“Wanna watch ‘Nancy Drew’?” I asked my 11-year-old daughter as we settled in for a movie night. The film about a Titian-haired teen sleuth popped up as a recommendation on our streaming service.
“I know we’ve watched it before,” I continued. “But it’s good.” I recalled humor and adventure as teenage Nancy Drew solved crimes.
My tween rewarded me with a blank stare. She had no recollection of the PG-rated flick.
Huh. Maybe we had watched it longer ago than I thought. Quickly, I checked its date. 2007. That was shortly after my daughter was born. I vaguely remembered renting it on DVD, too. So it had been years since we watched it.
This got me thinking. What other “older” movies released before my daughter was a tween were worth watching now that she was a tween?
Besides Nancy Drew, here are 10 new classics for moms and their tween daughters to watch together. These movies resonate with tween-friendly themes such as friendship, creativity, resilience, and courage. My daughter and I have watched them and she approves of their inclusion in this list. As every family is different, I encourage parents to investigate if these movies are suitable for your tween by watching them beforehand or researching them further.
1 | The Princess Bride (1987)
Get swept away in the funny and sweet tale of Buttercup and Wesley, who cheat death and battle the bad guys to find love, true love. I can’t say enough about the witty script, which always makes me and my daughter laugh. I also appreciate that Robin Wright appears to wear no makeup in her role as Buttercup, sending the message that beauty is not based on eye shadow or lipstick.
2 | Soul Surfer (2011)
A surfer girl loses her arm to a shark. But thanks to her resilience, faith, and supportive family, she learns to be a surfer girl who just happened to lose an arm. My daughter and I were in awe that this movie is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton.
3 | Enchanted (2007)
This Disney vehicle stars the delightful Amy Adams as an over-the-top cartoon princess who falls for Patrick Dempsey in modern-day New York City. I dig the creative combination of live action and animation while my daughter loves the musical scenes, especially the one in which urban creatures, like pigeons and rats, clean an apartment.
4 | Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Elisabeth Shue plays 17-year-old Chris Parker in this adventure comedy. After getting dumped by her boyfriend, she takes a last-minute babysitting job and things go horribly and comically wrong. I admire Chris’ quick wit, heart, and pluck as she keeps her charges safe. My daughter finds the story likable and fast-moving.
5 | Legally Blonde (2001)
My first instinct is to hate this movie. It’s about a super cute sorority girl, after all. But the super cute sorority girl uses her savvy, kindness, and smarts to earn a law degree and respect from the peers that once looked down at her. The sorority girl is played by Reese Witherspoon, who I like to point out to my daughter is a successful actress, entrepreneur, and mother.
6 | The Princess Diaries (2001)
Anne Hathaway plays Mia, a gawky teen who learns she is a real-life princess. Mia stays true to her honest and approachable self while learning regal grace and manners from her grandma, the Queen of Genovia (Julie Andrews). My daughter likes the ugly duckling turns into a swan theme while I adore Julie Andrews’ performance.
7 | 13 Going on 30 (2004)
An awkward 13-year-old (Jennifer Garner) wishes to be popular and older. She gets her wish only to realize that she was her true self and knew her best friend when she was 13, not 30. If you are a Gen X mom like me, then you’ll enjoy the soundtrack laced with 80s hits. My tween delighted in the slumber party scene between 30-year-old Jenna and her new teenage friends.
8 | 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Julia Stiles plays Kat, a cantankerous teen that no one likes. No one, that is, except high school bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger). I like that this romantic comedy is a modern-day interpretation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. My daughter likes that Kat is an interesting, different female protagonist.
9 | High School Musical (2006)
My 11-year-old had heard of this movie, of course, but had never seen it until recently. That’s when she became captivated by the foot-tapping ditties that tell the story of Troy and Gabriela, two teens who battle the odds to sing together in the (wait for it) high school musical. We found this movie sweet and entertaining.
10 | Dolphin Tale (2011)
This family drama stars Winter, a dolphin who tragically loses her tail. With the support of a lonely boy she befriends, Sawyer, and a new prosthetic tail, Winter learns to swim again. My daughter likes that this movie features a strong boy-girl friendship between Sawyer and his best friend, Hazel. I might like it because Hazel’s dad is played by the handsome Harry Connick, Jr.
There you have it, tween-friendly flicks to watch with your daughter. My hope is that you and your tween enjoy the romance, comedy or drama brimming from these 11 flicks. The time you spend watching these movies might just lay the foundation for successful, happy movie nights when your daughter becomes a teen, too.