Five Favorite (Free) Films for Family Movie Night

Favorite (Free) Films for Family Movie Night

Friday night at our house is always Pizza Movie Night. I never have to think about what I will make for dinner. The kids never have to wonder what we are doing. We grab a slice and cozy up on the couch for our comfortable, dependable tradition. The only question I have to answer is “what are we watching?”

This often presents a conundrum as the age ranges for Pizza Movie Night viewers is two to forty-three. Barrett prefers Thomas the Train. Sarah Kate likes things about girly girls. Claire is in middle school; she can’t decide what she likes. I like movies that involve emotions. My husband would like to see something blow up. We often end up with the girls somewhat engaged in the movie, hard-working Dad asleep, and Mom and Barrett doing bath and the bedtime routine.

Every once in a while, we hit a homerun with our movie selection. As we sit hip-to-hip under the old blanket we keep in the living room, we all enter the story on the screen. The best of the movies also provide teachable moments for our kids. These are my favorite—when we can use a story to teach life lessons. Story is the connection between theory and life. Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs us to talk to our children about our faith when we sit in our house, when we walk, when we wake, and when we go to bed. This is why we watch movies with our kids, to engage in entertainment for the purpose of influencing their world view.

I thought I would share a few of our family favorites with you for today’s #FridayFive. These movies are available for streaming through PureFlix*, NetFlix, or Amazon Prime, making them free for subscribers.

 

Five Favorite (Free) Family Films

Woodlawn (PG) (PureFlix*)

Family Movie: WoodlawnBased on a true story from my stomping grounds, Woodlawn is an inspiring story about an integrated high school football team in 1973. This story includes an evangelist who impacts the entire team with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a fan of this Erwin Brothers film, not just because it was birthed and filmed right down the road from me, but because it shows the power of the gospel when we are brave enough to share.

Discuss with your family:
How do you feel about sharing your faith? Are you scared? Brave?
Can one person really make a difference?
Do you still see racism in your school?
Do you think love, hope, and kindness can change people?

Check out this post on Shepherd Project for more discussion questions.

 

What If… (PG) (PureFlix* & Netflix)

(Email and RSS friends, click through to the blog to watch.)

A twist on the It’s a Wonderful Life plot, this film explores one man’s what-if life. What if Ben Walker had married his girlfriend and become a pastor instead of a high-profile businessman? This switch-up life leads to some comical moments and expected soul-searching moments. Your kids may recognize Debby Ryan from Disney’s Jessie, giving the movie some instant pre-teen credibility.

Discuss with your family:
How do the choices we make today affect our tomorrow?
Can you recall a choice you made that altered your direction?
Which life made Ben happier and more fulfilled?
What does that tell us about the most important things in life?

 

God’s Not Dead (PG) (Amazon Prime)

Family Movie Night

If you didn’t catch this one in the theaters, you need to enjoy it from the sofa. This film, with its roots deep in apologetics, inspires and encourages first knowing what you believe and then standing up for it. A Christian college student is challenged by his philosophy professor to prove God exists. He rises to the challenge, and in doing so, gives us an example of what it looks like to defend one’s faith. (Parent note: there is a scene of violence and a car crash which might be disturbing for younger viewers.)

Discuss with your family:
Has anyone ever asked you to prove God is real?
Would you be able to give a good defense for what you believe like Josh does in the movie?
What is the difference between faith and knowledge?
How did relationships with non-believers affect the Christians in this movie?

Shepherd Project also has additional discussion points for your family here.

 

Hachi: A Dogs Tale (G) (Netflix)

(Email and RSS friends, click through to the blog to watch.)

Based on a true story, this film will tug at your heartstrings. After his master (played by Richard Gere) succumbs to an illness, his faithful dog waits at a train station daily for years for him to return. This dog teaches everyone around him about loyalty, love, and faithfulness. (Parents, this is a sad movie. Consider your kids’ ability to handle death and grief before pressing play.)

Discuss with your family:
What makes someone or something a hero? Was Hachi a hero?
What was it about Parker Wilson that caused Hachi to be so loyal?
What are ways we can demonstrate loyalty and love today to those who are most important to us?

 

The Princess Bride (PG) (Netflix)

family movies

This is a personal favorite of mine. I fell head-over-heels for this movie when it was released in the late 80’s (imagine me rolling down the hill yelling, “As you wish!”). It was a pleasure to introduce my own children to it not too long ago. Princess Buttercup is rescued by her long-lost love, Wesley. Their fantastic adventures are quirky and exciting. Lessons of love, friendship, and making the right choice in the face of adversity are woven through this fairy-tale type movie. (Parents, this movie does contain violence, kissing, and some language. Read this review for more details.)

Discuss with your family:
What did you think about the kissing?
Who was your favorite hero and why?
While we don’t face R.O.U.S., marriage is full of snags and dangers. What did you learn about the power of true love?
How do Wesley’s sacrifices for Buttercup symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice for us?

I would love to hear from you. What are your family’s favorite movies? Share in the comments below, or join the discussion on Facebook!

 

Friday Five

#FridayFive Link Up

Today’s #FridayFive is writer’s choice! Link up a post, any post. Take a few minutes to visit a link or two and leave a comment. I can’t wait to see what you have to share!

#FridayFive June

Next week we are sharing dreams. I hope to see you then!

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PureFlix FREE Trial

*PureFlix is a family-friendly movie subscription service (similar to Netflix). Try it free for one month and catch some great new faith-based releases such as Woodlawn and Rumors of Wars.

Recommended Resources

Plugged InPlugged In

Plugged In is perhaps the best resource for families to use when choosing which movies to watch and which to filter. Movie reviewers provide parents with information regarding language, sexual content, spiritual considerations, violence, as well as commentary from a critics point of view. It is our family’s first stop before pressing play.

Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

 

Chuck Colson’s 50 Films Every Christian Should SeeChuck Colson

“As some of you may know, Chuck loved movies. He saw them as a wonderful way to communicate truth and the many characteristics of our loving and all-powerful God. By viewing and studying certain films, he believed we could be inspired to live better lives. I think he was right.” Read more here.

 

 

 

Product links are affiliate links.

Photo credit: Pawel Kadysz and Tracy Thomas via Unsplash.

Five Favorite (Free) Films for Family Movie Night

 

10 Comments

  1. I love this list! Thank you for sharing! I am always on the lookout for good Family Friendly Free Movies!! The only one on the list I have seen is God’s Not Dead! Need to get my movie watching game ON!

  2. Awesome list! Gives me some great ideas! The only one I’ve seen is God’s Not Dead.

    Going to do my best to link up later today. My computer died earlier this week, and I won’t be able to get it fixed for a while. 🙁

  3. I haven’t seen “What If” and my daughter loves Jessie so we’ll be finding that one for sure! My husband said he can’t watch “Hachi” again… it took too much out of him. So good though!

  4. Great Friday Five!! Great movies! I haven’t seen Hachi yet. I should probably do that.

  5. The Princess Bride. Classic. Makes the think about my Dad.

  6. We enjoyed all five of these! So thankful for plugged in, too.
    Facing the Giants, On the Edge, God’s Not Dead, Fireproof, and What Would Jesus Do? starring John Schneider and Adam Gregory.

  7. This will come in handy! We do have pizza nights on Friday nights too but haven’t combined it with movie night yet.

  8. Loved God’s Not Dead and Princess Bride! Will have to add the others to my list 🙂

  9. Thank you for this list! We are inevitably stumped for Friday night family movie night (tradition in our house too). We have Netflix and Amazon Prime, but the quality picking always seems slim. We have loved some of the foreign films we have seen, but with subtitles they aren’t practical for kids! Looking forward to seeing some of these suggestions 🙂

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