15 Movies To Keep Your Kids Busy
If you've got kids, chances are they're cooped up at home with you during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. If that's the case, and you're working from home, it might be hard to concentrate. After all, how can you get your work done when you've also got kids to entertain?
Thankfully, some movies like Trolls: World Tour are getting early digital releases. Still, there are only so many new releases to show your kids and way too many hours in the day to distract them. Luckily, there are so many movies your kids have probably never seen--and more than a few classics that are easy to revisit time and again.
So what do you show your kids to divert their attention so you can get some work done? The GameSpot editorial team put its heads together to figure out the answer to that problem and we've come up with 15 movies--some of which have excellent sequels--that are perfect fare for your children. Take a look at them below but beware: it'll be easy for you to get caught up in most of these too.
And speaking of things you should be watching, consider listening to GameSpot's weekly TV series and movies-focused podcast, You Should Be Watching. With new episodes premiering every Wednesday, you can watch a video version of the podcast over on GameSpot Universe or listen to audio versions on Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play, and Apple Podcasts.
1. The Peanuts Movie
Sure, everyone knows about It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas. If you need a distraction for your child, though, look no further than 2015's The Peanuts Movie. The first time I saw this, I was struck by how good it was. There are plenty of adventure movies aimed at younger audiences. This isn't that, though. Instead, it just follows Charlie Brown and his friends as a new kid moves to town and somehow manages to be engaging and entertaining throughout. Plus, there's a Snoopy side story that pits him against the Red Baron during World War I, because why not? - Chris E. Hayner
2. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
If you haven't shown your kid ET yet, shame on you. However, you're in luck because now is the perfect time to expose them to one of Steven Spielberg's best works. Honestly, there's a few Spielberg movies worth showing your children while they're stuck at home--including The BFG and Hook, which we'll talk about later--but they all pale in comparison to ET. The first time I saw this as a child, I was mesmerized. This movie is funny, thrilling, and sometimes scary. Ultimately, this tale of a boy and his alien friend is the perfect escape for cooped up kids. - Chris E. Hayner
3. The Goonies
The '80s classic is just as good today as it was when you were a child. It's practically every kid's dream to go on an epic adventure with their best friends and for most of us, that's because The Goonies made it look so fun. Each of the young characters is played so well and the movie's villains are downright creepy. If you haven't shown your kid the movies of your childhood, The Goonies is a wonderful place to start. Maybe you'll luck out and, after the movie, they'll take inspiration from Data and build contraptions that keep them busy. - Chris E. Hayner
Hook is a good movie and I will debate anybody who disagrees. It's Robin Williams playing an adult Peter Pan, so what's not to love? As a kid, I was mesmerized by this live-action version of Neverland, bright and colorful, stuffed with over-the-top characters. As an adult, nothing has really changed. There's no denying this is a very silly movie, and some of it hasn't aged well. Why is Phil Collins in it as a detective? Who cares? Robin Williams is Peter Pan, Dustin Hoffman is Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys have a food fight with neon-colored whipped cream. Bangarang, indeed. - Chris E. Hayner
5. The Muppet Movie
Any of the Muppet movies are worth showing your kids while being socially distanced from the world. Why not start at the beginning and let your kids get to know Kermit the Frog and his merry band of misfits from the beginning? After all, eventually new Muppets content is coming to Disney+. What's more, every child deserves to know the joy of Gonzo.
Don't just stop with The Muppet Movie, though. Keep going with The Great Muppet Caper and continue all the way through Muppets Most Wanted--that ought to keep the kids busy for a while. - Chris E. Hayner
Seeing this here should come as no surprise if you follow GameSpot's entertainment offerings. Since its 2018 release, I've been shouting from the rooftops about the greatness of Paddington 2 and the movie it followed is just as good. Both are terrific options for keeping your kids distracted, plus you don't have to worry about any objectionable content. After all, Paddington's life motto is "If you're kind and polite, the world will be right." What's more wholesome than that? And when they're done, show them Paddington 2 for good measure. - Chris E. Hayner
7. The Iron Giant
Before Vin Diesel was Dominic Toretto, of Xander Cage or--my apologies for this one--Bloodshot, he had arguably his best role: the title characters in The Iron Giant. While audiences are delighted by every new Pixar movie that comes out or endlessly entertained by whatever the Minions are up to, The Iron Giant is, hands down, one of the best animated movies of all time. It follows a young boy named Hogarth who befriends the 50-foot robotic Iron Giant and attempts to guard him from a military that wants to exploit the massive machine.
The Iron Giant is beautifully animated and, ultimately, a simple story of friendship between a boy and a robot. If you somehow haven't shown this to your children yet, now is the time. - Chris E. Hayner
8. Toy Story
As one of the few resident parents here at GameSpot, I can tell you--without a doubt--that kids want to watch Toy Story movies. "Oh, you want to see Frozen 2 for the millionth time or watch Blippi go to the same children's museum? How about some Buzz Lightyear instead?" That's right. All I have to say is "Buzz Lightyear," and we are off to the races. Not only are these movies great and hold a child's attention, but there are four of them, so you won't be stuck in a vicious cycle of watching the same one over and over and over again. - Mat Elfring
I never, ever, ever thought I would watch the movie Sing, which seemed like a mash-up of animation and every singing reality show I hated in 2016. Then, I had a kid, and one day, he wanted to watch it. Sing is great at holding the attention of a young one, and the movie isn't bad. It's fun, bright, and the musical numbers are pretty catchy. The movie is actually about someone who owns a theater and puts together a singing competition. There's a bit more to it than that, but the easy-to-follow plot, anthropological animals, and catchy songs make this the ultimate distraction for any child. - Mat Elfring
10. The Monster Squad
This one's for the older kids in your house. The Monster Squad is rated PG-13 and it's one of the most imaginative stories you can dream of. The Universal Monsters are back and working together to bring the scares and rule the world. The only force that can stop them is, of course, a group of kids that go toe-to-toe with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and the Wolfman. This movie is fun, funny, scary, and something your kids need in their lives. - Chris E. Hayner
My daughter Rose is 5 and like many 5-year-olds, loves movies and shows about amazing animals. Sure, she likes Anna, Elsa, Moana, Minions, and Boss Baby. But give her a funny movie about a heroic dog, then I can guarantee myself at least 90 minutes where I can get some work done while we're all stuck inside. Bolt was released back in 2008, and can now be found on Disney+. It tells the story of the titular White Shepherd, who is the star of a hit TV show about a super-powered dog. Like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, Bolt believes the show is real, and must learn to be brave when he discovers he doesn't really have special powers. It's a fast-moving, funny film, and while it was only a modest hit at the time, it ushered in the new era of animated Disney movies that led to the likes of Tangled and Frozen. - Dan Auty
12. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Into the Spider-Verse is the best superhero origin movie at this time. We did it. Thanks, Sony, for making a unique and extremely fun Spider-Man movie. What makes this a great movie for kids is the animation style--which is unlike anything else. It grabs your attention, and it never lets it go. Plus, it's just a really fun Spider-Man story featuring a whole bunch of different Spider-people. Who doesn't want a Spider-Man movie with all the Spider-Men and Women? The only issue with this movie is that it will distract you as well as your children. I'm speaking from experience. - Mat Elfring
13. Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The epic horsie saga Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is one of my daughter's favorites. She came to it via the more recent spin-off Netflix show Spirit: Riding Free, but even at her young age, she can tell the movie is the real deal. It's got an A-list voice cast (Matt Damon, James Cromwell), an inspiring storyline, and the beautiful hand-drawn animation is a striking reminder of how effective more traditional styles are in this age of CG cartoons. There's a new Spirit movie on the way next year too, so expect interest in the 1999 original to increase. And if your horse-loving kids enjoy it, here are some must-see horsie movies you can watch right now on Disney+. - Dan Auty
14. The Princess Bride
Looking for something to keep the kids entertained as you work? As you wish. The Princess Bride has it all: Swashbuckling sword fights, pirates, Rodents Of Unusual Size, giants, witches, and of course, true love. It's a timeless and hilarious movie that's as entertaining and quotable for adults as it is for kids. Plus, it'll also teach them the word 'inconceivable' at an early age, so they can get a head start on the other kids when they eventually go back to school. - Lucy James
15. The Neverending Story
Look, I'm about to be one of those awful people. The book The Neverending Story is better than the movie. Remember how The Neverending Story 2's plot seemed almost identical to the first film? That's because it is the same plot, with some extra editions cut out of the first film. Blah blah blah. I read a book once. Seriously though, it's a good book.
I'm not talking specifically about this movie because you know it's awesome. It's one of the greatest fantasy films of all time. There's giant rock men, a Child-like Empress, a kid travelling into the world of a book, and the villain is literally nothing. This movie rules. If you disagree with me, you're just wrong, and you probably cheered when Artax sank in the Swamp of Sadness, you monster. Also, the theme song to the movie is the jam. -Mat Elfring