Have you ever gotten halfway through telling a college story to your parents before remembering that the ending you’re working toward is not as parent-safe as you were thinking? That feeling of self-imposed doom is magnified when it comes to movies. Next time your parents ask for a movie night recommendation, and you find yourself scrambling to remember if there was an awkward sex scene in that movie you watched in your dorm on day 10 of quarantine, don’t panic: this list has got you covered.
The Princess Bride
A timeless, chaotic classic, The Princess Bride is chock full of family-friendly humor, quotable lines, and quirky twists on fairy-tale tropes. If you convince someone in the family to get Disney+, you can watch this movie free now and mooch off their account for the rest of the year.
I Still Believe
Currently available to stream on Hulu, I Still Believe is based on the true story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his first wife, Melissa, who passed away from ovarian cancer at 21. Wholesome, heart-wrenching and 100% PG, it’s the perfect film to suggest when your mom hits you with, “Have you seen anything good recently?”
The Emperor’s New Groove
A throwback classic that’s safe for parents and siblings of any age, The Emperor’s New Groove is the perfect distraction from awkward silences or tense political discussion. Even families divided over when it’s acceptable to start playing Christmas music will come together to root for everyone’s favorite llama. It’s currently available on Disney+, so if you’re trying to keep your love of childrens’ movies on the downlow, you can watch it alone after the family finishes The Princess Bride.
It’s a Wonderful Life
Probably already one of your parents’ favorites, It’s a Wonderful Life has a well-deserved 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The fact that it came out before they were born will help your parents feel younger (unless you admit to thinking they also from 1946). If your VHS player is a few decades past its prime, It’s a Wonderful Life is currently available on Amazon Prime.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Currently streaming on Netflix, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fast-paced, family-friendly superhero story with incredible graphics and a soundtrack that will easily make your Spotify Wrapped list in 2021.
On the Basis of Sex
This one could be a little pricey to watch online ($14.99 on Amazon Prime, only available on Hulu with a Showtime add-on), but it’s well worth it. Based on the true story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s journey to arguing Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, facing gender discrimination both within the law and in daily life, On the Basis of Sex can be an empowering bonding time with sisters, moms and aunts, or a chance to start conversations with casually sexist relatives. Head’s up though: things briefly get a little steamy between RBG and her husband Martin.
Parents will love the themes of family, healing and hope that run through The Farewell. For us college kids, Awkwafina’s character Billi, who has just received a devastating rejection letter at the start of the film, is super relatable. It’s currently free on Amazon Prime and, if you saved your discussion guide from the SAO showing last year, you can easily convince your parents that you’ve become an astute cultural discerner at college. Or, if you’re babysitting and can’t get younger siblings to go to bed, the operatic score and languorous plot should knock them out in a couple of minutes.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The only film that can give you a quarter life crisis, replenish your supply of quirky taglines (“who gives a crap if they’re socialist?”) and make you ask “wait, is that the voice of Simba?” Although in the current context it seems odd at first that no one around Ferris quarantines while he’s playing sick, his hypochondriac best friend Cameron is all of us wondering if we have COVID every time we sneeze. Frequent profanity and mild sexual elements might make family movie night briefly uncomfortable, but the comedy is too good to let a few f-bombs get in the way.
Finally, if you and the fam are 13 days into a two-week quarantine and desperate to pass the time, binging all of the Harry Potter movies offers 19 hours and 39 minutes of family-friendly entertainment. Alternatively, the entire Star Wars franchise (minus Episode II, because no one is THAT desperate) will take up 22 hours and 45 minutes with zero sex, (almost) zero profanity, and zero thought-provoking lines.
Good luck, and may the ratings be ever in your favor.