10 Non-Animated Family Movies for Your Next Movie Night

Two little kids laying on their bellies watching a movie while digging into an overspilling bowl of popcorn.

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Settling down to watch a movie as a family can be the highlight of a weekend. Not only is it a great way to enjoy time together, but it can also be an opportunity to learn about other cultures and problem solving. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to treat yourselves to popcorn and snacks!

For some parents, however, the number of animated movies a family watches can become monotonous. If you’re looking to switch it up for your family’s next movie night, try these non-animated, family-friendly movies.

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Jack Whitehall, Darby Camp, John Cleese, and Kenan Thompson. 
  • Released in 2021, rated PG
  • Running time is 97 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

The animated series and book “Clifford the Big Red Dog” gets a live-action update in the 2021 release of this movie. It centers around Emily Elizabeth, a middle schooler living in New York City with her mother. While her uncle looks after her one day, she meets Clifford, a red puppy whose size increases depending on how much love he receives. 

Clifford becomes massive and too big to fit into her uncle’s apartment, and on their way to the vet, Clifford escapes. Craziness ensues. The central themes include standing up for yourself and loving others despite differences. The movie is an adventure that will keep the whole family engaged and entertained. 

Where to Stream It

Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, Paramount Plus, and Google Play

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made 

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Winslow Fegley, Ophelia Lovibond, and Wallace Shawn.
  • Released in 2020, rated PG
  • Running time is 99 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

Based on a book series of the same name, the movie "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made" revolves around Timmy Failure, an 11-year-old misfit boy who thinks he runs a detective agency with his best friend, a polar bear named Total. They solve cases in Portland, Ore., where there is plenty of antics and humor thanks to a cast of neighborhood characters, including many who find Timmy to be a nuisance. 

Timmy’s incredible imagination takes front and center in this adventure movie, and many children can relate to his neurodiversity. Timmy’s ingenuity in sticky situations always has him coming out on top, which can help build self-confidence in young viewers. 

Where to Stream It

Disney Plus

Harriet the Spy

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Michelle Trachtenberg and Rosie O’Donnell. 
  • Released in 1996, Rated PG
  • Running time is 102 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

Millennial parents will love the nostalgia of seeing life in 1996 again in the movie adaptation of "Harriet the Spy." Based on a 1964 book of the same name, Harriet is a sixth-grader who dreams of being a writer and a spy. She writes every thought down. A series of events have Harriet’s deepest thoughts uncovered by a nemesis, creating chaos for everyone.

The themes center around forgiveness, apologizing, and telling the truth. In the end, Harriet does right by her friends and classmates and ends up being forgiven through her words of apology. 

Where to Stream It

Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Apple TV

The Greatest Showman

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Zac Efron, and Keala Settle. 
  • Released in 2017, Rated PG
  • Running time is 105 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

"The Greatest Showman" follows the story of P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey circus fame. After losing his job and having his modest lifestyle put into jeopardy, P.T. Barnum begins a circus of off-beat and outcast performers, such as bearded ladies and acrobats. 

The themes of the movie deal with being true to yourself, being unique, and how individuality is important. There are killer blockbuster music and dance numbers that will have the entire family singing along. 

Where to Stream It

Disney Plus, Sling TV, YouTube, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu  

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas. 
  • Released in 2017, Rated PG-13
  • Running time is 119 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

This 2017 sequel to the 1995 movie "Jumanji" (itself an adaptation of a 1981 book) centers around four kids who stumble across a video game. They are transported into the game and have to find their way out, as well as help someone who has been stuck in the game since 1996.

The movie is fast-paced, funny, and has a serious sense of adventure. It centers around themes of working together, accepting yourself and others as they are, and prioritizing family. 

Where to Stream It

Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Google Play, and Apple TV

Stuart Little

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, and Jonathan Lipnicki. 
  • Released in 1999. Rated PG. 
  • Running time is 83 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

Stuart Little is a mouse living in New York City and he comes to life in this live-action adaptation of the classic children’s book by E.B. White. The Little family goes to adopt a new family member and becomes enamored with a mouse named Stuart. They bring him home, and some family members, namely the cat Snowbell, are not as enthused. 

Themes like helping others, friendship, having compassion and empathy, and being loyal to your family are all explored in the movie. Fun facts: M. Night Shyamalan was one of the writers of the movie, and the voice of Stuart Little is provided by Michael J. Fox. Nathan Lane provides the voice for Snowbell.

Where to Stream It

Tubi, Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Apple TV

Charlotte's Web

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Buscemi, Robert Redford, and Rebe McEntire. 
  • Released in 2006, Rated G
  • Running time is 97 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

An adaptation of E.B. White’s classic children’s book of the same name, "Charlotte's Web" is a look into farm life. Wilbur, a pig, strikes up an unlikely friendship with Charlotte, a barn spider. When Wilbur is in danger, Charlotte helps him out by spinning webs in his honor around the farm. 

The movie deals with themes of perseverance, friendship, communication, and the passage of time. Children of all ages will love seeing the animals come to life. 

Where to Stream It

Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Apple TV

We Bought a Zoo

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Matt Damon, Elle Fanning, and Scarlett Johansson. 
  • Released in 2011, Rated PG
  • Running time is 123 minutes.

Why It's a Winning Pick

After his wife suddenly passes away, journalist Benjamin quits his job and moves his children to a new home that happens to have a wildlife preserve on the property. The family, with no previous animal experience, has to learn how to care for the animals in hopes of reopening the zoo. 

Based on a true story, the film’s themes include courage, adventure, overcoming adversity, and processing grief. 

Where to Stream It

Disney Plus, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime, and Tubi

Cheaper by the Dozen

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, and Piper Perabo. 
  • Released in 2003, Rated PG
  • Running time is 98 minutes. 

Why It’s a Winning Pick

"Cheaper by the Dozen," a remake of a 1950s film of the same title, is about a family with a whopping 12 kids. Naturally, this means lots of chaos, especially when the dad, Tom, gets a job as a football coach in a new town. The children do not handle a new life and house well, and things get out of control. 

Themes around family, sticking together, respecting each other, making decisions as a family, and progress over perfection help make this movie a winner. A remake was released in 2022. 

Where to Stream It

Disney Plus, YouTube, Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime

The Parent Trap

Movie Stats

  • The movie stars Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson.
  • Released in 1998, Rated PG
  • Running time is 128 minutes.

Why It’s a Winning Pick

Hallie and Annie are twins who were separated by their parents after divorce, with one going to live in London and the other in Napa Valley, Calif. They serendipitously meet at a summer camp and decide to switch places to experience each other’s lives while trying to get their parents back together. 

Whether you grew up with the 1961 Haley Mills version or this 1998 version, the story is a heartwarming tale about the strong bonds siblings have, despite having different personalities. 

Where to Stream It

Disney Plus, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime

A Word From Verywell

Family time is together time, and if that includes screen time, so be it. You can engage your family by asking questions and being interactive with the movie. While it may seem hard, putting your phone away and setting a good example for your kids to engage with each other and the content is a wonderful gift you can give your family. 

Don’t stress if the movie gets interrupted by life, such as tantrums, repeated snack asks, and bathroom breaks—it happens! (And being able to take care of these things while pausing is one of the best things about watching a movie at home.) What matters most is that you are relaxing and enjoying yourselves while spending time with each other. 

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