There’s nothing quite like family movie night, and streaming is making it easier than ever to plan one. While you may think of Netflix as the home to high-quality original content like Stranger Things and Locke & Key, it’s also a repository for new and classic movies appropriate for the whole family. From Disney and Pixar to Laika animation and live-action classics, Netflix pulls from all sorts of genres and styles.
Whether you want to sit down with the kids and get sucked into a fun-filled adventure or spend the evening laughing, Netflix’s collection has something for everyone. Of course, nobody wants to spend the whole night browsing, so we’ve pulled together some of the best family movies on Netflix so you can just grab the popcorn and take a seat.
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The Willoughbys (2020)
Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Sean Cullen, and Ricky Gervais lend their voices to this computer-animated film based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry. It’s about the Willoughbys, two neglectful parents and their unique children who try to survive on their own until a mysterious nanny arrives. Despite the presumably sad subject matter about orphaned children with bad parents, critics loved the film and lauded its silliness that is “anchored in genuine emotion.”
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
What do your pets actually do when you’re home all day? In the original The Secret Life of Pets, we learned that they get into a whole lot of trouble. Now, after narrowly avoiding becoming a stray, Max the terrier is back and ready for a fun family jaunt to the countryside. But when he mistakenly gets lost, he’ll have to deal with angry cows, hostile foxes, one mean turkey, and his own neuroses if he’s going to get back home. Thankfully, he has a little help.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018)
You can’t help but get up and sing and dance to the iconic songs from this film, like “A Spoonful of Sugar.” And while it can’t hold a candle to the 1964 original, which starred Julie Andrews as the title character, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda do a great job or bringing new life, and a reinvented story, to the franchise, earning four Academy Award nominations in the process. In the musical fantasy film, the magical and mysterious nanny is back 25 years later to help Michael Banks and his children get through a tragic event.
While it may not be the same Invader Zim millennials grew up watching, the Netflix-adapted Enter the Florpus will still get the entire family reeling. The story tracks Zim after the events of the original TV series, seeing the little alien in the throes of an existential dilemma. As he’s fighting for a chance to make a difference and attempting to unlock his true purpose on Earth, Zim’s arch-nemesis plots his downfall in the shadows. Can the little alien gain the confidence he needs to overcome his human rival, or will he only be a memory? With a critics review score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, no family can go wrong with Invader Zim and his Florpus adventures.
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)
What’s that? Another sequel? Yes, another sequel. The follow-up to the delightfully inventive Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph Breaks the Internet expands the boundaries and the scope of the analog universe into the digital. The film centers on Wreck-It Ralph and his pal Vanellope von Schweetz, both of which have made it out of their respective games and must support one another as they traverse the World Wide Web. Packed full of memes and internet humor, Ralph Breaks the Internet feels strangely ahead of its time and old news simultaneously. You know, like the internet.
Given the ample amount of time on everyone’s hands nowadays, Hugo is an unmissable family-friendly escape into a world that uniquely portrays this unstoppable temporal movement. Martin Scorsese’s steampunk adventure captures a 1931 Paris through the eyes of a 12-year-old with an emotional weight unlike any of his previous films. Hugo’s adventures in the railway station are where the narrative and themes are expressed most boisterously, depicting a world made vibrant by its art yet inundated with controlled abandon. Hugo is a tale of spellbinding woe and familial hardship, proving the necessity of creativity to thrive. It’s not an award winner for nothing, after all.
Despicable Me (2010)
Minions are the adorably cute stars of this animated film, which features the vocal talents of Steve Carell, Miranda Cosgrove, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, and Julie Andrews. Carell is Gru, a supervillain with three adopted girls who tries to outdo Vector’s (Segel) plan for a massive heist. In the end, however, the love from his three girls helps him see what’s most important. It’s a predictable story yet one worth watching, especially with young children. The film was so popular, it spawned a pair each of sequels and prequels, the latter centered around the Minions, and an upcoming film called Minions: The Rise of Gru that’s scheduled for release in 2021.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)
For anime-enthusiast families and Studio Ghibli connoisseurs, here is an international Alice in Wonderland look-alike. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is as heartwarming as it is artistically expressive, namely due to the direction of Hiromasa Yonebayashi. This animated adventure is based on Mary Stewart’s The Little Broomstick. Mary is a young girl with no friends, living in the northern English countryside with a deep-seated hunger for adventure. After chasing a cat into a forest, her whole life changes upon the discovery of a mysterious broom with enchanted abilities. Netflix may have an array of anime series, but it doesn’t often have the best selection of family-friendly animated movies. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is certainly a testament to its potential.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
“E.T. phone home.” This touching Spielberg movie is a great one that will stir up feelings of nostalgia for parents and have kids chuckling and teary-eyed. Elliot befriends an alien named E.T. he finds stranded on Earth. He, along with his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) try their best to hide and protect E.T. until they can help him get back home to his own family. With beautiful themes of acceptance and love, the movie is as relevant today as it was almost 40 years ago. That’s why in an epic reunion, Henry Thomas, who played Elliott, reprised his role for a holiday commercial for Xfinity in 2019.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
It wouldn’t be a family-friendly watch list without a dash of that galaxy far, far away. Though it may have its detractors, Han Solo’s stand-alone Star Wars outing remains an enjoyable escape via the Millennium Falcon. Through the intimidation of a Crimson Dawn lieutenant, Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Chewbacca have no alternative but to aid Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) in the acquisition of highly sought-after hyperfuel. Along the way, both new and old faces bring the Star Wars narrative full circle, main among them being Donald Glover’s portrayal of iconic smooth talker Lando Calrissian.
Starring the incomparable Gene Wilder as the title character, this adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl sees five children from around the world each finding one of the coveted Golden Tickets in a chocolate bar that awards them a visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. They gather with their parents or guardians for the trip, unaware that Willy Wonka has more in mind then showering these kids with glamorous visions of lollipops and chocolate fountains. He wants to teach each one a lesson about behavior and being grateful, from the spoiled brat Veronica to the gluttonous Augustus. It’s a sweet musical fantasy film (pun intended) that delivers valuable moral lessons through catchy musical numbers sung by the hard-working Oompa-Loompas.
Bringing comic book pages to the big screen like never before, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse does superhero animation right and has a killer soundtrack to boot. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a young kid striving to be more than just the average hero. His two hardworking parents not only love him but feel for him in this time of angst and maturity, yet they are unaware of his secret Spider identity. Morales is put to the test more so than ever before when Kingpin’s mishandling of complex technology tears through the fabric of reality. Thrust into his world, an assortment of Spider friends must band together if they have any chance of making it back to their own respective homes. And though they may not want his help, Miles is their only key to salvation.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Maybe everyone in the house is tired of animated, kid-friendly movies. Not only do the children want something a bit more realistic at times, but adults are often hungry for some action without losing that family orientation. Ant-Man and the Wasp fits the bill like a bee to its beehive. As the Avengers attempt to thwart Thanos from acquiring all of the Infinity Stones, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is stuck busying himself on house arrest. After being unwittingly rescued from boredom and reconnecting with the Pyms, Scott must set aside his fears of jail time in order to aid Hope (Evangeline Lilly) in rescuing her mother from the Quantum Realm.
This Pokémon movie is a CGI remake of the massively popular 1998 Pokémon film, Pokémon: The First Movie. It doesn’t quite meet the hype of the original movie, which many of today’s parents probably went bananas for as kids, but it’s nonetheless a fun trip down nostalgia lane for adults and an action-packed ride for kids. Starring all the characters from the original Pokémon series, the movie follows Ash, Brock, and Misty as they discover the enormously powerful psychic Pokémon Mewtwo and realize he’s not the villain he’s made out to be.
Back to The Future (1985)
Take the family on a trip through time — in more ways than one, incidentally. Back to the Future is one of the most beloved sci-fi films of all-time and stands as an enduring pillar of filmmaking. Made in 1985, Robert Zemeckis’s Oscar-winning adventure has had a significant influence on film over the past 35 years; the kids might even recognize how important it is. When teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally sent back in time by his eccentric scientist friend Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), he causes a change in history. Suddenly, he must ensure his parents fall in love as they did before — otherwise, he will cease to exist.
The Little Prince (2015)
This original adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved book somehow manages to both pay homage to the original story while expanding it to beautiful new heights. Directed by Mark Osborne, this visually stunning extension features a young girl (Mackenzie Foy) who strikes up a friendship with an old pilot (Jeff Bridges). As they get to know one another, the pilot regales the girl about a friend from his past: A Little Prince from another planet. Read the book with your kids, then watch the movie, and you’ll build a lasting memory.
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