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Bowl of popcorn with tv remote inside of it Kids and Technology

7 Classic Movies for Kids That Should Be on Your Must-Watch List

Haley Zapal  |  March 26, 2020

Remote controller in a bag of popcorn

When it comes to watching movies at home, there are a lot of things Generation Z will never get the chance to experience. Friday night slumber party trips to Blockbuster, having to “Be Kind, Rewind” cassette tapes, or the sheer agony of a skipping DVD because your little brother accidentally scratched it.

Instead, right now at your house, your family probably has instant access to tens of thousands of movies, TV shows, cartoons, and documentaries thanks to streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon.

But if you need a little break from rewatching Pixar movies or binging the same Netflix series for the fourteenth time, we have some awesome suggestions for classic movies for kids. Share a little piece of your own childhood with these seven throwbacks that came out in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Just try not to groan if they call them “classic” or “old-timey.” We have compiled a list of the best old movies for kids that are an absolute must watch!

The Mighty Ducks

Originally released: 1992

Rating: PG

“Ducks fly together!” Even if your kid has never picked up a hockey stick before, The Mighty Ducks is a feel-good sports movie they’ll definitely love. A classic underdog team, the Ducks transform by training hard with a new coach and recruiting new players. Soon, they start seeing incredible things happen. A real highlight of the movie is the chemistry between all of the players — which features a diverse cast, including girls — showcasing their drive and sense of humor. Don’t be surprised if your kid asks for ice-skating lessons as soon as the credits roll.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Originally released: 1989

Rating: PG

You probably remember this movie for its groundbreaking special effects: ants as big as dinosaurs, blades of grass that tower over you, and cookie crumbs as big as boulders! But it’s also got heart in addition to its thrills and laughs. The characters work together as a team to overcome incredible obstacles to try and get back to their regular life — all while being microscopic! Your kids will definitely wish they could be shrunk down to a teeny size (at least for a little bit) after watching this classic comedy adventure.


Originally released: 1996

Rating: PG

When it comes to classic movies for kids, Matilda is definitely a must watch.
Based on a novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda is a heartwarming story about a super-smart little girl who uses magical powers to deal with her grumpy family and mean school principal, the ever-intimidating Ms. Trunchbull. Hilarious telekinetic hijinx ensue that are sure to bring laughs, especially the ones focused on her dad — none other than Danny Devito, an unlikely obsession for Generation Z! If your kid’s a bookworm, they’ll especially love Matilda’s fondness for reading and her sweet, supportive teacher Ms. Honey.

The Sandlot

Originally released: 1993

Rating: PG

There’s not much better of a coming-of-age baseball movie, and The Sandlot strikes the perfect sweet spot between heartwarming and hilarious. Set in the 1960s, the film follows the summertime adventures of a group of friends who play pickup baseball, battle rival neighborhood teams, and even confront a legendary gigantic dog that lives on the other side of the outfield wall, where all their home runs disappear — forever. Warning: there’s a non-zero chance your kid will quote endlessly from this movie, especially, “You’re killing me, Smalls!”

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Originally released: 1982

Rating: PG

Reese’s Pieces, red hoodies, and bicycle baskets — there are countless iconic images from this beloved science fiction movie. Inspired by Steven Spielberg’s own imaginary friend growing up, the film tells the story of a sweet, crash-landed alien (he’s called E.T., short for extraterrestrial) and Elliot, the young boy who befriends him and tries to get E.T. home. This movie was a big deal when it came out in 1982, immediately surpassing the record set by Star Wars and holding until another Spielberg movie, Jurassic Park, took over in 1994.

Free Willy

Originally released: 1993

Rating: PG

Free Willy had to make it on our list of best old movies for kids! If you happened to grow up in the ’90s, you’ll have to tell your kid that it was practically mandatory to see Free Willy — this movie was a huge blockbuster and spawned two sequels. It tells the story of a troubled kid and his unlikely bond with an orca named Willy that lives in an aquarium park. Defying all odds, the child makes a daring and ingenious plan to free the captive whale. The title’s a bit of a spoiler, but we bet your kid won’t care.

Cool Runnings

Originally released: 1993

Rating: PG

If your kid’s a fan of the Olympics, introduce them to this feel-good early 90s movie about a team of plucky underdogs. Cool Runnings tells the story of a group of Jamaican runners who decide to switch sports and try to qualify for their country’s very first bobsled team. Loosely based on real-life events and characters, the movie shows the value of teamwork and perseverance in the face of adversity. We also bet they’ll love the Jimmy Cliff's cover of "I Can See Clearly Now,” the theme song that’ll definitely get caught stuck in your kid’s head.

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