Mystery, thrills, and penguins…what’s not to love?
When you can’t decide between action or comedy on family movie night… how about a spy flick? From mad scientists bent on global domination and mind control to international assassins and master thieves, there are so many cute spy movies for kids packed with thrills, chills, and lots of laughs. Any of these family friendly movies would make an excellent choice for a night at home with some popcorn or other fun movie night snacks.
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What else would you expect to see right at the top of this list? The beloved franchise encompasses four films: Spy Kids, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. The first three flicks follow the adventures of Carmen and Juni and their retired spy parents, Gregorio and Ingrid, as they save the world time and again. The fourth flick introduces us to a new family, but don’t worry: they’re just as fun as the Cortez kids.
Why We Love It: Each movie in the series gives us more action and more laughs than the one before, and there’s buzz about a possible reboot to keep the fun going.
Spies in Disguise
This 2019 animated flick features the voice talents of Will Smith and Tom Holland. Smith’s Lance Sterling is a classic spy in the vein of James Bond—until he gets turned into a pigeon! Holland’s Walter Beckett is the tech genius who keeps Sterling supplied with gadgets galore and has to try and save the day when things go fowl.
Why We Love It: It’s got lots of laughs, but it’s also got a sweet message about the importance of teamwork and how we all have unique abilities.
Harriet the Spy
The classic children’s book comes to life in this 1996 flick. Michelle Trachtenberg stars as Harriet, an 11-year-old girl who dreams of becoming a spy someday. Her beloved nanny Gollie and best friends Simon and Janie support her dream—until the notebook containing all Harriet’s secret observations and stray thoughts falls into the wrong hands, and spying suddenly becomes highly unpopular.
Why We Love It: Harriet might give parents a great opportunity to talk to kids about bullying and gossip—and how to help kids who don’t quite fit in find their place in the world.
A team of Guinea pigs is all that stands between the world and a computer virus that threatens to cause global chaos. But before they can save the day, they’re going to have to break out of their pet shop—along with an animal squad that consists of mice, a mole, a hamster, and more.
Why We Love It: Some of the biggest names in comedy round out an incredible voice cast, including Zach Galifianakis, Will Arnett, and Tracy Morgan. With a lineup like that, laughs are sure to be had in this spy movie for kids.
Agent Cody Banks
Who can the CIA turn to when they need info on a mad scientist bent on world destruction? A high school student, of course. Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz plays Cody Banks, a Seattle teen tasked with infiltrating an evil organization by getting close to the daughter of one of its employees.
Why We Love It: One of the biggest teen stars of the 2000s—Hillary Duff—gives this spy flick a dose of rom-com, too. Kids will love the hijinks, while parents might dig the nostalgia.
Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London
Cody Banks crosses the pond in this fun sequel. This time, Banks and his bumbling partner are up against a baddie who’s got his sights set on a mind-control device. Cody finds out just how devastating such a device can be when he’s implanted with one himself, leaving his fate up to a fellow teen spy from Scotland Yard.
Why We Love It: Kids will find the over-the-top gags and gadgets (like exploding Mentos) hilarious, and they’ll get a kick out of how all the young spies are way better at their trade than their grownup counterparts.
A nine-year-old girl who dreams of being a spy turns the situation to her advantage when she catches a bungling new CIA agent slacking on his surveillance gig. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and eventually team up to stop a bad guy with his eye on building a mini nuclear bomb.
Why We Love It: Dave Bautista brings the funny as Drax in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he brings it in this cute flick, too.
A 14-year-old boy discovers the uncle he thought was a banker was an MI-6 spy and his death was no accident. Alex Rider steps into his uncle’s shoes, going on a mission to find out more about the ominous new Stormbreaker computer system suddenly being used in schools all over England. Spoiler alert: the mysterious billionaire behind the program is not interested in education.
Why We Love It: There’s a good chance any kid captivated by this movie will be equally engrossed by the Alex Rider books, so it’s a great choice for any family looking for a slightly sneaky way to encourage reading.
The Spy Next Door
Undercover CIA agent Bob Ho is ready to retire and settle into a new life with the woman he hopes to marry and her three children. While Bob’s on babysitting duty during a medical emergency, one of the kids accidentally gets a hold of top-secret info meant for Bob’s eyes only, putting them all in danger. To escape the bad guys now hot on their trail, the soon-to-be stepdad and stepkids are going to have to start acting like family.
Why We Love It: Jackie Chan is a living legend, and this fun spy movie for kids is a great way to introduce kids to the cinematic icon.
Clancy and Kevin think their mother is just a regular old boring adult—until they find out she’s actually a retired master thief living in witness protection! When she’s kidnapped by her old crew, it’s up to the kids to stop the heist the bad guys are trying to pull off (and rescue their mom, of course!).
Why We Love It: The Sleepover is a wild ride from start to finish, with loads of whacky hijinks sure to keep kids on the edge of their seats.
Rated: Not rated
A Navy Seal gets shot during a top-secret mission, but his next assignment turns out to be even more dangerous: babysitting the five unhappy kids of the man who died on his watch. Shane Wolfe (played by Vin Diesel) juggles everything from Girl Scout meetings to driving lessons, all while keeping an eye out for ninjas, assassins, and various other threats.
Why We Love It: Everyone knows Vin Diesel is all about family in the Fast and Furious franchise, but this cute and funny film brings out his softer side.
Two rival spy agencies, CONTROL and KAOS, duke it out in this funny 2008 movie based on the classic TV show of the same name. In the middle of it all is Maxwell Smart, a bungling intelligence analyst whose greatest desire is to be a super spy. When he finally gets the promotion, things inevitably go hilariously awry.
Why We Love It: Steve Carell! Anne Hathaway! What’s not to love?
Penguins of Madagascar
An angry octopus tired of being upstaged by adorable penguins is out to eradicate them from the world—but four penguin brothers named Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private stand in his way… if they can manage to work together, that is. Easier said than done.
Why We Love It: The original Madagascar trilogy movies were all big hits, and this penguin-centered spin-off does them justice.