If you were lucky enough to grow up in the 90s, then you know it was pretty much the best decade ever. Instead of iPhones and Instagram, we had Blockbuster and Giga Pets. We spent our days listening to CDs on our Walkmen, trading Pokémon cards, collecting Beanie Babies, and mastering the art of the Yo-Yo. Don’t even get us started on whether N*SYNC or the Backstreet Boys was the superior boy band—we all know it was N*SYNC.
One thing that all 90s kids can agree on is that we grew up watching some of the best kids’ films ever made. They’re so good that we’re still enjoying them as adults, in their original forms and as reboots and live-action remakes. Some of them are even still getting sequels!
We may not be watching them on VHS anymore, but we still cherish these films that defined our young lives. Here are 15 of the very best.
You know you’re a 90s kid when you didn’t just grow up hearing, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” — you’re still saying it today. The boys of The Sandlot deliver childhood nostalgia in every frame of this classic, measuring their summer in baseball games and fake-drowning stunts and running from the biggest dog this side of Beethoven. They were the group of friends you either had or wanted to have, and their adventures together remain the stuff of legend. Most importantly, they taught us the downside of chewing tobacco before riding a roller coaster.
Before it was a Broadway musical or a live-action remake, Aladdin was an animated film at the forefront of the Disney Renaissance. It transported us to the whole new world of Agrabah and enchanted us with its music, magic, and larger-than-life Genie. Sure, we might have been a little terrified when Jafar turned into a massive snake, but Aladdin took us to places we’d never been before and made us think long and hard about what our three wishes would be if we ever stumbled upon a magic lamp. (Currently, our wish is for the animated series to fly onto Disney Plus!)
Home Alone & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Tied)
Whether Kevin McCallister is booby-trapping his own house or improvising in New York City, we love watching him take down the bad guys. We can’t even be mad that his parents left him home a second time (seriously, how does that happen?), not when watching Harry and Marv get slammed with paint cans is still as entertaining as ever. Kevin is easily the smartest and most resourceful character of our youth, bravely defending himself against something all suburban kids feared, robbers, and planning it all out on a blueprint. The kid is a badass, and it’s no surprise that he’s still dominating screens every holiday season.
The Lion King
While it’s true that we’re still not over Mufasa’s death, we are forever indebted to The Lion King for being the first Disney film to teach us about life’s cruelties. Balancing tragedy with comedy, it gave us a front-row seat to the circle of life and taught us how to claim our destinies in the face of adversity. We couldn’t wait to be king after that and will always be as grateful for the film’s soundtrack as we are Timon and Pumbaa. Plus Rafiki knocking those hyenas around with his rain stick will never not slap.
I think all 90s kids can agree that there will never be a better Halloween movie than Hocus Pocus. Even with its much-anticipated sequel on the way, the original is simply too good to top. We loved it before we ever knew what a virgin was and couldn’t wait to get to the dance scene so we could hear Bette Midler sing “I Put a Spell on You” again. The fact that Freeform has made a tradition of playing it all day long on Halloween speaks to the enduring spell this film has cast on us. That said, we still won’t be lighting a black-flamed candle anytime soon.
Even if you didn’t read much as a kid, it was hard not to love the epic adventure that was The Pagemaster. Macaulay Culkin being swallowed by a typhoon of paint and turned into a cartoon? Talking books that helped him navigate literary obstacles so he could make it back to the real world? This film took us on the most unique of journeys, introducing us to as many characters from classic literature as it did wholly original ones. It even made us consider going to the library and picking up a book one day. Only a true master of the page could manage something like that.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie
Every child of the 90s knew which Power Ranger they were, and if we weren’t busy reenacting all of their best fight scenes on the playground, then we were playing the Super Nintendo game or watching them on TV. When their first movie came out, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. New powers?! New animal coins?! IVAN OOZE?! It was the definition of epic. As a bonus, the film taught us a little something about believing in ourselves, and our hearts will forevermore beat a little faster when we hear the Rangers’ theme song. (And yes, we’re still waiting to meet another villain as deliciously evil as Ivan Ooze.)
A Goofy Movie
We’ve all been embarrassed by our parents at least once in our lives, but not to the extent that Max Goof has. The poor guy is the son of the clumsiest goof of all, which is the worst-case scenario when you’re trying to be cool and impress the girl of your dreams. We related so hard to Max’s feelings for Roxanne, so when he finally got to dance onstage at the Powerline concert, our hearts exploded with joy. Go ahead and ask us if we still know the words to “After Today,” “Stand Out,” or “I 2 I.” (We do.)
There’s only one disappointment in this Robin Williams-led adventure: that the real-life board game doesn’t come to life the way it does in the film. Other than that, Jumanji was probably the most heart-pounding movie any of us had ever seen when it was released in 1995. The visual effects might not have aged well, but the story was so riveting that it turned into a series in 2019 with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and later Jumanji: The Next Level. What can we say? It’s a word that packs a punch. Whether we’re traveling into the world of the game or watching it explode into ours, we know exactly what kind of ride we’re in for when those dice get tossed.
There was no way to predict just how historic our first viewing of Toy Story was going to be when it was released by Pixar in 1995. All we knew was that Woody was wound a little tight, Buzz Lightyear was the coolest toy ever, and we loved their adventures together as they tried to get back to Andy. It wasn’t just the groundbreaking computer animation that made this film a cinematic achievement—it was the talking toys and the problems they were forced to navigate, which were curiously similar to our own. It goes without saying that the world became a better place because of Woody and Buzz, and their first adventure marked the dawn of a fantastic new age in animated storytelling.
Don’t act like you’ve never wiggled your finger at something and hoped it would move. Matilda made us all wish we had telekinetic powers that we could use against the Trunchbulls in our lives. We loved that she could make playing cards fly and were equally impressed by her ability to read every book in the library and make an entire pancake breakfast on her own before she was even six. She taught us how to stand up to bullies and make the best of unfortunate situations. We’re still glad she ended up with Miss Honey and never had to use her powers again. Well, almost never.
What do you get when you mix five fabulous Muses with a flying horse and a quippy villain with blue fire-hair? A masterpiece. It is literally impossible to not be a fan of Hercules. With its stylistic visuals and colorful cast of characters, it delivers a master class in heroism and vocal gymnastics. We love that Meg is not a typical Disney princess but a self-proclaimed damsel in distress looking for love in all the wrong places. She more than deserves her epic power ballad as much as we deserve a long-awaited Broadway adaptation of this fan-favorite (hint hint, Disney Theatrical).
The Parent Trap
Easily the best family film ever made, The Parent Trap is so impressively filmed that you’d never know it was made in the nineties. Two Lindsay Lohans in the same frame? We still can’t wrap our heads around how they did it, but we’re grateful that they did. Hallie and Annie’s story is among the most relatable we grew up with because it centered around family and the lengths we’re willing to go to keep them together. Of course, we loved that they took a page from Kevin McCallister’s book with all those pranks, but those intimate family moments? That ending? Yeah, they still make us cry. This will be an everlasting love. Cue the secret handshake.
If you ask any 90s kid to list their top five favorite Disney films, Mulan will inevitably be among them. With its perfect blend of memorable songs, dazzling animation, and heart-pounding action, it’s among the best animated films ever made. Like Meg in Hercules, Mulan is not your typical Disney princess. She literally puts her life on the line to uphold her family’s honor and save her father’s life. That kind of sacrifice raised the stakes higher than we’d ever seen them in a Disney film, culminating in the most exciting climax of the entire decade. Mulan showed us the meaning of honor and bravery. Best of all, it gave us Mushu, who’s still making us ugly laugh.
The animated Peter Pan has nothing on this thrilling tale of grown-up Peter returning to Neverland. As much as we love the pirates and Dustin Hoffman’s performance as Hook, it’s Peter’s rapport with the Lost Boys that really gives the film wings. Only with their help is Peter able to bring imaginary food to life and learn how to fly again so that he can fight Hook, save his children, and return home. In a sea of Peter Pan remakes, this one achieves “Bangarang!” status. There will never be another one like it, nor will any other film contain the same kind of magic as the ones made in the 90s.
It was a simpler time, but one brimming with innovation, imagination, and character-based storytelling that taught us something about ourselves and the adventure of growing up. We’re blessed to have such a treasure trove of stories that we not only got to witness as kids but can now revisit whenever we want.
And seriously though, N*SYNC is better.