Here’s something wild to think about – those of us who were kids (or young teenagers) in the 2000s are now full-fledged adults with children, mortgages, and existential dread of our own. So, you may be wondering if all those ‘00s family movies many of us grew up watching are still any good after all this time or if we are just looking back on the past through rose-tinted glasses.
Upon looking over our recent lists about the best movies of the 2000s and kids films the whole family will love, something rather peculiar happened and I started to think about those family-friendly classics and how many of them stand up all these years later. That being said, here are 12 family movies from the ‘00s that are still fantastic…
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone (2001)
Though the franchise it kicked off would get darker with each subsequent release, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a light-hearted, albeit slightly scary at times, introduction to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its various staff and students, like the titular hero (Daniel Radcliffe). Chris Columbus’ fantasy adventure remains a delightful and magical experience more than 20 years after it started the Harry Potter film franchise.
Featuring one of the best battles between kids and grown-ups, Andrew Davis’ 2003 adaptation of Louis Sachar’s Holes is just as much of a treat in 2023 as it was 20 years ago. The down-on-his-luck Stanley Yelnats IV (Shia LaBeouf) leading his fellow Camp Green Lake juvenile delinquents against the fearsome and cunning warden (Sigourney Weaver) is a journey that never gets old. Like the book, this movie still resonates.
Cheaper By The Dozen (2003)
Another great movie based on a book, Shawn Levy’s Cheaper by the Dozen is also a movie the whole family can enjoy for one reason or another. In addition to featuring one of the funniest Steve Martin performances as college football coach Tom Baker, this 2003 comedy also stars the likes of Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, and nearly a dozen others. It’s relatable, hilarious, and has a charm that still holds up.
The Incredibles (2004)
It’s hard to believe, but The Incredibles, one of the best Pixar movies, is almost 20 years old. This exciting, and surprisingly heartwarming, animated adventure about a family of superheroes who team up to take on a dastardly villain is just as much fun today as it was in 2004.
Night At The Museum (2006)
Another Shawn Levy movie on this list, 2006’s Night at the Museum is always going to be a hit with my kids, and it’s also something my wife and I will watch over and over again. The way Ben Stiller’s Larry Daley interacts with the various Museum of Natural History exhibits as they come alive at night never gets old, especially when it comes to Robin Williams’ lights-out portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt.
Finding Nemo (2003)
You already knew the most popular movie of 2003 would be on this list, but you shouldn’t need a reminder to go back and watch the incredible Finding Nemo again. Seriously, this movie, with all its emotion, heightened drama, and masterful action is just as impactful 20 years later with its wonderful story about a clownfish going to great lengths to find his missing son. And, yeah, it’s still going to make you cry your eyes out.
Before Jon Favreau kicked off the MCU and brought new life to the Star Wars universe, he gave the world a daring sci-fi film in 2005’s Zathura: A Space Adventure. A spinoff of the Jumanji franchise (both were based on the works of Chris Van Allsburg), this light-hearted movie about two brothers transported to outer space after starting a board game is full of danger, mystery, and some great lessons.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
One of the best Wes Anderson movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox is an enchanting and unique adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name, one that is just as fun to watch nearly a decade-and-a-half after its release. With a story about a crafty fox (George Clooney) coming out of retirement to pull off one last heist, mesmerising stop-motion animation, and a voice cast featuring many of Andreson’s go-to actors, this holds up really well.
Spirited Away (2001)
When it comes to Studio Ghibli movies, you can’t go wrong with 2001’s Spirited Away. Written, directed, and animated by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, this fantastical journey about a young girl trying to free her parents (who have been turned into pigs) and herself from a spirit world is a unique experience that only gets better with time.
Before meta humor took over the world of animation, Shrek was one of the first major animated movies to go all out with the practice. The movie about an anti-social ogre (Mike Myers) becoming a hero alongside a donkey (Eddie Murphy) by saving a princess (Cameron Diaz) would be great on its own, but the addition of a “take no prisoners” comedic style with all its multi-layered jokes make this a classic funny family-friendly movie.
August Rush (2007)
Released in 2007, August Rush is a movie about a young orphan named Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) who discovers that he’s a child prodigy on the guitar. The blending of coming-of-age elements with those of the uplifting family drama genre works in concert to create an emotional and inspirational story about redemption and new beginnings.
An all-time great Christmas movie, Jon Favreau’s 2003 holiday comedy, Elf, is a romp of a good time for all kinds of reasons. One of the funniest Will Ferrell characters, Buddy the Elf is so wholesome and lovable despite being supercharged on sugar and naivety. It has laughs, tender moments, and wonderful callbacks to classic holiday specials working together to make this a staple of movie marathons each December.
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Each of these movies is still great in their own way, and are all worthy of a revisit, either for the first time in a couple of months or after years and years. They’ll make you laugh, they’ll have you crying, and most of all, they’ll help you remember why you fell in love with them back in the 2000s.