We are huge fans of the true story fiction flick so in our search for the best movies based on true stories to watch as a family with teenagers, we have come across some amazing films.
We aren’t movie critics and are probably a little easier to please than the Richard Roepers of the world, we love a feel good film with a good story that is somewhat closely told to the real life version.
If you’re looking for the best movies based on true stories to watch with the teens at your house, here are some of our favorites, in no real order.
10 of The Best Movies Based on True Stories to Watch with Kids
The Blind Side, 2009
What it’s about: You may know Michael Oher from his NFL career, but this is his story before he discovered his football talent. As the product of a drug addicted mother and a father absent due to imprisonment, Oher suffered a tough childhood where he was forced to attend several schools and repeat several grades. After being in the foster care system for several years, Oher is taken in by the Tuohy family (Tim McGraw and Sandra Bullock) who eventually adopting him. They encourage his football career, even providing him with a tutor to help him prepare to be admitted to college.
Why we love it: Not only does it include a lot of football, but it’s hard not to fall in love with Michael Oher’s character and the relationship he comes to develop with his adoptive brother. We all found ourselves rooting for young Oher and can’t say we’ve made it through the entire film once without crying.
The Upside, 2017
What it’s about: Phillip, a wealthy businessman injured in an accident and left a quadriplegic, is in need of a caretaker to assist him with his daily care. In what is largely an act of rebellion he is moved to hire Dell (Kevin Hart), a recently paroled father who is struggling to reconnect with his ex and son. The two become close and learn a ton from each other. They are both helped to overcome certain challenges and find joy in life in new ways.
Why we love it: First of all, Kevin Hart. He’s hands down one of our favorite actors and we love him in basically every roll. Also, we loved watching both of the men grow as their relationship blossomed. It’s funny in parts and touching in others.
Hidden Figures, 2016
What it’s about: Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are some of NASA’s brightest in the early sixties, they also happen to be three black women. Initially overlooked, undervalued, and forced to endure demeaning, discriminatory treatment on the basis of both their race and sex, the women’s contributions are not allowed. Eventually their abilities are acknowledged and they join a team that eventually serves as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit. It is a stunning achievement that helped push the United States ahead in the Space Race while restoring the nation’s confidence.
Why we love it: Henson and Spencer are two of our favorite female actresses. Their portrayal of the women, along with Monáe helped us fall in love with them and root for their success from the first moments. It’s also pretty awesome to see how this important part of history came about and watching three magical black women be apart of it was inspiring to each of us,
Remember the Titans, 2000
What it’s about: Forced to integrate in 1971, a high school football team in Alexandria, Virginia is put to the test on and off the field. Led by two coaches (Denzel Washington and Will Patton), the team has to learn to come together in order to save their season, their futures, and their team.
Why we love it: It’s a great football film and it’s beautiful to see how something that seems so unimportant can change so many lives.
Pursuit of Happyness, 2006
Why we love it: Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a struggling and newly single father who finds himself and his young son (Jaden Smith) homeless right as he embarks on an unpaid internship he hopes will change his life at a stock brokerage. With his son in tow, Gardner must live in shelters and endure many hardships as he competes with several other interns to land a single, paid position. Refusing to give up and utilizing creative methods to get ahead, Gardner finds a way to turn his life around.
Why we love it: It is truly a feel good story that demonstrates the power of hard work, kindness, and perseverance in the face of adversity. Plus Jaden Smith is pretty cute.
Cool Runnings, 1993
What it’s about: They’ve never even seen the snow, but these four Jamaican bobsledders are ready to make their dream of becoming Olympians a reality. With the help of a disgraced former champion (John Candy) they are able to overcome being the ultimate underdogs and shock the world with their pursuit of glory.
Why we love it: It’s funny. Start to finish, you’ll love. Sure there are intense moments where you’ll be pulling for the team, but mostly we just loved it because it made us happy laugh.
La Bamba, 1987
What it’s about: Young Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) goes from everyday LA teen to rock ‘n’ roll superstar pretty much overnight, but his rising star is anchored by family drama and issues with his girlfriend’s family.
Why we love it: The music. And Richie Valen’s crazy brother Bob.
Bohemian Rhapsody, 2018
What it’s about: Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), lead singer of iconic rock band Queen, helps develop the band’s unique sound that leads them to international success before forging a solo career. The journey is wrought with turmoil for Freddie and his tumultuous life is marked by struggles in his various relationships. When Freddie reunites with Queen to deliver a performance at the benefit concert Live Aid it results in a legendary performance that goes on to stand the test of time.
Why we love it: The music is a big part of this film as well. But truly it’s Malek’s depiction of Freddie Mercury that did it for us. He brings that character to life perfectly on the screen and makes you fall a little in love with him even when he is kinda being a pompous diva.
Queen of Katwe, 2016
What it’s about: Young Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family live in the village of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda and struggle daily to survive. When Phiona crosses paths with a chess loving missionary who teaches her and the other children at the local youth center to play chess, Phiona falls in love with the game and discovers she has a unique ability to play. The movie follows her and her team’s adventures as she leads her team to victories. Her success leads her to countless opportunities and the chance to escape poverty.
Why we love it: Seeing young Phiona develop her love of chess and become a champion competitor is awesome. It’s also a fun movie at times as the interactions among the young characters is quite entertaining.
McFarland USA, 2015
What it’s about: Ousted from his football coaching position, Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) and his family relocate to McFarland, California for his new job at the city’s predominantly Latino high-school. After discovering that many of his students are good runners, Coach White initiates the development of a cross country track team. While dealing with various family issues and expectations, White and his team eventually begin to win competitions as underdogs. They bond over their experiences as they become better athletes, people, and friends.
Why we love it: The characters in this film are great and we loved watching them become passionate about running and confident in their abilities as they built great friendships with each other and their coach.
Looking for movies to watch with your teens? Try these: 5 Netflix Teen Movies You’re Bound to Love