27 of the Best Classic Family Movies of All Time

Everyone loves a good action movie, hilarious comedy, or mind-bending thriller. But nothing beats a heartwarming and adventurous family film. While children are the target viewers, family films appeal to wider audiences. They often contain elements of comedy, action, science fiction, and fantasy.

The classic family movies also feature some of the scariest and most heartbreaking moments in movie history. With world-famous directors and stellar casts, many of these classic family movies broke box office records.

New generations of families gather around and watch these classic flicks regularly. Some family films are perfect to watch any night of the week while other family movies are Christmas classics that everyone loves to watch. So gather around with the family and dive deep into the greatest family films of all time. 

27 of the Best Classic Family Movies of All Time


1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial centers around a young boy, Elliot, who becomes friends with an alien known as E.T. With the help of his family and friends, Elliot must assist E.T. to return to his home planet.

Legendary director Steven Spielberg based the idea on an imaginary friend he created as a child after his parents divorced. Family and friendship are key themes, with Spielberg producing the ultimate family movie full of action, mystery, comedy, touching moments, and heartbreak.

Often considered one of the greatest movies of all time, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial became an instant success. It was even the highest-grossing movie for 11 years until another Spielberg classic took the number one spot. It’s easily one of the greatest family films in Hollywood history.

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2. Home Alone (1990)

Few movies compare to the iconic family classic Home Alone. Directed by Chris Columbus, Home Alone is a staple of every Christmas season but is also a great movie to watch with the family any time of the year.

Based on a story by John Hughes, Kevin McCallister protects his house against two burglars on Christmas eve after his family leaves him behind on vacation to Paris.

Home Alone was a massive hit turning Macaulay Culkin into a household name. It was the second highest-grossing movie of 1990, leading to several sequels, notably Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Not only is it the greatest Christmas movie, but it’s also one of the best family films of all time.

Watch on Disney+

3. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

During a terrible storm in Kansas, Dorthey Gale is knocked unconscious and awakens with her dog, Toto, in the land of Oz. With her ruby slippers, Dorthey and Toto venture down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to find a way back home to Kansas. At the time of its release in 1939, The Wizard of Oz was a moderate success, barely breaking even.

After a re-release in the late 1940s and television airings, critics and fans recognized The Wizard of Oz as one of the greatest movies of all time. In addition to the memorable moments in the film, it’s famous for its incredible soundtrack, notably the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The Wizard of Oz should be the first flick for every family movie night. 

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4. Star Wars Franchise (1977-2019)

The beloved Star Wars franchise has something for the whole family. It’s full of lightsaber battles, adorable creatures, hilarious droids, and sarcastic pilots. The Skywalker Saga comprises nine movies that will keep the family busy for a few weekends.

The original trilogy tells the story of Luke Skywalker and his quest to defeat the Empire and bring his father, Darth Vader, back to the good side. The prequel trilogy is the tragic tale of Anakin Skywalker becoming the evil Sith Lord Darth Vader. Set 30 years later, the sequel trilogy concludes the Skywalker Saga with old characters, new heroes, and evil villains. 

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5. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

In 1993, iconic actor Robin Williams and legendary director Chris Columbus teamed up to create one of the greatest family movies in cinema history. Mrs. Doubtfire revolves around divorced actor Daniel Hillard who dresses up as a female housekeeper to be closer to his kids and ex-wife.

The touching film deals with themes of family, love, divorce, and its impact on children. Despite the mixed reviews, Mrs. Doubtfire became the second highest-grossing movie of 1993 and an iconic family flick ideal for Friday movie night.

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6. Mary Poppins (1964)

Considered Walt Disney’s crowning achievement, Mary Poppins is the ultimate family movie. Starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins visits a dysfunctional London family, helping improve their relationships and lifestyle. The film combines live-action and animation to present a movie that kids and parents will love.

With iconic songs and unforgettable performances, Mary Poppins became the highest-grossing movie of 1964. The timeless classic is still a great movie for families to enjoy. Everyone in the house will be humming Marry Poppins’ tunes all week. 

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7. Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

In a world where wizards, witches, and humans live side-by-side, Harry Potter and his best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Haunted by his parent’s death, Harry eventually comes face-to-face with the evil Lord Voldermort and overcomes his demons. The Harry Potter films series is ideal for the entire family.

The beloved franchise has something for moms, dads, and kids with action, adventure, fantasy, and romance. The critically acclaimed family franchise consists of eight incredible movies culminating in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2.

Based on the J.K. Rowling novels of the same name, the Harry Potter franchise is one of the highest-grossing film series. It’s also part of the larger Wizarding World, including the prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

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8. The Jungle Book (2016)

Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories of the same name, The Jungle Book hit theatres in 2016 to universal praise. With an all-star voice cast, the CGI/live-action adventure wowed audiences with an inspirational and moving story.

Set in the 1890s, an orphaned boy raised by wolves in the jungles of India, Mowgli, goes on a journey of self-discovery. With the help of Baloo and Bagheera, Mowgli takes on the evil Bengali tiger Shere Khan. Parents and kids will instantly fall in love with this heartwarming and thrilling tale.

A bonus for movie night is the 1967 Disney animated film, The Jungle Book, featuring elements of the live-action movie. 

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9. Jurassic Park Franchise (1993-2022)

Upon its release, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park surpassed another Spielberg classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, to become the highest-grossing movie of all time. It held that record until 1997 when Titanic took the number one spot. Nonetheless, Jurassic Park is groundbreaking for special effects and technological advancement in cinema.

The plot revolves around billionaire industrialist John Hammond creating a wildlife park featuring real-life dinosaurs on a remote island. After a system failure, a group of visitors, including Hammond’s grandchildren, are trapped on the island and must survive the dinosaurs in this nail-biting epic. The thrilling movie will have parents on the edges of their seats and kids holding onto their parent’s hands. The epic movie’s massive success led to five incredible sequels. 

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10. The Muppet Movie (1979)

Every family movie night requires at least one viewing of The Muppet Movie. By the late 70s, The Muppets became household names due to The Muppet Show. Thus, it was time for the Muppets to take over the big screen.

Released in 1979, Kermit the Frog travels to Los Angeles, meeting various Muppets and celebrities on his journey. It features famous Muppets, classic songs, and celebrity cameos. The movie also features a popular soundtrack and the famous tune “Rainbow Connection.” 

Watch on Disney+

11. The Lion King (1994)

The highest-grossing film of 1994, The Lion King, features an incredible soundtrack, tragic deaths, and heartwarming moments. The 32nd Disney animated film follows a cub, Simba, who flees when he believes he killed his father.

After growing up with Timon and Pumbaa, Simba returns to reclaim his rightful place as King. The Lion King became a massive hit that children around the world still watch. It’s perfect for movie night since it’ll have everyone crying, laughing, and singing. 

Watch on Disney+

12. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Starring Gene Wilder, the classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a must for all family gatherings. Based on the Roald Dahl novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it became a cult classic in the 1980s and 90s.

It follows a poor child, Charlie Bucket, who finds a golden ticket in a Willy Wonka chocolate bar leading to a tour of his famed factory. The classic 70s musical is timeless, dealing with themes of family, poverty, and love. With a memorable performance from Wilder as Willy Wonka, the classic flick became one of the most popular family movies ever made. 

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13. Toy Story Franchise (1995-2019)

Toy Story is a silly, sweet, and touching film that’ll bring tears to the eyes of children and adults. The plot follows a group of toys that come alive when humans aren’t around. The group’s leader, Sheriff Woody Pride (voiced by Tom Hanks), is threatened by the new toy Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen).

The computer-animated movie was a massive success and the second-highest-grossing film of 1995. The enormous success led to three critically acclaimed sequels and a so-so spin-off. Toy Story is perfect for any movie night with its excellent voice cast, classic toys, and loving moments. 

Watch on Disney+

14. A Christmas Story (1983)

Families gather around the TV every Christmas eve to enjoy the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story. The family movie focuses on Ralphie Parker and his family celebrating Christmas. Little Ralphie dreams of getting an air rifle from Santa, but his mother rejects the idea.

The movie was an instant success and quickly became a staple of the Christmas season. In fact, TNT and later TBS show A Christmas Story on a loop every Christmas eve for 12 straight hours. It’s been part of every kid’s Christmas for generations. 

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15. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

No family movie night is complete without Emilio Estevez, the ultimate underdog team, and hockey. The first movie in the series, The Mighty Ducks, hit theatres in 1992. It revolved around hockey prodigy turned lawyer Gordon Bombay, who gets pulled over with a DUI. Bombay’s community service includes coaching a local hockey team.

While it got mixed reviews, it grew in popularity, becoming the quintessential family movie. The sports comedy led to two sequels, D2: The Mighty Ducks and D3: The Mighty Ducks. A Disney + series, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, was added to the network in 2021. Undoubtedly, The Mighty Ducks movie is ideal for family movie nights all year long. 

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16. The Santa Clause (1994)

It’s safe to say that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a family viewing of the classic holiday movie The Santa Clause. The plot follows an ordinary man, Scott Calvin, who completes Santa’s deliveries after he falls off a roof on Christmas eve. However, Calvin’s life is turned upside down when he is forced to become a full-time Santa.

The famous movie was a major success and is a staple of the holiday season. Starring Tim Allen, the success led to a media franchise featuring The Santa Clause 2, Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, and a Disney + series, The Clauses. 

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17. Indiana Jones Franchise (1981-2023)

Archeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is known for keeping his sense of humor and cool while going on terrifying adventures. Jones dazzled audiences with his first adventure in the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Set in 1936, Jones must find the lost Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. The first movie entertains families with incredible action, witty comedy, death-defying moments, snakes, and a career-defining performance from Ford. 

The first film’s popularity led to a media franchise with Jones returning for four sequels: The Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade, The Kingdom of Crystal Skull, and the upcoming movie Dial of Destiny. 

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18. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993)

Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey focuses on an American Bulldog, Chance, a Golden Retriever, Shadow, and a Himalayan cat, Sassy. The three unlikely friends stick together and travel through the wilderness to reunite with their owners. The heartwarming movie is ideal for a family with pets. Of course, families that don’t own pets will likely go out and get one after seeing this sweet and funny flick. 

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19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Based on the novel of the same name, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a remake of the classic 1970s movie. Directed by Tim Burton, Johnny Depp stars as the enigmatic Willy Wonka. The remake hit theatres in 2005 to universal praise and rave reviews. Unlike the original, it was a box-office success from day one. Families will enjoy the 1971 version and 2005 remake on movie night double bill. 

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20. A Boy Name Charlie Brown (1969)

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang are a part of every child’s life. That makes the classic animated film A Boy Named Charlie Brown perfect for movie night. Parents can take a trip down memory lane while introducing their kids to these cartoon icons.

Based on the Peanuts Comic Strip, the plot revolves around Charlie Brown competing in a spelling bee. The movie was a surprise hit at the theatres surpassing Disney movies. At the time, it was unheard of for an animated film to beat a Disney flick at the box office. A Boy Named Charlie Brown became the first to challenge Disney’s animated dominance. 

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21. The Parent Trap (1998)

Separated at birth, twins Hallie Parker and Annie James reunite at summer camp and switch places in the popular family film The Parent Trap.

A remake of the 1961 movie of the same name, child star Lindsay Lohan soon became a significant star in Hollywood. Additionally, it was one of the best movies of the year in 1998 and is another timeless classic that families of future generations will enjoy. 

Watch on Disney+

22. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

Swiss Family Robinson is one of the few classic movies that still hold up based on today’s standards. Disney regards the movie as a beloved classic and one of their greatest live-action movies.

Based on the 1812 novel Swiss Family, the plot follows the Robinson family after they get shipwrecked on a remote island. The family thrives in the simple way of life, building an impressive treehouse and going on many adventures as they discover the island paradise they now call home. 

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23. Free Willy (1993)

In the summer of 1993, Free Willy hit theatres to rave reviews from critics and audiences. The uplifting and inspiring family movie will pull on the heartstrings of families around the globe. The plot follows an orphaned kid, Jesse, who becomes friends with an orca, Willy, at an amusement park.

The iconic scene of the giant whale sailing over Jesse became one of the most memorable scenes in movie history. It’s easily one of the best family dramas available for all movie nights. 

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24. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

During the Christmas season, families gather to celebrate the holidays, trade gifts, eat a lot of food, and watch classic Christmas movies. Miracle on 34th Street is a must for every Christmas movie marathon.

Set between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a department store Santa Kris Kringle creates controversy after claiming to be the real Santa Clause. Despite being a Christmas movie, it hit theatres in the spring of 1947. It became an instant hit and found a place among the classic holiday movies. 

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25. Hook (1991)

Based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter & Wendy, Hook tells the story of an adult Peter Pan who grew up and forgot about his past. He lives a boring life as a lawyer until his bitter enemy Captain Hook returns and kidnaps his kids. With the help of Tinker Bell, Peter returns to Neverland, regaining his memories.

The movie hit theatres in 1991 to mixed reviews. However, the stellar cast, fun storyline, and heartwarming moments turned Hook into a cult classic family movie. In addition, families will also enjoy the 1953 Disney animated film, Peter Pan.

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26. Anne of Green Gables (1985)

The Canadian-made-for-TV movie Anne of Green Gables became an international hit. Families all around the globe gathered to follow the story of Anne Shirley when first released in 1985.

The young orphan finds herself moving into a new family in Green Gables. Airing as a mini-series in Canada, it gained some of the highest ratings in CBC history. The first movie’s success led to three sequels and a spin-off, Road to Avonlea. 

Watch on Anne of Green Gables

27. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Family movie night requires one musical a month. They’re a staple of movie nights around the globe. That’s why the musical comedy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the ideal family movie.

Starring Dick Van Dyke, the plot follows the adventures of an eccentric grandfather, his grandsons, and a magical car. It was the surprise hit of 1968 and stood out among the gritty films of the year. Time will fly by as families sit back and enjoy the touching adventure with catchy tunes. 

Watch on HBOMax