With the cold January weather, nothing is better than staying in and watching a movie with the family. So, what are some of the most underrated family-friendly movies that you can enjoy together?
Most of the movies below are rated G meaning it is safe for all audiences to watch.
Some of them are PG, meaning while there won’t be drugs or sex depicted on screen, parents need to decide for themselves since there might be certain topics that they are sensitive to.
More information on movie ratings here.
Let’s take a look at those 10 family-friendly movies:
Lenght: 120 min
Director: Joe Dante (directed by)
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Boam (screenplay by) | Chip Proser (screenplay by) (story by)
Cast: Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Short
Logline: A test pilot is miniaturized in a secret experiment, and accidentally injected into a hapless store clerk.
2. Cats & Dogs
Lenght: 87 min
Director: Lawrence Guterman
Screenwriters: John Requa | Glenn Ficarra
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Elizabeth Perkins
Logline: A look at the top-secret, high-tech espionage war going on between cats and dogs, of which their human owners are blissfully unaware.
3. Chicken Run
Lenght: 84 min
Directors: Peter Lord | Nick Park
Screenwriters: Peter Lord (original story) | Nick Park (original story) | Karey Kirkpatrick (screenplay) | Mark Burton (additional dialogue) | John O’Farrell (additional dialogue)
Cast: Mel Gibson (voice), Phil Daniels (voice), Lynn Ferguson (voice)
Logline: When a cockerel apparently flies into a chicken farm, the chickens see him as an opportunity to escape their evil owners.
4. The Parent Trap
Lenght: 128 min
Director: Nancy Meyers
Screenwriters: Erich Kästner (book “Das Doppelte Lottchen”) | David Swift (screenplay) | Nancy Meyers (screenplay) | Charles Shyer (screenplay)
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Elaine Hendrix
Logline: Identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.
5. The Emperor’s New Groove
Lenght: 78 min
Director: Mark Dindal
Screenwriters: Chris Williams (story by) | Mark Dindal (story by) | David Reynolds (screenplay by) | Stephen J. Anderson (additional story material by) (as Stephen Anderson), Don Hall (additional story material by), John Norton (additional story material by), Roger Allers (based on an original story by), Matthew Jacobs (based on an original story by), Doug Frankel (additional story), Mark Kennedy (additional story) (as Mark D. Kennedy), Mark Walton (additional story)
Cast: David Spade (voice), John Goodman (voice), Eartha Kitt (voice)
Logline: Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama by his ex-administrator Yzma, and must now regain his throne with the help of Pacha, the gentle llama herder.
6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Lenght: 91 min
Directors: Gary Trousdale | Kirk Wise
Screenwriters: Tab Murphy (animation story by) (animation screenplay by) | Victor Hugo (from the novel “Notre Dame de Paris” by) | Irene Mecchi (animation screenplay by) | Bob Tzudiker (animation screenplay by), Noni White (animation screenplay by), Jonathan Roberts (animation screenplay by), Kevin Harkey (story), Gaëtan Brizzi (story), Paul Brizzi
(story), Ed Gombert (story) (as Edward Gombert), Brenda Chapman (story), Jeff Snow (story), Jim Capobianco (story), Denis Rich (story), Burny Mattinson (story), John Sanford (story), Kelly Wightman (story), James Fujii (story), Geefwee Boedoe (story) (as Gee Fwee Boedoe), Floyd Norman (story), Francis Glebas (story), Kirk Hanson (story), Christine Blum (story), Sue C. Nichols (story), Will Finn (additional screenplay material by)
Logline: A deformed bell-ringer must assert his independence from a vicious government minister in order to help his friend, a gypsy dancer.
7. Brother Bear
Lenght: 85 min
Directors: Aaron Blaise (directed by) (as Aarön Blaise) | Robert Walker (directed by) (as Röbert Walker)
Screenwriters: Tab Murphy (screenplay by) | Lorne Cameron (screenplay by) (as Lörne Camerön) | David Hoselton (screenplay by) (as David Höselton) | Steve Bencich (screenplay by), Ron J. Friedman (screenplay by) (as Rön J. Friedman), Stephen J. Anderson (story supervisor) (as Stephen Andersön), Stevie Wermers (story) (as Stevie Wermers-Skelton), Kevin Deters (story), Woody Woodman (story) (as Wöödy Wöödman), Thom Enriquez (story) (as Thöm Enriquez), Kevin Harkey (story), Broose Johnson (story) (as Brööse Jöhnsön), John Norton (story) (as Jöhn Nörtön), John Puglisi (story) (as Jöhn Puglisi), Tim Hodge (additional story) (as Tim Hödge), Tom LaBaff (additional story) (as Töm LaBaff), Ray Shenusay (additional story), Brian Pimental (additional story), Jim Story (additional story) (as Jim Störy), Don Dougherty (additional story) (as Dön Döugherty), Don Hall (additional story) (as Dön Hall), Samuel Levine (additional story), Aurian Redson (additional story) (as Aurian Redsön), Chris Williams (additional story), Jeff Hand (additional story material), Sam J. Levine (additional story material) (as Sam Levine), Roger Allers (story) (uncredited)
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix (voice), Jeremy Suarez (voice), Jason Raize (voice),
Logline: When a young Inuit hunter needlessly kills a bear, he is magically changed into a bear himself as punishment with a talkative cub being his only guide to changing back.
8. The Prince of Egypt
Lenght: 99 min
Directors: Brenda Chapman | Steve Hickner | Simon Wells
Screewriters: Philip LaZebnik | Nicholas Meyer (additional screenplay material)
Cast: Sandra Bullock (voice), Val Kilmer (voice), Michelle Pfeiffer (voice), Jeff Goldblum (voice), Helen Mirren (voice), Danny Glover (voice), Patrick Stewart (voice), Steve Martin (voice), Ralph Fiennes (voice)
Logline: Egyptian Prince Moses learns of his identity as a Hebrew and his destiny to become the chosen deliverer of his people.
9. The Pagemaster
Type: Live-Action and Animated
Lenght: 80 min
Directors: Pixote Hunt (as Maurice Hunt) | Joe Johnston (live action sequences)
Screenwriters: David Kirschner (story) (screenplay) | David Casci (story) (screenplay) | Ernie Contreras (screenplay)
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Stewart, Kanin Howell, Ed Begley Jr.,
Logline: A cowardly boy, who buries himself in accident statistics, enters a library to escape a storm, only to be transformed into an animated illustration by the Pagemaster. He has to work through obstacles from classic books to return to real-life.
10. Rookie of the Year
Lenght: 103 min
Director: Daniel Stern
Screenwriter: Sam Harper
Cast: Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Albert Hall, Amy Morton, Bruce Altman
Logline: When an accident miraculously gives a boy an incredibly powerful pitching arm, he becomes a major league pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.
How Do You Write A Successful Kids Movie?
You might be wondering how one writes a kids movie. Surprisingly, writing a movie for a kid or teen audience isn’t that different than writing a movie for an adult audience. But some differences such as theme, content and dialogue are crucial.
The three act structure is the same and you should also start with themes when thinking about your family friendly movie script.
When writing your family friendly movie, make sure that it is also appealing to an adult audience. After all, they’re the ones buying the tickets to the movie theater. The reason why many kids movies are appealing to adults is because of the relatable themes.
The movie “Toy Story” has for themes friendship and jealousy. “Inside Out” has for themes acceptance that every emotion has a role to play and feelings are normal. “Ratatouille”’s main themes are believing in yourself, being accepting of differences. “Brave” has for themes being yourself and that anyone can be anything and not to stereotype boys and girls.
Again, these themes are appealing to anyone and can lead to great conversations between parents and their children.
Intellectual Property (IP)
You know Hollywood is all about IP right now, and kids movies are no stranger to that trend.
Before thinking about your idea, look at your bookshelf. Are there kids books you love and believe would be great to adapt into movies? If so, contact the author and discuss the possibility of adapting their book into a screenplay.
Most of the time, authors are excited to have their books optioned and might let you do so for a small amount of money (or maybe even for free).
Take a look at this article to learn more about adaptations and the things to look out for when adapting an existing IP.
Examples of books that became successful kids movies:
- Pinocchio (1940) was based on The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (1883)
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) was based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
- The Harry Poter Saga was based on The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (from 1997)
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) was based on Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine (1987)
Watch Kids movies and Read Scripts
The best way to learn how to write a kids movie is to watch as many of them as possible and to read screenplays in that specific family friendly genre.
You can download scripts on:
or by typing “Name of Movie PDF script” on Google.
Be Mindful Of Your Language
When writing your kids movie, be mindful of your language.
Know that if there is brief nudity (depicted in a non sexual manner such as someone’s behind exposed for comedic reasons for example), the movie will get a PG-13 rating unless the nudity is sexually oriented, in what case the movie will get an R for Restricted.
You might be surprised to learn that some Disney movies are PG13 (meaning non-suitable for an audience under 13 years old). It is the case for Prince of Persia (2010) because of violence and intensity of scenes, Cruella (2021) because of violence and themes of abuse and Hamilton (2020) because of language and suggestive scenes.
You can learn more about movies ratings here and how every word (and every F-bomb) matters (one F-bomb is PG13, two becoms R-Rated… it’s no joke!) – so yes, be extra mindful with your words, scenes and themes when writing kids movies.
Now that you have a list of ten great kids movies to watch, heat up some cocoa, pop some popcorns, and enjoy the movie. And since you now know what makes them so special, why not write your own?