These are movies the whole family will enjoy.
For parents looking for kid-friendly entertainment that won’t make them pull out their hair, Netflix supplies a wealth of new kids movies and quality family selections. From animated classics to live-action laugh fests, there’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy.
The best kids movies on Netflix
1) Moana (2016)
If you have a kid and have somehow haven’t had to buy Moana yet, I’m amazed and deeply envious. Now that Disney’s latest hit has made it to streaming, families everywhere can gather to commiserate/celebrate being able to play the movie relentlessly. But you could do much worse than Moana. Moana herself is a strong and endearing protagonist, The Rock is as charming as ever as the Demigod Maui, and the Lin-Manuel Miranda songs are on point. The story’s themes about finding your place, acceptance, and friendship aren’t exactly new, but the movie delivers its points without becoming preachy or heavy-handed. Speaking from experience, Moana holds up well to repeat viewings. And it’s better than Frozen. —Eddit Strait
Coco is easily a top tier Pixar film. The studio broadens its horizons a bit with this story set in the culture of Día de Muertos. Miguel is a 12 year old with an affinity for music, but his family wants him to go into their shoe making business, on account of his family’s history with music and musicians. Miguel travels to the land of the dead to learn about his heritage and finds out more than he was ready for. Coco is a touching film about family and the importance of remembrance and, as with most Pixar movies, learning to accept yourself and others for who they are. It goes without saying that Coco is visually stunning and emotionally involving. Good luck getting “Remember Me” out of your head. —E.S.
3) Coin Heist (2017)
Writer/director Emily Hagins first drew attention for her zombie film, Pathogen, which she directed and released by the time she was 14. In the decade since her debut, Hagins has grown as a filmmaker, with each film (My Sucky Teen Romance and Grow Up, Tony Phillips) showcasing her ability to create authentic teen characters and tell stories that don’t pander to anyone. Her latest film, Coin Heist, continues her upward trajectory. This Netflix original film is about a group of teens who take it upon themselves to save their high school by, you guessed it, breaking into the U.S. Mint. The movie debuted on Netflix on Jan. 6, so this is a hot-off-the-presses recommendation. This one skews toward a slightly older crowd, so save it for the pre-teens. —E.S.
4) Trolls (2016)
Trolls falls into the “surprisingly OK” category. It’s not as bad as you thought it would be when you first saw the trailer, but it certainly plays better with kids than adults. It’s about two trolls, Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake), who are on a mission to rescue Poppy’s friends. It’s bright, goofy, and the JT song (“Can’t Stop the Feeling”) is ridiculously catchy. On a scale of Emoji Movie to Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Trolls rates as The Peanuts Movie. The movie probably didn’t need to exist, but now that it’s here, it’s alright. —E.S.
5) Paddington (2016)
Last year a lot of people (myself included) wrote off Paddington on sight. A lot of people (myself included) were wrong. This movie comes to us from producer David Heyman, who worked on the Harry Potter films. We should’ve had more trust in his ability to deliver quality family entertainment. All of the doubters can now discover the charming, funny story of the Peruvian Paddington Bear and his European adventure. Having recently showed this to my kids, I can attest that Paddington is great for adults and children and has the goods to hold up through inevitable rewatches. —E.S.
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6) Growing Up Wild
Disney has a slew of nature documentaries that are perfect for kids. They’re filled with plenty of adorable animals, with just a touch of some of less adorable animal business. Growing Up Wild is no different, but in a way that parents will find comforting. It tracks five different young animals as they find their way in the world. While the parallels between the young animals and the young viewers are hard to miss, it makes for a mutually engaging watch for parents and kids. —E.S.
The 2016 remake proved that some people love Ghostbusters a little too much. But seriously, who doesn’t love Ghostbusters?! That cast, that theme song, that Stay Puft Marshmallow Man! If it’s not the funniest comedy of the 1980s, but it might be the most iconic. —Chris Osterndorf
8) Stardust (2007)
An adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, Stardust is a jewel in director Matthew Vaughn’s deep catalog. It’s about a man who promises to retrieve a star from a magical land as a show of commitment to his lady love. The film is as whimsical and fantastical as that description implies without being saccharine, and it’s a blast. Better still, you can enjoy it with your family, although it skews to slightly order kids. The good feeling you get from watching it will linger for a while. —E.S.
9) Chicken Run (2000)
Nick Park, the man behind the beloved Wallace & Gromit, makes consistently great films. His work is funny, clever, and full of heart. As with most stop-motion animation, the love that goes into the craft is evident and, in Park’s case, infectious. Chicken Run is about a cockerel (voiced by pre-meltdown Mel Gibson) who ends up on a chicken farm and leads the resident chickens on their escape. The humor mixes silliness with just the right amount of intelligence to keep everyone entertained. This side of Pixar, what more can you ask for in a family movie? —E.S.
10) Monsters vs Aliens (2009)
In the DreamWorks hierarchy, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda are at the top and then there’s everything else. Monsters vs Aliens is comfortably in the second tier. In true DreamWorks fashion, the movie delivers exactly what the title promises. You’ll laugh more than you expect to, and the movie offers some solid visuals to keep younger viewers engaged. It won’t become a staple for your family, but you won’t regret watching it. —E.S.
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11) Beauty and the Beast
Disney’s run of successful live-action adaptations continues with its update of 1991’s Beauty and the Beast. Emma Watson dons the yellow dress as Belle, and Dan Stevens works the CGI suit as Beast. The live-action version ports over everything you know and love about the original and also features 30 minutes of new material. The new approach to the classic material is the perfect way to introduce the new generation to a movie you loved as a kid. It’s the new circle of life for these films. —E.S.
12) Bring It On
The whole Bring It On saga has made its way to Netflix, and it’s only right to start at the beginning—not for the continuity but because the first one remains the best. Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, and Gabrielle Union are fierce cheerleading rivals before eventually coming to respect each other. The cheer sequences are expertly choreographed and they land as well as any dismount. Bring It On is a teen comedy that is a perfect encapsulation of its time, but it still holds up. It stands alongside Mean Girls as one of the best high school comedies of the 2000s and is a great primer for the pre-teen set. Some of the jokes are a bit risqué, but not in a worrisome way. —E.S.
13) Boss Baby
It finally happened. Jack Donaghy’s infant form has toplined a movie and Boss Baby is the living document. Now it will live on Netflix forever (or until the streaming rights revert elsewhere) and if your kids are anything like mine they’ve already devoured it. If you get a kick out of Alec Baldwin then you’ll probably be amused by Boss Baby. It’s a movie about a suited up baby with a briefcase. You know what you’re getting into and if it’s something you’ll like. —E.S.
14) Finding Dory
If Pixar has lost a little bit of speed on its fastball post-Toy Story 3, Finding Dory is a wily veteran learning how to get by with the offspeed stuff. Dory (voiced by an ever-enthusiastic Ellen Degeneres) goes on her own adventure after getting lost. Dory leans on humor more than its predecessor, aided by great vocal performances from Ed O’Neill, Idris Elba, Kaitlin Olson, and a slew of stars that would make Dreamworks envious. But it doesn’t lack for emotion either, as we expect from the best of Pixar. At its heart, Dory is a story about coping mental illness, and it does right by the material. —E.S.
15) Bee Movie
The people who remember this curiosity from Jerry Seinfeld first call to mind one of the film’s bizarre first trailers, wherein Seinfeld and cast mates like Chris Rock appeared in insect costumes. Bee Movie doesn’t quite live up to the absurdity hinted at in the trailer, but it does offer a fun story and a good time nonetheless. This is one that is graded more on the kid-movie scale than the good movie scale. By that metric it passes, or at least it did with my kids. And I laughed too and, if you watch it with your kids, you’re guaranteed to get some great reactions out of them. As a parent that can be just as rewarding. —E.S.
16) Pete’s Dragon
File this one under the exceedingly small list of “remakes nobody asked for but are much better than anyone thought.” Writer and director David Lowery made a deeply heartfelt movie that surprised audiences and critics alike. It’s about a boy and his dragon best friend and that’s all you really need to know going in. If you or your kids enjoyed the broadly similar How to Train Your Dragon, give Pete’s Dragon a shot and you won’t be disappointed. While it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the box office, now it has the chance to find the audience it deserves at home. —E.S.
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17) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Dav Pilkey’s book series makes a successful leap from the page to the big screen with this animated film. George and Harold make the most of their opportunity, pulling the pranks and having the all the fun that made them such a hit in book form. Younger kids will certainly be taken with Captain Underpants whether they’ve read the books or not, or at least my kids were. —E.S.
18) Smurfs: The Lost Village
The third Smurfs outing may be the best one. Do what you will with that information. The main difference here is that they finally settled on an approach. The Lost Village ditches the animation/live action mix of its predecessors in favor of full animation. It also gives up the pretense of entertaining adults. With Smurfette and her best friends on a mission to find the titular location, the movie is bright, fun, and full of everything fans want in a Smurf’s movie. —E.S.
19) The Little Prince
The Little Prince flew under the radar of most casual audiences in the summer of 2016, when it debuted on Netflix and received a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it run in theaters. It’s an adaptation of the beloved 1943 novel by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and mixes stop-motion and computer animation. With an A-list cast lending their voices, The Little Prince has the pedigree onscreen and off-, and successfully offers a new spin on a classic story. With its unheralded release, there’s a good chance your child hasn’t noticed this movie yet and an even better chance that they’ll love it once they see it. —E.S.
The debut feature from Laika established a new and exciting voice in animation, one that could rival Pixar creatively, if not commercially. Coraline is based on a Neil Gaiman story and is directed by Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas). It’s about a girl who goes to a secret world, a bizarro version of her real world. It’s a movie filled with imagination and heart, with and enough oddity to make it a memorable experience. The movie doesn’t shy away from darker elements, but it has enough sweetness to take some of the edge off. —E.S.
21) The BFG
The pairing of Steven Spielberg and Roald Dahl isn’t the instant classic it appeared to be on paper. But it’s also better than the mixed reviews the film received last summer. I speak from experience. I skipped the film’s theatrical run without a second thought. The second thought happened once The BFG hit Netflix and I gave it a chance. This story about a giant and the orphaned girl who befriends him has its moments of charm and warmth. It won’t become your kids latest obsession (more power to them if it does), but it will serve as a nice change of pace. —E.S.
22) Cars 3
Cars 3 is almost certainly better than you think it is. It rebounds from Cars 2 and packs a surprisingly emotional punch. This time out, the series trades the globe-trotting action for a story that finds Lightning McQueen passing the torch to the next generation. Given Cars’ status as Pixar boss John Lasseter’s passion project and ludicrous merch sales, we’ll be seeing more of Lightning and Mater soon enough. It’s not top-shelf Pixar, but there’s enough there to make you look forward to Cars 4. —E.S.
23) Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe fell into a tough spot for audiences. The story of a chess prodigy isn’t super exciting, so it may be a tough sell for attention-strapped kids. But the story is told so well and is so uplifting that it’s the exact kind of thing kids should see. In this instance, you should pull rank and make your kids watch Queen of Katwe. The story is well told by director Mira Nair and writer William Wheeler and wonderfully acted by a cast that includes Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. This movie is the answer to the question: “Why aren’t there any good kids movies out there?” —E.S.
24) Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo and the Two Strings is Laika Animation’s best film to date. The story is set in a fantastical world where young Kubo must take on his evil aunts and grandfather. There’s much more to the story than that, but this is a case where it’s better to go in with minimal information. Featuring Laika’s trademark mix of heavier themes in otherwise family-friendly fare, Kubo is a great option for the whole family. It’s the kind of movie that can spark a conversation between parents and kids, which is something to savor. —E.S.
16 years before Moana, Disney laid the groundwork for a culturally conscious “princess” (air quotes because neither character is technically a princess) movie with Mulan. And sure, some elements of the movie look dated today, and if it came out in 2017, it would surely be roasted for not being progressive enough. But that doesn’t change the fact that Mulan is one of Disney’s best movies, featuring a thrilling story, great characters, gorgeous animation, and one of its most complex heroines ever. It’s also worth watching for the showstopping classic “I’ll Make a Man Out Of You” alone. Oh, and Mulan has a mom, who’s actually alive—a totally revolutionary concept for Disney at the time! —C.O.
26) The Little Rascals
The Little Rascals comes from that early to mid 90s run of family movies that everyone of a certain age has an affinity for. The Sandlot, The Santa Clause, Homeward Bound, etc., you know the movies. The Little Rascals is still a cheesy, goofy, and good hearted time. Spank, Darla, Buckwheat, Alfalfa, Uh-Huh, and everyone else’s antics still charm, and who doesn’t root for The Blur 2 every time? —E.S.
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27) Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
The gang is back together for more animal adventures in this Madagascar sequel. It’s always amused me how much these animals travel intercontinentally, but I digress. Little kids probably aren’t interested in the travel patterns of animals. They’re here for the animal shenanigans, and those silly spin-off bound penguins. For as long as your kids are into talking animals they’ll be amused by Madagascar films. —E.S.
28) The Rugrats Movie
Who doesn’t love Rugrats? Nobody, that’s who. Whether your love is fueled by nostalgia or you’re new to the world of Tommy, Angelica, Chuckie, Phil and Lil, there is a purity to Rugrats that makes it timeless. This first movie brings baby Dil Pickles into the fold, who promptly gets himself lost. Tommy and the crew get themselves lost while trying to find Dil and end up turning themselves into a media sensation. If you love Rugrats you’ll love The Rugrats Movie. —E.S.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.