28 Inspirational & Thought-Provoking Family Movies 

Settle in with the family to watch an uplifting or thought-provoking flick you won't soon forget.

Published January 5, 2023
Family relaxing at home watching movies together

It's family night. You look up from your phone to realize that everyone is sitting in the living room. You could bust out a board game, but you did that last week. Why not put the electronics down and enjoy a film together? These inspirational family movies are sure to provide renewed hope, motivation to follow your dreams, and make you want to hug all your kiddos tight. Grab the popcorn and have the tissues at hand. It's family movie time.

Inspiring Movies About the Power of the Human Spirit

When you're having a tough day, there's nothing better than losing yourself in a movie. Make sure it's a movie to get you motivated. This list of movies is going to give you the lump in your throat and captivate your whole family with the resilience of the human spirit.

Martian Child (PG)

Are you looking for a fun and thought-provoking movie to cozy up with? Settle into Martian Child. A widowed sci-fi writer finds out there's more to life than work when he meets Dennis, a boy who thinks he's from Mars. These two unlikely characters wade through the murky waters of state bureaucracy and grief together. It's a beautifully crafted film that shows you the inspirational power of healing.

The Bucket List (PG-13)

Finding out you only have a few months to live is a big blow. What would you do with the time? Carter and Edward decide to fulfill their "kick the bucket list." The two encounter many difficulties in pursuit of their bucket list items, but it's truly the time of their lives. You'll want to hold your family a little closer as you realize how precious each moment is.

We Are Marshall (PG)

If Matthew McConaughey and football sound like a good time for your family, this movie is for you. More than just football, it's a story of triumph over adversity. When Marshall University loses most of their football department in a plane crash, they face a huge challenge. Will the power of the human spirit prevail? We Are Marshall is destined to hit you in all the feels.

The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13)

The Pursuit of Happyness has a strong message that your older kids can enjoy. Chris Gardner hasn't had the easiest circumstances in life, but no matter what, he never gives up. Even when his family is forced to a spend the night in a BART station bathroom and live out of a homeless shelter, he consistently works to put his best foot forward to create a better life for his son. Through his determination and perseverance, Chris shows the power of never giving up. And you will definitely smile at the outcome.

Free Willy (PG)

Two troubled souls make an unlikely bond in Free Willy. Jesse is a troubled youth on probation, while Willy is a troubled orca desperate to be let free. Both work to make that happen in this heart-warming family movie. It takes unrivaled spirit and determination to move mountains, but it can be done with the right tenacity.

Forrest Gump (PG-13)

Forrest Gump has a lot to overcome from birth. Despite the challenges he faces, he always lives his life to the fullest. You've probably heard his famous words, "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get." There is no better way to describe his own life and experiences throughout the film. It's a great movie to show children nothing is impossible.

The Goonies (PG)

An oldie but a goodie, The Goonies is an inspirational movie you can't look away from. It has just about everything a family could ask for, from crooks to riddles to pirates. Follow Mikey and his friends as they go on one last adventure that just might save their town. A jampacked adventure, The Goonies shows your family the true power of friendship.

Inspirational Sports Movies for Families

Who doesn't love watching an underdog defeat the odds? Sports movies are perfect for giving a good lesson in perseverance. But it's not all serious! There are a few comedies thrown in there too, to keep you smiling.

Cool Runnings (PG)

When you think of the beautiful beaches of Jamaica, you probably don't think of bobsledding. But that didn't stop this team from trying! Beyond just the funny dialogue and witty commentary, Cool Runnings shows you the importance of persistence and second chances.

Rudy (PG)

Despite his size, Rudy had always dreamed of playing for the Notre Dame football team. He doesn't have the grades to enroll or the size to play the game, but he tries anyway. Battling through dyslexia and walk-on tryouts, he finally realizes his dream. But getting the chance to play on the field is his biggest struggle yet. You'll be cheering for him to succeed at the end.

Remember the Titans (PG)

Herman Boone makes waves when he becomes the head coach of T. C. Williams High School. The newly integrated team has to fight prejudice and learn to play together. But the team learns what family truly means when they become the Titans, the mighty mighty Titans. This film highlights the power of acceptance.

Little Giants (PG)

Some people take their sports seriously, even at the PeeWee level. While Danny O'Shea has always lived in his brother's shadow, his daughter Becky bullies him into starting a football team after she's cut from tryouts for being a girl. Through a little unconventional training and a lot of heart, the Little Giants show how truly mighty they are. It's hard to defeat an underdog with a lot of heart.

Soul Surfer (PG)

With passion, there is a will. When surfer Bethany Hamilton's arm is bitten off in a freak accident, she must push herself to find the will to surf again. Will she compete again, even with her limitations? Soul Surfer is a powerful film that shows the importance of soul, perseverance, and always following your dreams - no matter what.

Concussion (PG-13)

One man makes it his mission to bring to light the dangers of repeat concussions. In Concussion, Dr. Bennet Omalu is a forensic pathologist that realizes that chronic traumatic encephalopathy leaves long-lasting effects on individuals. But the NFL tries to block him from presenting his findings. Through his never-give-up attitude, Omalu works to bring this condition to light. The movie shows the importance of standing firm in your beliefs.

The Mighty Ducks (PG)

Who doesn't love a good outcast story? Mighty Ducks is one of the greatest. Charlie Conway loves hockey, but he's not given a chance to play. So, he tries to start up his own team. They just need a coach, and Gordon Bombay fits the bill. You'll get lost in all the heart and loving feels of this epic underdog story.

Inspirational Movies for Families Based on True Stories

Films based on true stories are often some of the most inspirational. They can also empower and encourage thoughtful family conversations. Great minds, athletes, and storytellers have persevered against all odds. Dive into a few of these gems and get inspired!

Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)

Mary Poppins is a character known around the world for her love of the Banks family. However, Mary Poppins almost never came to fruition as a Disney animated movie. Learn the history of Mary Poppins' story and the deep roots it carries. Saving Mr. Banks takes you on a story of healing and growth.

Hidden Figures (PG)

The biographical drama Hidden Figures brings to light the African American female mathematicians that pushed through fierce prejudice to play a huge role in the launch of Mercury-Atlas 6, the first American crewed orbital space flight. This story highlights the lives and contributions of the hidden figures of Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.

The Express (PG)

The Express highlights the true-life struggles of Ernie Davis. Though he takes the Syracuse football team to great heights with his raw talent and tenacity, he fights prejudice at every corner. But he never backs down (his coach doesn't let him) and becomes the first black athlete to accomplish what had never been done before in football. The Express highlights the barriers racism creates and the power of those that push through them.

Finding Neverland (PG)

Inspiration comes in all different forms. For playwright J. M. Barrie, it comes as the Llewelyn Davies family. Through their interactions and adventures, Barrie can find his own Neverland and create the timeless classic of Peter Pan. Finding Neverland is a fun story that connects you to an unexpected family.

Amelia (PG)

Do you have a little pilot in your midst? Then they'll love this biographical film telling the story of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. It's a cinematic look into one of the most famous female pilots of all time.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (NR)

This is a made-for-TV movie that's worth the watch. It tells the story of Ben Carson, a famous black neurosurgeon. It shows his fight against poverty, prejudice, and bullying. After hard work and determination, he makes it to Yale to become an accomplished surgeon. It's a moving experience showing the power of determination and faith.

The Blind Side (PG-13)

Football movies know how to inspire an audience. The biopic The Blind Side tells the true story of Michael Oher. After growing up with a mom who has a drug addiction, he finds his way into the Tuohy family. Through the love of Leigh Ann and Sean, Michael finds a family to support his dreams. You'll see the importance of survival and never giving up. Sandra Bullock's character, Leigh Ann, will also give you a good laugh!

Inspirational Family Movies Showing the Power of Family

Look around you. The love of a family is one that's hard to truly define. You'd give your life for them. These cinematic greats demonstrate just that feeling!

My Sister's Keeper (PG-13)

This book-turned-into-a-movie is loosely based on the Molly and Adam Nash case. My Sister's Keeper takes you into the life of Kate Fitzgerald, who has acute leukemia. Her sister Anna was born to save her. The twist? Anna is fighting to medically emancipate herself from her parents to avoid giving her sister a kidney. However, the truth isn't always what it seems in this harrowing film showing the power of love between sisters.

Encanto (PG)

In Encanto, Mirabel does everything she can for the ones she loves. Born of a magical family, she has received no gifts. But that doesn't stop her from trying to keep her family from danger. Through a whirlwind adventure, you find out there is no power greater than that your family's love and acceptance.

Steel Magnolias (PG)

Sisterhood comes in all shapes and sizes. Get your tissues ready as Steel Magnolias takes you through the love and tragedy of a small town. Told through the eyes of Annelle Dupuy, the film shows why it doesn't take blood to become sisters.

The War With Grandpa (PG)

It's always hard for kids when change happens. For Peter, change comes in the form of his Grandpa Ed. In The War With Grandpa, Ed's taken over Peter's room - and Peter declares war. It takes a rocky road and lots of laughs for these two to see eye to eye. You'll smile, laugh, and cry at some of the antics, but the feeling of family and support from this kid's movie will hit you right in the heart.

Wonder (PG)

Inspire your family with the wonder that is Wonder. Born with a physical deformity, Auggie has faced many obstacles in his life, but he looks at the world in a beautiful and bright way. Through the movie, you learn to "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. And if you really want to see what people are, all you have to do is look."

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (PG)

Could you imagine a wish becoming your greatest gift? In The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Jim and Cindy Green wanted nothing more than a child. The couple decides to bury their wishes in the backyard. But wishes can't last forever. Watch with joy and tears as Timothy becomes everything the Greens could have ever asked for.

Marley & Me (PG)

Movies about dogs can always bring on the laughter and the tears. Marley & Me is no different. John and Jenny decide they need a pet to figure out if they are ready for parenthood. Marley is far from the model pet. He's untrainable, disobedient, and desperately loyal. Though he's thrown out a time or two, Marley is as much a part of this family as anyone else. Get the tissues ready because Marley & Me shows you just how precious family is.

Conversation Starters to Keep the Inspiration Going

It might not seem like it, but just by watching an inspirational show together, you're teaching children an important lesson they can take into their futures. These family movies aren't just inspiring, they're thought-provoking, too. To keep the conversation going even after the film has ended, you might ask a few questions to make the most of the experience.

  • What did you learn from the movie?
  • Why do you think this film was important?
  • How did this film affect you?
  • What would you do if you do if you were in that situation?
  • Do you think you would have acted the same way?

Inspirational Movies to Give Families All the Feels

Family time is precious. From little kids' movies with a lesson to teen movies showing the power of the human spirit, you can snuggle on the couch and just be together. Kids learn a lesson too. It's a win-win.

28 Inspirational & Thought-Provoking Family Movies