Best Family Movies on Netflix
As you scroll through Netflix's Children and Family section, and become suspicious of the sea of bright colors and flashing lights, you're probably starting to wonder how many of these flicks are actually good. If already know the difference between a film that will (hopefully) inspire their young mind and one that simply numbs it, you've come to the right place. We've found the best family movies on Netflix, to help you schedule some quality TV time with your relatives, with many of them good enough for both of you to find something to enjoy.
The latest update to our family friendly megalist sees the 2017 Beauty and The Beast remake fall off Netflix, while a Marvel movie that's fun for families takes its place. You might want to check out our guide to this month's additions to Netflix to see the latest additions, and read our Best TV Shows on Netflix roundup if you're looking for programming to watch once the kids take a nap.
Credit: Sony Pictures Animation
Incredibles 2 (2018) — 93% Rotten Tomatoes
The Incredibles was such an instant classic that many were worried that even an OK sequel would tarnish its legacy. Fortunately, this sequel packs enough pizzazz and heart to sit side-by-side with its predecessor. Vibrating with a wonderful jazzy soundtrack and inventive visuals, The Incredibles 2 is a joy to watch. Story-wise, everybody's favorite super-powered family is back, and dealing with the immediate aftermath of the original film: a society that wants to ban their abilities. Scenes featuring Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) dealing with the uber-powered Jack Jack steal the show, and function as fantastic centerpieces. And until Disney Plus takes it away 2020, Incredibles 2 is definitely one of the best family movies on Netflix.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) — 97% Rotten Tomatoes
The rest of the comic book movie canon can stand aside, as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most stylish superhero film ever. Visually inventive at a level that most films can only aim for, Spider-Verse shows what happens when you bring a comic to life and have fun with it (unlike Ang Lee's Hulk). Fortunately, Spider-Verse is grounded with a great story revolving around young Miles Morales, who finds his world invaded by Spider-Men from different realities.
Credit: Sony Pictures Animation
Ralph Breaks The Internet (2018) — 88% Rotten Tomatoes
The mischievous, sentient video game characters Wreck-It Ralph and his buddy Vanellope von Schweetz are back, and trying to figure out how to support each other. Even if you wish the film's jokes stuck to the gaming world (which might be old hat for kids, but novel for parents) you'll still enjoy its underlying story of how friends can betray each other and learn to forgive.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) — 88% Rotten Tomatoes
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is back in the armor that brought him to this Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this sequel's even more fun than its predecessor. Rated PG-13, it's got that mild super-hero violence that's probably acceptable to most kids in their pre-teen and teenage years, but the film's rooted in another hilarious performance from Rudd, who takes on some surprising characters during the film. Also, this chapter of the MCU series has a lot more fun with the shrinking and super-sizing tricks that Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) brings to the film.
Credit: Marvel Studios
Peter Rabbit (2018) — 64% Rotten Tomatoes
This refreshing adaptation of Beatrix Potter's novels revive Peter Rabbit for the younger set, by injecting the character with a bit of mischief. Yes, while that decision upset those tied to Potter's original work, the film doesn't come across as mean or insincere. A couple of warnings, though: a human character dies relatively early, so this might not be a perfect movie for the super-young set. Also a minor ruckus was raised over a scene where a child allergic to blueberries was pelted by blueberries, which forced him to use his Epipen.
Credit: Columbia Pictures
Mary and The Witch's Flower (2018) — 86% Rotten Tomatoes
If you're looking for a new twist on solid tropes, check out this film from Academy Award nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose credits include Studio Ghibli masterpieces Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. This animated film centers around a young girl named Mary who finds herself surrounded by the utterly fantastic: a magic flower that grants magical powers, a broomstick that she flies above the clouds, and the magic university of Endor College (no, there aren't any Ewoks). Features voice acting by Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.
Credit: Studio Ponoc
A Wrinkle in Time (2018) — 41% Rotten Tomatoes
Ava Duvernay's adaptation of the Madeleine L'Engle classic may have rubbed some critics the wrong way, but most agree that this is a great flick for kids. As long as you watch the film with a child-like sense of awe and wonder, so you can enjoy the movie's gorgeous special effects and not blanche at its wholesome demeanor. Its focus, a depressed 13-year-old named Meg — whose misery is linked to her dad's mysterious disappearance — who goes on a mystical journal that will answer her biggest questions.
White Fang (2018) — 88% Rotten Tomatoes
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.
Next Gen (2018) — 60% Rotten Tomatoes
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.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) — 70% Rotten Tomatoes
While it's not for the younger set, Parents should feel comfortable with showing their kids the origin story of Han Solo, everyone's favorite curmudgeon pilot. Alden Ehrenreich does well in the titular role, but the film thrives thanks to performances by Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover. Kids, though, will love the friendship that holds Han and Chewbacca together. So, if you're a Star Wars household, and your kids are old enough for it, Solo is definitely one of the best family movies on Netflix.
Credit: Jonathan Olley /Lucasfilm
Pokemon The Movie: I Choose You! (2017) — 43% Rotten Tomatoes
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, this 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.
Cars 3 (2017) — 68% Rotten Tomatoes
After the uninspired Cars 2, many had written Pixar's automotive franchise off as a lemon, but this third chapter restored the faith. While the film is filled with the eye-popping animation and gear-head glory that everyone expected, its story tapped into real human feelings, exploring fears of aging and dealing with the upcoming generation that's nipping at your tailpipe. The uninformed may scoff at the idea of watching a Cars sequel, but they'll change their tune once you turn on the ignition.
Credit: Disney Pixar
Coco (2017) — 97% Rotten Tomatoes
One of the sweetest films I've seen in years, Coco is a delight from start to finish that both parents and children will adore. The film centers around 12-year-old Miguel, who dreams of being a musician despite his family's strict no-music-ever policy. Miguel's journey gets magical, though, as his mischief sends him on a detour through the dayglo-imbued land of the dead. Don't worry about this trip being scary, as this land of the dead has nothing to do with the George A. Romero zombie movie of the same name.
Oh, and there's one major perk for watching it on Netflix: you don't have to sit through the 21-minute-long Frozen short "Olaf’s Frozen Adventure" that you were forced to endure if you saw Coco during its first weeks in theaters.
The Little Prince (2015) — 93% Rotten Tomatoes
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.
Credit: Orange Studios
Secretariat (2010) — 63% Rotten Tomatoes
Not sure how you can go into Secretariat with honest expectations and not come away impressed. A heart-string tugging period piece drama about the Triple Crown-winning horse, Chenery also provides an uplifting story of Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), who succeeded in the boys club world of horse racing at a high level. Glossy, nostalgic and endearing, Secretariat is great for those who want a family friendly (yes, Disnified) version of Seabiscuit.
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Coraline (2009) — 90% Rotten Tomatoes
The first feature film from Laika (Paranorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) is still one of its most distinctive. Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) finds her parents' new house terribly dull, until she discovers a secret door during her explorations. Although the twisted, through-a-glass-darkly version of her life on the other side is exciting, it's also frightening. Too bad, then, that Coraline's "other mother" (Teri Hatcher) from the eerie reality isn't keen on letting her go.
Coraline's brilliant, inventive aesthetic, though, is a major reason why it's considered one of the best family movies on Netflix.
Mamma Mia! (2008) — 54% Rotten Tomatoes
A film adaptation of the musical it shares its name with, Mamma Mia! is a delightful musical comedy, based on the hit songs of the pop group ABBA. The film stars a murderer's row of actors, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth. The story revolves around Sophie (Seyfried) a 20-year old who's on the verge of getting married, who's added three guests to her wedding — men who may be the father she's never met — without telling her mother. As you would expect, hilarity and awkwardness ensue.
Credit: Universal Pictures
Monster House (2006) — 74% Rotten Tomatoes
Monster House pairs a tale as old as time — house gets possessed, kids unite to defeat the specter — with CGI animation that's fun, inventive and imaginative. Probably not for the super-young, this PG movie's got a decent cast of voice actors that parents may or may not recognize (Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kevin James).
Credit: Columbia Pictures
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) — 60% Rotten Tomatoes
A funny, fast-moving sci-fi romp, Hitchhiker's Guide came to cinemas with a heavy responsibility. Possibly too-true to the Douglas Adams novel that it was adapted from, the movie is practically over-stuffed with references and visual gags, which kinda makes it perfect for our era of streaming content. So now audiences can zoom and rewind, pick up and put down Adams' book while they read it, and go back to the movie to enjoy the comedic acting of Martin Freeman, Alan Rickman and more.
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures
Lilo & Stitch (2002) — 86% Rotten Tomatoes
This classic tale of a girl (Lilo) and her small alien friend (Stitch) sparked a whole franchise with its delightful humor, which is both funny and sassy. While Lilo is too young to be a good caretaker for Stitch — who she's trying to protect — the barriers of age and language that separate the two lead to plenty of confusion. Also, the film manages to conclude with a wholesome ending that is neither sappy nor too sweet.
Spy Kids (2001) — 93% Rotten Tomatoes
Adventurous and electric, funny and inventive, Spy Kids is a great example that kids action movies can be fun for all. That's no surprise, though, when you realize that it's written, directed and co-produced by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. Yes, the man behind such mature films as From Dusk Till Dawn and Once Upon a Time in Mexico managed to make one of the best family movies, and he did it with a star-studded cast including Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming, Teri Hatcher, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Robert Patrick, Tony Shalhoub and George Clooney.
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The Emperor's New Groove (2000) — 85% Rotten Tomatoes
This historical farce, about an emperor too young and selfish for his new responsibility, isn't just fun for kids. The Emperor's New Groove is also packing some hidden jokes for their parents to chuckle at (or for said children to discover when they're older). Featuring a cast of top-shelf comedy stars — including David Spade, John Goodman and Patrick Warburton — The Emperor's New Groove features a lively animation style that matches its laughs.
Billy Elliot (2000) — 85% Rotten Tomatoes
In 2019, it might not seem like a giant taboo, but back in 2000, Billy Elliot felt like it was shattering a glass tutu. While Billy's coal miner father disapproved (in scenes practically parodied by Zoolander a year later), but the movie dealt with societal assumptions for boys who do ballet, and the harassment and homophobia facing anyone who breaks from norms. Don't worry, though, the film won't disappoint in the end, as it will fill your heart in the end.
Stuart Little (1999) — 67% Rotten Tomatoes
Children's books don't always survive intact when they make it to the big screen, but Stuart Little managed to overcome that danger. This victory is mostly owed to solid voice work by Michael J. Fox (as the titular mouse) and Nathan Lane (who voiced the adversarial Snowbell the cat) that grounds the film, while delightful visual effects from John Dykstra's team at Sony Imageworks make it feel like a kids book come to life. Just don't expect to match up with Pixar's Ratatouille, which was released 8 years later, eons in CGI years.
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Tarzan (1999) — 88% Rotten Tomatoes
Even if today's kids aren't aware of the name Tarzan, they'll take to this movie as if he was already a part of modern lore. Not only does Phil Collins' soundtrack make this film both fun and touching, but the lively hand-drawn animation give these characters a sense of humanity lost in modern CGI characters that live in the 'uncanny valley.'
Mulan (1998) — 86% Rotten Tomatoes
Since Disney's planning to make a new, live-action Mulan, we recommend they see the original first, as it's likely superior. Not only does this animated classic feature amazingly catchy songs (which the new adaptation may not even offer), but it turns the table on the time-old patterns of romance as this time, the princess saves the prince. And while some more-modern films targeting kids from away from the warm sentiments of family pride and honor, Mulan whole-heartedly embraces them.
Credit: Walt Disney Home Video
Hercules (1997) — 83% Rotten Tomatoes
Disney's output in the late-90s gets a deserved amount of flak, but the laughs and voice-acting in Hercules helps it stand out from the crud. Most-memorably, James Woods gives an inspired performance as Hades, as does comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who plays Pain, the demon's assistant. The film's grounded, though, by its story that turns Hercules into a half-mortal half-god, which makes him slightly more relatable. Also of note, Danny De Vito steals the show as Hercules' budy 'Phil,' who's better known as Philotes to Greek myth experts.
The Dark Crystal (1982) — 78% Rotten Tomatoes
Fortunately, Netflix is streaming this original fantasy epic so you can stream it with them, and share that experience from your youth, before they Netflix's new adaptation. Just realize that while Jim Henson's name is on the poster, this is no mere Muppets film. Instead, The Dark Crystal presents human-like Mystics, wizards who are struggling against the creepy Skeksis, who look like the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings, but aren't nearly as scary. After all these years, its campy lore and detailed aesthetic still ring true.
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