These Are the 15 Movies From the '00s That Your Kids Need to See
Growing up a teenager in any decade isn't easy, but as a teen in the '00s I grew up with a ton of awesome movies to watch that — thanks to some of their valuable lessons and learnings — helped my awkward tween and teen stages pass with a bit more finesse than anticipated.
When I watched Allie and Noah fall in love, I developed a stronger sense of what a powerful relationship looked like, and when Anna and her mother switch bodies for a week, I started paying more attention to how my mom and I interacted with each other and gained a few pointers on how to cut her some slack and be a bit less of a pain in the you-know-what. Seeing Willie, an only child like me, and his dog, Skip, interact made me proud of being a young dog owner, and as J.M. Barrie helped Peter to unlock his imagination and believe in magic, he helped prove to my teenage self that I didn't need to stifle being a creative simply because I was "growing up."
I took a lot of lessons from these films through the years, and I truly believe that your kids will too. Whether you're raising a tween, teen, or younger kiddos, there are plenty of family-friendly flicks from this decade for them all to enjoy and a few that your teen will thank you for watching with them.
Read through for 15 movies from the '00s that every kid needs to see.
Remember the Titans
Tagline: "Before they could win, they had to become one."
Reasons they need to see it: This movie is the definition of teamwork. Whether your kiddo is an athlete or not, the way the boys in this film come together despite their social struggles to work toward a common goal is an important concept for children to grasp.
What to look out for: The racial climate during the time this movie takes place could spark some questions, but it could be a great way to open the dialogue to talk about race and the struggles we still face today in terms of equality. There’s also a bit of violence and a car accident in the middle of the movie that comes as a surprise.
A Walk to Remember
Tagline: "She didn't belong. She was misunderstood. And she would change him forever."
Reasons they need to see it: This tragic and beautiful love story shaped my teenage years. Jamie Sullivan — the quiet, nerdy type — and Landon Carter — the bad boy — are students you can find at any school, but the way they change each other and both become better people who look beyond high school labels is something to share with your kids. This movie proves that there is a "best side" to everyone, and to get to it, you just need to learn more about who they are and who they want to be — and the most exciting part is helping them get there.
What to look out for: This movie is ultimately about a young woman who has cancer, which opens up the floor for a lot of questions about what it is to be sick in the same way Jamie is. The ending is devastating (subtle spoiler alert) — younger kids may not understand exactly what’s happening, but tweens and teens may need a hug or two to get them through it (and you’ll want one too).
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Tagline: "Laugh. Cry. Share the pants."
Reasons they need to see it: This is the ultimate best-friend movie. The girls grow up together, share everything with each other physically and emotionally, and learn to deal with the way friendship changes and grows as they do. It also serves to prove that friends can get through anything together.
What to look out for: The girls help Bridget cope with the loss of her mother, which is a bit upsetting, and there is a bit of language — when Carmen hits her breaking point with her dad — and a scene or two with some hot and heavy making out.
My Dog Skip
Tagline: "Every family needs an optimist."
Reasons they need to see it: This movie is the ultimate example of the relationship a child can have with their pet. If not for Skip, Willie would have likely remained the shy, withdrawn boy that he is at the start of the film. Skip brings him out of his shell and enriches his life as he grows up, and they both learn to protect and look out for each other. As an only child, I’m a serious advocate of this one for children who don't know what it's like to have siblings in particular (though it’s a great film for any kid, especially if they have a dog).
What to look out for: There is a bit of violence in the graveyard scene that causes Willie to get upset and might bring out the same emotion in your kiddos. Though the movie takes place when Willie is 9, the ending of the film explains what happens as Willie and Skip grow older, which if you can guess, ends differently for each character, as dogs only live a fraction of the life we do. I recall crying hysterically through the end of this film every time i saw it, but I think it was important that as a young dog owner I was exposed to the loss of a pet — those feelings the movie stirred in me stuck for years until I said goodbye to my own childhood dog as an adult and will continue to stick with me for the rest of my pet-owning life.
Tagline: “Every teenager’s nightmare . . . turning into her mother."
Reasons they need to see it: This hilarious movie attempts to help teens understand their parents more and vice versa. Though parents think they know everything there is to know about being a teen, having once been one, the film’s plot serves to prove that that’s not very accurate — a lot changes from generation to generation. When Tess and Anna get switched into each other’s bodies, they’re forced to not only learn more about each other but must figure out how to come together as a mother and daughter duo by being more accepting, respectful, and understanding of the other.
What to look out for: Anna has some pretty great one-liners in this film, but most of them serve as a way to talk back to her mother — not necessarily something you want to laugh at and endorse, but oh well.
Tagline: "Unlock your imagination."
Reasons they need to see it: This movie has an undeniable sense of urgency to it — it forces you to believe in magic and what that means in regard to everyday life. Johnny Depp’s character, J.M. Barrie (the author of Peter Pan), is a hopeful creative who sees the world in a refreshing way, and the young boy he bases Peter Pan on goes through a transition throughout the film from a boy who doesn’t believe in magic to a boy who lets his imagination take control, which is a great thing for tweens and teens with less active imaginations to see and become inspired by.
What to look out for: Kate Winslet’s character gets sick in the middle of the movie, and her prospects remain bleak until the end of the film. Her sons are forced to adapt to this huge life-altering circumstance, but not without some frustrations and anger — it can get a bit sad to watch.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Tagline: “Let the magic begin."
Reasons they need to see it: Harry Potter is still one of the most relevant series in the world, and the first film, which is aimed at younger children, does a great job of introducing them into Harry’s world (which, if they’re anything like me, they will become irreversibly obsessed with). In the movie, Harry learns to use his bravery and courage in the face of a series of awful and frightening circumstances and shows kids what it means to be a fierce friend who looks out for their loved ones no matter what.
What to look out for: The events leading up to the climax of the film feature a sequence of dark, sometimes loud, and sometimes scary situations — like when they play wizard’s chess and get attacked by Devil’s Snare — but it’s nothing that can’t be handled even by younger kids.
Night at the Museum
Tagline: "See the side of the museum you won't see on the tour."
Reasons they need to see it: Besides the fact that Ben Stiller is hilarious, and that a number of other notable stars act alongside him, every kid should see this movie to learn more about history in a fun and digestible way. This movie also touches upon a child’s relationship with his divorced parents and shows how a common interest could bring a child closer to the parent that they no longer live with.
What to look out for: There’s a bit of rude humor — mostly when Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan are arguing like an old married couple — and there are a few parts of the museum that could be a bit scary for really young kids before Ben Stiller gets the live (literally) exhibits under control.
Cheaper by the Dozen
Tagline: “Growing pains? They’ve got twelve of them!"
Reasons they need to see it: Steve Martin’s goofy and lovable character is left to fend for himself and his 12 kids when his wife goes on a promotional tour for her book. His demeanor and the way he does his best to accommodate the needs of his 12 kids that all vary in age will help to humble kids and allow them to understand all of the emotions a parent feels — and most importantly, that adults may not always have the answers, but they’re always doing their best.
What to look out for: There’s literally nothing about this film that isn’t family-friendly, maybe with the exception of Ashton Kutcher getting attacked in the crotch by a dog who can smell the raw meat that the younger kids soaked his underwear in.
Tagline: "Behind every great love is a great story."
Reasons they need to see it: Allie and Noah’s love story was the most fierce of its decade and has had a lasting impact on hearts all over the world since the movie's release. The film’s story shows the course of a first-love relationship for two teens, and while not every relationship lasts in those early teen days, the movie does not downplay the importance of your first love. It’s a great movie to show teens who are just beginning to become interested in dating and who want desperately to grow up and be in love (just like we all once did).
What to look out for: Though you could fast forward through the one sex scene, this movie is definitely one for your teen regardless, as there isn’t much in it for younger kids. The ending of the movie is a bit upsetting (or what I like to call "tragically beautiful") — OK, it’s super upsetting — but your teen should be able to cope.
The Blind Side
Tagline: "Based on the extraordinary true story"
Reasons they need to see it: This movie is a wonderful example of the ways fostering or a adopting a child can change their life, no matter what age they are. Michael had a traumatic past, and as he learns to love and trust his new family, they learn to deal with the negative opinions of others and focus on how to remain a loving, caring family no matter what.
What to look out for: There is some violence — including references to weapons — during the times that Michael and Leigh Anne are in Michael’s old neighborhood, there are sexual references, and there’s a car crash that could upset kids, as it comes as a surprise.
The Princess Diaries
Tagline: “She rocks. She rules. She reigns.”
Reasons the need to see it: Being 16 is difficult in general, but Mia tackles some very unique struggles alongside some of the more typical teen issues, like fitting in and dating, throughout this film. Though most kids aren’t going to find out they’re actually a prince or princess while they’re in high school, every kid goes through something that their friends might not understand, something that makes them feel more different than anyone else, and watching Mia deal with the hand she was dealt is an inspiring way to encourage kids to figure out how to handle their own personal circumstances.
What to look out for: Literally nothing, this movie is as family-friendly as it gets (it is Disney, after all).
Tagline: "Some secrets are too big to keep hidden."
Reasons they need to see it: Stanley Yelnats’s family has been cursed with bad luck for 100 years, and by the end of the film, he has reversed his family’s luck through a series of crazy events. This movie proves that you can change even the most bleak of circumstances if you put your mind to it, and even if something can’t be changed, per se, you can do your best to make a bad situation better.
What to look out for: There’s a bit of violence — think Sigourney Weaver slapping Jon Voight across the face — and some mild language.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Tagline: “Mishaps. Mayhem. Misadventures. Oh joy."
Reasons they need to see it: Even though I’m an only child and loved this movie, it’s a great movie for siblings to enjoy together. When the three children in the film lose their parents, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny must learn how to be a team — even through a series of seriously unfortunate events.
What to look out for: Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf, who at times can be a little frightening for younger children, and there are quite a few scenes in which the children are in risky situations, which gets a little stressful.
Tagline: "So Fetch!"
Reasons they need to see it: It’s a cult classic that your kids can likely reference before they’ve even seen it — “You can’t sit with us” flew out of my 14-year-old cousin’s mouth and she didn’t even know what she was quoting! The movie shows what high school can be like with the ever-confusing combination of hormones, cliques, and relationships of all kinds — though the movie’s circumstances are definitely a bit more extreme than I remember high school being. Though it seems like a silly movie, it shows all kinds of things that kids may be dealing with during this time in their life — like bullying — and how to combat them while also learning to be more accepting of all types of people. (It’s definitely also a bit of what not to do in high school.)
What to look out for: This is totally one to save for your teen, as younger children won’t understand most of the concepts anyway. Though the movie takes place in a high school, some of it can get very adult, and there are mentions to sex, drugs, and partying, as well as some language.