G-rated movies, denoted as “General Audiences” by the Motion Picture Association of America, are crafted to be suitable for viewers of all ages. Recall the movies you viewed in elementary school? Chances are, they were G-rated. While many such movies cater to younger viewers, they hold appeal for all ages. Family-friendly entertainers, these films offer tales of magic, wonder, adventure, and often, invaluable life lessons.
One thing to keep in mind when looking at a film’s rating, especially an older film’s rating, is that the MPAA originally only had 4 different options: G, M, R, and X. So while there are many G-rated children’s films, there are many older classics that were also given a G-rating. Some movies on this list would be rated PG or PG-13 if they were released today. A lot of Disney movies are rated G, but since the 2010s, they’re almost all PG. That being said, movies like A Bug’s Life, The Great Mouse Detective, and The Little Mermaid are excellent G-rated movies, they just didn’t make our list.
There are so many amazing G-rated films, but this list is here to give you a variety of the very best. We have several options including Disney, live-action, fairy tales, anime, musicals, black-and-white classics, and made-for-TV releases. For all you parents looking for family-friendly films, this is a perfect collection to get you ready for the next family movie night.
Best G-rated Movies
21. The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
The Emperor’s New Groove is one of the many amazing Disney movies that get swept under the rug. Yzma and Kronk are two of the greatest characters ever created, and Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton perform them flawlessly.
The film follows Kuzco, a spoiled emperor, who gets turned into a llama by his former advisor, Yzma. He teams up with a peasant man named Pacha to reverse the llama curse and stop Yzma from taking the throne. Younger viewers love this movie, but the plot and animation hold up for adults and children alike. It is laugh-out-loud funny, beautifully colorful, and has the gold voice-acting standard.
20. Ferngully: The Last Rainforest
Do you want to watch an entertaining movie that will also teach your kids about environmental safety? 1992’s Fergully: The Last Rainforest is the film for you. Christian Slater and Robin Williams star in this fantastical journey of preservation. It’s about woodland creatures trying to save their home from the destruction caused by pollution and deforestation.
It features everyone’s favorite villain, Tim Curry, as Hexxus, the vile smoke and oil that is corrupting the rainforest. This movie was shown in science classes everywhere across the U.S. The educational value is a bonus, but it is also funny, musical, and a lot of fun to watch.
19. Thumbelina (1994)
Thumbelina is about a girl who is about the size of a walnut. One night, she is visited by a fairy prince, and the two fall deeply in love. Before he can whisk her away to get married, the poor girl is kidnapped three different times by three different people. The villains who try to take her are a family of toads, a sleazy beetle, and a rich mole, all of whom want to marry her.
This movie has some of the best music ever to be in an animated film and has an incredible cast including Charo, Gilbert Gottfried, and Jodi Benson.
18. Scooby-Doo! in Where’s My Mummy? (2005)
The golden age for Scooby-Doo TV movies was absolutely the 2000s. And the best of them all is 2005’s Scooby-Doo! in Where’s My Mummy? Velma is in Egypt for an archeological dig in the Sphinx, and the mystery gang decides to visit her. Things quickly go awry when an amulet is discovered and a hidden tomb opens up.
The gang fights tomb raiders who are trying to steal ancient artifacts to sell for profit, all while being haunted by Cleopatra’s curse. It has people turning to stone, an incredible chase scene set to a killer song, Christine Baranski, and a Shaggy and Scooby side adventure.
17. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
1952’s Singin’ in the Rain takes place in 1927 during the age of ‘talkies.’ Don and Lina are a famous on-screen couple, although Lina is in love for real. Their next picture is a musical, and Kathy is brought in to dub over Lina’s singing. The movie is about the love triangle that forms, Kathy’s rise into stardom, as well as the newfound friendship that develops during the making of the film.
Starring the incomparable Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, this movie has intricate dance sequences, fun musical numbers, old-fashioned comedy, and a scene where someone actually sings in the rain.
16. Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Muppet Treasure Island came out in 1996 and is an absolute classic. Young cabin boy Jim Hawkins discovers a treasure map, but pirates led by Long John Silver (Tim Curry) are planning to steal the treasure for themselves. The plot is genuinely entertaining, and there are musical numbers interspersed. All the songs make sense in context, and “Cabin Fever” is a bop.
The most popular Muppets in the 90s were Kermit the Frog, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Sam Eagle. Other characters like Miss Piggy were simply featured. This movie has it all: Tim Curry, pirates, a bar brawl, gold, deception, and sword fights.
15. Finding Nemo (2003)
Finding Nemo is a film by Disney’s Pixar that is so beautifully animated that it can be watched over and over without the audience getting bored. The jellyfish, the coral, the seas of colorful fish, and the water are all impressively done and it solidified Pixar as a leader in the 3D animation field.
Marlin is an overprotective dad to his son, Nemo. On his first day of school, Nemo gets kidnapped by humans and is put in a fish tank. Marlin scours the ocean looking for Nemo, and he meets various characters along the way including sharks, sea turtles, a pelican, and a peculiar fish named Dory.
14. Princess and the Frog (2009)
The Princess And The Frog is a criminally under-appreciated Disney movie. There are scary visuals, and if it were released today, I’m sure it would have a PG rating. This movie is about a young girl named Tiana who is a hard worker determined to have her own restaurant one day. Tiana finds a frog prince and kisses him, transforming herself into a frog, due to some dark magic.
Like many movies on this list, the musical numbers are unmatched. The characters are endearing, the plot is interesting, and the visuals are colorful and frightening.
13. Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Monster’s Inc is a utility company that provides power to the monster world via the screams of children. Sully and Mike are best friends and coworkers who, after staying late one night, discover a human child. They decide to protect her since monsters believe that humans are toxic.
John Goodman and Billy Crystal star alongside Steve Buscemi and James Coburn in this heartwarming and hilarious movie. The monster designs are creative in a way that won’t scare the kids watching it, and the world is immersive enough that kids can buy into the idea that the monsters are really nice and just pretending to be scary. Monster’s Inc is a movie for the whole family.
12. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
Studio Ghibli has had many hits, and its films are typically geared toward older children. Most are rated PG, but a few, like Kiki’s Delivery Service, are rated G. It’s a fun coming-of-age story with lovable characters, cute animation, and magic.
Kiki is a fan favorite, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s about a young witch who has set out to live on her own. She settles in a city to focus on her training. She starts a delivery business that she runs with the help of her adorable cat, Jiji, and her magic broomstick. However, she finds it difficult to fit into this new life, and starts to have trouble flying.
11. Toy Story (1995)
There is a lot of hype around Toy Story, and that’s because it’s just a good movie. It’s hard to find a single flaw. Toy Story is actually the first full-length feature film to be entirely computer animated. It’s extremely well-rated on any and every site you’ll see (including IMDb user rating), and it has a stacker score of 97.3/100.
The story is about what your toys do when you’re not looking. Rivals Woody and Buzz accidentally get left behind when their boy, Andy, is packing to move. The pair must team up to escape from the evil neighbor and return to their kid. All of the Toy Story movies are great, but the first one takes the cake.
10. Hercules (1997)
Who puts the glad in gladiator? Hercules is the son of Zeus who was banished to earth by Hades, and he has to prove himself to join the gods in Olympus. On his journey to becoming a hero, Hercules meets Pegasus and Phil and falls in love with a girl named Meg. But the villain, Hades, is the best character of them all.
Alan Menken, who does the music for nearly every Disney animated feature, really nailed it in Hercules. Not to mention, the film features the vocal talents of Susan Egan, James Woods, and Danny DeVito. If you’ve seen this movie, you know what’s up. If you know, you know.
9. Ratatouille (2007)
Ratatouille is one of the greatest Disney movies. It is directed toward a young audience, but it’s just a seriously good movie that anyone can sit down and enjoy. The premise is so creative and it is executed masterfully. It’s impossible not to love this movie.
Remy is a rat living in Paris who dreams of being a chef. He finds himself in a kitchen where he meets Linguini, a man who couldn’t cook if his life depended on it. The two team up in a way that Remy can cook in a famous restaurant and Linguini can have a successful career: by having the rat control the man via his hair.
8. The Lion King (1994)
Young Simba is the heir to the throne after his father Mufasa, but his uncle Scar is villainously envious. Scar enacts his evil plan, and Simba ends up running away and meeting Timon and Pumbaa, who eventually help him reunite with his estranged family so he can take his rightful place as king.
The Lion King is widely regarded as Disney’s greatest 2D animated feature. This is a great one to watch with the whole family. Again the music is incredible; Hans Zimmer won the Oscar for best score and Elton John won the Oscar for best song with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
7. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder tells the same story as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Johnny Depp version, but it is much more true to the book. They are pretty different, so it’s hard to say which is definitively better, but this one is better.
Charlie Bucket, along with four other kids, wins a tour of the mystical chocolate factory. The secrets within are more than any of them would’ve imagined, and maybe more than they bargained for. You’ll feel like you won the golden ticket watching this movie.
6. The Sound of Music (1965)
The Sound of Music is the happiest sound in all the world. And it’s one of the greatest films. It’s about former nun Maria (Julie Andrews) who becomes a governess for a family with 7 children. The kids, like most children would, give their new nanny a hard time. Maria is able to bring the family together and win their hearts through the power of song.
The Sound of Music won 5 Oscars, and it is truly a classic that everyone should see. You may already know some of the songs, like “My Favorite Things” or “16 Going on 17.” It’s a great choice to watch with the family. Do mi a favor, and go si this movie.
5. Mary Poppins (1964)
Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke star brilliantly in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins. Jane and Michael Banks are two children whose home life is in disarray. Mary Poppins is their charming new nanny, and she plans to bring joy to their chaotic household. It’s a snapshot of the streets and landscape of 1960s London. It’s funny, colorful, musical, and it may look dated by today’s standards, but I think that only adds to the charm.
This film is so incredible, especially since it came out in 1964. It combines live-action and animated sequences, and it has impressive choreography and dancing. There is only one word to describe Mary Poppins: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
4. Gone With the Wind (1939)
Gone with the Wind changed the game in nearly every sense. It came out in 1939, so some elements could be offensive and problematic today. It’s a landmark in the film industry because it tells such a wonderful story with a blend of history and romance. The film won 8 Oscars, including one for Hattie McDaniel who was the first African American to be nominated for and win the award.
It’s the civil war era, and Scarlett O’Hara is a Southern belle living a wonderful life on a plantation. The movie follows her as she faces different trials and tribulations as things begin to go wrong in the South. Not to mention her love entanglements with two different men.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick’s 2 1/2 hour sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey was released during the space age in 1968 and is one of the most influential films ever created. It has been described as a “visual symphony,” and anyone who has seen it will agree that it is an absolute must. If you love Wall-E (also G-rated), you’ll love this.
A black monolith is discovered in space, and a team of two astronauts and a super computer are sent to Jupiter to figure out its origin. During the mission, the AI, HAL 9000, begins acting strangely hostile. Tensions rise between the men and the machine during their harrowing journey through space.
2. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
If you haven’t seen this film by now, you’re missing out. The technicolor dream that is 1939’s The Wizard of Oz is the definition of a classic. Dorothy and her dog Toto wake up to find themselves in the magical land of Oz. There are munchkins, witches, friendship, bright colors, and the greenest green you’ve ever seen.
Dorothy is being stalked by the Wicked Witch of the West, but all she wants to do is go home. Everyone knows the basic story, but so many different things happen in this movie, it’s impossible to get bored. Not to sound like a broken record, but The Wizard of Oz is truly one of the greatest films of all time.
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1. City Lights (1931)
City Lights is absolutely the greatest of G-rated movies. It’s a silent film, despite ‘talkies’ growing in popularity at the time. Trust me when I say this movie will not bore you. It’s Charlie Chaplin at his finest, and the film is a graceful masterpiece with a happy ending.
Chaplin is a resilient tramp who falls in love with a blind girl. She is currently being evicted from her home in the city, and he is determined to get money for her. A comedy of errors ensues in which he tries and fails many times, but he rescues a millionaire along the way who might just help him out.
And that’s the list, kids! Whether they were big at the box office or popular amongst young audiences, these are the top 21 absolute best G-rated movies. If you want even more family-friendly fun, check out The Last Unicorn, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Fantasia, and Chicken Run.
I’m an actor, singer, writer, and artist, incredibly passionate about film and other art forms. Outside of work, I love spending time with my dogs and eating Poke.