Best Family Movies to Watch on Movies Anywhere

With a pandemic still raging and theaters not feeling like a viable option for many, movie nights at home are how many of us are getting our cinematic fix nowadays. But while the emergence of streaming services and digital releases have been a boon for freeing up shelf space, digital copies also make it tough to borrow or lend out movies to our friends and family. Especially for families with young children at home, parents may long for more movies that they can enjoy alongside their kids, without having to shell out piles of cash for a library of family-friendly films that the kids will eventually outgrow.

Enter Movies Anywhere’s new Screen Pass feature, which allows users to share their love of movies by sending a Screen Pass for an eligible title from their own libraries at no additional cost.You both need a free Movies Anywhere account*, and you’ll be able to send up to three Screen Passes a month from your Movies Anywhere library as long as you are qualified. Plus, as an added bonus, you can continue to access your entire digital library and watch any of your films at any time, even while a friend is using a Screen Pass.

While not all movies are eligible for users to send a Screen Pass, there are thousands that are, including a number of family films that are equally entertaining for adults. Here are just a few of our favorite Screen Pass-eligible family movies that you can watch together.

An American Tail

 

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Image via Universal Pictures

Arguably the best of director Don Bluth’s animated films, An American Tail follows a young mouse named Feivel who accidentally gets separated from his family while emigrating from Russia to the United States. Upon finding himself alone in New York City, Feivel struggles to survive on his own while never giving up hope of finding his family.

Although An American Tail was released in 1986, it touches on a number of surprisingly timely themes, including discrimination, immigration, child labor, and political activism. But while parents will find a lot to discuss with their children after watching, the film is far more than just a thinly disguised social studies lesson. Filled with endearing characters, beautiful animation, memorable music (including the Oscar-nominated “Somewhere Out There”), and an emotional story, An American Tale remains an enduring classic that will delight viewers of all ages.

Anastasia

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Another Don Bluth animated film that puts Russia front and center, Anastasia is the imagined story of the real-life Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, who disappeared when her family was killed in the early 20th century. Although the real Anastasia likely died alongside her family, Anastasia speculates that she survived, but lost her memories of her life as a royal.

The film finds her several years after her narrow escape as a young woman named Anya, who joins up with a pair of conmen hoping to pass off a fake Anastasia as the real thing, so that they can collect the reward money offered by her grandmother. Backed by an Oscar-nominated score and filled with catchy songs, Anastasia offers an earnest spin on a typical princess story, delivering a moving and romantic tale about family and identity with enough heart and humor to enthrall both parents and kids.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

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Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Based loosely on the 1978 children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs takes the premise of a town where the sky rains food, and runs with it in kooky and hilarious directions. The story follows a young inventor who invents the FLDSMDFR (“Flint Lockwood Diatonic Super Mutating Dynamic Food Replicator”), a food-weather machine that can be programmed to cause any food one’s stomach desires to fall from the sky. But after initially delighting his neighbors with delicious food storms that revitalize their towns tourism industry, the machine goes haywire, and Flint is faced with having to destroy his creation in order to save the town.

While movies based on sparsely narrated picture books can be hit or miss, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a rare home run. The imaginative animation and cast of quirky characters (including a talking monkey named Steve) is sure to hold young viewers’ attention, while the smart, non-stop humor will have the whole family laughing to the point of tears.

Elf

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Image via New Line Cinema

If you’re in the mood for a Christmas movie, look no further than Elf, which stars Will Ferrell as a man named Buddy who was raised at the North Pole by the elves, but decides to head to New York City to find his father after learning that he’s really human. Buddy has a hard time integrating into normal human life, thanks to his constant, unbridled Christmas enthusiasm and his insatiable sweet tooth, but he doesn’t let any of the doldrums of regular human life dissuade him from his quest.

Along the way, Buddy can’t help but bring Christmas cheer to a number of people, whether they want it or not, including his father’s family and a jaded department store worker named Jovie (Zooey Deschanel). Likewise, parents and kids alike will find their spirits lifted by Buddy’s infectious optimism, making it the perfect family film to watch while wrapping presents and decking the halls.

Enchanted

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Image via Disney

Another princess film with a fish-out-of-water twist, Enchanted finds an animated princess named Giselle (Amy Adams) dropped into modern-day New York City, where she has to survive as a real-life human while being hunted by an evil witch (Susan Sarandon). As she ensconces herself into the life of a no-nonsense single dad (Patrick Dempsey), she’s also pursued by the animated prince (James Marsden) who is convinced she’s his one true love.

Similar to Elf, Enchanted revolves around a wide-eyed, relentlessly optimistic central character who refuses to be beaten down by the harshness of the real world, and winds up brightening the lives of everyone around her. Kids can sing along to the memorable songs while adults can’t help but be amused by the antics of a fairy tale princess in the Big Apple — such as when she calls out for woodland creatures to help her clean an apartment, and instead winds up summoning an army of cockroaches, pigeons, and rats.

Harry Potter (1-8)

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Image via Warner Bros.

With the first generation of kids who grew up reading the Harry Potter series now in their mid-30s, many of those readers now have young Harry Potter fans of their own, making the film adaptations a natural fit for family movie night. While the last few films in the franchise tend to skew a little older, making them a better fit for families with teens rather than tots, the first few — starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — are perfect for young viewers hungry for magic.

The films kick off on young Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) eleventh birthday, when he learns he is actually a wizard and is promptly whisked away to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The films each follow one year of Harry’s life (with the final two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, splitting the last year in half), chronicling his journey from preteen to young adult, and the trials he faces both as a student and as the target of the most powerful Dark Wizard to have ever lived. All eight films are Screen Pass eligible, making the Harry Potter movies the perfect choice for families wishing to immerse themselves in a world full of magic.

Holes

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Image via Walt Disney Studios

Based on the 1998 novel of the same name by Louis Sachar, Holes tells the tale of a teen named Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf) who is sent to a juvenile detention facility in the desert where the warden has all of her charges constantly digging holes, searching for buried treasure. The narrative crosses back and forth between the present-day struggles of the palindromically named Stanley and the surprisingly poignant and unjust circumstances that led to the treasure being buried there in the first place.

Young viewers will love Holes’ depictions of youthful friendship and rebellious kids fighting back against bullying adults, while their parents will appreciate the film’s thoughtful exploration of different types of injustice. But you don’t have to be a kid or a grown-up to have a lot of fun watching Holes, with its perfect balance of humor, heart, and unexpected adventure.

How to Train Your Dragon (1&2)

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Image via DreamWorks Animation

Loosely adapted from the book by Cressida Cowell, the beautifully animated How to Train Your Dragon films imagine a Viking society where credibility is built by slaying dragons. The story focuses on a young, timid Viking named Hiccup, whose fears he will never live up to the legacy of his father, the intimidating village leader. Hiccup hates the idea of killing dragons, but sets out to take on the task anyway — and winds up befriending a dragon instead.

Not only is the animation and music of the How to Train Your Dragon films absolutely gorgeous, but both children and adults won’t be able to help falling in love with Hiccup and his dragon BFF, Toothless. The story is filled with important themes for kids, such as loyalty, bravery, and compassion, while also being packed full of sharp humor and thrilling moments. The first two How to Train Your Dragon films are Screen Pass-eligible, and both will provide a thoroughly entertaining experience for the whole family.

The Iron Giant

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Image via Warner Bros.

Set during the Cold War in 1957, The Iron Giant follows a nine-year-old boy named Hogarth who crosses paths with a massive, alien robot who has crashed to Earth. The damaged robot has no idea who he is or where he comes from, but quickly befriends Hogarth, who treats him more like a 50-foot-tall pet than an extraterrestrial weapon of mass destruction. However, the arrival of the Giant quickly draws the attention of the U.S. military, who worries that the Giant may be a threat to the people of Earth, and will stop at nothing to bring him under their control.

Based on a 1968 novel by Tim Hughes, The Iron Giant is an engaging and sensitive exploration of violence and paranoia, while also delivering a moving tale of kindness, friendship, and self-sacrifice. The lovable Giant (voiced by Vin Diesel) will immediately endear himself to viewers of all ages, and will give parents and kids a lot to talk about after watching how Hogarth’s love gives the Giant the strength to make some hard choices.

Kung Fu Panda (1-3)

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Image via DreamWorks Animation

Voiced by Jack Black, Po, the titular panda at the center of the Kung Fu Panda films, begins the franchise as the lazy son of a noodle merchant and a devoted fanboy of all things kung fu. Po dreams of being a legendary kung fu fighter, but never imagines that those dreams might become a reality until one day, much to his — and everyone else’s — surprise, he’s chosen as the Dragon Warrior, an elite kung fu master who is said to be the only one worthy of receiving the Dragon Scroll, which contains the technique that will allow him to defeat the evil villain Tai Lung.

Obviously, Po doesn’t seem cut out at all to become the Dragon Warrior, but he still gives it his all, trying his best as he trains alongside the greatest kung fu fighters alive. Both kids and parents will love watching Po’s entertaining attempts (and failures) to learn kung fu, and will admire his tenacity and determination as he continues working toward his unlikely goals. Parents may also appreciate the inherent message of body positivity in Po’s journey, since he’s able to train, improve, and even excel, all without ever having to transform the way he looks or how he’s shaped.

The LEGO Movie

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Image via Warner Bros.

For generations, LEGOs have brought parents and kids together to play (and, sometimes, to hop around in pain after stepping on a piece while barefoot), so it’s only natural that the film based on that favorite pastime should also bring families together around their television screens. The LEGO Movie is every kid’s ultimate LEGO fantasy come to life, taking place in a world built entirely out of plastic bricks, and revolving around a group of Master Builders (read: characters who build out of their imaginations, without following the instructions) working to defy the dastardly Lord Business, who seeks to permanently glue the LEGO land they inhabit together, putting an end to creation and creativity forever.

Anyone who has ever played with LEGOs, regardless of age, will get a kick out of The LEGO Movie’s ability to turn the universal experience of playing with LEGOs into a compelling and witty narrative. And if you love The LEGO Movie and are hungry for more LEGO-centric adventures, you’re in luck. The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part are all also available for users to send a Screen Pass.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

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Image via Warner Bros.

While Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy may be too intense for some younger viewers, older kids and their parents will adore getting swept away to Middle Earth in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The epic fantasy saga follows a gentle-hearted hobbit named Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) who finds himself tasked with destroying the all-powerful One Ring before the evil wizard Sauron can use it to plunge the world into darkness. He is aided in his quest by a fellowship of eight other companions, including three hobbits, a wizard, a dwarf, an elf, and two men.

Adapted from the beloved books by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is probably one of the best book-to-screen adaptations there is, filled with thrilling battles, breathtaking visuals, and a stunning score by composer Howard Shore. Viewers of all ages will fall in love with Frodo and the other members of the Fellowship, along with the expansive cast of rich supporting characters. And if the three movies of the Lord of the Rings trilogy aren’t enough for you, Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, which chronicles the adventures of Frodo’s uncle, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) when he first acquired the One Ring, are also all Screen Pass eligible.

The Muppets (and Other Muppet Movies)

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Image via Walt Disney Studios

Since the 1950s, Muppets have been a staple of childhood for generations of fans, so it’s only right that there are a host of Muppet movies that are eligible for users to send a Screen Pass to share their love of these movies with family and friends. 2011’s The Muppets, starring Jason Segel and Amy Adams, brought Muppets back to theaters for the first time in over a decade, following a Muppets superfan named Walter (who is, himself, a Muppet) work alongside his human brother (Segel) and his girlfriend (Adams) to reunite the disbanded Muppets and save the Muppet Theater from a businessman who intends to destroy it.

The meta plot of The Muppets not only reinvigorated the Muppets on screen, but the real-world Muppets franchise as well, which has always offered up a perfect balance of kid-friendly cuteness and adult-oriented, family-appropriate humor. The film got a sequel in 2014 with Muppets Most Wanted, starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burell, and Tina Fey, which finds the Muppets swept up in an international crime caper. Both films are Screen Pass eligible, along with earlier films The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, and Muppets from Space. Also Screen Pass-eligible are the made-for-television films It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, along with the TV special A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, ensuring that families can keep scratching that Muppet itch to their heart’s content.

The NeverEnding Story

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Image via Warner Bros.

Many parents probably recall the 1984 film The Neverending Story from their own childhoods: the story of a young boy who discovers a secret, special book about a fantastical world named Fantasia which is being consumed by a malevolent force called The Nothing. True to its title, The Neverending Story still largely holds up,and its message about the importance of imagination and bravery still has relevance for kids watching today.

With practical special effects that are largely reliant on Jim Henson-esque puppetry, The Neverending Story manages to not show its age nearly as much as other effects-heavy films of the ‘80s. While the puppets don’t look realistic by any stretch, they were never supposed to, and wind up contributing to the otherworldly atmosphere of Fantasia. Parents can enjoy introducing their kids to Rockbiters and racing snails by accepting a Screen Pass, and if they’re still hungry for more once the movie ends, The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter is also Screen Pass-eligible.

Sky High

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Image via Buena Vista Pictures

For families who love superheroes but have already burned through the entire MCU multiple times and are desperate for something different, check out 2005’s family friendly Sky High, about a high school for teenagers with superpowers. The main character is Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of famous superheroes The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who attends his first day at Sky High ashamed of the fact that he hasn’t yet developed any superpowers of his own. Much to his father’s chagrin, the powerless Will is relegated to the Hero Support (read: sidekick) track, which introduces him to a group of his peers with abilities ranging from shapeshifting into a guinea pig, to melting into a puddle.

But when a scheming supervillain manages to sideline the first-string supers, it’s up to Hero Support to save the school. Sky High offers up a fun, uplifting superhero story that’s kid-appropriate and highly entertaining. The film works in plenty of riffs on common superhero tropes, making it rewarding for superfans hunting for Easter eggs, but also stands on its own apart from the wider world of superfilms, making it a great pick for a family in search of a standalone superhero flick to watch together.

The Three Musketeers

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Image via Buena Vista Pictures

Although there are several cinematic adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel The Three Musketeers that are Screen Pass-eligible, it’s the 1993 Disney version that is most likely to be enjoyed by the whole family. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt, and Charlie Sheen as the titular Musketeers, alongside Chris O’Donnell as d’Artagnan, a young Musketeer wannabe, and Tim Curry as the sinister Cardinal Richelieu, The Three Musketeers simplifies and streamlines Dumas’ original story, but doesn’t skimp on swashbuckling action or quippy humor.

While Disney’s The Three Musketeers isn’t the most faithful literary adaptation, it’s still an entertaining and energetic introduction to a piece of classic literature that will keep children engaged and parents amused. And if children wind up falling in love with the adventures of Porthos, Athos, and Aramis, there are several other kid-friendly Musketeers films that are also eligible for users to send a Screen Pass, including Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, and Barbie and the Three Musketeers, which once again features Tim Curry as its villain.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

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Image via Buena Vista Pictures

More than three decades after the half-live-action, half-animated film first hit theaters, Hollywood still hasn’t managed to replicate the precise alchemy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The stunningly innovative cartoon-noir takes place in a world where familiar toons live and work alongside humans in 1947 Los Angeles, commuting from the brightly colored and often musical Toon Town located just outside the city’s border. The story follows a private detective named Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), who reluctantly takes up the case of the animated Roger Rabbit, who has been framed for murder.

Despite the many technological advancements of the past 30-plus years, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is still just as wondrous and captivating today as it was when it was released, thanks to the film’s meticulous approach to seamlessly integrate its animated characters into its real-world settings. And beyond just the gimmick of seeing animated characters acting alongside jaded humans, Who Framed Roger Rabbit also boasts a bitingly clever script and instantly memorable characters of both the animated and live-action variety, making it the ideal film for parents to watch alongside their kids.

*Registration with Movies Anywhere required. Open to U.S. residents 13+.

This article is presented by Movies Anywhere. Screen Pass-eligible movies are subject to change without notice. Movies Anywhere and Screen Pass are trademarks of Movies Anywhere, LLC. © 2020 Movies Anywhere.

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