20 Movies for Tweens Who Are Tired of “Baby” Stuff
If you have a 10-, 11-, or 12-year-old, you know how difficult it is to keep them entertained. Half of the time, they desire to show their maturity and progress beyond their childhood in Disney films and animations. They’re still sensitive to huge jumps in scariness, intensity, or peril most of the time. It’s difficult to locate tween-friendly movies and tween-friendly TV programing.
These films hit the appropriate balance — they’re not for toddlers or teens but ideal for that brief, in-between stage.
Your preteen might scoff at a cartoon version of Cinderella, but this 2021 version modernizes the story with a new, more feminist take on Cinderella’s circumstances — does she want to marry a prince? — and a pop-music soundtrack. Billy Porter even appears as a fairy godperson.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)
Rather than directly reproducing the Dora the Explorer show, this film takes a meta approach to the character; the other characters can’t believe she’s from the jungle or has a monkey as a companion. They’ll make your too-cool-for-school tween feel perfectly at home.
Little Women (2019)
Little Women, despite being based in the time of the Civil War, features many issues that youngsters may relate to presently, such as family ties, gaining courage amid tragedy, and the thought of getting to make your own enjoyment when others are too preoccupied to devote time to you. This adaptation, which features preteen’s best-loved personalities like Harry Potter’s Emma Watson and Black Widow’s Florence Pugh, could convince them to indulge in the book.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Allow them to sample the PG Spider-Verse before venturing into the PG-13 Marvel Cinematic Universe. The protagonist, Miles Morales, is not only a youngster but also gets to know an important insight about where courage can originate.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures is inspired by the actual experience of 3 African American ladies who are arithmeticians who served at NASA in the push to the Apollo 11 lunar landing, making critical discoveries while contending with workplace prejudice and sexism. If you show this to kids who don’t believe math is fun, they might want to be the next Katherine Johnson.
Paddington and its continuation movie, Paddington 2, are known for captivating youngsters’ and adults’ affections. Paddington 2 was notable for receiving the rare, pristine 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes when it was released in theaters. It’s not a ruse: it’s just a sweet narrative about a bear that moves to London to live with a charming British family.
The vast bulk of Laika’s freeze-frame animation movies — ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, Missing Link, and Coraline — are aimed at preteens; the production company knows how to use the oddness of stop-motion graphics to showcase stories with malevolent components, making them mildly more sophisticated than most animations. Coraline is the greatest choice because it offers a relatable theme for tweens: Coraline is attracted by a secret realm in which an “other mother” assures her whatever she wants when her real folks are too preoccupied to notice. Is the “other mother” who she purports to be whatever she appears to be?
Night at the Museum (2006)
The exhibits spring comes alive at nightfall after the museum’s visitors have gone, putting only a solitary museum security guard to regulate the chaos. The shenanigans of the displays appeal to kids, while the presence of entertainers like Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, and Steve Coogan appeal to grownups. The original film is followed by two sequels.
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
When this film was first released, it was such a cult sensation among college students that it’s nearly impossible to recall that it’s completely appropriate for tweens: there’s no foul language, and it’s not about children dating (which is unusual for a movie set in a high school). Instead, it’s about children who feel like outcasts (and who doesn’t?) learning to make friends with people who accept them as they are.
Whale Rider (2002)
Niki Caro, the manager of the live-action Mulan, set for release in 2020, recounts the story of a 12-year-old Maori girl who aspires to be chief of her tribe one day. Your adolescent at home will most likely understand.
Spy Kids (2001)
In this movie, Carmen and Juni discover that their guardians are spies who have been abducted, and they must engage in an adventure to rescue them. The threat, though, is never too scary owing to various absurd gadgets and overdone personalities. If this is a smash in your house, the entire Spy Kids franchise is available on Netflix, including an animated TV series.
You may need tissues for this film because it is very moving. The premise is fantastical: While grieving for his mom, a young boy finds a canvas bag of money and must spend it before England’s (fictional) system shifts, and the money goes invalid. The boy’s sibling wants to waste extra cash on flashy things, but he also feels like acknowledging his mother with it. But, first and foremost, who possesses the profit?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Tweens may have read or seen the Harry Potter novels and films before, but the series takes on a new meaning when the young witches and magicians are the same age as the children watching them. Plus, they’ll be entertained for a long time with eight movies to watch.
Good Burger (1997)
Even though Kenan is a Saturday Night Live comedian and Kel is a panelist on Deliciousness, seeing them together creates a certain type of low-brow comedy alchemy. When you’re in the feeling for pure hilarity, put this on.
Both of The Rock’s most recent Jumanji films, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, are classified PG-13. To get this Robin Williams masterpiece back to the preteen level, you’ll have to go back to old-time school. The following elements are still present: Unexpected participants are transported into an animal-filled world when they play a family game.
A League of Their Own (1992)
A League of Their Own is a baseball film that follows an all-female baseball club formed to boost morale while the men are away fighting in World War II. Show this clip to your children when they require a morale lift.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Despite some risque humor (which will probably go over a tween’s head), this film is about a preteen striving to do a homework project. What child doesn’t recognize that feeling? Bill and Ted travel across time to study history, and while there are plenty of shenanigans when they collect a group of notable people, there are some actual events to be gathered.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
A movie like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Probably won’t be made again, both in terms of the perfect blend of live-action and cartoons without CGI and the way characters from other companies appear in cameos. On the other hand, your kids are unlikely to notice any of this – Daffy Duck and Donald Duck together?! — so they’ll be too absorbed in the noir, Chinatown-style mystery to notice.
Back to the Future (1985)
So, in this film, the “present” is our past, and in Back to the Future Part II, the “future” is also our past. However, kids will enjoy deducing the time-travel contradictions in this year-jumping blockbuster series.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Why not show them the original Indiana Jones? He established the tone for all adventure films that followed. Then, starting with “Kansas City Mickey” in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Ridley Jones on Netflix, make a game of locating every figure they’ve ever seen wearing an Indiana Jones-style hat since they were tiny kids.