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Best family movies on Netflix in September 2021

Best family movies on Netflix: Vivo
(Image credit: Netflix)

Choosing from the best family movies on Netflix isn't easy — there are just so many of them! The Children & Family Movies section is packed with options, though it's going to take time to sift through all of them to find something that works for you and your crew.

No matter how many movies Disney Plus takes away, Netflix still has a ton of stuff the whole family can watch. One of the newest additions is the animated musical, Vivo, which features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yes, the Hamilton superstar penned tunes inspired by the sounds of Cuba. 

We've put together a master list of the best family movies on Netflix, to help you schedule some quality TV time with films everyone can enjoy. But if this list doesn't give you enough of what you're looking for, check out our guide to the best Netflix alternatives to expand your options.

We consider ratings from both Common Sense Media and Rotten Tomatoes, but neither is exactly the end-all be-all for deciding what's truly one of the best family movies on Netflix. Trying to keep your kids away from inappropriate content? Check out our guide on how to set up Netflix parental controls.

HBO Max brought bringing a great roster of family friendly movies, including the Studio Ghibli films and The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo. Consider our best Netflix shows list for something to binge after the kids nod off. And be sure to research the best Netflix VPN if you're on a family vacation and want to keep them entertained with their favorite shows.

In search of lighter fare? Here's the best comedies on Netflix. If you've had enough of live action, check out the best Netflix anime movies and shows.

The best family movies on Netflix today

Vivo

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote eight original songs for the movie, which fuses his Broadway rapping style with the sounds of Cuba. Vivo follows the titular kinkajou (Miranda), a talented musician who busks in the streets of Havana with owner Andrés (Juan de Marcos). After a tragedy, Vivo journeys to Florida to deliver a love song to the famous singer Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan). Along the way, he makes some unlikely friends and connects in his grief with Andrés’ grandniece Gabi (Ynairaly Simo).

86% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says: ages 6 and up (plus, a Common Sense Selection pick for Families)
Watch now

My Octopus Teacher

Best family movies on Netflix: My Octopus Teacher

(Image credit: Netflix)

Tired of zany and too-wacky Netflix animated movies filled with animals who talk and prattle on too long? Looking to give your kids a completely different kind of movie night? Audiences 8 and up (according to Common Sense Media) will enjoy this documentary about a filmmaker who needs to get away from it all — and retreats to the shores of South Africa. 

Diving in the local kelp forest, he meets an octopus who becomes his new friend. The two spend nearly a year together, and their connection is genuine and powerful. 

95% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says: ages 8 and up (plus, a Common Sense Selection pick for Families)
Watch now

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best family movies on Netflix: How to train your dragon 2

(Image credit: Dreamworks)

You don't need to see How to Train Your Dragon to love How to Train Your Dragon 2, and I can promise that — because that's how I experienced this terrific sequel. On a rainy day in Maine, with a friend (both of us in our late 20's), we enjoyed the wonderfully wholesome world of Hiccup and Toothless. 

This movie's premise is simple, our heroes discover a secret cave filled with hundreds of wild dragons — and the long lost mother of our hero Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). Oh, and his mother Valka is voiced by Cate Blanchett. The Vikings of Berk  and all of their friendly dragons unite to stop a warrior named Drago who is a menace to them all. 

91% Rotten Tomatoes (Certified Fresh)
Common Sense Media says: ages 7 and up
Watch now

Wish Dragon

Best family movies on Netflix: Wish Dragon

(Image credit: Netflix)

Kids will flock to Sony Pictures Animation's Wish Dragon for the colorful designs and zany antics, but their parents will keep paying attention because of a stellar cast of voice actors. The likes of John Cho, Constance Wu, Bobby Lee and Jimmy O. Yang lend their voices to project that will surely speak to younger audiences. 

Din (voiced by Jimmy Wong) is a college student with large dreams and a small budget, who is helped by Long (Cho) a wish-granting dragon. Think Aladdin, but slightly more relevant. Oh, and one more item for its credibility: Jackie Chan produced Wish Dragon. 

68% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says: ages 8 and up (plus, a Common Sense Selection pick for Families)
Watch now

The Karate Kid

Best family movies on Netflix: The Karate Kid

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures/Getty)

Before you even think about showing your kids Cobra Kai (which CSM rates for ages 15 and up), you might want to bring them back in time with The Karate Kid (Parts 2 and 3 and The Next Karate Kid are also on Netflix). Pat Morita won tons of deserved praise for his role as Mr. Kesuke Miyagi, the repairman who befriends the bullied Daniel (Ralph Macchio). 

The Karate Kid emerged at a time in the world when dojos training kids and adults of all ages kept popping up around the country, such as the film's Cobra Kai dojo. Daniel learns important life lessons in the film, through Mr. Miyagi's tutelage. 

89% Rotten Tomatoes: Certified Fresh
Common Sense Media says: ages 11 and up
Watch now

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Best family movies on Netflix: The Mitchells vs. The Machines

(Image credit: Netflix)

The latest addition to this list of the best family movies on Netflix, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an animated film that has something for everyone. Its visuals astound (as we expected from the team behind Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse), and its cast is filled to the brim with top players including Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre and Olivia Colman. 

And the story is simple until it's chaos: the Mitchell family is out for a road trip right before daughter Katie starts film school. But, then, the robot uprising begins. You know, all our smart tech has finally had enough of us, and is going to take over. It's the inevitable moment we all saw coming, and the exact last thing a family would want when they're on the road and reliant on technology.

97% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

Labyrinth

Best family movies on Netflix: Labyrinth

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Muppets and magic make for an excellent combination in Jim Henson's Labyrinth. The film finds teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) on a mission to rescue her baby brother Toby from goblins. The big problem, though, is she's got a short time limit, with only 13 hours to save him. This is what happens when you make a wish for your annoying infant sibling to go away — only for your wish to be granted by the Goblin King Jareth (David Bowie).  While some of Bowie's film career isn't exactly for the kids, this movie is definitely for the family.

73% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

Enola Holmes

Best family movies on netflix - enola holmes

(Image credit: Alex Bailey/Legendary)

Families looking for a fun and lively action-filled mystery should stream Enola Holmes. The film stars Stranger Things' Millie Bobby Brown, who brings modern sensibilities to days of yore. And, yes, Enola is from that Holmes family. But her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Clafin) are among those who don't know quite what to make of how their little sister is remarkably free-spirited for her time. Brown thrives in the role, mixing the fourth-wall breaking fun that seems to only make it to older female characters such as Fleabag. But parents don't need to worry about the show being too adult, aside from some fight scenes employing knives and guns.

91% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 10 and up
Watch now

Rango

Best family movies on netflix - Rango

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Titular lizard Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp) is a chameleon having trouble taking the form of the one thing he really wants to be: a hero. But life has a way of pushing Rango into the role of his destiny. Somehow, Rango finds himself in a weird town named Dirt that's basically like a version of the wild west, but with an all creepy and crawly cast, instead of humans. Rango looks to become the law, as sheriff of Dirt, but local politics over water supplies and a massive treacherous snake stand in his way. Oh, and that snake has a gatling gun, which makes him extra dangerous. Far more sophisticated than the average animated tale, Rango comes from respected director Gore Verbinski, and has earned comparisons to Chinatown of all films. Kids might not even realize it, but parents who have been looking for a great film to share with the family will. 

88% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 9 and up
Watch now

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

best family movies on Netflix - jingle jangle a christmas journey

(Image credit: Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX)

Seemingly a near-instant classic, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the unexpected holiday season hit is one of the best family movies on Netflix — especially during the holiday season. A gigantic musical film, filled with joy and excitement — plus a top-tier cast — this John Legend-produced film has won applause all over, from critics to fans. We'll keep plot details minimal, but the film centers around a toymaker who's lost his smile, but may get his exuberance back when he's reunited with his intelligent granddaughter.

92% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

Mirai

best family movies on Netflix - mirai

(Image credit: GKIDS)

This beautifully hand-drawn animated film will connect with all members of the household. It starts with a familiar tale — four-year-old Kun finds his life shaken up when a new baby sister gets all the attention — that goes wild and weird quickly. A teenage version of his new sibling Mirai arrives, and soon Kun and the older Mirai go on adventures together, where they meet a myriad series of peculiar characters from their past and future. Warm, caring and unlike most bright and neon kids movies made today, Mirai will show your family that the Kids section on Netflix is more diverse than they know.

90% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Best family movies on Netflix - mr. peabody and sherman

(Image credit: Dreamworks)

Sometimes we can get a classic reboot without it being a dark and dry mess. That's the case with this solid modernization of the "Peabody's Improbable History" segments from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. The story is full of fun but  slightly convoluted shenanigans, as you'd expect when time travel is involved. The story here, if you're not familiar, finds the genius talking canine Mr. Peabody having built the "WABAC" machine, a time-travel device that allows his a bit dim-witted from Sherman to wreak havoc in the universe. And -- of course -- he does it to impress his female friend Penny.

81% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 6 and up
Watch now

The Willoughbys

best family movies on Netflix - The Willoughbys

(Image credit: Netflix)

Silly yet grounded in real emotional truths, The Willoughbys is a success that proves the Netflix animated films team should be up there with the best. The story is relatable as well, with Willoughby siblings Tim (Will Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara), Barnaby A and Barnaby B (both voices by Seán Cullen) devise the ultimate plan for freedom from their parents. And the kids aren't wrong for this either: mom and dad are too occupied with their never-ending love for one another to care for the kids. The Willoughby kids plan, though, is a bit crazy: sending their parents on a vacation so dangerous that the kids will likely be orphaned by the end. 

90% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch 

best family movies on Netflix - John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch

(Image credit: Jeffrey Neira/Netflix)

Are your kids not exactly traditional? Parents of kids with particularly unique and slightly mature tastes in TV and movies should consider John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch for the next movie night. In this film, the titular comedian (who is also great on HBO Max's The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo) runs through all of the standard kids content tropes with a sly wit and a lot of kindness. Younger kids may not "get" it, but parents who are fans of Mulaney's will likely wonder why all kids-friendly content can't be this intelligent. It's also got musical numbers, to keep the especially young crowd from getting bored.

96% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 8 and up
Watch now

Pokemon Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution

Best family movies on Netflix - pokemon mewtwo strikes back evolution

(Image credit: Netflix)

A CGI remake of the original Pokemon film, Mewtwo Strikes Back: Evolution is both familiar but new. It focuses on what happens when the iconic Pokemon trainer Ash (and his fellow trainers) discover the massively powerful Mewtwo, a psychic Pokemon who is a massive threat. While it's not high art, it's still a decent choice for family movie night if and when your kid just got into the Pokemon world. Especially since the original is not on Netflix. Mewtwo will also teach kids about when you shouldn't judge others. 

44% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 8 and up.

Watch now

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

Best family movies on Netflix - INVADER ZIM: ENTER THE FLORPUS

(Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix rebooted the Nicktoon classic Invader Zim with this 71-minute film that's easily one of the best family movies on Netflix — especially for younger parents. Just like the classic show, Florpus offers a wild manic energy with some jokes that kids won't get and parents will chuckle at. Reviews point to the film's amazing eye candy and endearing energy levels, and small nods to other classic animated shows. If your kids love this film, maybe it's time to dig up the original series or get them started on Adventure Time. 

100% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 8 and up.

Watch now

The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

Best family movies on Netflix - The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

(Image credit: Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix)

This inspiring film — set in a small farming village in Malawi — will pull audiences in with the presence of lead actor (and director) Chiwetel Ejiofor. The award-winning actor doesn't take up too much of the film, though, giving proper time to lead Maxwell Simba, who plays a 13-year-old boy named William. While William's story may read like a middle-school assignment, his education is taken away before he conceives a windmill-power generator to solve his town's problems, it's the kind of motivational story that science-obsessed kids might love.

85% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 12 and up.

Watch now

The Main Event

best family movies on Netflix - the main event

(Image credit: Bettina Strauss)

Yes, we're recommending a wrestling movie. The Main Event is one of the best family movies on Netflix for a reason, though, thanks to the endearing performance of lead actor Seth Carr, who plays Leo, an 11-year-old who discovers a magical mask that lets him perform as well as his heroes in WWE. The film is grounded in realism, though, as Leo and his father (played by Adam Pally) are dealing with the departure of his mother, who left them to fend for themselves. Leo also has to deal with the ramifications of his selfishness, which quickly alienates his friends. Levity is found in and around the squared circle, thanks to comedy veteran Ken Marino and a star-making performance by pro wrestler Keith Lee. If you or your child are a fan of pro wrestling, but want something with a little more story, this is definitely one of the best family movies on Netflix.

26% Rotten Tomatoes
Common Sense Media says:
ages 7 and up
Watch now

Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling

Best family movies on Netflix - Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling

(Image credit: Netflix)

For slightly older kids and parents on the younger end, Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling is both proudly progressive and delightfully nostalgic. Not only does the series match the original Nicktoon's vibe, but its approach to identity and transgender roles should be inspiring to other family programming looking to take the leap. And at only 45 minutes, this special won't take a huge bite out of your night. 

91% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 10 and up.

Watch now

White Fang

Best family movies on Netflix white fang

(Image credit: Netflix)

Inspired by Jack London's novel, White Fang will capture the imaginations of those who love pets and nature. Tracing the story of a wolfdog's life, as he moves between three masters, this wonderful animated movie comes to us from France, where it was originally titled Croc-Blanc. Voice acting work comes from beloved names such as Parks and Recreation stars Rashida Jones and Nick Offerman, as well as Paul Giamatti.

88% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 10 and up.

Watch now

Next Gen

Best family movies on Netflix next gen

(Image credit: Netflix)

Parents looking for a futuristic animated film for their middle-school-aged (and up) kids that successfully manages to be appropriate and entertaining should check out Netflix's Next Gen. Featuring voice acting from John Krasinski (The Office) and Charlene Yi (Paper Heart), who play an AI and a young girl, respectively, who unite to stop a baddie. Next Gen is a sci-fi adventure movie that keeps its action scenes kid-friendly with laser blasts and explosions, while staying away from the more grizzly stuff.

60% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 8 and up.

Watch now

Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

Best family movies on Netflix - Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You!

(Image credit: OLM)

Parents who loved the Pokemon games and anime can use this film (which breaks from conventions) to introduce it to their kids. If you can believe it, Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! is the 20th Pokemon movie in the series, which is so storied and complicated that the franchise began to run itself into the ground of predictability. This chapter, though, thrives by breaking the rules. Sure, some fans were incensed by the decision to have Pikachu speak any words that aren't their own name, but that's one of a handful of choices that - in the end - made the movie better. Younger viewers will hopefully not be so attached to the Pokemon franchise that they'll feel betrayed by the absence of Brock and Misty.

43% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 7 and up.

Watch now

Pee-wee's Big Holiday

Best family movies on Netflix - Pee-wee's Big Holiday

(Image credit: Ilze Kitshoff/Netflix)

Parents of a certain age, who would be eager to introduce their kids to Pee-wee Herman and his manic energy, will find Pee-wee's Big Holiday to be one of the best family movies on Netflix. It may not provide as many laughs per minute as previous capers, reviews noted it offers a sweetness that will delight existing fans and kids who can handle some surreal humor. 

80% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 11 and up.

Watch now

The Little Prince

Best family movies on Netflix: the little prince

(Image credit: Orange Studios)

Netflix's exclusive adaptation of The Little Prince is as sincere, heartfelt, and visually striking as the beloved Antoine de Saint-Exupery book that inspired it. Mark Osborne directed the film, in which a young girl (Mackenzie Foy) strikes up a friendship with an old pilot (Jeff Bridges). The pilot spins an extraordinary yarn about a friend from his past: a Little Prince (Riley Osborne) from another planet. Read the book together beforehand, if you can.

93% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 10 and up.

Watch now

The Rugrats Movie

Best family movies on Netflix - The Rugrats Movie

(Image credit: Nickelodeon)

Super-young audiences and their 90's-kid parents will have fun watching Tommy Pickles dealing with sharing his parents with a new, younger, sibling. Of course, this all starts when the maniacal Angelica convinces Tommy that his parents will literally forget about him once their new bundle of joy arrives. The zaniness occurs, though, when Tommy tries to return baby Dil (get it, because they're the Pickles family) to the hospital. Also a fun way for expecting parents to show their only child there's nothing to worry about.

59% Rotten Tomatoes

Common Sense Media says: ages 4 and up.

Watch now

Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.