Introduce Your Kids To Sci-Fi With These 15 Must See, Age-Appropriate Genre Movies

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Kids movies generally fall into only one of two categories: The kind you show them to keep them busy while you do something else, and the kind you share with them in the hopes that it’ll be something they remember and cherish for the rest of their lives. It’s that second kind of movie we’re talking about here, the movies you have shown or will show your sons and daughters to let them in on the things you care about. The movies you show them in the hopes that it’ll make them better people, or at least help fuel a lifelong obsession for things that are good.

I plan to spend a lot of time sharing that second kind of movie with my child, in particular I hope to pass along my love of science fiction. To do that, I’ll have to start early before their brains are stuffed full of that first kind of film, before they’ve been warped by watching The Smurfs or Beverly Hills Chihuaha. But how do you do that? I can’t wait to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan with my kid, but realize I’d probably better wait till the little bugger’s eight or even ten, unless I want Khan’s earwigs to turn her or him into a permanent bedwetter. Jurassic Park? Kids love dinosaurs but odds are mom will think severed arms should wait till their nine. I’ll have to ease them into it.

To get my kids interested in science fiction I can’t wait until they’re old enough, or settle for whatever’s playing on Cartoon Network. I hear Ben 10 is a lot of fun and Phineas and Ferb are often up to some pretty fantastical shenanigans, but when I want to start my kid on the road to sharing the wide open world of ideas that is sci-fi, this is what I’ll put in front of them.

The Iron Giant (1999)
Never has any movie done a better job of feeding that universal little boy need for a robot pal better than this one. In The Iron Giant a massive alien robot ends up on planet Earth, where he befriends a boy named Hogarth before being chased all through kingdom come by the angry US army. The first film from Incredibles and Ratatouille director Brad Bird, it’s maybe the last truly great 2D animated movie ever produced. Touching, sweet, and beautiful to look at the movie sticks with you almost unlike any other. Share it and it’s the kind of film that will stick with your kid for a lifetime. Don’t be surprised if twenty-years from now an all grown up Benjamin turns to you and says, “Hey dad, remember that time we watched The Iron Giant?”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Enemy Mine and Time Bandits are both more worthy than Space Jam…I’d also include Lilo & Stitch.

  2. Joe Fiore says:

    Tron’s effects have indeed aged well. They still look amazing.

    To say otherwise is just silly.

    When the BLu-Ray came out, my friend and I were marveling over how great those effects look to this day.

  3. HDW says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s brought this up, but Planet of the Apes contains full-frontal nudity (although it’s from a distance.) Plus, it’s fairly violent at times. I don’t know if it’s really age-appropriate. That being said, its commentary about race relations would be great for kids who are old enough to grasp such concepts. The behind the scenes footage also reveals some profound effects the division of classes of ape had on the cast.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My sister and I grew up in the 80s, and one of our absolute favorite movies was “Explorers,” with a young River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke.  It’s about three boys who build a spaceship out of an old tilt-a-whirl cab and zoom off to meet aliens.  So much fun, full of adventure, and it has the heartfelt 80’s touch that modern family films ignore in favor of bright, flashy colors, sassy kids, and inept adults.  If I had to choose between “Explorers” and “Flight of the Navigator,” I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. 

    I’d almost want to recommend “Spaceballs,” too, but I think the language would be a barrier for a lot of people with young children.  I saw it as soon as it came out on video, so I was probably 8 or 9 at the time, and I memorized the dialogue so well that to this day I can still spout it at the drop of a hat.  “1-2-3-4-5?  Amazing, I have the same combination on my luggage!”


    It was, IMO, Mel Brooks last truly hilarious film (though “Men in Tights” was a lot of fun), and it’s full of enough screwball humor and silliness that even small children would love it.  I mean, John Candy’s character is a man-dog named Barf.  How would any ten year old NOT love that?

    But yeah, if you don’t want to expose your children to a number of uses of the “S” word, and at least one utterance of the F-bomb, it’s probably best to wait till they’re older (and understand what words are bad and shouldn’t be repeated).  Then you can sit them down to a triple feature of “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Spaceballs” with a clear conscience.

  5. SG1 says:

    …Enemy Mine….

  6. Deck says:

    “Castle in the Sky” would be in my top 5.

  7. Ahtesham says:

    I really liked Tron and Back to the Future when I watched them. Thx nice website.

  8. Beverly Ann Nelms says:

    When I was a kid I couldn’t stand waiting for Robinson Crusoe on Mars to come back on. They showed it about twice a year. I have no idea why I don’t own it now.

  9. Vivian Wong says:

    My Daughter just turned seven this month and her favorite movies are Logan’s Run, Ghostbusters, and Planet of the Apes. I wasn’t going to let her watch Avatar or Hunger games but she did, with constant every second supervision 🙂 (she does archery so this was a thumbs up for her) She also likes Titan A.E. She has also atch at least 75% of the original B&w Twilight Zone episodes. Also Terra Nova and some others. I reluctantly tried the movie 9 when she was 5, mostly because she wouldn’t stop asking. I thought it would be too disturbing for her but she loved it. I had some tickets for “free screening” of Jurassic Park 3D and she begged to go, she was actually a little bored, I thought she would have bad dreams. I know some of these might be a bit much for some kids even 10, but I think you know your own child and what they can handle. Of course I havefirmly put my foot down on the zombie/walker movies she keeps asking to watch. I let her watch Warm Bodies with me and told her when she turns 10 we will talk about it again. She has heard about Back to the Future but I totally forgot she hadn’t seen it! we have our movie for tonight, enjoying spring break, thanks for the suggestions!

  10. I’m surprised about Ghostbusters. The bad language is a bit rampant in that one for kids.