11 Kids Movies From The '90s That Will Bring You Some Nostalgic Joy

From "Blank Check" to "Space Jam," this watch list will certainly lift your spirits.
Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty/Alamy

Sometimes you just want to feel like a kid again.

Here are 11 movies we turn to for a little nostalgia when we just want an easy and fun watch. And if you grew up in the ’90s and now have kids of your own, these are certified classics that every child should see immediately.

“The Witches” (1990)

An early cut of “The Witches” terrified Nicholas Roeg’s young son so much that the director opted to tame some of the film’s most frightening sequences, which is pretty amazing considering how much it still revels in the dark and grotesque. Few children’s movies are as daring and witty, and almost none of them have Anjelica Huston chewing every inch of scenery as the world’s supreme sorceress. (Every famous actress should get to play a camp villain at least once.) Based on Roald Dahl’s 1983 novel, “The Witches” was one of the final projects that Jim Henson worked on before his death. The prosthetics are unrivaled, something this year’s CGI-burdened remake starring Anne Hathaway made disastrously clear. — Matthew Jacobs

Available to rent on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu.

“Hook” (1991)

In my eyes, “Hook” is one of Steven Spielberg’s most overlooked films. Sure, if you were an adult when it came out you might think it’s, uh, not great? But as a kid who was glued to my TV in the 1990s whenever “Hook” came on, I believe otherwise. Was it unfairly judged? Yes.

The movie tells the reimagined story of a grown-up Peter Pan (Robin Williams), who must return to Neverland when the spiteful Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his children. I remember wanting to have a food fight with colorful Play-Doh-ish goo. I remember loving Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Tinkerbell. And I remember having an unexplained crush on Rufio (Dante Basco). What fun this movie was at a time when my imagination ran wild. — Leigh Blickley

Streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Vudu, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes.

“FernGully: The Last Rainforest” (1992)

The ’90s was a golden era for Disney animations ― but no one, we hope, needs to be reminded of “Mulan” and “The Lion King.” Instead, consider a far less appreciated, far weirder, far more explicitly environmentalist cartoon: “FernGully,” the story of an Amazonian fairy, Crysta, who teaches a handsome young logger, Zak (ahh, the ’90s), to love the rainforest. For a “nature is healing; we are the virus” vibe, plus Robin Williams voicing a zany bat, this is the only choice. — Claire Fallon

Streaming on Starz, Hulu, Amazon Prime and Sling TV, and available to rent for $3.99 on Google Play, YouTube, iTunes and Vudu

“Cop and a Half” (1993)

“Cop and a Half” is one of those random ’90s movies that is forgettable enough, but a joy to watch if you catch it on cable one random day. Starring Norman D. Golden II, Burt Reynolds, Holland Taylor, Ruby Dee and a small role for a young Amanda Seales (“Insecure”), the film follows young Devin (Golden II), who witnessed a crime, as he shadows a cop (Reynolds) who is determined to solve the case. There are plenty of hijinks along the way and a very sweet ending. — Erin E. Evans

Available to rent on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu.

“The Secret Garden” (1993)

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? After seeing “The Secret Garden” as a child, I only hear that rhyme in a lilting, taunting British accent. “The Secret Garden,” based on the novel of the same name, follows rich orphan Mary Lennox who is sent from India to England to live with her distant uncle after her parents die. Over the course of her time at Misselthwaite Manor, she discovers family secrets and, of course, a garden. If you like stories that make your heart feel warm and fuzzy and may even make you shed a few tears, this movie is for you. (Plus, an excellent Maggie Smith performance never hurts.)
— Emma Gray

Available to watch for free on the Roku Channel, or to rent for $2.99 on YouTube, Prime, Vudu and Google Play.

“Blank Check” (1994)

For years after seeing this movie, I always anxiously opened birthday cards with the hopes that the sender forgot to designate the amount on the check. Unfortunately for me, my name isn’t Preston Waters, and I wouldn’t have known how to align the numbers perfectly on my computer to fill in the box on the check anyway. In “Blank Check,” Preston becomes rich overnight, buys a house, a water slide and becomes the head honcho before everything comes crashing down right before his eyes. Years later, I still appreciate Debbie Allen’s performance in this film, as well as Preston’s rags-to-riches S-T-Y-L-E. — Erin E. Evans

Streaming on Disney+ and available to rent on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Prime and Vudu.

“D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994)

The ’90s were truly the heyday of inspiring sports movies for children. And chief among those many excellent films is the Mighty Ducks trilogy. All three have a special place in my heart, but for some reason “D2” remains a particular favorite. (Maybe it’s because Queen’s iconic “We Are The Champions” is perfectly deployed over the credits? Who can say.) It’s got international rivalry — inexplicably with Iceland — and very cute Emilio Estevez and baby Joshua Jackson. What’s not to love? — Emma Gray

Streaming on Disney+ and HBO and available to rent for $2.99 or $3.99 on Google Play, Apple TV, Prime and Vudu.

“A Little Princess” (1995)

The aesthetics in many ’90s live-action kids movies are flat and coarse, as if studios didn’t think young viewers deserved rich visual experiences. “A Little Princess” was different. This handsome, graceful drama testified to director Alfonso Cuarón’s talents long before he made “Children of Men” or “Gravity,” casting a bewitching spell that flirts with magical realism but stays grounded in its riches-to-rags portrait of a boarding-school girl forced into servitude during World War I. A loose adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1905 novel of the same name, “Princess” takes children’s imaginations seriously and is all the more delightful for it. — Matthew Jacobs

Streaming on Netflix and available to rent on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play and Vudu.

“Space Jam” (1996)

As a kid whose two favorite things growing up were basketball and Looney Tunes, “Space Jam” is the perfect movie to activate the nostalgic feels. Starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, the NBA legend leads the Tune Squad to take on the Monstars. Unsurprisingly, the acting is trash. But that doesn’t take away from the fun, cheesy ride of watching the live-action and cartoon worlds collide.— Taryn Finley

Streaming on Netflix.

“Matilda” (1996)

Mara Wilson stars as Roald Dahl’s classic heroine Matilda Wormwood, a little girl so brainy she develops psychokinetic powers. Mistreated at home by her cloddish family, she finds acceptance elsewhere thanks to her teacher, Miss Honey ― and uses her abilities to exact revenge on bullies like her parents. This movie is a mischievous paean to the power of the mind over matter, and the value of kindness. What could be more soothing? — Claire Fallon

Available to rent for $3.99 on Google Play, YouTube, iTunes, Vudu and Amazon Prime.

“Good Burger” (1997)

There are few movie lines more infectiously rhythmic, yet borderline obnoxious than “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?” The silly Nickelodeon film stars superduo Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, and the teens work to keep the burger joint they work at from being sabotaged by the conglomerate-run burger franchise opening across the street. From the goofy humor to the cheesy kids-save-the-day plot, it’s so quintessentially ’90s. — Taryn Finley

Streaming on Tubi and available for rent on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu and iTunes.

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