Your tweens are just a few short years or months away from locking themselves in their room for the duration of adolescence.
Fortunately, they still can stand hanging out with you now.
Take advantage of it with family movie night and one of these films you’ll both love about growing up and testing the waters of independence.
They’re all rated G or PG.
‘The Sandlot’ (1993)
The new kid in town joins an informal ballgame and has the summer of his life with his new best pals as they hold sleep-overs in a treehouse, get kicked out of the community pool and plot to retrieve a baseball from the legendary giant dog known as the Beast. Every kid should have a summer just like it. With James Earl Jones. Rated PG for some language and kids chewing tobacco.
‘Spirited Away’ (2001)
After Chihiro (voice of Daveigh Chase) wanders into the realm of spirits, she’s forced to work at a resort for supernatural beings to free herself and her parents, who have been turned into beasts. Gorgeous animation from Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli helped make this Oscar winner the No. 27-rated movie (and top-rated animated movie) on IMDb.com. And if you like this, be sure to check out “Howl’s Moving Castle” or “Kiki’s Delivery Service” for more Ghibli magic. Rated PG for some scary moments.
‘The Secret Garden’ (1993)
Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic novel. Privileged (and, let’s be honest here, bratty) Mary (Kate Maberly) moves to the English countryside after her parents die in India. She finds a sickly cousin and a hidden garden that just needs tending to flourish again. Rated G.
‘Akeelah and the Bee’ (2006)
Eleven-year-old Akeelah (Keke Palmer) picks the school spelling bee over taking detention — and soon everyone sees that she has a real gift. She doesn’t get a lot of support at home, but a coach (Laurence Fishburne) steps in to help this determined girl from South Los Angeles make it to the National Spelling Bee. Rated PG for some language.
‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (2016)
More amazing animation. Kubo lives a quiet life with his mother in a seaside village when a spirit from his family’s past rekindles a vendetta. To survive, Kubo needs to find a suit of armor that once belonged to his samurai father. With the voices of Charlize Theron and Ralph Fiennes. Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril.
‘The Goonies’ (1985)
Misfit kids hunt for pirate One-Eyed Willy’s treasure to save their neighborhood from being knocked down to build a golf course. If you sense Steven Spielberg-style buckles being swashed, that’s because the “Indiana Jones” director wrote the story. With very young Martha Plimpton, Josh Brolin and Sean Astin. Rated PG for issues including language, intense scenes and violence.
A boy (Shia LeBeouf) is sent to a detention camp in the desert where it never rains overseen by The Warden (Sigourney Weaver). The inmates are forced to dig holes, but they don’t know why … Rated PG for violence, mild language and some thematic elements.
‘Home Alone’ (1990)
Eight-year-old Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) has to protect his home from burglars in increasingly inventive ways when his parents go on vacation and accidentally leave him, yes, home alone. Rated PG for issues including violence and language.
Genius angel child Matilda (Mara Wilson) has the absolute worst parents, the mean, crass and stupid Wormwoods (Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito). So pretty much exactly like at your house. Fortunately Matilda develops telekinetic powers, which may help her out some. From a book by “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” writer Roald Dahl, so you know it’s going to be delightfully subversive. If this delights your kid, make it a double feature with “The Witches.” Rated PG for elements of exaggerated meanness and ridicule, and for some mild language.
‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010)
Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) doesn’t fit in with the other Vikings in his village. Where his father and neighbors value brawnier pursuits, he just wants to invent things. Then things get worse when he discovers that the dragons his people hunt aren’t what they seem at all. Rated PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language.