Finding a movie to watch with your parents can be tough. How do you know there won’t be an explicit NSFW scene that’ll make you wish you never suggested that film in the first place? Luckily, these 27 movies on Netflix are perfect for a movie night with your folks.
What exactly are good choices for movies to watch with parents? Y’all may have different tastes in genre when it comes to movies, but that doesn’t mean there's no hope of sharing a good flick. Rather than spending your time scrolling through categories, trying to figure out what movies to suggest for your parents to watch (and ending up in a massive family argument), you can skip straight to a good movie to watch with parents with no fear of awkward moments or boredom.These movies streaming on Netflix will have both parents and children glued to the screen.
From critically-acclaimed films like Mudbound, I Care A Lot, and The Pianist, to award-winning foreign films such as Roma, Aquarius, and Pan’s Labyrinth; each and every movie on this list is a crowd pleaser that has the potential to appeal to everyone. While everyone may have their own taste in movies, Netflix is a deep well that surely includes something the entire group can enjoy. And hopefully, no one will be bored watching.
1. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018)
This neo-Western is both silly and melancholy, and the Coen Brothers' loopy, episodic film explores every element of this genre, including Manifest Destiny, ballads, fastest guns, and the vast, open plains of the American West. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is gritty enough to be enjoyed on its own, but is also perfect for a movie night with your folks.
2. Okja (2017)
Before he swept the Oscars with Parasite, Bong Joon Ho made this insanely fast-paced action film about a giant, genetically-modified pig. But there’s more to it than the enormous swine — Okja is also about the evils of factory farming, the importance of honesty, and a little girl who is Terminator-level determined to get back her best friend.
3. I Care A Lot (2021)
With government-designated conservatorships being such a hot-button topic these days, I Care A Lot explores the ways in which these appointments are more-often-than-not exploitative. This pitch-black comedy stars Rosamund Pike as Marla, a con artist who scams elderly people with lots of money into handing over their assets for her own profit. Sound familiar?
4. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Pan’s Labyrinth is both charming and terrifying at the same time, so it’s exciting enough to not fall asleep on the couch with your parents. This 2006 film follows Ofelia, a young girl who moves into her new stepfather’s estate with her pregnant mother. It’s here that Ofelia discovers she’s the reincarnation of Princess Moanna, whose father rules the underworld. Think of the film as a fairytale for anyone but children.
5. Stuart Little (1999)
Loosely based on the beloved E.B. White novel of the same name, Stuart Little is about an orphaned mouse who is adopted by human parents (played by Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis). Their biological son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki), is less-than-thrilled to see that his new brother is a rodent. But like all family films, they grow close before an inevitable (and potentially disastrous) conflict. But don’t worry, it all ends happily.
6. Atlantics (2019)
When a worker named Soulemain fails to get over three weeks' pay for his and his friends' construction work, they're driven by desperation to cross the ocean. The women in their lives are sadly left behind, but when Soulemain's love Ada marries a callous wealthy man, strange incidents indicate Soulelmain's return to reclaim their love. Atlantics explores both lost love and class relations for one incredibly powerful film.
7. The Fundamentals Of Caring (2016)
There are a lot of parenting movies on the streaming platform, but this comedic Netflix Original will also be a winner with your parents. The Fundamentals of Caring stars Paul Rudd as Ben, a writer attempting to overcome tragedy and divorce by becoming the caretaker for a teenager with muscular dystrophy (Craig Roberts). The film also stars Selena Gomez and Jennifer Ehle.
8. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)
Paul Reubens is back as Pee-wee Herman, the iconic and extremely strange character that’s become Reuben’s raison d'etre. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday follows the titular character as he travels to New York City for the first time to attend a friend’s birthday party. Obviously, hijinks ensue. The film also stars Joe Manganiello, who plays a fictional version of himself, alongside Alia Shawkat and Jessica Pohly.Click here to watch.
9. Dil Se.. (1998)
A political thriller-slash-romance-slash-musical, Dil Se asks the question whether love really can cross all boundaries. In this case, deeply rooted trenches of historical pain and betrayal that lead to terrorism. This Hindi-language film was a hit upon its 1998 release, and won the Netpac Award at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival. Your folks will be impressed with your highbrow film taste with this one.
10. Legally Blonde (2001)
You can’t go wrong watching Legally Blonde with your parents. It’s funny, smart, and has one of the most satisfying endings of early-aughts movies. For those who need a refresher, Elle Woods is a seemingly ditsy sorority girl who’s just been broken up with. Elle follows him to Harvard Law School to win him back, but ends up winning so much more in his place — including her self-respect.
11. 13th (2016)
This documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes a hard look at race and America’s prison-industrial complex, and argues that mass incarceration is essentially an extension of modern day slavery. 13th is an eye-opener to racial discrepancies in the justice system, and can lead to important conversations with your parents about the topics presented in the film.
12. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird is one of those films that speaks to many different people; in other words, you don’t need to be a high school girl for this film to impact you. Saoirse Ronan stars as the eponymous character (“it’s the titular role!”), who is unsatisfied with her life in suburban Sacramento. She dreams of moving to New York City for college, but must first complete her senior year of high school, in spite of all the mediocrity.
13. Surf’s Up (2007)
Not all the films on this list are super serious — sometimes, you and your parents may want to have a little fun. This silly animated film about a penguin who wants to surf features an all-star cast, including Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Wood, and more. Surf’s Up is told through the “mockumentary” format, parodying other surfing documentaries like Riding Giants.
14. Mudbound (2017)
Mudbound is renowned for its moving depiction of racial and social injustice in rural 1940s Mississippi, where two families of farmers — one Black and one white — deal with racism, a dwindling crop season, and PTSD after World War II. The film stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, and Mary J. Blige, and even landed Blige her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
15. American Factory (2019)
American Factory is a documentary that follows the opening of a Chinese-owned car factory in a Detroit town economically devastated when American car companies left years ago. Conservative parents might gain insight as the Chinese and American factory workers realize how much more they have in common than they think; conversely, liberal parents might understand the real enemy is corporate capitalism's focus on profit over all.
16. Ip Man (2008)
Based on the life story of Yip Man, the Wing Chun master and Bruce Lee’s instructor, this fascinating biopic takes some liberties with facts and history, but in service of a thoroughly entertaining film balancing action and character. The Cantonese-language film was a hit with critics, and will hopefully be as well-received by your parents when you watch it with them.
17. Imperial Dreams (2014)
Imperial Dreams is all about how our society treats people who've been incarcerated. John Boyega plays a single father trying to find a job after being released from jail in an eye-opening performance. Set in the Imperial Courts housing projects in Watts, California, the film takes inspiration from real stories of those living in government-appointment housing in the United States.
18. Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Hail, Cesar! is a delightful, feather-light romp from the Coen Brothers that follows a weary ’40s studio "fixer" Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) straightening out and covering up celebrity snafus before they come to light. But when the studio's top star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped, Mannix finds himself unravelling a conspiracy involving communists, dancing spies, pregnant mermaids, and singing cowboys.
19. School of Rock (2003)
When School of Rock was released almost 20 years ago, no one thought it would become the cult classic it is today. Jack Black stars as a struggling musician who poses as his roommate to take a high-paying teaching gig at an elite prep school. Instead of relying on the textbook, he forms them into a rock band to compete in Battle of the Bands. It’s a surprisingly great film, and will remind parents that their children have the right to individuality.
20. Labyrinth (1986)
The iconic David Bowie stars in Labyrinth, a musical fantasy that’s perfect for both adults and children. While the film was panned upon its release, it’s since gained a massive cult following and now stands as a modern classic. The film follows a 16-year-old girl named Sarah (played by a young Jennifer Connelly), who finds herself living inside a real-life fairytale-of-sorts.
21. Set It Up (2018)
Set It Up will trigger anyone who has worked as an assistant for a high-profile boss, namely young people who are often exploited. Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) play two assistants who are burned out by their bosses’ demands. They decide to link their bosses up romantically, thinking they’ll have less time to overwork them if they’re dating. Of course, there is chemistry between Harper and Charlie themselves, which blossoms throughout the film.
22. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Matthew Broderick stars in what is possibly his most popular role to date — the smooth-talking slacker Ferris Bueller, a high school student who plays hooky for one glorious day. This iconic ’80s John Hughes flick is already a classic, having already been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Your parents may have loved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as teenagers, and now you can enjoy it with them as well.
23. The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges star in The Mirror Has Two Faces, a romantic-dramedy that doesn’t rely on any of those stereotypical romcom tropes. Rose Morgan is a Columbia University literature professor who has recently come to terms with spinsterhood — until she meets fellow professor Gregory Larkin, who seeks a platonic life partner instead of a romantic one. Though Rose initially agrees to the idea, she realizes she deserves more — from both Gregory and herself.Click here to watch.
24. A Cinderella Story (2004)
Jennifer Coolidge’s performance as Fiona, aka The Evil Stepmother, is enough of a reason to watch this film. Though A Cinderella Story is a teen movie, there are enough laughs (and sometimes tears) to make it enjoyable for those beyond their teen years, like your parents … and maybe even you. A Cinderella Story also stars two early-aughts icons in the prime of their careers — Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.
25. Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Memoirs of a Geisha is based on the book of the same name by Arthur Golden about a Japanese girl sold by her family and raised in a geisha house. Set in the early 20th century, the film follows Sayuri (played by Ziyi Zhang) as she’s nurtured and tormented into the role that was forced upon her. Like all Oscar bait, this one is appropriate for a movie night with your parents.
26. Do The Right Thing (1989)
If there was ever a decades-old movie that still speaks to today’s times, it’s Do The Right Thing. This Spike Lee “joint” follows the lives of multiple Black residents in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and the inequality and brutality they face in the eyes of authority. Like others on this list, Do The Right Thing will hopefully lead to some important and productive conversations with your parents.
27. The Pianist (2002)
Adrian Brody became the youngest actor in history to take home the Best Actor trophy for his role in The Pianist. The film is based on the true story of Władysław Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist who survived the Holocaust. Though much of the film deals with heavy subjects, The Pianist is an acclaimed film that’ll (hopefully) please your parents on movie night.
This article was originally published on Dec. 26, 2018. It was updated on May 15, 2020 and Sept. 10, 2021.
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