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Home for the holidays? Living with your parents again? Welcome to the club... and not the fun kind of club that couldn't even handle you right now, once upon a time.
As the prophet Joni Mitchell once said, "you don't know what you got til it's gone." What a real one. Let's address your current sitch. You and your roommates (aka mom and dad, maybe grandma and grandpa too) are looking for a quality movie to watch together that won't be filled with awkward scenes or jokes that only you laugh at while the dog side-eyes you from the carpet. It really puts a damper on your weekly Netflix scroll if you aren't careful. You want something adult, but not that kind of adult. Puh-lease!
There's always a risk that FMN (Family Movie Night) implodes and ends with someone storming out of the room, just like your nights-out of yore had the potential to be absolute flops. Committing to the wrong movie is like opting to wear that cute pair of heels that always make your feet hurt even before you've left the Uber―painful and totally avoidable.
From action to comedy to classic, these movies will make your next family movie night more entertaining, less stressful, and an all-around good time. Just because a movie is the dreaded "family-friendly" doesn't mean it has to be boring. Swap your stilettos for your slippers, snuggle up on the couch, and start streaming.
1. Ford v. Ferrari
You don't need to be a race-car fan (or know much about it in general) to enjoy this 2019 Best Picture nomination. An exhilarating film from both a storyline and videography standpoint, it stars your faves Christian Bale and Matt Damon. Lots of fast cars, personal demons, and some bromance.
2. Meet the Parents
This classic movie never gets old because it's about the oh-so-relatable and much-dreaded moment of meeting your significant other's family—and everything actually does go horribly wrong, just as your nightmares predicted. You'll be laugh-crying the entire time. Also, I'll be honest, there's just something nice and bonding about watching someone else's dysfunctional family...no?
Don't listen to your brother: you're never, I mean never, too old for an animated Disney movie. Moana is something special; a delightful story about embracing your identity and realizing your potential. Highly amusing with a killer soundtrack and lovely depictions of the beaches of Hawaii, Moana is perfect for the whole family―including your younger siblings.
4. Meet the Fockers
When a sequel not only lives up to, but also―dare I say―surpasses the first film, it's noteworthy. Meet the Fockers is one of the greatest sequels of all time. I mean, the cast alone is reason enough to hit play: Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, *and* Blythe Danner?!
5. Ocean's Eleven
Sure, you watched Ocean's Eleven back when it first came out in 2001, but when's the last time you re-watched it? The legendary film about a casino heist is quick, witty, and action-packed. If the glossy crimes don't give you a rush of exhilaration and thrill, then Brad Pitt and George Clooney's dreamy faces sure will.
6. Crazy Stupid Love
There's a lot to love about this movie and Ryan Gosling's abs are just
six one of 'em. It's one of those films with multiple story lines but instead of being over-the-top cheesy, it delivers a poignant reminder that love is nutty and delightful and surprising. A quick warning, though, if you'd rather avoid a-l-l sex scenes when watching with your parentos, there are a few moments of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling smooching in bed.
7. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Next time you're stuck in Indecision Land, propose a fam trip to Hogwarts. Relatives of all ages will get lost in the magical world of wands, ghosts, spells, and Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Even better, suggest a Harry Potter marathon―possibly the greatest movie series of all time AND your watch-list will be set for the next eight days.
8. The Family Stone
The Family Stone often gets overlooked but it's a very touching story about acceptance and love. Especially good to watch around the holidays, it'll remind your blood relatives that every family has their own chaotic energy, not just yours.
Some days just call for a stress-free, aesthetically-pleasing, feel-good movie. Even better if it's about―you guessed it―food. Jon Favreau whips up a delicious film about the restaurant industry and family, but do not put this on the TV on an empty stomach. Actually, it'd be a fun one to make into a TV dinner situation.
You say "I want a heart-racing, invigorating movie." I say "Miracle." To be honest, I don't have the slightest connection to hockey, but this movie gets me going. It's about the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic hockey team and how they became a microcosm for American patriotism during the Cold War. It's also responsible for the greatest pump-up speech in cinematic history. Sometimes I listen to it when I'm feeling down and it makes me feel alive. Don't @ me, just watch.
Suspenseful, captivating, thrilling, and a true story? Argo tells the tale of one of the CIA's greatest top-secret missions that took place during the 1972 Iran Hostage Crisis. Ben Affleck stars in and directed this conversation starter of a film, which was nominated for *seven* Academy Awards and won three—including Best Picture.
12. The Birdcage
An oldie but a goodie with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Hilarious at every moment. Once you meet Agador Spartacus, you will never be the same. I laugh just thinking about it. Stream it
This will go down in history as one of my favorite movies. The first time I saw it, there were multiple scenes that made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. Is Albert Brennaman one of the greatest characters of all time? Probably not but his dance moves will go down in history. IYKYK, and if you don't, watch it.
14. My Cousin Vinny
When you've just about had it with your extended fam (even if only over Zoom), turn on this movie and you'll be grateful Vinny isn't a relative. But then again, Vinny kinda f*cking rocks...
15. You've Got Mail
If there's one thing guaranteed to please a crowd, it's a Tom-Hanks-and-Meg-Ryan romance. The classic tale of mistaken identity (and, oddly enough, the ins and outs of corporate book-selling) is charming enough that its take on the internet—chat rooms, lol—doesn't even seem annoyingly outdated, it just seems adorable. Set during the holiday season, it earns bonus points for cheer.
16. Good Will Hunting
It's probably been way too long since anyone in your family sat down to watch the feature that put Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the map, so why not rectify that together? Good Will Hunting even includes one of dearly departed Robin Williams's finest performances, in addition to wit and heart in equal measure.
17. Cutie and the Boxer
The Oscar-nominated documentary might sound too cerebral for holiday consumption—it's about the tumultuous relationship between an artist and his wife—but the final product is touching, funny, and relatable.
18. The Hunger Games
Another excellent movie series that the whole fam will get into. I mean, you can't go too long without re-watching the legend that is Katniss Everdeen.
19. The Queen of Versailles
This award-winning Sundance documentary will effectively cure any desire for your family to overspend on gifts this holiday (it's about one of America's richest families and their major money troubles), while also providing a screamingly funny inside look at a wacky, decadent lifestyle typically seen only on reality television.
20. Silver Linings Playbook
Everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence. And Bradley Cooper. And Robert De Niro. And dancing. And sports. And an exciting competition.
James Bond is always a crowd-pleaser, and Daniel Craig's third entry into the ever-expanding 007 canon offers up both action and drama to spare.
22. 20 Feet from Stardom
This 2012 Oscar winner for Best Documentary is a full cinematic experience, and one that just so happens to sound damn good as it goes down. The feature chronicles some of music's most under-appreciated talents (back-up singers), and weaves in inspiring stories with some incredible music. Your entire family will be dancing in no time.
23. In a World…
The amazingly talented Lake Bell wrote, directed, and starred in this hilarious 2013 comedy about the weird world of movie voiceover artists. Despite its highly specific subject matter, the film still works as an uproarious story about a gal just trying to make it. Even better? Her dad just happens to be the world's best voiceover guy, so it's got extra family resonance.
24. Frances Ha
Do your parents not quite understand your current lifestyle choices? Introduce them to the incredibly charming (and slightly dunderheaded) Frances Ha. Odds are, they'll feel much better about your direction in life, even as they fall totally in love with the perfect creature that is Greta Gerwig.
25. Sleepless in Seattle
There's no better way to follow up You've Got Mail than with yet another Hanks/Ryan pairing. Get out the hankies.
26. The Parent Trap
Sure, the Hayley Mills original is a classic, but this modern take on the old "separated at birth" story is funnier and flashier. It also features Lindsay Lohan in her most adorable role ever, which may make for some awkward conversation when your grandmother inevitably asks you, "What's that cute girl up to these days?"
27. Cool Runnings
It's an inspirational sports tale that feels appropriate for the season without actually compelling anyone to take up a new sport during this winter.
If you haven't seen the re-make Annie movie, now is the perfect time to catch up on hard-knock lives, fluffy puppies, and enough good cheer to make the entire family stand up and sing.
29. Roman Holiday
Use this (somewhat strange) time together to catch up on classic features that might have otherwise eluded you, including the kind of stuff that will send your grandparents swooning into their own memories of Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, and the Italy of yesteryear.
30. Swiss Family Robinson
It's probably been a minute since you saw the ultimate family bonding feature, and, yes, it's as good as you remember.
31. Saving Mr. Banks
This fictionalized making-of-Mary Poppins movie is charming, heartbreaking, and will fill you and your parents' hearts with nostalgia while also teaching you something new about the woman who invented the practically perfect nanny.
32. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Speaking of getting nostalgia shot straight to the heart, Marielle Heller's film about Fred Rogers and a cynical reporter who profiled him is kind of a masterpiece. It also chips away at toxic masculinity, if you want to come to movie night with a low-key feminist agenda. Stream it
33. Little Women (2019)
Greta Gerwig's adaptation highlights two of literature's best parents — insert Bob Odenkirk's "my little women" gif here — and revitalizes the classic in a way that will make it fresh for you and your parents.
34. The Martian
Nothing says "dad movie" more than watching someone who's good at their job solve a problem. Ridley Scott's The Martian is two hours and twenty-four minutes of just that. Need I say more?
If you want to share a little history lesson with your folks, why not this one? Pride is the story of a group of gay rights activists in London who go to a mining community to support a worker's strike in the 80s because they have a common enemy in the cops that target them for harassment. The happy ending has "feel-good" written all over it.
36. Come From Away
Sick of your parents talking about Hamilton to the point where you're pretty sure they don't get it? Why not steer them towards another musical that was filmed for a streaming network? Just make sure to have plenty of tissues on hand. You'll need it.
37. Short Term 12
This is a nice and tremendously well-acted indie movie about the employees at a group home and the kids they look after. It also has a cast stacked with some of today's biggest stars. So if you actually like being IMDb for your parents and answering "where do I know them from?" every five minutes to show off your Hollywood trivia skills, this is the perfect movie for your fam.
38. The Big Chill
Alternatively, take a peek into what your parents were like at your age and watch this Boomer classic. Indulge them. It does have a great soundtrack.
39. Galaxy Quest
It's science fiction, but also a comedy, and accessible for the whole family.
40. Hell or High Water
Dads love westerns, and this is a neo-western. There is "brief" "sexuality" in Hell or High Water, so fair warning there... but I think you and your folks can handle it.
This coming-of-age comedy is about a girl who loves Dolly Parton and enters a local beauty pageant in order to get closer to her mother. It's super cute and will get your toe tapping to boot!
If you must watch a war movie with your parents, you might as well make it a war movie full of cameos from all your crushes to hold your attention. Andrew Scott! Richard Madden! Colin Firth! (It's also a very good movie with engaging action and an emotional plot.)
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