Our Top Picks for Family-Friendly Sci-Fi & Space Exploration Movies

Some Old Favorites and New Friends


Hi There, Captain!


As you may have guessed, I adore science fiction and stories about where we humans are headed. Hopefully, that’s into outer space! Maybe you’re like me and want to share a wonder-evoking movie with your kids. If so, you’ve come to the right place.


Here’s a short list of my family-friendly favorites. Of course, you’ll want to use your own judgment. You know your kids and what they like 😃 Enjoy!


Star Wars (1977) Ok, what can I say? Everyone knows about Star Wars. Go watch it again with your kids. Watch their faces light up at key scenes. 


E.T. the Extraterrestrial (1982) This is such a sweet movie that will make you cry. But it’s just one of those movies that you have to see. Glowing fingers, “phone home” peanut butter candy, and spaceships with aliens. 


The Last Starfighter (1984) – This is a sweet little movie that I adore. I first watched this movie when I was about 13 and it was perfect for my space and sci-fi loving mind. If you’ve ever dreamed of being chosen by aliens to save the Universe, this is your movie!


Explorers (1985) Three kids have the same dream, build a spaceship in their backyard, go to space, and meet aliens. Perfection!  


Flight of the Navigator (1986) A boy meets aliens, goes for a ride, and comes back 8 years later. But don’t worry, it all gets fixed in a happy ending. 


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – This is a fun, light, Star Trek movie that has a great theme and beautiful views of San Francisco. It’s funny and ‘there be whales here!’ [ Older kids will like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982). It’s arguably the best of the Trek movies. And it’s a good way to get your kids into Star Trek. ]


For younger kids:

Space Buddies (2009) – Puppies in space! ‘Nuff said. This movie is pretty much appropriate for all ages. The puppies talk and have their own spacesuits. Yes, the tails wag inside the suit. Adorable!


For pre-teens and older:

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) is a goofy, inter-dimensional adventure complete with a battle to save the Universe! 


Spaceballs (1987) (warning it’s got some pre-teen humor – age 8 & up) One of my favorite movies of all time, Spaceballs is just a goofy Star Wars spoof. It’s a really sweet movie that just gives you the giggles. And, you’ll be quoting it forever.


The Fifth Element (1997) is a crazy space movie where Bruce Willis attempts to save the Universe. It’s got a nice message and some amazing costumes and views of alien landscapes.  


Galaxy Quest (1999) This silly, sweet parody of Star Trek is so much fun. Like Spaceballs, my family quotes the movie all the time. A few bits are not suitable for younger kiddos – there’s a scene with “mild” alien torture by the scary villain. Other than that, it’s really a great sci-fi movie that evokes wonder about who else may be out there in the Universe.

For a more realistic take on science:

Apollo 13 (1995) is a realistic portrayal of what happened in 1972 when a group of three astronauts headed to the moon had a bit of trouble. It’s a really cool movie with lots of hard science. This is hard, historical sci-fi at it’s best.

The Martian (2015) – Maybe you’ve heard of this one? 😉 An astronaut goes to Mars, gets stranded there, and has to science” (engineer) his way back home. Awesome! 

Like my list of movies? Did I miss one of your favorites? Share your fav space and sci-fi movies in the comments below. I’ll be updating this post often 🙂 🚀



Star Magic Notebook
By Laura S. Woodmansee
Laura Woodmansee