Birthday party, sleepover, or just because, movies are a great main event when your child is hosting a gathering of friends. But what’s the best feature to show at your kid’s movie party? That depends on the age of your audience as well as your family’s preferences. The parents of your child’s guests may have viewing rules for their kids, too.
Rest assured, there are loads of great flicks just right for every kid’s movie party, from classics to new releases, comedies, heart-warmers, scared-out-of-your-socks thrillers, fantasies and real-life drama kids can relate to.
Just remember that not all kids – even teens – are up for a big fright. And, sometimes, even characters or scenes in movies meant for little ones can frighten them. (How’d you like those sharks in Finding Nemo?)
That said, here are just 13 of the best movies for your kid’s movie party:
5 and older
- Finding Nemo – a young clown fish is caught and imprisoned in a fish tank, and the resulting search for Nemo is a sometimes-dangerous undersea adventure.
- My Neighbor Totoro – a wonderful Japanese animated story in which two little girls discover magical creatures in and around their new home, helping them cope with their mother’s illness.
- Toy Story – animated toys are looking for action, but will Buzz Lightyear overshadow the sheriff?
7 and older
- ET – sweet and satisfying for all ages, a lost extra-terrestrial finds his way home, making Earthling friends along the way.
- Babe – who knew a piglet could be so cute and talk, too?
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and sequels) – the stories may be a bit intense for some younger kids, but what kid doesn’t dream of becoming a wizard?
- Akeelah and the Bee – an 11-year-old girl living in one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods discovers a talent for spelling that helps her transcend her father’s shooting death and become “someone” at school.
- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – this classic enthralls with adventure, treasure, and drama.
- Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – a flick for tween chicks, this tells the story of four girls growing up and finding themselves.
- Lemonade Mouth – a Disney story that starts in detention and winds up onstage when the kids form a band (Lemonade Mouth), proving music is just as important as sports.
- Mean Girls – Only Tina Fey could put this twist on a girl’s efforts to deal with her high school’s “popular girls” clique she calls The Plastics.
- Poltergeist – scary, creepy, not for everyone but perfect for a sleepover. Who needs ghost stories?
- Paranormal Activity – a scary, creepy alternative.
Need more ideas? Check out this list of the “50 best kid’s movies of all time.”
Not Just for Kids
The thing about great movies made for young people is that they often appeal to adults, too. So while you’re planning your kid’s movie party, set aside time once the party’s over to hold your own family movie night, or how about a romantic adults-only date night.
A good story, great actors (or their voices), a darkened room, a cozy seat – all you need is the snacks. Ready? Roll film!