20 throwback movies that are perfect for family movie night

Kids are getting a lot more screen time these days—heck, parents are getting a lot more screen time these days. Freshen up your movie queue with some of our favorite throwback movies from the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s. Settle back to a simpler time when cell phones didn’t exists, pandemics were reserved for sci-fi, and the family TV was our babysitter and best friend. Make some popcorn, cozy up on the couch, and introduce your family to the movies you loved as a kid.

Disclaimer: While our age recommendations may not always correspond with that of Common Sense Media, every movie on this list was test-watched by families of children with kids as young as 5 years old. Selecting a movie for your family should be up to your personal discretion. Also, some film descriptions may contain spoilers, so proceed with caution.

Credit: IMDB E.T. is sci-fi for the younger set.Rated PGBest for: Ages 7 to adult
One of the best sci-fi movies of all time, “E.T.” is told through the point of view of a child and the space alien with whom he forms a close and unbreakable friendship. We love that this movie was largely filmed from an adult-waist-height perspective, prioritizing the perspective of children. This movie pulls at the heartstrings of kids and parents alike, so be ready for a few tears when you watch. There are definitely scenes where kids will be scared, including when the scientists kidnap E.T.—and what happens to him while he’s being held by them—so use your discretion with kids under age 6 or 7.

Rent “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” on Amazon for $3.99

2. “The Princess Bride” (1987)

Credit: IMDB Your kids will love saying classic lines from this cinematic adventure.Rated PGBest for: Ages 5 to adult
A thrilling tale of romance and adventure, this movie has it all: action, adventure, betrayal, an evil prince, a swashbuckling pirate, a mad genius, a gentle giant, a hot-headed Spanish swordsman and—of course—true love. We love that this story is told under the narration of a grandfather reading the story to a little boy who thinks he’s too old for fairy tale-type love stories, but falls under the spell of the humor, wit, and timeless storytelling—letting kids know that you’re allowed to love fantastical adventures no matter how old you are.

Watch “The Princes Bride” on Disney+

3. “The NeverEnding Story” (1984)

Credit: IMDB An engaging story about the power of imagination.Rated PGBest for: Ages 5 to adult
In this sweeping and fantastical story about the power of the imagination and how there is always hope, a book-lover and a weaponless warrior are the heroes of this story. There are some scary parts: a faceless “Nothing,” a terrifying wolf-like foe with glowing eyes, and a beloved horse sucked into a swamp but, overall, kids will hone in more on the message: Just because someone is small doesn’t mean they are incapable of amazing things.

Watch “The NeverEnding Story” on Amazon

4. “The Goonies” (1985)

Credit: IMDB You can’t go wrong with this adventurous search for buried treasure.Rated PGBest for: Ages 6 to adult
Any kid who likes pirates—which is almost all of them—will love this one. A group of motley outcasts fight to save their town from being demolished and turned into a golf course by hunting down the legendary treasure of a famed pirate who was rumored to have moored on their shores. The ultimate story of the ability of children to band together to save the day, this movie does have a lot of swearing and there are some gunshots fired, but no one is seriously hurt in the movie, and good triumphs over bad.

Rent “The Goonies” on Amazon for $3.99

5. “The Muppet Movie” (1979)

Credit: IMDB The Muppets at the
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