When it’s raining outside and your options for family entertainment become distinctly indoor activities, sometimes the perfect movie, or even a movie marathon, can be just the right thing. Finding the best movies for a rainy day can be difficult, especially because the entire family is trying to agree.
Having a few solid selections ready to go can get the day started off quicker and with less hassle. Here’s a list of the best movies to watch while the rain hits your windows. Our family goes back to these over and over, without hassle and without fail.
For us, the short list of the best films for wet weather are:
- Spirited Away
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
- The Princess Bride
We love embracing rainy days, and the movies here fit the mood without making the day overwhelmingly sad or down. Action, adventure, and fantasy all work well!
While we do try and fit in new movies now and then, during a nice storm or a generally gray, rainy day, we find ourselves drawn to movies that we already know and love. Maybe it’s the familiar feeling that adds to the mood. Whatever the reason, we love coming back to our favorites over and over when the mood hits.
What makes a good rainy day movie?
A great rainy day movie should be one that is capable of creating a serious mood. It should evoke emotion no matter what the weather. For our family, it should also enhance the mood of a storm or a lovely, gray, gloomy day.
If you’re looking for a movie to make you forget that it’s miserable outside, you’ll want to look for something seriously funny or action-packed. Either way, there are some excellent choices to make a movie marathon wonderful on a day full of heavy rain.
If you’re settling in at home for a nice cozy afternoon or evening with the best movie snacks you can find, embracing the cold and the rain, you have loads of options when it comes to the mood of your movie choice. You could find something dramatic, maybe a bit sad, or you could go the other direction and find a “feel-good” movie or something that takes you to another world.
Also, since we’re talking mostly about family films, we try to stick mostly to PG or PG-13 rated options. However, this is entirely up to you and your family.
Our main picks for best rainy day movies
To be honest, almost anything Miyazaki will do. These are some of the absolute best rainy day movies around.
His movies are often centered around families and have an amazing sense of adventure. Movies from Studio Ghibli will probably work for you whether you’re looking to embrace the rainy day or forget about it altogether.
Spirited Away, one of Miyazaki’s classic films, is a strong story of learning about yourself and becoming confident in a scary, unfamiliar situation. While some of the scenes might be a bit too much for very young kids, it’s near perfection for everyone else.
Note: We often swap this one out for Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, or almost any other Miyazaki film.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
We are a Harry Potter family, for sure. Our daughters read and loved the books, and we’ve watched the movies, some over and over again. In particular, the first in the series has gotten more airtime for us than any other.
These movies are amazing at transporting you to another world, and the (mostly) family-friendly adventure and peril fit into any kind of weather.
Note: Most of the family would probably choose Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as “favorite” in the series, and this one is amazing for rainy days as well. However, Sorcerer’s Stone has more of that thick nostalgia that can’t be beat on a gloomy day.
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
This is one of the most important movies in my life, and it’s been amazing sharing it with my kids. The power that this movie has to completely encompass your attention and surround you with an entire world is truly incredible.
Star Wars is fun for any type of weather. You’ll never need a reason to watch this movie, but a rainy day is a great one anyway. I highly recommend all of the Star Wars movies; however, the original trilogy has some nostalgia that just fits so well with a cold, rainy day.
Note: The Empire Strikes Back is potentially one of the best movies ever, and this one could easily fit in this spot as well.
The Princess Bride
“As you wish…” is something we never get tired of hearing from this movie.
This is another one filled with nostalgia and fun. It’s also very impressive how well this one has aged. It just feels like a well-worn, comfortable story. There’s no weird CGI that’s gotten embarrassing, or strange styles that look dated. Since it’s set in a fairy tale medieval time, it doesn’t have to worry about staying hip, cool, or current.
We also like this one a lot for the family friendliness of it. There’s really just the one spicy line near the end, and maybe one other word thrown in as well. In relation to movies released these days, it’s a blessing for parents to have movies like The Princess Bride.
There are so many memorable, quotable lines in this movie that half of the fun is reciting them together as they come up. Sitting with your family or friends on a rainy day with some tasty snacks and The Princess Bride is a treat!
If you’re looking for something a little more grounded in the real world, this might be your movie. National Treasure is so much fun, and you can learn little tidbits of American history if you pay attention.
Nicholas Cage has always been a favorite of mine, and his acting style fits really well with kids and teens here too. The adventure and mystery of this action story are great for most families. And the storyline will definitely take your mind off of the rainy day weather if that’s what you’re hoping for.
Note: The sequel, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, is a lot of fun too!
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia is another book series that’s been important in our family. I highly recommend them for kids and adults if you’re into fantasy with a strong moral theme.
The movie version of this book is really well done. It’s often the other way around…movie versions of books don’t always turn out well. However, this one is wonderful.
There is quite a bit of peril and fighting, and some of the story can be a bit much for very young kids. But, it has a strong message, the acting is fantastic, and it’s a good, long watch for a stormy afternoon.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
This one is for the older kids and adults in the family. The content isn’t overly adult, and the language is actually pretty tame overall. But, it does have some scarier moments and some themes that younger kids probably should miss.
Aside from that, this one is incredibly fun. Robert Downey Jr. is convincing and funny, and Jude Law is the perfect straight man for him in this adaptation.
If you like mystery and suspense mixed with humor and peril, this is your movie.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Yo ho! We waited a while to watch these movies with our daughters. There is a lot of peril and some more adult themes, but when your kids are ready, this series is super entertaining.
Obviously nothing like the ride at Disneyland, this movie franchise provides tons of adventure, some romance, and lots of humor throughout. They’re perfect for rainy days too!
Guardians of the Galaxy
We’re huge Marvel fans, and Guardians of the Galaxy is one that we come back to over and over. Regardless of the strong family and teamwork message in this movie, it’s got suspense and action, and it’s hilarious throughout.
There’s a bit of spicy language and some suggestive themes, but we’re pretty conservative and still find it OK for a rainy day, a sunny day, and everything in between.
Note: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is also really fun, but because it’s got even more language, we don’t watch that one as much.
I, wonderfully, have lived in a house full of women for the past couple of decades. We are always on the lookout for well-done stories with a strong female lead character. It’s not always easy, but Maleficent is one I’d recommend.
I love stories that retell well-known fairy tales and provide a completely different and unexpected point of view. This is one of those stories. We get a different perspective on what could have happened with the villainess Maleficent.
There’s romance, action, and a vivid fantasy world to dive into to take you away from the wet weather or help you embrace it.
Which movie franchise is best to watch during the rain?
We love a good movie franchise. Following characters and storylines through several films is a lot of fun. It also makes choosing something to watch easier while you’re stuck inside at home.
Harry Potter and Star Wars are our top picks when it comes to series of films. They both take the viewer to a fantastic world and provide a stellar story that sucks you in from the beginning.
If we had to choose one, it would most likely be Harry Potter simply because it was such a prominent thing in our kids’ lives. But, with all of the great Star Wars series coming out on Disney+, they’re coming around.
Good movies to enjoy with older kids or adults
This is one of Bill Murray’s greatest films of all time. In fact, the entire cast is superb in this one. If you aren’t aware, it’s a comedy drama about a weatherman at a small TV station who gets sent out to cover the festivities of groundhog day.
He gets stuck in a time loop and learns a lot about the world, and himself. It’s amazingly funny and well-acted. I could watch this one rain or shine. But, the setting really lends itself well to a rainy afternoon.
Something Wicked This Way Comes
The only reason I’m putting this one here is because it can be pretty scary for some kids. It’s an absolutely fantastic tale from a book by Ray Bradbury. If your kids don’t mind a little creepy and scary, have them read the book first.
The storyline is about two young friends and their encounters with a traveling circus. Somehow, the people of the small town where they live start having their lifelong wishes granted, but at what cost?
Best movies for a rainy day: Final thoughts
This was a fun list to put together. I’ll keep updating it as I think of more or better rainy-day movies to watch at home, so check back.
In the meantime, please respond in the comments with your favorite movies for a rainy day or vote for your favorite from the list.