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5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds

watching tv with pop corn

If you’re a cinephile, and your kid is 12 years old, they’ve probably started to get into movies. But how do you select which films are suitable for children that age, and which films they should avoid until they’re a little older? The choice has gotten particularly hard, especially with movies that would appear to be harmless but contain special effects that might scare a young mind: take E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, whose cute protagonist can very quickly become terrifying when he screams and shouts.

If you’re tech savvy, you probably already know about parental controls and setting up google family link, so we’re here to help you select some great films to watch! Here are 5 age appropriate movies for 12 year olds which your kids will love and you’re bound to like too! Find them below in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

1. Back to the Future (1985)

Robert Zemeckis

Doc Brown holds a transmitter and Marty McFly stands next to him in Back to the Future, one of the 5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds recommended by Loud and Clear Reviews
5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds – Back to the Future (Universal)

Let’s start with a classic! Not only is this 1985 movie suitable for 12 year olds, but we guarantee that your children will be entertained at all time, due to writer-director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale’s storytelling genius. While most children would be easily bore by other great films from the past, such as the original Star Wars movies, Back to the Future is the rare gem whose narrative is so compelling that it remains gripping from start to end.

The film revolves around a 17-year-old, music-loving high school student named Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) who just-so-happens to be best friends with a scientist who invented a time machine. One day, Marty is accidentally sent 30 years back into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by said scientist, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) and finds himself with the difficult task of getting his parents to meet and fall in love – as otherwise he wouldn’t be born – while, at the same time, going “back to the future”.

Back to the Future is mostly harmless, and can even be educational to children, especially when it comes to how bullying can have huge consequences on others growing up. It also teaches us about the importance of family and friends, and it shows us some fascinating props from the past they might find intriguing. At the same time, it also does contain quite a lot of swearing, and there’s a scene where Marty’s teenage mum tries to make out with her own son, not knowing who Marty really is: check out Imdb’s parents guide for the full list! If you’d rather avoid it due to these scenes, then here are some great 80s movies with no swearing and no uncomfortable scenes: The Goonies, Home Alone, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Karate Kid, The Princess Bride.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Chris Columbus

harry potter holds his wand in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, one of the 5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds recommended by Loud and Clear Reviews
5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know what Harry Potter is all about. Based on J.K. Rowling’s bestselling book series, the films are about a young orphan boy named Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) who one day finds out he’s a wizard. He’s soon enrolled into the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he becomes friends with fellow students Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) but he also learns that his parents were killed by an evil dark wizard.

Throughout the 7 books and 8 movies – the last novel was split into two films – Harry finds out more about said wizard, Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and even comes face to face with him. But he also overcomes many challenges and goes on many adventures – some of which involving cute animals – that children will love to watch!

Not all Harry Potter movies are kid-friendly: as the franchise evolves, each book becomes darker and comes to confront very heavy themes, like death and grief. On top of this, Lord Voldemort himself is quite scary looking, as he doesn’t have a nose, and Ralph Fiennes plays him to perfection. Though 4 Harry Potter films out of 8 are rated PG, we would still avoid Chamber of Secrets as it features a giant snake, Prisoner of Azkaban for the very scary Dementors, and Goblet of Fire as Harry comes face to face with death at the end. But the first film is mostly light-hearted and fun, and your 12 year old will love it!

3. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders

A boy puts his hand close to a dragon's face in How to Train Your Dragon, one of the 5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds recommended by Loud and Clear Reviews
5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds – How to Train Your Dragon (Dreamworks)

Here’s a modern classic that you should absolutely check out if you haven’t already! How to Train Your Dragon revolves around a young Norse teen named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), who lives on a Viking island where everyone fights dragons. Hiccup doesn’t really fit in, which is why he spends most of his time alone, even if he’s the son of the clan’s chief (Gerard Butler). That is, until he stumbles upon an injured dragon and befriends him, finding out that dragons aren’t actually evil. Hiccup gives the dragon the adorable name of Toothless and decides to prove his people wrong, all while having to go to dragon-fighting school and keeping his new friend safe.

How to Train Your Dragon is one of the cutest animated movies out there, and both children and adults will be mesmerized by the beautiful friendship at its core. The only downside is that you’ll end up buying all sorts of merchandise, but it’s worth it for this flawlessly animated gem! If you like it, be sure to check out Abominable, from the same team!

4. Night at the Museum (2006)

Shawn Levy

5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds – Night at the Museum (20th Century / RottenTomatoes)

Not all films in the Night at the Museum series are good, but the first one is an entertaining watch that 12 year olds will love if they’re into adventure films! Kids at that age might still be a little young to enjoy great adventure classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark, so this 2006 movie is a great way to introduce them to the genre. It revolves around a night watchman (Ben Stiller) at – you guessed it – a museum. But something odd is happening in this museum of natural history, as Larry soon finds out: when the museum closes, all the animals become alive. Which leads to much hilarity, at first, and then terror, as the situation gets more and more out of hand and Larry starts meeting actual people!

Your child will definitely enjoy Night at the Museum more than you will, as that’s pretty much all there is to it, plot-wise. However, you’ll still have plenty of familiar faces to recognize – from Ricky Gervais, Oven Wilson, Paul Rudd and Rami Malek to Dick Van Dyke and many more. Watch out for a great turn from the late Robin Williams as President Theodore Roosevelt.

5. The Princess Diaries (2001)

Garry Marshall

A girl looks puzzled with frizzled hair in the film The Princess Diaries
5 Age Appropriate Movies for 12 Year Olds – The Princess Diaries (Walt Disney Pictures)

This 2001 comedy is often flagged as a girly film, but it’s actually a fun watch for everyone, regardless of age and gender, thanks to a fantastic screenplay (Meg Cabot and Gina Wendkos) filled to the brim with humor and charm, and superb turns from Anne Hathaway and the rest of the cast. Hathaway plays a San Francisco teenager named Mia Thermopolis who doesn’t exactly fit in, but who has a great relationship with her mum and a best friend with whom she gets along very well. One day, Mia’s life is turned upside down when she finds out she’s the princess of our favorite fictional kingdom: Genovia. Soon, she meets her larger than life grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), and realizes that being a princess is hard work!

That’s all we’ll say about it, as it’s best if you find out the rest on your own, but suffices it to say that The Princess Diaries contains Julie Andrews’ best performance to date and some of the most quotable movie lines in the genre. If you like it, don’t forget to check out the 2004 sequel too!

The 5 movies listed above are all appropriate for 12 year olds, and you should find plenty to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an adventure, a magical story, an 80s classic or a light-hearted watch, these 5 great movies should do the trick! Every child is different and can be triggered by a variety of things so we always recommend checking out Imdb’s parental guides to be safe. Happy watching!

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