100 Movies From 1975–2005 That Every Kid Should/Could See (Part FIVE!)

Since I now have an abundant of free time lately with my family, it’s a good time to think about some classic films that my kids should see from my past childhood. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of seeing Frozen 2 for the 16th time or watch their brains melt from the countless hours of iPad watching. I’d much rather introduce them to movies that are either culturally relevant, historically interesting or even more technically superior and, well, better written movies. I chose 100 for this list but a lot of these picks are part of franchises and have sequels and prequels or spin-offs that could also be decent choices. This list is from 1975 to around 2005 which is right before my kids were born (truth is I also couldn’t think of much past 2005 anyway that is worth showing them) and it’s mostly personal choices of flicks I enjoyed at various stages in my development as a film connoisseur. The list will be in chronological order to make things easier to list for me. And I will also point out age ratings since there will be more mature content in some of these choices. I also didn’t mention any animated movies or movies that are only aimed for children—This list is mainly adult or teenaged geared movies since Gen Z kids are nearing, or close to, 10-years of age now. Quick tangent—are you like me and have some strange apprehension to showing the same movies to your kids at the same age you saw them? Like, by the time I was 10 I saw Die Hard, Nightmare on Elm Street and Full Metal Jacket but oddly enough I balk at the choice for my own kids even though I turned out OK (mostly). So take that into consideration when choosing any of these 100 choices while under quarantine and decide to pop on say, Silence of the Lambs for your 7-year-old.

 

GoldenEye (1995)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Every kid should be introduced to James Bond. The longest and arguably the best franchise in film history still going til this day. However, I held off until 1995’s GoldenEye because well, frankly every pick from 1975–1995 is a tough call. Pierce Brosnan’s debut is a good middle-ground for what a 007 movie is. Before the more intense and serious Daniel Craig’s and the over-the-top and sometimes silly Roger Moore’s. While 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the best ones and the two Dalton’s are totally underrated, Bronsnan’s rebooted the series and finely balanced the serious action, tongue-in-cheek humor and quirky gadgets and weaponry. By no means, should you stop here but if the kids like this one then check out the others.

 


Apollo 13 (1995)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Kids today like space and astrometry, right? Well even if they didn’t they should still like this fascinating and thrilling survival movie. I recently rewatched it after a decades-long stretch and still found it as great as I remembered it. Sure, it’s been 50 years (last weekend!) since this historic event took place and space exploration has progressed a lot since then but the concept and aspirations of reaching the heavens is still the same.

 

 

 


Matilda (1996)

Age appropriate: 5-ish

Truth be told this is an odd choice—but for me. I never loved this movie and to this day I still don’t know how it ends (other than happily, I’m sure). I was too old to really experience this flick but I know it’s perfect for kids. But something always rubbed me the wrong way with this. Not sure why. It sounds like I’m bashing this Danny DeVito kids classic but really, it is a perfect afternoon movie for the little ones.

 

 


The Fifth Element (1997)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

One of the better and memorable, family-friendly sci-fi movies of the 90s, The Fifth Element is a perfect choice for the whole family. The whimsical and often weird tone as well as goofy humor should please most kids. I almost forgot about this movie when I was making this list and had to bump off something else to make it a solid 100. But I think I made the right call as this is a fun flick that is easy to watch. The kids will love Milla Jovovich’s almost child-like cute demeanor as well as Gary Oldman’s zany villain. And don’t forget Chris Tucker’s over-the-top performance as Ruby Rhod. It’s been a while since I last saw this but I’m very positive that this could be fun.

 


Men In Black (1997)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

There’s a lot of decent Will Smith choices in this era (Independence Day, Wild Wild West) but Men in Black is the best of them. Like The Fifth Element, this is a sc-fi comedy/actioner that never takes itself seriously and has a lot of fun. Great special effects and fun creature/alien design will sure to entertain the kiddos. Highly recommended.

Something occurred to me while starting this part of the list and I’d like to point out that the later 90s and early aughts are a period when I was older, more mature and less likely to watch a movie multiple times due to being busier. I also saw less movies (especially ones geared towards family or younger audiences). So maybe a few of these choices may seem lazy or I won’t have a lot to say about them—not to say they aren’t good choices—I just realized that I am biased to these movies for not being “iconic” as the 70s and 80s when I watched them with “younger” eyes.


The Wedding Singer (1998)

Age appropriante: 13-ish

A 90s movie homaging the glory days of the 80s is a fun way to have a good laugh or three. The late 90s was peak Adam Sandler creatively and I think this is his best flick. Less sophomoric than Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer has more heart and more mature jokes to make for a better well-rounded movie. Sure it still has its goofy moments but they are “cleaner” and better for a family movie night.

 

 

 


There’s Something About Mary (1998)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

I was on the fence about this Farrelly Brothers movie. It’s arguably their best comedy but the subject matter is for more mature audiences and not sure how well this will suit teenagers, especially young ones. It’s really just the semen hanging from Ben Stiller’s ear scene if I really think about it as everything else is probably fine. It’s still the funniest gag in the movie though and it’s just the Catholic/Puritan in me censoring what is appropriate or not. A little jizz joke won’t scar the kids right? But really, this is one helluva comedy and I watched it recently and it’s still a laugh-riot.

 

 


The Matrix (1999)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Can’t NOT include the movie that revolutionized action special effects plus has a really sophisticated sci-fi/philosophical theme. The first one is still a marvel of filmmaking and surely will have to be passed down to generations. While some of the fashion and design is a little cornball for today’s audiences (it was odd in ’99 too), I still feel this will delight kids of all ages still today.

 

 

 


Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

I don’t know what it is about this Tim Burton gothic horror film that I love so much that other people don’t. To me, you can’t get much better in a Halloween-feeling movie. Sure the original story is twisted and changed a lot but it’s still a fun and thrilling and creepy movie. In my opinion this is Tim Burton’s last great movie. After this he has been doing mostly lukewarm remakes. I maintain that this is a great family-friendly horror flick.

 

 

 


X-Men (2000)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

This movie feels old now. And it is 20 years old—crazy. The first definitive comic book adaptation movie for the new century/millennium that actually worked well. Great casting for the Marvel mutant team and great effects as well. Almost a decade before the MCU started their assembly-line of good/great superhero movies, Bryan Singer’s X-Men started it all with a more complicated comic book movie featuring multitude of heroes, villains and concepts that was still going until last year. Now that the MCU owns the rights again, the X-Men will surely be rebooted and probably for the better but Singer’s first 2 movies were fantastic and still entertaining to this day.

 


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

The fantasy epic of all fantasy epics! What Star Wars was to sci-fi and Jaws was to horror, Peter Jackson’s mega-blockbuster trilogy is still great to this day. Despite the running times of each movie, you might think this could be a slog or a tough marathon but I recently watched it and if the youngsters can sit fine through Avenger’s Infinity War and Endgame then this will be a breeze as well. The only hinderance is the lack of female roles in the first installment so this might not be interesting enough to a select number of kids. But it’s still a bona-fide beautifully looking classic and one that I look forward to showing my kids.

 


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

The fantasy epic of all fantasy epics! FOR KIDS! Yes, this list wouldn’t be complete without J.K. Rowling’s literary phenomenon’s film adaptations. My kids love the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, more so than Star Wars or Marvel stuff. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe it’s because it has to do with kids learning to be wizards. All I know is my oldest daughter read all the books very quickly and is obsessed with the franchise. When the films started out I had read only the first book (and didn’t much care for it) and didn’t much care for the movies (either) until The Prisoner of Azkaban (the 3rd one). The rest of the series is well-done enough that the whole family will enjoy them, although it’s still not my favorite franchise. But I’m an old man and this franchise started when I was an old man.

 


Spider-Man (2002)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

Since Sam Raimi’s take on the friendly-neighborhood webslinger there has been 2 reboots to the character of Peter Parker. So I don’t blame most kids not seeing this nearly 20-year-old version but it’s above and beyond the the two Andrew Garfield bombs and is still a enjoyable comic book flick for not just its time but for today as well. Raimi took great care of the beloved Marvel hero and even toned down his very unique and quirky style just a bit. to make sure this movie didn’t veer into Evil Dead zaniness. Tobey Maguire did a great job being the vulnerable, yet strong-willed Peter Parker and the rest of the cast did a bang-up job as well.

 

 


The Bourne Identity (2002)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

The movie that revitalized the boring spy thriller, Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne may seem to be too complicated or sophisticated for teenagers but I recently watched this after a long absence and it’s surprisingly simple and easy to follow. It’s also a action/adventure that is light on the potty-mouthing and nudity so this is actually a great choice for kids. I’d give this a shot for sure.

 

 

 


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Age appropriate: 7-ish

What seems like a no-brainer of a choice but then again it’s in that timeframe of release that I’m not sure if the young kids born in the late aughts are even aware of the Johnny Depp film franchise. Especially the first few. But I remember this being a surprisingly well made fun and exciting movie. I don’t know what prompted me and my friends to see this in theaters when we were around 25-years-old but it’s one of the few instances of us all being very pleasantly shocked at what we saw and how much we enjoyed it. I think because it seemed like a Disney produced “kids” flick based on a Disneyland ride. But lo and behold it became a mega blockbusting franchise that is still fun to watch today.

 


School of Rock (2003)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

A decent movies with kids that was geared more for adults at the time, it’s one of those rare movies that is entertaining for all ages while not patronizing to one demographic. Jack Black is great as the nitwit rocker-cum-teacher who leads a great cast of misfit musicians. It’s also worth noting that most of the music is classic rock and key to introducing today’s kids to some timeless tunes.

 

 

 


Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

This movie is probably still as dumb, weird, confusing and charming as I remember it. Yes it’s dumb but if this movie doesn’t appeal to today’s YouTubers and TikTokers I don’t know what will. I’m actually quite curious how my kids will react to this ridiculous movie.

 

 

 

 


Mean Girls (2004)

Age appropriate: 10-ish

Forgive me but I don’t remember much from this Tina Fey scripted high school comedy. I only saw it once. So why am I recommending it? Probably because it’s one of the few decently written and entertaining cinematic movies about class/clique warfare that most kids in middle-school and high school with easily identify with. It’s also a pop culture phenomenon really and most kids should see it just to get the memes.

    

 

 


United 93 (2006)

Age appropriate: 13-ish

Probably the hardest movie to show our kids—for us—not as much for them. While Schindler’s List is more devastating in terms of scope, this one will surely bring us back to that fateful morning of September 11th. But if you’ve ever seen Paul Greengrass’ almost documentary feel to the events of that day, you’ll know it’s a great way to teach the kids about this dreadful event. An event I deem so culturally important I’m not caring I went past my 2005 time frame for this list. I never saw Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center but that one isn’t as critically lauded as United 93 and feels more like a movie-movie since it has stars Nicolas Cage, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, while United 93 feels more like a documentary with no A-list actors. At any rate, I’m sure both are good choices but I would rather use United 93 to express the disbelief and sorrow of that day.


I hope some of these films on this list help you in determining or giving you ideas of what “old” movies our kids might enjoy. I suppose I didn’t really have that kind of experience of my folks showing me their old movies. I remember watching movies with them, but they were the ones on this list! My dad never really tried to show me old war movies like The Dirty Dozen or The Bridge on the River Kwai. My mom told me about some decent older flicks like The Exorcist or The Goodbye Girl but I mostly watched them on my own. I suppose I adore films and cinema more than they did and relish in the idea of showing them impressive movies—it’s almost a task that I need to do. I also feel (and will argue profusely) that I grew up in the best era of filmmaking for compelling, exciting and clever stories coupled with equally impressive special effects and talent behind the camera so I feel like most of these 100 films need to be seen by the passing generations. 

Later today I will post a list of 100 other “honorable mentions” of the same time frame that are equally impressive in their own right but just not as much as the initial 100.

I’m sure I left off a few that maybe could debatably should be included. I will admit some on this list is because of personal reference. I also made this list kinda fast and using mostly my home library of titles to reference from. I have a monumental collection of titles but I’m sure one or two could be missing. I would love to know of any that you, the readers here, would include instead, so let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “100 Movies From 1975–2005 That Every Kid Should/Could See (Part FIVE!)

  1. I haven’t looked at the honourable mentions list yet (that’ll be my next stop!), but the only two major omissions from me are The Blues Brothers and Big Fish. The Blues Brothers is my all-time favourite movie soundtrack, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd together are perfection, and that movie opened the door for so much great music in my life. Also, it’s still so funny today! The car chases are so zany and over-the-top, it’s amazing.

    And Big Fish might not be for everyone, but I related so much to the main character because my dad was the same kind of storyteller to us growing up, everything so embellished and fantastical that it became hard to distinguish fact from fiction. It’s so quirky and charming, I can’t help but love it. The scene at the carnival where Ed Bloom describes how time stands still when you’re falling in love and then has to speed up after to overcompensate is pure magic.

    Liked by 1 person

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