The 80s and 90s were a golden age for kids’ movies. Millennial moms and dads had amazing Disney classics, live-action, and animated gems. Here are a few movies that stand the test of time.
Lindsey Lohan’s film debut truly stands up as an entertaining tale of two sisters separated at birth who reunite by chance and are determined to get their parents reunited. My kids (ages 6 and 3) were both very entertained by this, and I think this will also speak to the tween audience. Viewing this again as a parent, it maintains entertainment value, but you have to ask a few questions looking back, like what judge signed off on this custody situation? And did those girls get therapy? Either way, it’s fun for the whole family and a great cast.
Rick Moranis stars as a struggling inventor whose big new invention shrinks his kids and his neighbor’s kids smaller than an ant. They have to work together to get from the backyard back into the house safely and hopefully zapped back to normal size. This 80s movie has it all: good old-fashioned nerd bashing, toxic masculinity, very little, if any, special effects, and a dance scene in the kitchen. This is perfect for school-aged and older children; even my little one enjoyed it. It teaches about teamwork and overcoming bias. It is a classic for a reason!
The only animated movie on this list but one of the best Disney movies of the 90s and beyond. This is an adapted Chinese folklore of a girl who impersonates her father, joins the army, and saves the empire. It’s an instant hit, with Eddie Murphy bringing the jokes and some of the best Disney songs ever. Your kids will love it for the music, action, and jokes. You’ll love it more this time around for the lessons about female empowerment and bravery. Also, for the moms, Captain Li Shang is still looking good after all these years.
It’s more of a niche find but a classic nonetheless. Flight of the Navigator follows a boy abducted by an alien ship and travels ten years in the future. Hijinks ensue. A government coverup and special appearance from a young Sarah Jessica Parker keep your attention while the low-tech effects, puppet aliens, and space action will keep your littles attention. This is more for the school-age and up crowd. Personally, this one wasn’t a favorite of mine growing up, but my husband (an elder millennial) would be completely offended if I didn’t add this to the list. He and my daughter have watched this many times together, and both find something new each watch.
This is one of those movie (like Die Hard) where it’s technically a Christmas movie and technically not a Christmas movie. Home Alone is a year-round watch. Kevin, played by a baby-faced Macauley Culkin, gets left alone by his parents when they rush out for a holiday trip to Paris. He has to navigate being alone while protecting the house from two robbers. My kids both think Joe Pesci getting beat up by various traps is the height of comedy. This movie holds up and is just good old family fun—a good watch around Christmas and beyond.
There are endless streaming options on endless platforms, but it’s nice to enjoy some classics with the kids. Millennial movie favorites don’t all age well (I’m looking at you, Blank Check with an adult FBI agent being the “love interest.” I’m also looking at you, Never Ending Story and the emotional damage you inflicted on a generation), but many will hold up for years to come.