Skip to content

Give Movie Night Some Nostalgia With These Family Classics

Consider turning your movie night into a nostalgia trip for you and a lesson in cinema.

Sean Kelly

Whether you choose a movie with a message or you’re just wanting something fun to watch with the kids, movie nights can become a great tradition that you’ll want to continue for years to come.

As parents, there’s nothing like the feeling of introducing our kids to the things we loved when we were young. If you’re looking for a great way to do that, consider turning your movie night into a nostalgia trip for you and a lesson in cinema for the family. Here’s a list of classic family movies to get you started.

1. "Mary Poppins" (1964)

Walt Disney Productions

Walt Disney Productions

Arguably Walt Disney’s crowning achievement, the original “Mary Poppins” is highly regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. There’s a good reason for that, too — Julie Andrews cemented herself here as one of the greatest multi-talented performers to grace the big screen, and the soundtrack features songs that could easily be considered standards by now.

The story of a magic, and rather unorthodox, nanny who employs her unique techniques to turn around the lives of the dysfunctional Banks family (alongside her friend Bert; portrayed by the brilliant Dick Van Dyke), this is a must-see family movie that remains a stone cold classic of both cinema and musicals.

2. "The Goonies" (1985)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

“The Goonies” stars a who’s who of actors who are synonymous with the 1980s, and it has taken its rightful place as an essential part of cinema history. It tells the story of a group of boys who discover a treasure map while trying to save their homes from foreclosure. They go on an action-packed adventure to uncover the treasure of a 17th-century pirate, and they’re chased by the notorious Fratelli crime family in the process.

Your kids might recognize the movie’s stars, including Sean Astin and Josh Brolin, from more recent roles, but if they’ve never seen “The Goonies,” they’re in for an absolute treat.

3. "The Little Mermaid" (1989)

Walt Disney Animation

Walt Disney Animation

If “The Little Mermaid” isn’t a Disney classic, then we don’t know what is. It’s up there with the greatest animated movies of all time, and it features some instantly recognizable songs. “The Little Mermaid” is a heartwarming tale of a mermaid who desperately wants to be human and falls in love with one in the process. 

A bit of mayhem ensues, but it’s a really wonderful movie for the whole family with a message of love and acceptance. There’s no doubt your kids will have “Under The Sea” stuck in their heads for days after they see this one.

4. "Pinocchio" (1940)


Walt Disney Animation

The story of Pinocchio has been told for almost two centuries, but it didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1940 animated film from Walt Disney — which is also notably Disney’s second feature film ever. This is truly an important piece of animation history, plus it’s got some memorable standards as part of the soundtrack. Try having a sing-along to “When You Wish Upon A Star” as a family! You’ll probably recognize it as Disney’s signature tune.

5. "Toy Story" (1995)



No list of nostalgia movies would be complete without “Toy Story.” It is one of the most popular animated movie franchises in history, after all. If your kids haven’t seen the original, you should expect it to quickly become one of their favorite movies ever. There’s laughter and tears, joy and heartwarming friendship — everything you need in a meaningful family movie.

If you needed another reason to love “Toy Story” and its sequels, the Randy Newman-helmed soundtracks have cemented themselves as some of the most recognizable in Pixar’s history. What better way to introduce the kids to Randy Newman?

6. "To Kill A Mockingbird" (1962)

Pakula-Mulligan / Brentwood Productions

Pakula-Mulligan / Brentwood Productions

If you’re looking for something to watch with older kids that can shed some light on serious issues in an impactful and continuously relevant way, look no further than the beloved film adaptation of Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The movie is brilliantly done and perfectly portrays the ongoing issue of race in America, and it’s a great conversation starter if you’re looking for a way to talk to your kids about important things happening in the world around us.

7. "Matilda" (1996)


TriStar Pictures

Danny DeVito’s 1996 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel “Matilda” is as beloved as the book, and for good reason. Mara Wilson’s turn as the titular Matilda — who uses the power of telekinesis to fight against her evil school principal and mean parents (played to perfection by DeVito and his real-life wife Rhea Perlman) — is just one reason why this ’90s classic is a must-see. All in all, this is a beautifully made film that has certainly stood the test of time.

8. "The Wizard of Oz" (1939)



There’s no doubt that “The Wizard of Oz” belongs on anyone’s list of must-see family movies (and movies in general). Judy Garland instantly became an icon thanks to her turn in this groundbreaking color film that redefined movies forever and has brought immeasurable joy to families all over the world for over 80 years. Kids will love being transported to this world of wonder and learning about why there’s really no place like home.