Looking for a thrilling movie night with your family? Consider diving into the exciting world of espionage with these 15 best spy movies for kids and families. Animated hits like “Penguins of Madagascar” and “The Incredibles 2” offer fast-paced action suitable for younger viewers. For a comedic twist, try “Get Smart” or “The Spy Next Door,” featuring Jackie Chan’s family-friendly martial arts. The “Despicable Me” series and “Agent Cody Banks” blend adventure with kid-friendly themes. Classic treasure hunts come to life in “National Treasure,” while “Stormbreaker” introduces the world of teenage spies. Don’t overlook hidden gems like “The Sleepover” and “My Spy” for a Netflix night in. From animated capers to live-action adventures, there’s something for every spy-in-training in the family.
15 Best Spy Movies For Kids and Family
- Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
- The Spy Next Door (2010)
- Spies in Disguise (2019)
- Despicable Me Series
- Agent Cody Banks (2003)
- Cats & Dogs (2001)
- The Incredibles 2 (2018)
- Stormbreaker (2006)
- Night at the Museum (2009)
- National Treasure (2004)
- The Sleepover (2020)
- My Spy (2020)
- Get Smart (2008)
- The Tuxedo (2002)
- The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
The movie focuses on the adorable and wily penguins—Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private—as they find themselves in the midst of an international espionage plot. The film offers an entertaining blend of comedy, action, and adventure that is suitable for children and adults alike.
The story kicks off with the penguins embarking on a quest that puts them up against the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, who has plans to take over the world. Using a range of outrageous gadgets and disguises, the penguins tackle various challenges and thwart the villain’s schemes.
Full of laughs and moments of heart, “Penguins of Madagascar” is a great choice for families looking for an action-packed, comedic take on the spy genre. It’s a movie that provides not only entertainment but also themes of teamwork and friendship, making it perfect for a family movie night.
The Spy Next Door (2010)
“The Spy Next Door” is a 2010 family action-comedy film starring Jackie Chan as Bob Ho, an undercover CIA operative living next door to his girlfriend, Gillian, and her three kids. When Gillian has to step out of town, Bob offers to babysit the kids, thinking it’s a chance to win them over and get closer to being a family. However, the task becomes unexpectedly challenging when one of the kids accidentally downloads a top-secret formula. This pits Bob against Russian terrorists, and he must now balance the dual responsibilities of being a spy and a babysitter.
The film combines Jackie Chan’s signature martial arts and stunt work with family-friendly humor and heartfelt moments. It plays on the spy genre with gadgets, secret missions, and undercover operations, but also incorporates elements of domestic comedy and family dynamics. Perfect for a family movie night, “The Spy Next Door” offers a wholesome blend of action, comedy, and heart, making it an enjoyable watch for kids and adults alike.
Spies in Disguise (2019)
The movie centers on Lance Sterling, a suave and skilled super-spy voiced by Will Smith, and Walter Beckett, a socially awkward but brilliant scientist voiced by Tom Holland. Due to an unexpected turn of events, Lance finds himself transformed into a pigeon and must rely on Walter’s gadgets and ingenuity to save the world.
This family-friendly film serves up a buffet of laughs, heart, and action, while also weaving in themes about teamwork, friendship, and embracing one’s unique qualities. The animation is vibrant, and the movie uses its animal transformation premise to deliver hilarious and creative scenarios that entertain both kids and adults. Whether you’re a fan of spy thrillers or just looking for a wholesome family movie experience, “Spies in Disguise” offers the perfect blend of excitement, humor, and heartfelt moments, making it a great pick for viewers of all ages.
Despicable Me Series
The franchise revolves around Gru, a supervillain voiced by Steve Carell, who adopts three orphaned girls and finds his life changed in unexpected ways. Although not a traditional spy series, these films are packed with espionage tropes, including high-tech gadgets, secret lairs, and globe-trotting adventures.
Starting with “Despicable Me” in 2010 and continuing with sequels and spin-offs like “Minions,” the series masterfully blends elements of action, adventure, and comedy. The films are renowned for their humor, which appeals to both kids and adults, and for their heartwarming focus on family and redemption.
What makes the “Despicable Me” series stand out is its unique approach to storytelling, offering audiences a glimpse into the life of a villain who turns out to be not-so-villainous after all. These movies are a wonderful option for family movie nights, providing entertainment that resonates across multiple age groups while still including all the fun spy-esque elements audiences love.
Agent Cody Banks (2003)
Starring Frankie Muniz as the titular character, the film explores what happens when a teenager is recruited by the CIA to undertake covert missions. Cody Banks may be an expert in martial arts, espionage, and languages, but he’s woefully unprepared for the challenges of talking to girls, especially when his mission involves getting close to his crush.
The film skillfully balances elements of a spy thriller—complete with high-tech gadgets, action-packed sequences, and secret hideouts—with the everyday perils of teenage life, from awkward social interactions to the pressures of school. It makes for a unique and entertaining blend that’s suitable for both kids and parents, offering suspense and humor in equal measure.
With themes of courage, resourcefulness, and the importance of being yourself, “Agent Cody Banks” is more than just a popcorn flick; it’s a spy adventure that the whole family can enjoy. The film’s success even led to a sequel, “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London,” which continues Cody’s international escapades.
Cats & Dogs (2001)
In this live-action film enhanced with CGI effects, cats and dogs are not just ordinary pets; they’re agents in a covert war for global domination. The film offers a unique twist on the spy genre by focusing on animals as the heroes and villains, employing a range of outlandish gadgets and engaging in secret missions.
The story follows a Beagle pup named Lou who inadvertently becomes part of a dog spy organization. He must thwart the evil plans of a megalomaniacal Persian cat named Mr. Tinkles, who wants to make humans allergic to dogs so that cats can rule the world.
“Cats & Dogs” cleverly blends elements of action, adventure, and comedy, creating an entertaining experience for viewers of all ages. It explores themes of bravery, teamwork, and the importance of family (even if that family is a bunch of secret agent pets). The film was popular enough to spawn sequels, keeping the feline-canine espionage adventures going for new generations to enjoy. With its fun premise and family-friendly humor, “Cats & Dogs” is a purr-fect choice for a spy-themed family movie night.
The Incredibles 2 (2018)
While not a traditional spy movie, the film shares many elements with the genre, including action-packed sequences, secret missions, and high-tech gadgets. This sequel focuses on Helen Parr, also known as Elastigirl, as she takes on the role of the main superhero, leaving Bob, aka Mr. Incredible, at home to manage household duties and take care of their children.
The film balances incredible action scenes with moments of family dynamics and humor, making it a well-rounded family movie that appeals to both kids and adults. The villain, Screenslaver, adds a layer of mystery and intrigue, presenting challenges that require both brawn and intellect to overcome.
With its rich storytelling, stellar animation, and themes of family unity and female empowerment, “The Incredibles 2” is an excellent movie for a family night in. It provides not only thrilling action but also meaningful lessons about the importance of teamwork, responsibility, and embracing one’s own unique abilities.
Geared towards a younger audience, the movie introduces Alex Rider, a London teenager who discovers that his recently-deceased uncle was a spy. Alex is then recruited by the British intelligence agency MI6 and sent on a dangerous mission to investigate a tech billionaire involved in nefarious activities.
The film incorporates classic spy movie elements—high-stakes missions, thrilling action sequences, and a variety of gadgets—within a narrative that’s accessible for younger viewers. While it may not dive as deeply into the complexities of international espionage, “Stormbreaker” offers an exciting entry point into the genre for kids and teenagers. It also contains themes of courage, resourcefulness, and the importance of questioning authority.
Night at the Museum (2009)
Starring Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, the movie is not a traditional spy flick but incorporates elements of adventure, action, and mystery that are common to the espionage genre. In this installment, Larry discovers that his magical, museum-exhibit friends are being shipped off to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and are in danger of being put into storage forever. Determined to save them, he embarks on an action-packed adventure through the world’s largest museum complex.
As Larry navigates the Smithsonian, he encounters new characters—both historical and mythical—and battles a Pharaoh villain, played by Hank Azaria, who has plans to conquer the world. Along the way, he employs clever tactics and improvisation skills that would make any spy proud, even if his mission is less about international espionage and more about saving his friends.
The film combines humor, history, and heart-pounding action to create an entertaining experience suitable for all ages. Themes of friendship, bravery, and the importance of preserving history make “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” an exciting yet educational choice for family movie night.
National Treasure (2004)
While it may take liberties with historical facts, the movie excels in offering a thrilling, family-friendly adventure that educates as it entertains. Parents and children alike will enjoy the puzzle-solving and clue-deciphering that drives the plot forward, and the film also offers a great opportunity for families to discuss American history and mythology.
With its combination of action, intrigue, and a dash of romance, “National Treasure” delivers a cinematic experience that appeals to a broad audience. Its themes of perseverance, teamwork, and the quest for knowledge make it not only an engaging watch but also a somewhat educational one, making it a top pick for a family movie night.
The Sleepover (2020)
The story revolves around two siblings, Clancy and Kevin, who discover that their seemingly ordinary mom, Margot, is actually a former master thief in witness protection. When Margot is kidnapped by villains from her past, the kids team up with their friends to rescue her and uncover hidden family secrets along the way.
Blending elements of spy thrillers with family dynamics and teenage angst, “The Sleepover” is an action-packed adventure that’s perfect for a family movie night. With its range of characters, the movie has something for everyone, from high-stakes heists and daring rescues to the more mundane but relatable challenges of school and friendships.
Though it doesn’t delve deep into the intricacies of espionage, the film offers enough action, gadgets, and plot twists to keep fans of spy movies engaged. What sets “The Sleepover” apart is its focus on family and friendship, making it not just an entertaining watch but also a heartwarming experience suitable for kids and parents alike.
My Spy (2020)
Dave Bautista stars as JJ, a tough CIA agent who finds himself demoted and assigned to a surveillance operation. The catch? He’s discovered and blackmailed into friendship by a 9-year-old girl named Sophie, played by Chloe Coleman. As JJ teaches Sophie the basics of spycraft, he also learns important lessons about empathy, friendship, and the complexities of family life.
The film deftly combines high-octane action scenes typical of spy movies with heartfelt moments and comedic exchanges that make it ideal for family viewing. While the plot has its fair share of espionage tropes like covert missions, secret gadgets, and even a villain with a sinister plan, what truly stands out is the evolving relationship between JJ and Sophie.
“My Spy” explores themes of vulnerability and the importance of emotional intelligence, adding depth to the characters and making the story resonate with both children and adults. With a balance of action, humor, and heart, “My Spy” offers a modern take on the spy genre that the whole family can enjoy.
Get Smart (2008)
Starring Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as Agent 99, the film provides a comedic take on the world of espionage. Max is a bumbling but well-meaning analyst who dreams of being a field agent. When the identities of other agents are compromised, Max gets his chance, teaming up with the far more competent Agent 99.
In true spy fashion, the movie is packed with gadgets, global locations, and villainous plots that need thwarting. However, what sets “Get Smart” apart is its comedic approach to the genre, blending slapstick humor, witty one-liners, and character-driven comedy to great effect. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it an excellent choice for family movie night.
The Tuxedo (2002)
“The Tuxedo” is a 2002 action-comedy film starring Jackie Chan as Jimmy Tong, a taxi driver turned chauffeur who finds himself in an unexpected role as a spy. When his employer, a secret agent, is sidelined, Jimmy dons a high-tech, gadget-filled tuxedo that grants him extraordinary abilities. With the help of a rookie partner, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, he embarks on a mission to thwart a villain’s plans to contaminate the world’s water supply.
Blending Jackie Chan’s signature martial arts moves with James Bond-esque gadgets and scenarios, “The Tuxedo” offers a unique twist on the spy genre. While the film leans heavily on physical comedy and action sequences, it also includes elements of traditional espionage stories, such as high-stakes missions, undercover operations, and complex villains.
The Adventures of Tintin (2011)
The plot follows Tintin, a young investigative journalist, and his loyal dog, Snowy, as they embark on a quest to find a sunken ship and the treasure it holds. Along the way, they team up with the boisterous Captain Haddock, a descendant of the ship’s original captain.
The film is a visual spectacle, employing motion-capture technology to bring the characters to life in a unique and engaging manner. The story is filled with action-packed sequences, clever clues, and enigmatic characters, making it a compelling watch for both kids and adults.
Themes like friendship, bravery, and the thirst for knowledge are prevalent throughout the film, making it both entertaining and inspiring. The adventurous nature of the movie, combined with its dash of historical mystery, makes “The Adventures of Tintin” a fantastic choice for a family movie night that offers more than just popcorn entertainment. With Spielberg’s masterful direction and a captivating story, it’s a modern classic that holds appeal for viewers of all ages.