It has been raining for weeks here in Florida! WEEKS! We miss the sun. So I thought this was the perfect time to write about movies since I’m spending a bunch of time indoors with my kiddos.
I sat down with my son and daughter (ages 9 and 10) to compile this list. These are movies that parents won’t mind watching either. There are fun classics (I love my 80s!) mixed with some contemporary favs.
The one rule I had: No Animated Movies. Happy Watching!
1. School of Rock (2003, PG-13)
My favorite Jack Black movie of all time! It totally ROCKS! Jack’s character mistakenly becomes an elementary school teacher and starts a band with the kids in his class. There are a few bad words here and there, but overall it’s a lot of fun with some seriously catchy music. (Not sure why there’s the PG-13 rating.) This movie also has important lessons for tweens like opening yourself up to trying new things and accepting others for who they are.
2. E.T. : The Extra Terrestrial (1982, PG)
I could not wait to show my kids this one. This Steven Spielberg classic truly stands the test of time. It has humor, mystery, and suspense. It also has messages about loyalty and trust: Between Elliott and E.T. as well as the three siblings. Drew Barrymore, who plays baby sis Gertie, is the cutest thing ever. Even though E.T. lacks today’s advanced special effects, my tweens were still mesmerized by it all.
3. The Karate Kid (1984, PG)
This classic taught my kids the very important lesson of standing up for yourself. It’s also about creating a goal and then working hard (I mean, REALLY hard) so you can achieve it. You remember the “wax on, wax off and painting the fence” scenes, right? The innocent love story between Daniel and Ali is adorable. There are a few bloody noses and bruised eyes, but it’s all worth it to witness the central relationship between Daniel and Mr Miyagi. “You’re my best friend” makes me choke up every time.
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001, PG)
My son has read the first five Harry Potter books so we started watching the movies after he finished each one. You should start with this first, but we also highly recommend continuing on with the rest. The entire series is great and the movies make the books come to life. The movies do change into PG-13 ratings, but your tweens will be able to handle all those scarier moments if they are big fans of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
5. Back to the Future (1985, PG)
I adore Michael J. Fox and this movie is a great way to introduce your tweens to one of the coolest actors of the 80s. It’s about time travel and family relationships. My kids loved Doc and all the weird science. There are some awkward moments with the mom liking her son from the future and some bully violence, but the rest is classic 80s fun. Side note: Unlike Harry Potter, all the other Back to the Future movies are terrible. Check out old episodes of Family Ties instead.
6. Holes (2003, PG)
This movie grew on me. My kids loved it from start to finish, but be warned: it’s a little…strange. Holes is about a bunch of teen boys who are sent to dig holes at a detention camp. It’s based on the book of the same name. The visuals are pretty amazing. The young actors (including Shia LaBeouf before he hated acting) are the center of the story and they are all terrific. There are also some great lessons about racial tolerance, determination, and the power of friendship.
7. Freaky Friday (2003, PG)
I love this 2003 remake of the 1976 classic. It stars Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis as mom and daughter who switch identities after a crazy spell is placed upon them. They are both so entertaining and charming. You can tell they are having fun. This movie also sheds a nice light on the complexity of parent and tween relationships. You will also understand how we all fell in love with Lindsay Lohan. She’s so great in this.
8. Night at the Museum (2006, PG)
I love any movie that mixes a history lesson with lots of laughs. Ben Stiller stars in this high adventure flick. He’s the night watchman at New York’s American Museum of Natural History and magically interacts with all the exhibits when the museum is closed at night. This movie is great for your tween’s imagination and I bet they will beg you to take them to a museum this summer. Not a bad thing at all.
9. Rudy (1993, PG)
There is some salty language in this one, but the bigger message made it worth watching with my kids. It’s about Rudy, a young college student who’s one goal in life is to play football for Notre Dame. He is the underdog who never gives up on his dream. Rudy will remind you and your tweens that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Love!
10. Little Manhattan (2005, PG)
I had to add this sweet little gem that I’m sure many of you have never heard of. My daughter loved it more than my son because it does deal with a “whole lot of feelings.” (My son’s words.) It’s the story of two school friends living in Near York City and what happens when the boy develops a big crush on the girl. It’s a bit like When Harry met Sally for tweens. It’s full of heart and a great way to open up the conversation about love and those “feelings.” (But I could do without the opening vomiting number – you’ve been warned.)
Are there other movies for tweens that you recommend? Comment below!