Finding the best family movies on Netflix is not an easy task if you don’t keep up with films. At first glance, there are a plethora of colorful options to choose from. But colorful is not even remotely the same as good. Watching a movie with the whole family is a great experience and for a good reason. It not only keeps the kids engaged, but also provides something for everyone to bond over.
The best family movies on Netflix will ensure that your family time is both wholesome and enjoyable. All these films can entertain both young and old. These are movies that have good stories and values, and they don’t talk down to kids (who tend to be smarter than we give them credit for).
“How to Train Your Dragon”
In this 2010 animated Dreamworks picture, Vikings and dragons do not get along. The dragons are a constant pest to the Viking way of life. Not to mention a severe fire hazard to their village. And so, a proud dragon hunting tradition develops. A tradition that Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of the chieftain, is more than excited to take part in. But what he lacks in muscle and brawn, he makes up in ingenuity and brains. Too bad his father thinks his tinkering is embarrassing.
When Hiccup catches his first dragon, a rarely seen Night Fury, he begins to look at the animals in a different light. And soon an unlikely friendship develops between Viking and dragon, even if he has to keep it secret from his fellow villagers.
“How to Train Your Dragon” was a smash hit and is one of the best family movies on Netflix. Not only does it tell a moving story of an unlikely friendship surviving against all the odds, but it is also as thrilling as movies can get. A film that shows that there is more than meets the eye and prejudice will lead nowhere. The film’s success spawned two sequels, and the second one is set to be released next year. So saddle up, and enjoy the ride. Or, to be more fitting, enjoy the flight.
Continuing with dragons, “Pete’s Dragon” is the remake of the 1977 musical of the same name and is another one of the best family movies on Netflix.
It is 1977. Pete’s (Oakes Fegley) parents die in a car crash while he survives. He is chased into the forest by a pack of wolves. His chances look dire if it weren’t for the last minute rescue from a green-furred dragon. The boy and the dragon quickly bond, Pete naming his savior Elliot. When after several years lumberjacks spot the now feral boy, the nearby town rallies. They worry about the boy’s safety. And after discovering Elliot, they send out hunting parties to save the boy from the monster. Only forest ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) and widowed mill owner Jack (Wes Bentley) realize that there is more to the boy’s relationship with his dragon.
Dropping the musical roots of the original, critically acclaimed indie filmmaker David Lowry crafted one of the best family movies on Netflix. And with a story of two vulnerable souls helping each other, tears are all but guaranteed. A testament to empathy and giving support to those who need it, even if it’s just a shoulder to cry on.
“Kung Fu Panda”
Another Dreamworks classic, “Kung Fu Panda” is a loving homage to the martial arts movies of the 70s and 80s.
Bumbling but lovable Panda Po (Jack Black) dreams of becoming a martial arts master. When he is not working in his dad’s noodle shop, who is a goose, he idolizes the Furious Five, the warriors protecting his valley. When a vision hits Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), teacher of the Furious Five, that the dangerous Tai Lung (Ian McShane) will escape prison, he has to fulfill the prophecy of bringing back the legendary Dragon Warrior. The only problem is, after a series of unforeseen circumstances, it appears that Po is the chosen one. Will the out of shape panda be ready to face Tai Lung? And will he be able to win the respect of his idols?
The award-winning film fluently combines action and humor with roaring results. It spawned two sequels, both of which are great watches in their own right. Sometimes we find courage and strength in the unlikeliest of places and pandas. It might be a familiar message, but there are very few movies executing it better or making it more fun.
Take a stroll down memory lane with this family classic from the 1980s.
Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) moves from New Jersy to Los Angeles, and things are not as sunny as the California weather. Trying to defend the honor of cheerleader Ali (Elisabeth Shue) from her violent ex Johnny (William Zabka), Daniel gets his butt kicked. Only the timely arrival of old Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) saves him from a violent beating. He begs Miyagi to teach him Karate. The old master is reluctant at first but eventually uses his unconventional training methods to prepare Daniel for the big Karate tournament against the savage Cobra Kai students.
The message of solving your problems with fighting might not hold up as well as it did in the 80s. But standing up against bullies, and struggling for what is right never goes out of style. Netflix also offers the 2010 “Karate Kid” Remake, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. And despite the popular ridicule aimed towards remakes, this one is pretty decent. That being said, nothing beats the wax on, wax off the original.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
This movie comes from the crazy minds that brought you “22 Jump Street” and “The Lego Movie.” Phil Lord and Chris Miller have made a career out of turning bad ideas into great movies. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is no different.
The story couldn’t sound any sillier. Wannabe scientist Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) lives on an island in the middle of the Atlantic. His inventions are more original than they are functional, until one day he creates a machine that turns water into food. However, the power malfunctions, and shoots the device into the sky. As the weather turns to rain, food starts pouring from the clouds. Initially, everyone is happy with this new arrangement, though things eventually take a turn for the worse. With the help of meteorologist Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), Flint’s dad (James Caan) and the monkey Steve (Neil Patrick Harris), Flint has to go and save his town.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is a quirky comedy that offers something for everyone. With smart jokes, clever visuals, and a fast pace, it is the perfect movie for any rainy day. Its sequel is also very much worth your time, featuring some of the best food puns in history.
This is the only Pixar movie on this list, although any Pixar film would make a great movie night for the whole family. Coco is the newest in a line of phenomenal animated pictures that started with the original “Toy Story.”
Set around the Mexican Day of the Dead, the story focuses on the young boy Miquel (Anthony Gonzalez). As part of a family of shoemakers, his only dream is to become a famous musician. The only problem is, his family hates music. A dislike dating back generations. Determined to chase his dreams, Miguel decides the borrow the guitar of legendary dead mariachi Ernesto De La Cruz. But he did not expect that after removing the guitar, he would be banished into the realm of the dead. And before the day is over, Miquel has to find his way back to the world of the living. But not before seeing his great-great-great grandfather, to prove his family wrong.
With the original setting of Mexican culture and the Die de Muertos, Coco not only makes strides for representation in family movies, but it also tells a moving story about the value of our family, our heritage, and navigating to find your way in this world.
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
Computer animation has become the primary style used in animated movies. But even before classical animation was replaced, stop-motion animation has always been the red-headed stepchild. These days, animation studio Laika is one of the few remaining sources for this unique style. And so far, they have been making classic after classic.
Kubo and the Two Strings is an animated tale inspired by East-Asian folklore. Kubo, together with his ill mother Sariatu, stay in the mountains near a village. He makes a living telling stories using animated Origami figures brought to life through his magical instrument. His mother warns him not to stay out after dark, or else his grandfather the Moon King will find him and take his eye. But he does not take his mother’s warning seriously, and one day gets attacked by his aunts. His mother saves him but sacrifices her life to do so. Now orphaned, he takes on the help of a samurai and a snow monkey to stop the Moon King.
With gorgeous animation, “Kubo and the Two Strings” tells a thrilling and original story set in feudal Japan. The fantastic musical score also helps to engage the viewer with this dazzling and sophisticated fairytale.
You saw “Ghostbusters” as a kid, and chances are, you are old enough to show it to your children now.
Focusing on the misadventures of three paranormal scientists as they try to open a ghost extermination business, “Ghostbuster” has become of the most beloved comedies of cinema history. Starring the likes of Dan Akyrod, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver, the film has gained that reputation for good reason. With jokes running the gamut from silly slapstick to dry and witty sarcasm, there are laughs for every age group. The ghost hunting action remains timeless thanks to its clever use of effects. And the script is tight enough to keep the attention of even the most restless child.
Its fun, its slightly scary and it will introduce your kid to the broader world of cinema. Not only one of the best family movies on Netflix, but one of the best in general.
“The Iron Giant”
One of the most beloved and underrated classics of animation, “The Iron Giant” found its audience only later.
Set in the late 1950s, shortly after the Soviets shot Sputnik into space, a strange object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Maine. It is nine-year-old Hogarth who is the first one to find that the object is a giant robot. But instead of being a threat sent from Russia, he is a gentle and curious giant. The two become friends, but when the robot accidentally collides with a train, the U.S. government begins to investigate. Paranoid about communist threats, they start to see the giant as a national security risk. It is up to Hogarth to protect his new friend and make sure no one gets hurt.
With a surprisingly nuanced performance by Vin Diesel as the voice of the Iron Giant, the film became a cult hit. It is also a good entry point to a part of history that is slowly fading out of the public consciousness. That is, of course, if the ending doesn’t leave you in tears.
The lovable bear in the blue duffel coat and a taste for marmalade is a staple in every British household.
When young Paddington (Ben Whishaw) gets separated from his family in Peru, he travels all the way to London. He moves in with the Brown family, most of whom take an instant liking to this bear. He begins to have adventures all around London, all while trying to escape the grasp of evil taxidermist Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman).
For many Americans, Paddington was the first experience with this British family classic. The film received critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic, spawning a sequel that even manages to surpass the high quality of one of the best family movies on Netflix.
Best Family Movies on Netflix
Here they are, the best family movies on Netflix. Regardless of how old your children are, this selection offers something for everyone. They will not only entertain the young ones but also charm the older members of every family. And they do it all while being far from empty fluff. But what do you think are the best family movies? Do you agree with our selection of the best family movies on Netflix? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Featured image: Screenshot via embedded YouTube video