One of the coolest things about being a parent is getting to introduce my son to all of the movies I loved when I was a kid. More often than not, he becomes just as obsessed with films I introduce him to, like
Jumanji, as I was when I was a kid, and it makes for a total bonding moment. He probably isn't ready for everything I watched back in the day until the VHS tape wore down, but if you think your big kid is ready for some of the movies you loved back then and even today, these are some of the most magical movies to watch with your big kid right now.
It all depends on whether or not you think your own kid is ready to watch fantasy movies that have more of a PG and PG-13 slant than a completely
family-friendly tone. Since all kids are different and develop differently, your 7-year-old might be just as ready as your 13-year-old is to dive into Star Wars. If that’s the case, then you are the coolest parent ever to have kids with such great taste in film.
Either way, there are some classics that kids basically *need* to be introduced to sooner rather than later. And the more contemporary fantasy movies are fun for parents to watch for the first time too. I love a good
fantasy movie to take me into another world for a little while, and kids tend to welcome that feeling too. These are easily some of the most magical movies you should watch with your big kids right now before they think they’re too cool to have a movie marathon with you. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
I will never forget how cool I felt when I saw the first
Harry Potter movie at age 13 in the theater with my best friend — without parental supervision for the very first time. It was the first installment in the franchise adapting the Harry Potter book series, and kids who aren't even obsessed with witches (like I was back in the day) can appreciate the wonder of hearing the tinkling of that familiar music that signals the opening scenes. Stream Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, rated PG, on Amazon Prime The Neverending Story
When Dustin and Suzie sang the song from
The Neverending Story in Stranger Things Season 3, it brought back a lot of memories of this magical movie, which blended fantasy and reality in the best way. One memory I wish I could take back, however, is the image of Falkor, because the dragon creature could definitely give younger kids nightmares. Stream The Neverending Story, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Jumanji Jumanji is a timeless treasure, and I will fight anyone who tries to tell me otherwise. The original version was made in 1995, but unlike some other ‘90s movies, it never feels dated or out of touch with today’s special effects. I’ll admit that when Robin Williams’ character is sucked into the game, it isn’t the most realistic looking thing — but you can't deny the wonder of watching the heroes come within inches of losing their lives in multiple stampedes. Stream Jumanji, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Zathura: A Space Adventure Zathura: A Space Adventure is the science fiction version of Jumanji. It’s a much lesser-known movie, but it also features kids playing a game that sucks them into another dimension. And I dare you not to cry when the warring brothers become besties by the end of the movie. Stream Zathura: A Space Adventure, rated PG, on Netflix Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
The title character finds out he is the son of Poseidon, and he must harness the god’s power to defeat an evil that threatens both gods and the people on Earth. It’s a lot for one teenager to have on his shoulders, so maybe by the end, your kid will thank you for just making them clean their room rather than save an entire universe.
Stream Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, rated PG, on Disney+ The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
I have a soft spot for the original ‘80s miniseries
The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, but the updated version is nothing to laugh at. The movie tells the story of the Pevensie children, who find themselves on the other side of a wardrobe in the magical land of Narnia during a life-changing game of hide-and-seek. Your kid will never look at their closet the same way. Stream The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, rated PG, on Disney+ Night At The Museum
The first time I watched
Night at the Museum, I was old enough to know that there’s no such thing as Egyptian artifacts that bring historical figures to life at night inside museums. That didn't stop me from wondering "what if," though, and kids of any age are bound to do the same. Don’t be surprised if they ask to visit a museum afterward. Stream Night at the Museum, rated PG, on Disney+ Bedtime Stories
50 First Dates and Just Go with It, Adam Sandler made the PG fantasy movie Bedtime Stories. I’m more of a ‘90s Sandler fan, but if I have to sit through a kids' movie about bedtime stories that come to life, I can think of no better narrator than the Waterboy himself. Stream Bedtime Stories, rated PG, on Disney+ The Maze Runner
Apparently the best movies come from young adult novels, because
The Maze Runner is another one based on a book series of the same name. The story follows a group of teenagers in a dystopian society who have to make it through a maze in order to survive.
Honestly, the best part for me was watching my nephew, who was six at the time the movie came out, try not to spoil the juiciest moments. Clearly, it’s a magical kids movie that has enough suspense to hold the attention of even younger kids (though it is rated PG-13 for foul language and violence, so keep that in mind when deciding whether your kids are ready for this one).
Stream The Maze Runner, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime Race To Witch Mountain
Magical aliens Sara and Seth have to get to Witch Mountain before a bounty hunter catches them or gets to their spaceship first. Luckily, they have the help of their taxi driver, played by Dwayne Johnson, to get them there in time. If your kid hasn’t seen “The Rock” on screen yet, consider this a great chance to introduce them.
Stream Race to Witch Mountain, rated PG, on Disney+ Labyrinth
As an adult, I can finally appreciate the fact that David Bowie played the bad guy in
Labyrinth. But as a kid, I was just grateful that I never had to rescue my own siblings at the end of a maze, so hopefully it can help quell some of the sibling rivalry in your home. Maybe. For like an hour. Stream Labyrinth, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Star Wars
Star Wars stories were released in movies that seem to be out of order, there is no better place to start your kid’s obsession than the beginning with Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV). You never really get over seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time. Stream Star Wars: A New Hope (Episode IV), rated PG, on Disney+ Goosebumps
Goosebumps TV show was my son’s first taste of the stories from the book series. Eventually, he welcomed the Jack Black Goosebumps movie, as well. As someone who read literally all the books as a kid (the outdoors were overrated anyway), I can appreciate all of the movie’s Easter eggs. Stream Goosebumps, rated PG, on Amazon Prime The House With A Clock In Its Walls
I will admit that I didn't think I would enjoy this semi-under-the-radar fantasy movie when I first sat down to watch it. Somehow, the magical undertones and mystery sucked me in, and I probably liked it more than my son did the first time around. This is perfect for any family who loves a little humor mixed into their magical films.
Stream The House With A Clock In Its Walls, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Your kid doesn't have to love the
Harry Potter series to appreciate Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but it helps. For kids who are already devoted Potterheads, this is an extension of that same beloved wizarding world. The movie serves as a prequel of sorts and takes place long before Harry Potter and his Scooby gang were even born. Stream Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime Maleficent
Before Disney was going wild with the live action remakes, there was
Maleficent. The sort of spooky movie tells the story of the eventually evil witch Maleficent, who goes on to curse Princess Aurora, otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. It really is a bum deal and shows another side to the once misunderstood magical being. Steam Maleficent, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
At Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Miss Peregrine isn't like a regular foster mom for magical children — she’s a cool foster mom for magical children. The movie follows 16-year-old Jake, who seeks out the home at the request of his dying grandfather.
When Jake finds the home, he discovers the magical children and a time portal that takes him back to the time when his grandfather was young and had come across the home himself. The movie requires a little more attention than some younger kids might be willing to give it, but older kids can appreciate the elements of magic and fantasy.
Stream Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, rated PG-13, on Disney+ Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
I enjoyed the first two
Pirates of the Caribbean movies a lot more than I thought I would. It definitely helps that two of the swashbuckling pirates are played by Johnny Depp and Zoe Saldana. Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow isn't the most likable pirate, but I somehow grew to love the bumbling drunk of a sea captain by the end of the movie. Stream Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, rated PG-13, on Disney+ Bridge To Terabithia Bridge to Terabithia will make you laugh, cry, and wish that you ever had a friend so devoted to you that they would make up an imaginary world with you, too. When you see tragedy strike these besties near the end of the movie, though, you can just blame your blubbering on the onions you had been cutting earlier. Chances are, your whole family will end up tearing up with you. Stream Bridge to Terabithia, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Nanny McPhee
Nanny McPhee’s magical powers that she uses to discipline and take care of seven rambunctious kids gives me serious parenting envy. Maybe if I had some of those abilities, I could make my son finish his vegetables without the promise of candy afterward. A parent can dream, right?
Stream Nanny McPhee, rated PG, on Amazon Prime Big Fish Big Fish tells the tall tales that protagonist Edward Bloom uses to recount his younger years and blurs the lines between reality and fantasy. By the end of the movie, it’s clear that Edward merely used these stories to make his real life adventures that much more fantastical for his son, and it’s another tear-jerker for all parents to sob over. For that, I am sorry. Stream Big Fish, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime National Treasure
This movie does double-duty as an adventure flick and an opportunity to teach your kid a thing or two about American history. A gang of rag-tag treasure hunters who try to steal the Declaration of Independence? It doesn’t get more fun than that.
Stream National Treasure, rated PG, on Disney+ Jurassic Park
Somehow, this one never gets old. It’s a little scary (not to mention graphic) for younger kids, but it’s a must-watch for any dinosaur loving teenager or pre-teen. Chances are, you’ll feel a wave of nostalgia queuing up this ‘90s classic, even if streaming it is a little different from the movie theater experience back in the day.
Stream Jurassic Park, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
If your kid isn’t quite ready for the hours-long movie marathon that is the
Lord of the Rings series, start them off with the first installment of The Hobbit. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins, a homebody who finds himself on the unexpected quest of a lifetime. Your kid might just become a bona fide LOTR fan after this. Stream The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime Hocus Pocus
During the fall months (or really any time of year), get the spooky vibes going in your household with this cult classic. It’s impossible not to love this 1993 Halloween movie featuring none other than Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as an iconic trio of resurrected witches. It’s more funny than scary, and it's a great watch ahead of the
set to come out in 2022. Hocus Pocus sequel Watch Hocus Pocus, rated PG, on Disney+
There are a lot of things you will share with your kids as they grow up and get older. But through movies, especially those with magical stories, you can get lost in a fantasy world for a little while together. I hate to say it, but kids grow up way too fast to not take every opportunity to bond with them. And I see these movies as the best way to see something magical through their eyes.
This article was originally published on
July 15, 2019