While the world of streaming has opened up a plethora of viewing alternatives, it can be difficult to chose what to watch, especially when you have the entire family on your mind. That’s why we’ve put together a specifically curated list of Netflix’s finest family movies, which features the best movie-watching alternatives for people of all (or at least most) ages. They include anything from cartoon films to inspiring live-action stories about real-life heroes.
But it’s not only Disney movies on our list of the best family and kids movies on Netflix—we’ve included films from a variety of companies, eras, and genres. So, if you’re seeking for the ideal viewing experience for both kids and parents, we’re convinced you’ll find something here. Check out our complete list of Netflix’s top family movies below.
Table Of Content
- 1 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
- 2 Dennis the Menace
- 3 Enola Holmes
- 4 How to Train Your Dragon 2
- 5 Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
- 6 Jumanji
- 7 Klaus
- 8 Labyrinth
- 9 Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
- 10 Nightbooks
- 11 Paddington
- 12 ParaNorman
- 13 Rise of the Guardians
- 14 The Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2
- 15 The Mitchells vs. the Machines
- 16 The BFG
- 17 White Christmas
- 18 We Can Be Heroes
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
The food-filled hamlet of Swallow Falls is revisited in this animated sequel, where the massive food that rained down has now developed into creatures. While the sequel lacks some of the Phil Lord and Chris Miller charm that made the first so delightfully unique, Lord and Miller remain producers, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 still manages to keep audiences delighted with some very great visual jokes and gags. In addition, Will Forte’s inclusion in the cast is brilliant.
Dennis the Menace
Who’d have guessed Michael Myers would go on to become such a charming family picture director? Following his role in Halloween, Nick Castle went on to direct a succession of hits, beginning in the 1980s with The Last Starfighter and The Boy Who Could Fly, and continuing into the 1990s with Dennis the Menace, a precocious comic strip adaption. Mason Gamble plays the titular troublemaker, whose misadventures—usually at the expense of cranky neighbor George Wilson (a joy to watch)—leave him entangled with a criminal named Switchblade Sam (Christopher Lloyd). In general, Dennis the Menace is a classic case of wacky antics, but be warned: Lloyd’s character is possibly the most frightening children’s movie character, oh, ever?
Remove all the movies from your Netflix queue that you’ve seen a hundred times before, and what’s left, no matter how unlikely, is most likely Enola Holmes, a Netflix original that came and went in the pop cultural debate far too quickly. Enola Holmes, based on the YA series of the same name, stars Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things as the titular character, the younger sister of history’s most famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). When Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), the matriarch of the Holmes family, goes missing, it’s Enola on the case, following her mother’s trail of secrets straight into a vast conspiracy. Brown is, predictably, endearing in the lead role, the mystery premise is just tough enough to keep the kids wondering, and Cavill is definitely enjoying himself as the stuffy Sherlock figure. What to Watch’s riddle has been solved.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The most emotional film in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is also the best. The 2014 sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 has Hiccup reuniting with his long-lost mother (Cate Blanchett) and confronting a lunatic (Djimon Hounsou) who wants to take over the world, five years after the events of the first film. Compassion and empathy are important elements in this “children’s film,” which may or may not leave parents in tears by the end. The fact that this picture is as good as it is is a credit to Dean DeBlois’s directorial abilities (with help from cinematographer Roger Deakins), and you also get a very amazing score from composer John Powell as a bonus.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is a new holiday classic, an instant addition to the canon, and the most recent family-friendly Christmas film to so totally grab the heart and soul of its audience since Elf. But, unlike Elf, which is filled of youthful delight and comedic set pieces, Jingle Jangle’s steampunk-flavored sleigh is powered by another, more unusual fuel: melancholy. Jingle Jangle is a narrative about loss, treachery, putting dreams aside, keeping the house afloat when the lights have long gone out, and only then regaining hope. Yes, there are catchy pop-MT bangers lensed and choreographed with flair, yes, the production design is stunning, and yes, every child actor in the film is unstoppably charming, happy, and joyful. Forest Whitaker’s brave, unexpected, and just strange performance is at the heart of Jingle Jangle, despite its goofy name. Whitaker is a shell of a man, a human reduced to a ghost, as our principal inventor, whose greatest products were stolen by an angry Keegan Michael-Key (excellent; he should play villains more often!). He portrays this man with a phony toughness that exposes his inner frailty, and he leaves us with no connection to the potentially extraordinary environment around him. It’s a remarkable piece of work that will undoubtedly have an unanticipated impact on children – and when he finally lets go of his traumas to sing, dance, and love his way to a brighter future, the tears welling up in my eyes throughout Jingle Jangle can no longer contain themselves. It’s a new Christmas classic, so put it on the boards.
Although Jumanji may have terrified an entire generation away from board games, there is no better or more entertaining way to introduce a young movie fan to a rollicking Amblin-style adventure than with this film. Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) are two young siblings who discover a mystical jungle-themed board game that not only brings all of the game’s wildlife into the real world—some much deadlier than others—but also releases Alan Parrish (Robin Williams), a man who was trapped inside the game 26 years ago. A fast-paced, effects-driven thrill trip starring Robin Williams at his most endearing? You can’t ask for much more, and as a bonus, both of its tardy sequels, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level, which should not have worked, managed to do so brilliantly!
Without a single holiday switch, Netflix created a true original Christmas classic with Klaus (incredible, I know). Sergio Pablos, a Spanish animation master who began working for Disney in the Paris outpost before moving to America and contributing incredible performances and designs for characters as diverse and unrelated as Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dr. Doppler in Treasure Planet before becoming a one-man idea farm and coming up with the initial concepts that led to Despicable Me and Smallfoot, co-wrote and directed the film. With Klaus, Pablos expertly blended classic 2D hand-drawn animation with cutting-edge computer animation to portray the origin story of Santa Claus (J.K. Simmons) through his relationship with a small-town mailman (Jason Schwartzman). The end product is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before; it’s like watching a magic trick and not knowing how it was done but still being intrigued. (It was also nominated for Best Animated Feature and had a strong chance of winning.) And the plot, with its feuding villagers and devotion to portraying the origins of the mythology in a grounded, emotionally evocative manner (dubbed “Santa Claus Begins”), never descends into mushy sentimentality. This is one of those rare Christmas classics that can be seen at any time of year and still transport you to the festive spirit.
There aren’t many films in any genre that are more imaginative as Jim Henson’s high fantasy puppetry spectacular Labyrinth. Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), sixteen, is fed up with watching her baby brother…until he is kidnapped by a horde of goblins headed by the Goblin King (David Bowie, just astonishingly iconic in this role). In her search for her brother, Sarah encounters everything from a friendly dward named Hoggle (Brian Henson) to the Bog of Eternal Stench, which is a jaw-droppingly vivid maze of monsters and mayhem. Labyrinth is such a technological marvel that it’s a must-see for everyone of any age, but it’s especially valuable as a film to exhibit to a generation raised on computer graphics. This film demonstrates that you can make magic with your hands.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
I know you’re thinking about the beloved Disney animated film, but hold off on this one till the kids are a little older. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle is a considerably darker, more intense take on the original material, courtesy of the mo-cap king himself, Andy Serkis. It was mostly eclipsed by Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, which was released just two years earlier (who also provides the voice for brown bear Baloo). But it also has a stellar ensemble, led by committed young actor Rohan Chand as Mowgli, who crawls through mud and leaves, surrounded by A-listers such as Christian Bale as Bagheera, Benedict Cumberbatch as wicked tiger Shere Khan, and Cate Blanchett as the python Kaa.
Looking for a truly terrifying film to see this Halloween season that’s also appropriate for the whole family? Nightbooks, a new witchy Netflix original from director David Yarovesky (Brightburn) and producer Sam Raimi, is the place to be (The Evil Dead). Alex (Winslow Fegley) is so taunted about his love of writing horror novels that he swears he’ll never write another one. When a witch (Krysten Ritter) imprisons Alex in her New York City apartment and insists that he spin her a new yarn every night, Alex must use all of his storytelling skills to ensure that he and fellow prisoner Yasmin (Lidya Jewett) survive. Nighbooks fills a crucial niche in the horror genre, like to Goosebumps, A Nightmare Before Christmas, and Hocus Pocus, in that it’s just terrifying enough to serve as a gateway film for any kid (like Alex!) who might be interested in more challenging material later on.
Paddington is a pleasant family film based on the adorable children’s book character Paddington Bear (developed by Michael Bond). When it was released in 2014, the film received critical acclaim and two BAFTA nominations. While there are significant changes in the film, the essence of the source material is kept, contributing to Paddington’s charm.
Paddington’s story follows the titular talking bear as he travels from “Darkest Peru” to London in search of a family to care for him. It’s not an easy feat, but Paddington manages to maintain his gentle, pleasant demeanor despite the challenges he faces. His greatest foe is a wicked taxidermist, played by Nicole Kidman, who wants to kill and stuff him. This is a story that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, and the film has already spawned one sequel, with a third on the way.
I strongly advise you to see ParaNorman if you’re seeking for a fun family film that’s also legitimately creepy and has a surprise message. LAIKA, the studio behind Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, created the stop-motion animated picture, and it’s easily one of their best. It centers on Norman, a young boy with the ability to see and communicate with the dead, which comes in useful when his little Massachusetts town is invaded by terrible ghosts. The story is heavily influenced by classic 1980s films such as The Goonies and E.T., yet it never feels unoriginal, and it actually conveys a startling and poignant message about bullying and anger, as well as the complexities of feelings that children can experience. It’s also a great deal of fun.
Rise of the Guardians
Rise of the Guardians, a DreamWorks film, is like Avengers for characters from folklore. Peter Ramsey made his feature directorial debut with the 2012 3D animated film, which he would subsequently co-direct with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It’s based on William Joyce’s work, notably The Man in the Moon, a short film, and The Guardians of Childhood, a book series.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman defend the world’s children in Rise of the Guardians. Under the supervision of the enigmatic Man in the Moon, these Guardians have been watching over humanity for eons. When an evil spirit known as Pitch Black threatens to deliver nightmares to the earth, the Man in the Moon gathers the Guardians to confront him. But, in order to defeat Pitch Black, the Guardians will have to recruit a new member: Jack Frost, the Spirit of Winter. While the film has received mixed reviews, it is visually stunning and a must-see for fantasy aficionados of all ages.
The Christmas Chronicles 1 & 2
The Christmas Chronicles and its sequel, starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn as a delightful and quite frankly devastatingly attractive Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, are a one-two punch on Netflix when it comes to pumping out quality Christmas content, and that remains true in the case of the one-two punch of The Christmas Chronicles and its sequel, in which Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn play a delightful and quite frankly devastatingly attractive Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. A couple of siblings, Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis), crash Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve in the first film. As the light rises, the two children must assist St. Nick in saving the holiday. When an elf named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) turns rogue and threatens to cancel Christmas, Kate has to re-team with the Clauses in the sequel, which sees Home Alone and Harry Potter director Chris Columbus take over directing duties. Look no farther if a great yuletide double feature is on your family’s wish list.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
The Mitchells vs. the Machines will delight the entire family. The story of this original animated film follows a family as they prepare to embark on a cross-country road journey to take their daughter to college in the aftermath of a robot apocalypse. If they are to save themselves (or the planet), they must work together, which is tough given the father and daughter’s communication issues. This film is frivolous and wacky, but it also has an emotional core, with a beautiful heart at its core and a story about the necessity of communication, bolstered by a fiercely creative female lead. It’s also a lot of fun to watch again and again.
The BFG, despite being a Steven Spielberg-directed Disney film, has slipped under the radar, so if you haven’t seen it yet, now is the best time to do so. The BFG stars Mark Rylance as the titular Big Friendly Giant, who befriends a human girl, and is based on Roald Dahl’s renowned children’s book (Ruby Barnhill). They embark on an expedition to stop the bigger, more vicious giants from his world from invading Earth and feasting on humanity. The BFG isn’t top-tier Spielberg, but it is still Spielberg, which means it’s a top-tier family adventure imbued with the filmmaker’s hallmark sense of wonder and starring Rylance in some engaging motion-capture work. In terms of animation and effects, The BFG is just breathtaking to witness.
We have White Christmas, which puts the “classic” in Christmas Classic. The 1954 film is a musical rom-com about two couples who put on a Christmas play and discover love and friendship along the way. Bob Wallace and Phil Davis, played by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye, are two former soldiers who make it big as musical producers after WWII. They meet the Haynes sisters, Betty (Rosemary Clooney) and Judy (Vera-Ellen), and they become friends despite their initial differences. Following the two men’s assistance in rescuing the sisters from their greedy landlord, the four of them band together to put on a concert to aid Bob and Phil’s former commander out of a jam.
White Christmas is remarkable for being the first film to be released in VistaVision, a technology that provided the film with greater resolution and brighter colors than other films at the time. White Christmas, despite being decades old, still holds up well today, with well-written characters and a compelling tale. Although certain sections of the film appear to be a little old, it is still a fun family film to watch.
We Can Be Heroes
Robert Rodriguez’s We Can Be Heroes is a really delicious alternative if you’re looking for a lighthearted and funny sci-fi adventure that’s fun for the whole family. Set in the same universe as his acclaimed 2005 family superhero picture The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, his Netflix feature gives a new generation of heroes all of that bright and bubbly enthusiasm. After the Earth’s legion of superheroes is kidnapped by aliens, their children must step up and save the day, each with their own unique set of abilities, ranging from conventional superhero abilities like time control to controlling objects by singing to a good old-fashioned aptitude for leadership. Not to mention the cute young daughter of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Guppy, who inherited Shark Strength and understands how to use it. It’s a fun, light-hearted fantasy/sci-fi adventure for youngsters that should appeal to fans of Sharkboy and Lavagirl as well as Rodriguez’s Spy Kids series.
Our Team DCS includes 5 different writers proficient in English and research based Content Writing. We allow them and encourage them to follow the Entertainment news all day long. Our posts, listicles and even the exclusives are a result of their hard work.