A Trip Down Memory Lane: The Best Family Movies of the 90s

best family movies

Movies are so much more than a form of entertainment and distraction. A good movie can transport you to a different time and place, inspiring hope and happiness while providing a few laughs along the way.

If you’re looking to share your love of cinema with your kids, showing off some favorites from your childhood is a great place to start.

So grab the popcorn, hit the lights, and get cozy as we share some of the best family movies from the 90s for your next movie night.

1. “Air Bud”

Right off the bat, we should start with a bit of a disclaimer. Though “Air Bud” is surprisingly powerful for a film about a basketball-playing dog, it starts off on a somber note.

The film opens with the titular pup abused and abandoned by his owner, a rude, alcoholic clown. Even years later, the opening feels needlessly dark, so skip the first 10 minutes or so.

With that said, the rest of the film is as fun and light-hearted as you’d expect, centering on a 12-year-old struggling after the death of his father. Together, Josh and Buddy become the stars of the local basketball team, learning about friendship and teamwork along the way.

The film went on to spawn a number of sequels, so if your kids enjoy “Air Bud,” they’re sure to like the other funny family movies in the franchise.

2. “Space Jam”

Michael Jordan. Pulp Fiction references. An R&B-heavy soundtrack. It doesn’t get much more 90s than Space Jam.

Even more than 20 years later, “Space Jam” is a blast to watch.

When aliens plot to kidnap the NBA’s best talent, it’s up to Michael Jordan, The Looney Tunes, and Bill Murray to stop them through a basketball showdown.

Rumor has it there’s a sequel on the way starring LeBron James, so now’s a great time to catch up.

3. “Heavyweights”

Before he became a household name with R-rated favorites like “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” Judd Apatow directed a family-friendly film about self-acceptance, bullying, and the value of kindness.

“Heavyweights” takes place at a weight loss camp for children. Most of the kids start out meek, embarrassed, and ashamed. Things get worse when Tony Perkis (played by a wonderfully smug Ben Stiller) takes over, implementing an outlandish exercise regimen and eliminating most flavorful foods.

If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you’re sure to find the film relatable. What’s more, the film’s message that bullying never pays off is something everyone can get behind.

“Heavyweights” has a ton of star power, too. Aside from Stiller and Apatow at the helm, the film features appearances from Jeffrey Tambor, a young Keenan Thompson, and even Stiller’s own father, Jerry Stiller.

4. “The Little Rascals”

It’s hard to believe that The Little Rascals gang technically got their start nearly a century ago. And though there’s plenty of fun to be had by watching the original “Our Gang” shorts or the 1955 classics (if you’re curious to see what became of the gang, check it out), there’s no beating the 1994 update.

All of your favorites return for a brand new adventure. Although the plot centers on an upcoming derby race, the real heart of the film is the relationship between Alfalfa and his love, Darla.

You’d be hard pressed to find a 90s kid who can’t recite the infamous love letter to Darla by heart, and now, you can pass the fun on to a new generation.

5. “A Goofy Movie”

While Mickey may still be the prominent mascot of the house of mouse, the 90s were all about Goofy! Starting with the animated sitcom “Goof Troop,” Goofy’s moment in the spotlight extended thanks to his first full-fledged film, “A Goofy Movie.”

Part road movie, part musical, “A Goofy Movie” is all heart, exploring the relationship between Goofy and his son Max. Seriously, try not to tear up during the “hi dad” soup scene.

It’s far from the first film to explore themes of a child’s need for independence clashing with a parent’s need to protect, but “A Goofy Movie” handles the conflict in a way that everyone in the family can relate to.

Also, Powerline. Does it get much cooler than that?

6. “Hocus Pocus”

Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy as three spell-casting sisters, “Hocus Pocus” and its focus on witchcraft may not be the best choice for younger kids.

But if your kids can handle a little spookiness, “Hocus Pocus” is one of the all-time best 90s movies and will soon become a tradition in your household.

Don’t let the horror wrappings fool you, “Hocus Pocus” really is a family film at its core. True love, bravery, and standing up for what you believe in are all central themes of the film.

7. “The Iron Giant”

The 90s were filled with sentimental, slightly sad animated films. Yet no film quite stands up to “The Iron Giant,” directed by Brad Bird, who would later go on to create “The Incredibles.”

Adapted from a Cold War fable, “The Iron Giant” is about a young boy who stumbles upon a mechanical being in the woods. The two become fast friends, showing that appearances can be deceiving.

We won’t say anymore but keep the tissues nearby when watching. We still haven’t recovered from the ending.

8. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

In 1990, the Heroes in a Half-Shell got their first live-action debut with this film. Though the CG doesn’t hold up, and the costumes look silly, it’s still a fun way to look back through early 90s culture, and your kids are sure to love the turtles.

If nothing else, it’s worth watching for the terrible Vanilla Ice song alone.

9. “The Sandlot”

You’re killin’ me, Smalls!

Every film on this list may be good, but few have the staying power of “The Sandlot.” This wonderful coming of age tale has something for every member of the family.

The kids are sure to love the humor, while the grown-ups will enjoy the sentimentality and heartfelt message.

10. “Jingle All The Way”

If you’ve ever trudged through the aisles of a crowded toy store to find your child that special gift, you can undoubtedly relate to “Jingle All The Way.”

About a decade after action classic, “The Terminator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in this family Christmas classic about a dad who will do anything to get his son the perfect Christmas gift.

Schwarzenegger and the film’s co-star, Sinbad, have some great chemistry. And between the laughs, there are some genuinely nice moments to be found.

The Dream of the 90s: The Best Family Movies of the 90s

Though the decade may be long over, your love of the best family movies from the 90s doesn’t have to change. So check out these 10 films and get ready to introduce your kids to a piece of your childhood.

For more great choices, check out our list of seven uplifting movies that’ll make you smile.