25 Awesome Kids’ Movies on HBO to Stream on Family Night

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)
·11 mins read

Your kid might be perfectly happy to watch Frozen 2 for the thousandth time, but are you? If your movie night routine has grown a bit stale, mix it up a bit with something from this list of kids’ movies on HBO for quality content that your whole family doesn’t already know by heart.

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1. ‘Anastasia’ (1997)

This visually beautiful fairytale about the Russian duchess who famously went missing is thrilling to watch, but best for bigger kids. There are perils aplenty—Anastasia is essentially running from the imminent threat of murder throughout the film—and the portrayal of the villain Rasputin is particularly creepy and likely too scary for the young and sensitive.

Best for ages 9+

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2. ‘Babe’ (1995)

An irresistibly charming film about a spirited pig who discovers his natural talent and, in doing so, spares himself the fate of becoming bacon. The looming threat that Babe might be eaten is a bit dark, but subtle enough that it’s likely to go over little kids’ heads entirely—and the story on the whole, which plays out between real animal characters, is triumphant and full of positive messages about sticking up for oneself and others.

Best for ages 6+

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3. ‘Happy Feet Two’ (2011)

Light-hearted, humorous and full of catchy tunes, this sequel to the award-winning film Happy Feet is family-friendly and fun to watch. There are a few scenes with threatening predators that very young kids might find a bit intense, but on the whole, the scare factor is low and the story is full of lessons—both environmental and social-emotional—that are valuable for kids of all ages.

Best for ages 5+

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4. ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ (2007)

Based on Katherine Paterson’s beloved children’s book by the same name, this poignant movie is full of drama and magic. The storyline revolves around the friendship formed between two tweens from opposite sides of the track and the imaginary fantasy world they create together as a place to play, bond and transcend their differences. The narrative is replete with touching messages about friendship, love and loss. However, the slightly mature (though wholesome) content combined with the sudden death of a main character makes for a tearjerker that’s best-suited to tween and teen viewers.

Best for ages 10+

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5. ‘Flipper’ (1996)

This modern remake of a 1960s TV series tells the story of the bond between a gifted wild dolphin and a boy who ultimately helps his sea friend escape capture and swim free. ‘Flipper’ is a touching, feel-good film that tween audiences will enjoy—just avoid this one for younger kids because one of the main characters (the boy’s uncle) is a fisherman who's fond of beer, smokes and mild swearing.

Best for ages 10+

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6. ‘Home Alone’ (1990)

Laughs are guaranteed when watching this early 90s classic starring Joe Pesci, Macaulay Culkin and Daniel Stern about a precocious young boy who is accidentally left behind when his large, chaotic family of eight depart for a Christmas vacation. The humor is wildly entertaining, but because the laughs rely on constant slapstick violence and the dialogue includes some objectionable insults and mild cursing, this movie is probably best watched with a slightly older kid.

Best for ages 9+

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7. ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ (1992)

Just like the original, this Home Alone sequel is full of slapstick comedy and action. The storyline, too, is remarkably similar: A clever kid gets separated from his family and ends up on the wrong flight, finding himself alone in New York where he encounters the same two incompetent criminals he fought off in the first movie. Goofy (not gory) violence and mild profanity make this one ideal for a tween audience. That said, it’s just as much, if not more fun to watch as its predecessor.

Best for ages 9+

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8. ‘Ponyo’ (2009)

This visually stunning animated film from Hayao Miyazaki is definitely child-friendly, but parents will also enjoy the sweet and simple story about the relationship between 5-year-old Sosuke and a magical goldfish named Ponyo. With strong characters and positive messages about friendship and devotion, this imaginative movie is a great pick for movie night. While there is a slightly intense storm scene that might disturb sensitive viewers, it’s largely drama-free and easy viewing.

Best for ages 5+

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9. ‘Jetsons the Movie’ (1990)

This one is based on the popular 1960s TV show so it should come as no surprise that it presents a rather dated portrayal of the nuclear family unit. Aside from that there is nothing objectionable in the storyline, which does offer some valuable lessons on the importance of teamwork and tolerance. Plus, the striking animation is sure to engage young viewers, so all in all, it’s a movie night win.

Best for ages 4+

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10. ‘The Last Unicorn’ (1982)

This cult classic from the early 80s boasts an all-star cast of voice actors (Mia Farrow, Robert Klein, Christopher Lee, Angela Lansbury) and a storyline that’s full of mythical magic. This movie is a treat to watch too: Beautiful animation, memorable music and a dramatic narrative about a unicorn who sets out to discover if she’s the last of her kind. However, parents should know that there are menacing characters and intense moments, so this one is likely too scary for little kids.

Best for ages 9+

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11. ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993)

A hilarious and heartfelt movie about divorce that will entertain tweens and adults alike. Robin Williams plays a dad who dresses in drag and pretends to be a maid in order to see more of his kids and delivers a performance that’s equal parts uproarious and touching. Watch this one with an older kid, though, because the comedy is on the racier side (and there’s a curse word or two).

Best for ages 11+

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12. ‘Madagascar’ (2005)

The plot: A quirky cast of zoo animals make a break for it and, after a series of bizarre events, end up on the shore of Madagascar. This one is fun to watch, but there’s a lot of iffy content—including sexual innuendo, crude humor, and odd scenes that were clearly written with an adult audience in mind. Fortunately, most of the questionable parts of the film will most certainly pass undetected by younger viewers, but we still suggest you proceed with caution.

Best for ages 6+

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13. ‘Goodnight Moon’ (1999)

This short (roughly 30-minute film) is an excellent movie night watch for little kids that don’t need any extra stimulation before bed. The viewing experience includes simple images from the classic bedtime book Goodnight Moon alongside Susan Sarandon’s soothing narration of the story. The special also includes other, equally calming, bedtime stories as well as entertaining interviews from clever and charming kids. Bottom line: This is toddler-friendly screen time that won’t derail the rest of your evening.

Best for ages 2+

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14. ‘Mr. Popper’s Penguins’ (2011)

While this dramedy was inspired by the Newbery award-winning read by the same name, parents and kids who are familiar with the book should know that the movie version is not a faithful retelling. Still, Jim Carey’s signature slapstick routine goes down easily. That said, divorced parents should be careful with this one, as the happy ending might inspire false hopes of reconciliation in young children.

Best for ages 6+

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15. ‘Rise of the Guardians’ (2012)

This family-friendly superhero flick features a cast of familiar little kid heroes—including Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Sandman—who come together to fight a villain who intends to extinguish the joyful spirit of childhood. Chock full of action and adventure, this film is exciting to watch—just be aware that the bad guy is quite sinister and some of the scenes might prove too intense for the very youngest kids.

Best for ages 7+

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16. ‘Air Buddies’ (2006)

Talking dogs will charm and amuse younger viewers in this film from the Air Bud franchise about a squad of sibling pups who save their parents from a bad guy. This movie won’t do much for adults or older kids—but the scares are minimal and the messages about teamwork and familial love are helpful for preschool kids, especially those with siblings.

Best for ages 4+

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17. ‘Uncle Buck’ (1989)

John Candy brings quality comedy to the screen in this 80s film about a weird uncle who is charged with the job of ‘babysitting’ a couple rebellious teens. There are positive messages throughout the movie about responsibility and growth, but mostly it’s just a bunch of laughs. This one is definitely intended for an older audience though, as there are allusions to teen sex and a decent amount of profanity, too.

Best for ages 13+

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18. ‘Storks’ (2016)

A cute and clever family comedy with very little inappropriate content. This one can be watched by kids of all ages, though older kids will appreciate the humor more—and some of the perilous, action-packed scenes might be too stimulating and potentially scary for the preschool crowd.

Best for ages 6+

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19. ‘When You Wish Upon a Pickle: A Sesame Street Special’ (2018)

Every bit as wholesome as you’d expect from a Sesame Street special: When You Wish Upon a Pickle is just the right length (50 minutes) for toddler viewing and packed with positive messages that will benefit the slightly older preschool crowd, too. The always-charming puppets and diverse cast of actors in this Sesame Street special do a fine job of imparting some important lessons: Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to try something new—because that’s what learning is all about.

Best for ages 2+

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20. ‘Little Manhattan’ (2005)

This touching, kid-friendly film about tween romance will tug on viewers’ heartstrings and capture the interest of the tween and teen crowd for whom it was intended. The portrayal of young love is on point—so parents should be prepared for moments of disobedience and rule-breaking as well as some innocent, age-appropriate PDA between kids.

Best for ages 10+

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21. ‘Tarzan’ (2014)

The animation is the real draw in this Tarzan remake and the visual appeal is considerable. Still, this take on the classic tale is full of peril and violence—there are guns and many life-threatening encounters. Overall, it’s an entertaining story with a good versus evil plot that’s easy to digest but because of its intensity, this film is best for big kids.

Best for ages 7+

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22. ‘Alpha and Omega : The Great Wolf Games’ (2015)

This Alpha and Omega sequel isn’t exactly big on substance, but it is harmless and surprisingly fun to watch nevertheless. The content is all kid-friendly even for young viewers and the sports-themed plot takes a stab at addressing gender stereotypes, and has plenty of positive messages about good sportsmanship and fairness as well

Best for ages 5+

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23. ‘Everyone’s Hero’ (2006)

Familiar themes of friendship and perseverance populate this somewhat unoriginal, but entertaining film. The storyline, which takes viewers back in time to when Babe Ruth was in his heyday, revolves around Yankee, a young baseball enthusiast and his efforts to return Babe’s stolen bat. The pace of the movie is refreshingly mellow and, aside from some (tame) depictions of bullying, the content is squeaky clean. Bottom line: You might not write home about this one, but you can’t really go wrong with it either.

Best for ages 4+

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24. ‘The Great Gilly Hopkins’ (2016)

Thoughtful and well-done, this faithful adaptation of Katherine Paterson’s coming-of-age book focuses on the emotional journey of a preteen foster child. Gilly Hopkins starts off with a troubled and truculent temperament, but grows with the guidance and nurturing from her new foster parent. The takeaway? A heartfelt story with mature themes that drives home an important message: Love is a force that can change anyone for the better.

Best for ages 10+

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25. ‘Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase’ (2019)

The classic Nancy Drew book series, a tweenage rite of passage, gets a dazzling movie makeover. The thrilling action-adventure plot, compelling characters and courageous female role models make for a movie that’s well worth a watch. Just avoid viewing this one with little kids, as there are a few scary scenes that won’t go over so well with the sensitive, young ones.

Best for ages 10+

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