Now that pandemic restrictions have eased up—and the school year is over—chances are your child has asked if they can have a few friends stay over for the night. And watching moves into the wee hours is, of course, one of the most popular sleepover activities.
But with so many options on today’s streaming services, your kid might have trouble finalizing their sleepover movie playlist.
That’s where your expert parental judgment comes in: There are tons of great, sleepover-appropriate movies from decades past you can introduce your child and their friends to this summer.
Even though most of these movies will be older than every one of the kids at the sleepover, there’s no doubt they’ll be charmed by these classic flicks.
Here’s a roundup of the most fun movie choices for sleepovers, listed in order of age-appropriateness (youngest to oldest).
If you have a room full of little leaguers, there’s no better movie to entertain them than The Sandlot. This 1993 movie is about a young boy who moves to a new town and becomes friends with a group of boys who live and breathe baseball as they play the game religiously at a local field.
Though the 1962 setting of the film will be foreign to young viewers, they will enjoy the antics of the boys, especially when they try to get a prized, Babe Ruth-signed baseball back from a seemingly gigantic guard dog in a hilarious sequence.
Kids will always enjoy watching other kids having an adventure. The 1985 film The Goonies is about a group of children facing down their fears while following an old pirate treasure map in the hope that the riches will save their families’ homes from foreclosure.
The crew—including Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, and Corey Feldman, who all became bigger stars later—have to work together as they are confronted by challenges like greedy gangsters, booby traps, and an unforgettable character named Sloth. Aside from some use of adult language, The Goonies is a wonderful example of a movie that kids of all ages will enjoy.
School of Rock
If there are any budding rock stars at the sleepover, then they’ll enjoy seeing kids their age learn how to play instruments and form a rock band in this 2003 comedy. A perfectly-cast Jack Black stars as Dewey Finn, a slacker rock guitarist who poses as a substitute teacher. He teaches his young students lessons in Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and The Ramones.
Most importantly, though, Dewey teaches the students to have confidence in their talents and helps some of the shier ones come out of their shells. As an added benefit, you also just might get some of the kids at the sleepover interested in good music!
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Even the most well-behaved students dream of playing hooky, so don’t be concerned that this 1986 classic about a teen who takes the day off from school to have an adventure-full day will put any ideas in kids’ heads that aren’t already there.
Matthew Broderick portrays Ferris Bueller, a confident teen who convinces his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) to join him on his day off” from high school. Kids will enjoy the movie’s humor and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a little bit of Bueller’s affable personality will rub off on them.
Kids might already be familiar with the two most recent Jurassic movies: Jurassic World (2015) and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018), but neither of them rises to the thrills of the 1993 original film. Jurassic Park is about a millionaire who uses cloning technology to bring dinosaurs back to life to create a dinosaur theme park.
Unfortunately, a rogue employee causes security and power failures, and the dinosaurs begin to roam free. Children will marvel at the groundbreaking special effects that created the realistic dinosaurs, though some sequences may be too scary for younger kids.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
For kids in their early teens, the 2005 movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a perfect movie choice to demonstrate the importance of friendship. A group of four best friends is sad they will be spending the summers apart, but they stay in touch by sending each other a pair of pants that fits them all perfectly to share their experiences.
The girls’ summer experiences encompass the globe, including Greece, South Carolina, and Mexico, as well as lessons in maturity and heartbreak. A 2008 sequel caught up with the four girls after their first year of college and touches upon more mature issues, but the original is appropriate for teens.
Unfortunately, almost every student has experienced being bullied at school. Mean Girls features 16-year-old Cady (Lindsay Lohan), who is the new girl” at her high school and finds herself falling in and then out with the clique of the most popular girls in school led by Regina (Rachel McAdams).
The film’s relatable story is a comedic look at the consequences of bullying and being superficial (even at the expense of academic achievement), and may just teach kids to treat their peers a little kinder from now on.
Sleepovers that have a lot of performers attending will love Pitch Perfect, a 2012 film about an all-female college a cappella group and an initially reluctant new member (Anna Kendrick) who helps the team advance to a national championship competition.
Just be prepared for the teens to start practicing their own a cappella renditions of some of the movie’s songs, like “Since U Been Gone” and “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” Two Pitch Perfect sequels followed in 2015 and 2017, so you may need to start planning additional sleepovers to watch those movies too.
Is your child struggling to snooze at sleepaway camp? Here’s how to help your child sleep better at summer camp.