20 tween movies that are actually fun for all the family
I remember the late nights cuddled in a large duvet with one parent on each side and endless snacks on the bed. This was our monthly movie night.
And it was here, in the comfort of my parent’s bed, that my siblings and I sat and watched so many movies growing up.
Occasionally we spilled sodas (sorry, mum) and wiped our salty popcorn hands with dad’s t-shirts (sorry, but not sorry because those shirts were stained and faded) before being told off to use a wipe or be less lazy and make our way to the bathroom.
(Dad didn’t mind though- in fact, he winked at us and wiped his hands too when Mum wasn’t looking.)
I remember the snuggles and the cuddles, the silly jokes, and the arguments over the duvet and pillows. But what I remember the most are the lessons we learned from those family movies that we watched as not quite teens.
As we grew older, the tradition continued, and we loved it. And now that I have my own kids growing up, I understand why my parents didn’t mind the crumbs and soda stains.
And I also understand that the movies they picked weren’t just brainless television or a waste of time; they were movies with life lessons picked by my parents, who knew what we were going through.
Now that I think about it, it makes sense that we watched ‘Bend it like Beckham’ the week we had a new Indian girl at school and my brother called her ‘weird’ at the dinner table.
And why they insisted we watch ‘A Little Princess’ (my siblings and I were becoming a bit entitled.)
So now, as I let my own tweens squeeze into our king size bed with nachos and chocolate chip cookies, I pick movies that I know they should watch at least once. (They get to pick one every alternate week, and the next week is ours.)
And from the classics to one that’s motivating, here are some of the best picks we have for them:
Films for Tweens with Life Lessons
This 2007 American move is how we control our own fate and have the power to make decisions that can change our future. Hilary Swank plays a teacher, Erin, who starts to teach at-risk students in a public high school in LA. The movie focuses on racism and the Holocaust and teaches kids and adults alike to believe that education can help overcome social disadvantages and that they always have a choice.
Best Quote: “Don’t be afraid to be who you are, because all you can be is you.”
Chuck Noland, aka Tom Hanks, is a FedEx employee who ends up on an uninhabited island after a storm causes his plane to crash. He’s a workaholic, but he’s determined to make his way back home.
The man teaches us that even when things in life look bleak and survival looks difficult, don’t give up. Another lesson—and this one is for my workaholic husband and me—is to put work on hold and enjoy life.
Best Quote: “I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring.”
My kids laughed as I cried in the first ten minutes of this movie. It’s an animated one, but one your tweens need to watch to really zoom out and see how important it is to enjoy and appreciate life and the people you love.
It also has a great message that teaches both kids and adults to take that shot! This animated movie from Pixar tells you not to pack up your dreams and stamp “Someday” on the box. Instead, take the plunge and go for it. It was a perfect way to talk to the kids about their dreams and how they have to find their own adventures in life.
Best Quote: “That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”
Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story
If your kids need a little motivation, this is the movie they need to see. It’s based on the true story of a homeless girl who worked hard and was determined to not end up like her drug-dependent parents.
It’s based on the real-life of Liz Murray, who slept on subway trains and wrote an essay for a New York Times competition that led her to win a scholarship at Harvard University.
Liz’s words make you think about your life: “I knew at that moment I had to make a choice. I could submit to everything that was happening and live a life of excuses… or I could push myself. I could push myself and make my life good.”
Movies for Tweens That Teach Empathy
Now is the time to teach our kids empathy and instill appreciation and respect for kids from other cultures. These two movies tackle racism and will help your child learn how to see people for who they truly are on the inside.
Bend it like Beckham
If you are looking to help your tweens with culture, stereotypes, racism, and friendship, then ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ is a fun movie to watch. It’s also a good movie to encourage girls to pursue their dreams,
Jess, which is actually short for Jessminder, is a British-born Indian girl who is obsessed with football. Unfortunately, her parents aren’t too excited about professional football for their own reasons- racism being one of them.
But she and her friend Jules, face their challenges, navigate friendships, love, and, of course, football!
A little empathy goes a long way and Wonder is the story of a ten year old boy with facial differences who teaches important lessons about kindness and empathy. He starts a new school and is determined to make those around him realise that looks aren’t everything.
What films should my 12-year-old watch on Netflix?
If you’ve come to a bit of a dead end with your streaming picks and are looking for some fun recommendations on what to watch with your kids on Netflix, here are our favourites:
A heartwarming story of a young orphan boy named Peter on a quest to find his missing sister. After a fortune teller advises him to find a magician with an elephant, Peter must complete three difficult tasks – the hardest of which might just be keeping his faith.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your future self and childhood self met? The Adam Project explores this idea, but set against a backdrop of a dystopian future, a time travel mission gone wrong, evil powermongers and, of course, a good love story. Better yet, it stars Ryan Reynolds so you know you’re in for a good time.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Guillermo del Toro is a master of fantasy cinema, but keep in mind that his re-telling of this beloved children’s classic is darker than the original. This one is not recommended for viewers under the age of 12 and it’s also recommended that parents watch this one with their kids.
Hands up if you love Lin-Manuel Miranda! We’re going to assume everyone’s hands are up because, really, what is not to love about this musical genius! Vivo is the story of a music-loving kinkajou (voiced by Miranda who also wrote the film’s soundtrack) who embarks on the journey of a lifetime to fulfill his destiny and deliver a love song for an old friend.
This musical coming-of-age comedy-drama will have the whole family singing along. The story follows a 12-year-old boy named Evan who moves from New York City to Indianna with his mum to live with his grandma. Throughout it all, Evan has to figure out how to navigates his parents’ divorce, his impending bar mitzvah and his new school’s social circles.
What should I watch on Netflix with my tween who is under 13?
For a girls’ night in Little Women starring Emma Watson and Florence Pugh, is a great choice.
Another pick rated 7+ is Feel the Beat which makes it a nice watch if you plan to read your own book while the kids watch on their own.
If you and your tweens are looking for a whole bunch of laughs, you can select from one of these fun, family movies:
- Yes Day: A heads up, you might see a version of yourself in the parents in this movie and your kids might want to have some version of their own “yes day”
- Man vs Bee- You and your tween will be on the floor laughing as you watch this Rowan Atkinson, in a role quite similar to Mr. Bean, go to war with a …bee?
- The Lego Movie– There are so many great lessons in there about creativity, being yourown self and simply thinking outside the box.
- Minions -The Rise of Gru– It may look like it’s for kids, but your tweens will enjoy the jokes that just keep on coming.
- Clueless – we are sneaking one of the most iconic teen movies into the mix here because it is a classic and how fun it is it to share the films you loved as a kid with your kids? Parental guidance is recommended for this one as some of the themes are a little more mature.
And last, but not least, I would highly recommend The Little Prince and A Dogs Purpose, although I must warn you that these two tear jerkers will make make you cry so keep those tissues handy.
So what are you waiting for? Grab the popcorn and a blanket and get watching!
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