When it’s time to break out the popcorn and sit down for a great movie night with the family, you really can’t get better than these twelve picks. These are the best Black family movies that the entire group will enjoy. Some are hilarious. Others will transport you to a whole new world, and a few tell the true stories of inspirational Black people we can all look up to today. So no matter what you and your family are in the mood for, there’s bound to be something for you on this list.
Sister Act (1992)
Sister Act is one of the classic films that you need to watch with your family ASAP. Starring comedic legend Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer turned nun, it’s a hilarious musical comedy with just the right amount of 80s cheesiness.
Deloris Van Cartier, played by Whoopi Goldberg, shakes up the lives of nuns in a California convent, turning their quiet convent into a rocking choir.
The Nutty Professor (1996)
This movie features Eddie Murphy at his absolute finest, as lovable and large Sherman Klump. In addition to Klump, Murphy plays a handful of other characters, and their interactions will have your family rolling on the floor in laughter.
The basic premise is that Murphy came up with a weight-loss formula to help him shed some extra pounds, transforming from the large and in charge Klump to Buddy Love. Although there are some romantic elements, a few rude jokes here and there, and a little adult humor, The Nutty Professor is a fine choice for the kids.
You can also pick up the sequel, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, and make a whole night out of it. The Nutty Professor is a great choice for families who want to have a good laugh and see one of the best comedians of all time work wonders on the screen.
2013: 42 (2013)
If you’re looking for an inspirational movie instead, 42 is a good option, but it deals with some grave subject matter. 42 is the story of Jackie Robinson, the first Black man ever to play major league baseball. He’s legendary because of his incredible baseball-playing skills, plus his courage and perseverance in the face of disgusting racism.
Although 42 is good for teens and mature children, it does have some extremely disturbing scenes, including instances where Robinson’s teammates turn against him. However, since Jackie Robinson is one of the most influential athletes of all time and a Black pioneer, it’s an important film to watch; just exercise a little caution.
The “42” in the title refers to Robinson’s number, which the MLB retired in 1997.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Like 42, Hidden Figures is based on a true story about the Black women who helped get us to the moon. These women experienced both sexism and racism serving as “human computers” for NASA. Still, the portrayals of this abuse are less intense than in 42, so it’s more appropriate for all ages.
Hidden Figures is especially an excellent movie for girls. It’s got a seriously strong girl power message and an all-star cast, including Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. Although it’s set in the 1950s and early 1960s, it’s based on the story of Katherine Johnson, the first Black woman to work as a NASA scientist.
Johnson was absolutely critical in developing the safe space capsule that would later send American astronauts deep into space. While Johnson receives accolades and praise from her closest colleagues, she also has to deal with segregation and taking classes at an all-white school. Her courage, grit, and overwhelming brilliance make her a role model for any child.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is the film rendition of Chris Gardner’s life story starring Will Smith in the titular role. Smith, as Gardener, is a salesman who is down on his luck and raising his son alone. Smith’s real-life son, Jaden, co-stars as Christopher Jr., Smith’s son in the film. Both Smiths are absolutely incredible in this film, taking the viewer on an evocative and often emotional journey.
Chris Gardener’s rags-to-riches story chronicles one year in the life of a homeless man struggling to raise his son while competing for a coveted, long-shot stockbroker position. Gardener wows his bosses at DWR, winning the job and cementing a brand new life for him and his son.
Not only is The Pursuit of Happyness an epic tale of turning your life around, but it also features some of the finest acting that Will Smith has done to date. There are some dramatic and often grim scenes, but the happy ending will undoubtedly put a smile on everyone’s face.
The Wiz (1978)
The Wiz takes Frank L. Baum’s classic 1900 children’s book The Wizard of Oz and gives it an all-Black cast and a great soundtrack. Although The Wiz first debuted on Broadway in 1974, you can enjoy the little-screen rendition from the comfort of your couch.
The Wiz starts with Dorothy, a Harlem schoolteacher whisked away to the Land of Oz, which is a little bit more like a sparklier, more musical New York City than Baum’s traditional Oz. As in the original, Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow before coming face-to-face with The Wiz.
The Wiz features some true heavy-hitters, like Diana Ross, Richard Pryor, and Lena Horne, and has earned its place as a cult classic. So if it’s been a while since you’ve seen The Wiz, break it out for your family’s next movie night.
Becoming is the video version of Michelle Obama’s blockbuster memoir of the same name. If you read Becoming or want to teach your family a little bit more about America’s first Black family, this is a great movie to watch. Becoming chronicles Michelle Obama’s life and teaches young Black boys and girls to reach for the stars. It’s inspirational, moving, and has plenty of presidential cameos from the first family.
Barack Obama, Sasha, and Malia all make appearances in Becoming. Plus, you can see how Michelle’s life work and inspiration has helped children all over the United States step into their power and reach for their dreams. This film can also open up dialogue about the importance of the first Black family and Obama’s legacy.
Jingle Jangle (2020)
Although Jingle Jangle is a holiday movie, you can grab some popcorn and enjoy it all year round. Jingle Jangle takes viewers on a whimsical romp through the story of Jeronicus Jangle, the North Pole’s top toymaker. Unfortunately, Jangle hit on some hard times after feuding with his one-time apprentice, Gustafson. Gustafson steals Jangle’s most significant invention, a matador doll that’s come to life, and starts his own competing factory. He also takes Jangles notebook of scribbles and invention ideas, leaving the prestigious toymaker distraught and penniless.
Fortunately, there’s always hope when there’s Christmas magic. Jangles’ granddaughter Journey is an inspiring inventor herself and helps him get back his inventions restore his prominent place at the North Pole, and repair his strained relationship with his daughter- and Journey’s mother- Jessica.
Not only is the story beautiful, but the sets are also stunning. It’s a feel-good movie about loyalty, perseverance, and the importance of family.
Loving tells the real-life story of Mildred and Richard Loving, who challenged the Supreme Court ruling on inter-racial marriages, won, and changed the course of history. Although, at its core, Loving is a very sweet love story about two people who are hopelessly devoted to each other against all odds, it does have some bleak scenes of racial violence.
It delves into serious topics and hits on horrible moments in our country’s history, so it’s inappropriate for very young children. However, if you have more mature children or teens, Loving is an appropriate movie that talks about the fight for civil rights through the lens of one couple.
What stands out in this film is that the central characters, Richard and Mildred Loving, are very relatable people. They just want to live a quiet life and raise their family free of harassment and violence. Although it deals with somber and disturbing themes, Loving is never exploitative.
Black Panther (2018)
Wakanda Forever! There’s an excellent chance that you and your family have already watched 2018’s Black Panther, but there’s no reason why you can’t fire it up again. Black Panther is a fantastic superhero with a multi-dimensional Black cast comprised of up-and-coming stars like Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan. It also has some legacy players in the cast, like Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett.
Black Panther is the story of T’Challa, played by the late great Chadwich Boseman, who ascended Wakanda’s throne after his father passed away. Immediately, his reign is thrown into upheaval, thanks to forces who want to change the direction of Wakanda and put the world at risk. It’s a beautiful movie with excellent costumes, stunning sets, and amazing acting. You and your family will get totally sucked in from start to finish.
Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
Watch the trailer for Akeelah and the Bee, and you can’t help but root for the little girl who defied all odds to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It features a brilliant Keke Palmer as Akeelah, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne. So if you’re looking for something inspirational and fun to watch, Akeelah and the Bee is an excellent pick.
It deals with many different themes, specifically the challenges that young Akeelah faces while going up against wealthier competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Although Akeelah comes from a poorer Black family, the film doesn’t rely on stereotypes or tropes. It’s also not overly sentimental or exploitative in any way. Instead, Akeelah and her family are relatable and multi-dimensional.
This is a good movie for children of all ages as it emphasizes the importance of hard work, family, and community.
Dancing in the Light (2015)
Dancing in the Light is an excellent movie for very young children, although older ones will enjoy it as well. It’s the real-life story of ballerina Janet Collins. It’s set in the 1930s and tells the story of Collins auditioning for Ballet Russe, only to be told that her skin was too dark.
Although Dancing in the Light deals with racism and racial themes, it’s appropriate for younger children because it highlights the importance of understanding your beauty and appreciating yourself. Collins refuses to paint her skin white and goes on to star in the Metropolitan Opera House. It’s a story about self-respect, loving yourself, and becoming the best you can be.
Remember the Titans (2000)
If it’s been a while since you’ve seen Remember the Titans, immediately put it onto your “must watch” list. Remember the Titans is arguably one of the best sports movies of all time, and like many of our top picks, it is based on a true story. Denzel Washington plays Herman Boone, who was tasked with integrating the school’s football team in 1971.
Boone is more than up to the task, helping the newly integrated team go on to dominate the field and find common ground. Not only does the film have an uplifting message, but it’s also got a great soundtrack full of throwback hits from Cat Stevens, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Marvin Gaye.
Best Black Family Movies Ever, Final Thoughts
Whether you’re in the mood for something serious, hilarious, sentimental, or epic fantasy, there’s an excellent Black family movie out there for you. The movies on our list are all appropriate for mature children or teens, and many of them can appeal to the entire family.
While some of our films touch on or even center around serious topics, there’s lighthearted fun like The Nutty Professor and The Wiz in the mix too. So, grab your remote, popcorn, and the whole family and start watching.