Culture

11 movies you can safely watch with your parents — and grandparents — and all truly enjoy

Live in a mixed-gen household? These non-cringy, non-kiddy films will make movie night fun.

Live in a mixed-gen household? These non-cringy, non-kiddy films will make movie night fun

A still from "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - Left to right: Katherine Parkinson, Tom Courtenay, Kit Connor, Penelope Wilton, Michael Huisman and Lily James, in period clothing.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Photo: Kerry Brown)

Living with your parents (and maybe your grandparents, and your aunts, and ...) doesn't carry the same stigma it once did.

Aside from this type of living arrangement being the cultural norm among Indigenous and Asian communities, and the reality for many newcomers to Canada, systemic housing and long-term care issues are leading more Canadians to be open to the idea of multigenerational households

If this is already your situation, you know that having adult kids, parents and grandparents under the same roof has some serious perks: the potential for deeper relationships with family members, financial savings and, of course, home-cooked meals.

But this living arrangement does bring a new challenge: family movie night! How do you find a movie that isn't necessarily a kids' movie but will be enjoyable and non-cringy viewing for the whole family?

After consulting IMDb's parental guide and Common Sense Media reviews — and testing many of these with my own family — here are some great films that are entertaining but relatively PG: parent- and grandparent-safe. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Netflix, Tubi 

If watching the trailer isn't enough to convince you that this is a great movie for your whole crew, let filmmaker Taika Waititi reassure you. 

"I made a real effort to make a film that kids could go and see and old people could go and see and regardless of your age you could go and see it and enjoy it," he said in an interview with Flicks. Those efforts paid off with this heartwarmingly quirky film. 

In the movie, Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) ends up in the foster care of an older couple, Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her husband, Hector (Sam Neill), in rural New Zealand. When Bella dies, Ricky takes his fate into his own hands — and finds adventure and a different version of family along the way. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, minimal violence and profanity  

The Farewell (2019) — Netflix 

After Billi (Awkwafina) learns her grandmother is about to die, the whole family gathers in China to bid her farewell — but under the guise of attending a wedding, and without telling Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) of her prognosis. This film, which is based on the incredible true story of filmmaker Lulu Wang, is all about identity and navigating family dynamics as an adult, and it's full of moments that will resonate with every generation. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, no violence, and only some mild profanity

The Grand Seduction (2013) — Crave 

Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) comes up with a ploy to "seduce" a visiting doctor (Taylor Kitsch) to stay in town, in order to encourage a petrochemical company to bring a factory and jobs to his small, economically struggling Newfoundland community. Of course, not everything goes quite to plan. Filled with beautiful scenery and many laughs, this Canadian film, based on the 2003 Québécois film La grande séduction, is an easy watch for the whole family. 

(Grand)parental guidance: Some potentially awkward moments — there's a phone sex scene, but very mild profanity and no violence 

Just Mercy (2019) — Available to rent 

The powerful true story of Bryan Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan), founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, and his fight for individuals who have faced unfair treatment by the justice system or have been wrongly incarcerated. If your family is looking for a rousing courtroom drama sans gory crimes or sexually explicit scenes, add this to your docket. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, and only a small amount of violence and profanity, but heavy subject matter 

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) — Netflix, Prime 

An iconic Bollywood film about three friends who embark on a life-changing bachelor-party trip across Spain. Not only is this movie a great family-friendly watch, it was also a family project. Director Zoya Akhtar (Gully Boy, Dil Dhadakne Do) co-wrote the script with her brother Farhan Akhtar, who also plays one of the leads (Imraan Qureshi), and the poetry that is read throughout the story was written by their father, Javed Akhtar. On the surface, the story may seem like the Bollywood version of The Hangover, but in reality, this film is about rediscovering and redefining what's important in life. And bonus, it has a great soundtrack. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, and minimal swearing 

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (2021) — Prime

A stop-motion mockumentary about a young, shoe-wearing shell (voiced by co-creator Jenny Slate) may seem like it's made for kids, but don't be fooled. Without giving anything away, this Oscar-nominated movie is all about themes that will hit adults straight in the feels, and it'll make you appreciate your loved ones even more. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, swearing or violence 

Scarborough (2021) — CBC Gem 

Based on the beautiful novel by Canadian author Catherine Hernandez, Scarborough is a love letter to community. The film, shot in Scarborough itself (in Toronto's east end), specifically the Kingston-Galloway/West Hill neighbourhood, brings viewers into the lives and challenges of three young children from low-income families — Bing, Laura and Sylvie — who meet at a drop-in reading program. While the stories are devastating, director Shasha Nakhai told CBC that Scarborough is ultimately intended to be a portrayal of survival and "a great reminder of the ways in which we are linked to one another.*

(Grand)parental guidance: No explicit sex or nudity, but a lot of swearing and difficult and mature themes throughout

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) — Netflix 

A long name for a sweet movie. Writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James) travels from London to the tiny community of Guernsey in the British Isles to meet the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and conduct research for her writing. You'll be as drawn in as she was by the colourful cast of characters she discovers and a better story than she could've ever imagined. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity (even though this is a love story), mild swearing and violence

The Prestige (2006) — Disney+

Two rival magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman) battle it out in director Christopher Nolan's famed mystery thriller set in Victorian London. Many of Nolan's films fit the bill for family-friendly viewing (Interstellar, Inception), but there's something about the simplicity and intrigue of The Prestige that makes it accessible and enjoyable for viewers of all ages. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity, minimal swearing, but there is some gore and violence

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) — available to rent 

Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin helms this stunning fable that transports viewers to the Bathtub, a fictional shantytown in a bayou threatened by storms, industry and emergency crews trying to evacuate the community. This film parses these heavy subjects through the eyes of Hushpuppy (Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis), a child who brings a sense of imagination and playfulness to even the most devastating circumstances. If your crew is open to unique and cinematic storytelling, Beasts of the Southern Wild will give you plenty to discuss at family dinner. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No sex or nudity (despite a scene in a brothel), but there is some violence, gore and quite a bit of rough language 

The Grizzlies (2018) — CBC Gem 

This is not your typical sports movie. Set in a remote Arctic town with the highest teen suicide rate in the world, The Grizzlies is based on the true story of a teacher and a group of local kids who find new purpose, camaraderie and community through lacrosse. The filmmakers auditioned more than 600 youth in over 25 communities from across Nunavut and the Northwest Territories to build a cast that brought "authenticity and sensitivity to the screen." The result is a film that is about more than sport, and it'll resonate with viewers of all generations. 

(Grand)parental guidance: No explicit sex or nudity, some profanity, mature content relating to teen suicide and domestic violence  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ishani Nath is a freelance entertainment and lifestyle journalist. She has appeared as a pop culture expert on CBC, CTV and Global News Radio and has bylines in Chatelaine, Maclean's, The Juggernaut, Flare and more. Follow her @ishaninath.

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