      Other than that, I think it’s a movie about a big, weird, loving family. We showed it at a seventh grade movie night two years ago, and the kids didn’t seem scandalized.

      I can’t vouch for the new animated one, I haven’t seen it.

  33. Emily Chadwick

    Keep checking this list when we are at a loss – great list! Have you ever seen “The Fighting Sullivans”? Our kids love that one and good for all ages. 🙂

  34. Christina

    My sister has followed you for years and years, but this is my first time on. Our seven children range in age from 22-14, but two family favorites for many, many years are The Fighting Sullivans and The Quiet Man. Both have ‘issues’ that might deter some families, so look up online reviews first.

  35. Steve

    Hi. I found this site browsing google family friendly film recommendations. Just thought I’d throw in my 2 cents. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic science fiction movie that you did not mention. And, it was on a list of films the Vatican endorsed. You probably know all this, but perhaps you have your own reasons not to show it to the family. I sent some links regarding this film and the Vatican, and a list films approved by the Vatican on Wikipedia. (you probably already have this list)

    Be healthy, be well, best to you and the family!

  36. okra

    I did the same thing with Monty Python (skipping the risque parts). My son could not understand why his high school history teacher would not let them watch the movie in class at the end of the year.

  37. marissacalhoun

    You have changed the way I look at The Little Mermaid. It was one of “my” movies growing up, but I see your point and agree. It has me questioning ALL my movies now!
    I realize (to some degree) families will vary with what works for them—maturity, age, circumstances, etc. I am very curious why Tangled makes the grade when Mermaid, The Brave, and Coco does not. Even though “Mother” Gothel kidnapped Rapunzel, she does not realize that until much later. Rapunzel premeditates her escape to see the lights, lies to her “mother,” and continues to the lights even after Gothel finds her.
    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Rapunzel; I am just curious what you would say about her disobedience.

    • Kendra

      I know, right?!

      As to the distinction between Little Mermaid, Brave, and Coco vs Rapunzel . . . The first three feature parents making reasonable parenting decisions that they have the authority to make. The disobeying/running away/doing it anyway/parents come to understand that they were wrong trope is just a ridiculous thing for me to encourage as a mother.

      However, that’s not what happens in Rapunzel. Human beings have a natural and reasonable desire for natural and reasonable freedoms. Even though she doesn’t know that Mother Gothel isn’t her real mother, her captivity is not a reasonable parenting decision, nor is the manipulation Mother Gothel uses to try to keep her subjugated. Even though part of it seems like teenage rebellion and running off with a cute boy, which would be bad, I explain it to my kids as heroic that she’s able to recognize her own abuse and escape from it.

      Rapunzel has to fight against her desire to be obedient to the person she thinks is her mother, but it’s a very good thing that she trusts her gut and leaves. (Also, isn’t she already 18? Or about to turn 18 anyway, so she’s an adult and can leave!) It’s a lot different than the Ariel, “But, Daddy I love him!” plot. Ariel had a loving dad, she could have accomplished her goals in a better way. Rapunzel didn’t have another option.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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