It’s everyone’s favorite time of the week: family movie night. But what should you watch? Save yourself 30 minutes of umming and ahing (and sibling bickering) with our pick of the best kids’ movies on Netflix. You’re welcome.
The 30 Best Kids’ Movies on Netflix Right Now
1. ‘mary Poppins Returns’ (ages 6+)
Lin Manuel-Miranda, of Hamilton fame, stars alongside Emily Blunt in this makeover of a musical classic. As you might expect from a dazzling Hollywood do-over, there are some new additions to the otherwise wholesome storyline that include villains and peril, but the thrills are mild enough for kindergarten and elementary school kids. The overall message of the original film, however, is not diluted—so you can count on children getting a spoonful of empathy, gratitude and imagination from this flick...plus some sugar to help the social-emotional medicine go down, of course.
2. ‘ralph Breaks The Internet’ (ages 8+)
Did we ever think we’d see the day that the internet, social media apps and video games were so central to a feel-good film for kids? Nope. But here we are...and it’s not so bad. In fact, Ralph Breaks the Internet touches on technology in a way that actually feels pretty good, since it does a great job of promoting the value of genuine friendship for kiddos growing up in a tech-y culture in which the concept of FaceTime has taken on a very different meaning. Weapons and creepy characters are shown in a couple gaming scenes, so this one is better suited for slightly bigger kids. That said, the movie touches on the benefits and bummers of the internet age with a positive and nuanced approach that’s sure to entertain both parents and children alike.
3. ‘the Secret Life Of Pets 2’ (ages 7+)
Any material that revolves around the personification of pets is sure to keep kids entertained for the full feature, and The Secret Life of Pets 2 is certainly no exception to the rule. Kids can enjoy this sequel without having viewed the original—in fact, they might be better off for it, since its predecessor relied on decidedly darker, more adult-driven humor. Still, the comedy is violent in nature, albeit without gore, and the dialogue features some insulting vocabulary that you wouldn’t want to hear out of a preschoolers mouth (i.e., idiot). The takeaway? Positive themes are present, but they take a backseat to slapstick and somewhat crude humor, so turn this one on next time you want to share a laugh with your tween—but you should probably steer clear when it comes to the youngest and most impressionable.
4. ‘hugo’ (ages 8+)
Martin Scorcese is behind this visually stunning screen adaptation of Brian Selznick’s Caldecott Medal-winning book. Don’t worry, though: Hugo bears no resemblance to Goodfellas. In fact, it is totally suitable for the late grade school and middle school crowd, or any child old enough to handle the tougher parts of the storyline (like being orphaned). Tragic aspects aside, big kids are sure to gain a lot from the positive themes of courage and persistence—and budding artists will be inspired by mesmerizing animation that looks like steampunk candy for tweenage soul.
5. ‘the Boy Who Harnessed The Wind’ (ages 11+)
A truly exceptional and gifted teen saves his African village with ingenuity and serious STEM skills in this powerful story based on true events. The intense reality of life in Malawi makes for some sad scenes and a bit of violence, too—but the cultural exposure promotes empathy and is ultimately profoundly enriching for kids old enough to handle the subject matter. It’s not all heavy, either—the boy’s triumph is an act of humanity and intelligence so inspiring, viewers of all ages are likely to cry tears of joy by the end.
6. ‘willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’ (ages 6+)
This classic film, featuring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, feels just as fresh today as when it first came out in 1971—namely because it so brilliantly puts Roald Dahl’s whimsical narrative in motion, while honoring the quirkiness of his characters. The personalities of the children in the chocolate factory serve to impart valuable moral lessons, yet these play out at times in a gratuitously didactic and flawed manner. (For example, the best way to address the uncomfortable Oompa Loompa vibes is probably a discussion of racism.) Still, the element of fantasy softens the message in a way that feels both safe and enthralling for even young viewers. All in all, it’s still a good trip.
7. ‘charlotte’s Web’ (ages 5+)
It’s not the first time E.B. Webb’s beloved work of fiction got a silver screen makeover, but this 2006 adaptation definitely does right by the classic children’s novel. Charlotte’s Web explores the cycle of life and death in a way that is simultaneously straightforward, delicate and poignant. This modern interpretation includes a couple brief, but harrowing scenes—the devious but lovable rat Templeton faces a near fatal attack by crows that might touch a nerve for more sensitive kiddos, for example. However, the sadness of the story is understated and the emphasis on friendship comes through so strong, it’s safe to say that this kid-friendly film will tug on the heartstrings of any viewer.
8. ‘the Little Prince’ (ages 8+)
Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the screen adaptation of The Little Prince boasts beautiful animation and a thought-provoking philosophical message that encourages children to explore their interests, seek autonomy as they follow their own paths, and embrace curiosity. In this sense, the movie is every bit as approachable and clear in its purpose as the original story. However, you can expect the storyline of the film to stray quite far from the original work of fiction, at times in a darker direction. Scenes of peril and themes of death may prove too intense for younger children and the positive message may be too abstract. Bottom line: This one is well worth a watch, but we suggest you stick to viewing it with a tween that can really take it all in.
9. ‘incredibles 2’ (ages 8+)
Nonstop action fills the screen in this much-awaited sequel to the cult favorite flick The Incredibles about a superhero family that works together to do good. There’s loads of fighting and violence, as you might expect given the genre, a few light curse words, and several scary scenes—a combination that makes the movie ill-suited for younger children. Big kids, on the other hand, will enjoy the action, while also benefiting from the film’s positive messages, which underscore the importance of teamwork, communication and, above all, family.
10. ‘spelling The Dream’ (ages 6+)
An inspiring, culturally-rich documentary about four smart-as-a-whip young Indian-American kids and how they prepare to compete in the country’s most distinguished spelling bee. Children of all ages will be engaged by the wit and upbeat personalities of talented peers, who work hard and harness both their inner strength and the support of family to achieve their goal. This feel-good doc promises to have a motivational impact on kids of all ages.
11. ‘despicable Me’ (ages 6+)
This animated, action-packed film flips the good-versus-evil script with a story about a supervillain with a no-good plan that he has too big a heart to execute. Despicable Me serves up plenty of excitement and a lot of laughs, but parents should know that there’s violence as well, including scenes with lethal weapons. Also, the storyline mishandles a sensitive topic, with depictions of the adoptive process that come across as downright hurtful. Overall, this movie is fun to watch and positive in the sense that it shows how people can change but, because of its flaws, it is best enjoyed with older kids (and paired with a thoughtful follow-up conversation that does right by adoptive parents and their children).
12. ‘song Of The Sea’ (ages 7+)
Hand-drawn animations put Irish myth and folklore in motion in this captivating and visually breath-taking fantasy adventure about a brother and sister who struggle to cope with their grief years after losing their mother. While the context is heavy (and perhaps too upsetting for the very young), the experience is a magical celebration of the sibling bond. A poignant film that will evoke big feelings, while inspiring viewers of all ages to find the courage to navigate any emotional space.
13. ‘the Princess And The Frog’ (ages 5+)
It took a bit too long, but Disney finally put out a film with a princess protagonist of color. The Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans and explores both class and racial inequity through a kid-friendly lens that even preschoolers can enjoy. This animated interpretation of the classic fairytale has great music and plenty of intrigue. Plus, the African-American female lead is hard-working, tenacious and kind-hearted—basically an excellent role model for all children.
14. ‘clueless’ (ages 14+)
If you’re looking for a way to get your teenager to spend some time with you, Clueless is the movie night pick that just might do the trick. The film is a contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma, but don’t expect any pomp and circumstance here, as the film takes a lot of liberties in its interpretation. (Well, duh?) Brace yourself: This movie doesn’t hold back in its honest presentation of the high school experience, so you’ll find drinking, partying, and references to sex throughout. Still, it’s a fun and relatable watch that will get the message across about the importance of being a good person, even (or especially) while navigating the social challenges that go hand in hand with being a high school kid.
15. ‘room On The Broom’ (ages 3+)
This movie adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s popular picture book is just on-point. The different medium does enhance the element of foreboding and suspense (and dragons are naturally scarier when animated) but the narration stays true to the sweet, lyrical story. Room on the Broom will keep your preschooler on the edge of his seat, while delivering the goods in the form of a crash course on generosity and kindness, (i.e., the pillars of friendship). Best of all, this 30-minute film is full of pauses and breaks in action, so your mini won’t be over-stimulated by screen-time that’s too intense, or just too much.
16. ‘stuart Little’ (ages 6+)
Based loosely on the book by E.B. White, Stuart Little the movie is a clever and engaging story about a kind-hearted mouse who faces endless peril after being adopted by human cat-owning parents. Geena Davis, Nathan Lane and Michael J. Foxx are among the cast of voice actors, and their talent makes for humor that is hard to resist. There’s plenty of entertainment, if not a ton of substance, throughout—but due to the persistent danger encountered by the main mouse, alongside scenes in which animals are injured (cats), the thrills might prove too intense for young or sensitive children.
17. ‘bolt’ (ages 6+)
After spending the majority of his life on a movie set, a dog named Bolt starts to suffer from identity confusion (to the tune of believing he’s actually a superhero crime fighter). But this affliction serves him well when he is separated from his beloved owner and must struggle to find his way home. The action is very intense and a little scary throughout, to the extent that sensitive kids might be overwhelmed by the experience. Still, the content is kid-friendly and the themes (fairly predictable, given that the main character is a canine) of loyalty, companionship, and friendship are wholly positive.
18. ‘elf’ (ages 7+)
Will Ferrell delivers loads of family friendly laughs throughout this sweet and silly story about a human elf who, after finding out he was adopted by Santa, leaves the North Pole in search of his biological family. The humor is wholesome and, with the exception of a couple instances of drinking that are likely to go unnoticed by little kids, there are really no objectionable scenes in this festive favorite about self-acceptance and love.
19. ‘mary And The Witch’s Flower’ (ages 8+)
Self-confidence, courage, perseverance and kindness are among the virtues celebrated by this fantasy film, based on Mary Stewart’s children novel The Little Broomstick and brought to life with striking Japanese animation. Fans of fantasy will be enthralled by this gripping and artful film about the magical adventures of a charming young witch. This pick is best for big kids, though, because the perilous encounters are portrayed with considerable intensity.
20. ‘angela’s Christmas’ (ages 4+)
A heartwarming, holiday story about a young Irish girl with a big heart and a strong desire to rescue the Baby Jesus from her church’s nativity scene so she can keep him warm. Funny and cute, this brief film (it’s only 30 minutes long) will enthrall little ones with short attention spans and the suspense is so mild it’s unlikely to upset even the youngest child.
21. ‘the Witches’ (ages 9+)
Big kids only: This dark fantasy based on the book by Roald Dahl will be right up the alley of brooding tweens and teens that gravitate towards a combination of creepy and cool. The plot involves a group of bad kid-hating witches who conspire to feed children magic chocolate that will turn them into mice. Needless to say, it’s a bit scary and there are some grotesque depictions of the witches, as well as children transforming into mice. That said, the disturbing aspects are so exaggerated older children are likely to experience the movie as a fun interplay between dark comedy and fantasy, rather than a horror show. Plus, there’s a happy ending.
22. ‘leap’ (ages 6+)
Set in 19th century France, this fun, animated film about a determined young dancer is bound to entertain grade school kids and, for the most part, it feels good to watch. There are cliches aplenty and some instances of bullying might be hard for sensitive children to stomach—but overall, Leap is an age-appropriate movie that does what it intends to do and is likely to become a new favorite among young, aspiring dancers.
23. ‘mirai’ (ages 10+)
A whimsical anime adventure in which a preschool-aged child takes a magical journey, one that happens to run parallel to his real-life emotional journey to accept changes and embrace his new role as big brother. The story is sweet and the message is valuable, but big kids will benefit more than the littles—the animation, while artistic and beautiful, has a spooky intensity at times that wee ones will likely find too scary to tolerate.
24. ‘spiderman: Into The Spiderverse’ (ages 9+)
Superhero storylines are always a big draw for the tweenage crowd, but this particular movie is special because it boasts diversity that’s markedly absent elsewhere in the genre. The superhero star of this film is a black boy from Brooklyn, and while the movie has all the comic-book violence and action you would expect, the film still makes room for insight into the main character’s multi-cultural background—an important adjustment towards inclusivity that can and should be explored further with kids once the thrills of the film come to an end.
25. ‘christopher Robin’ (ages 7+)
Winnie the Pooh, the beloved children’s figure from A.A. Milne’s classic books, gets fancy with live-action animation in this film, but his adventures are just as simple and sweet as ever. The movie might be a bit slow-paced to maintain the interest of older kids, but the storyline—about as pure and positive as you can find—is punctuated with moments of physical comedy that will likely score some laughs.
26. ‘zion’ (ages 10+)
Super quick, but incredibly powerful this 10-minute award-winning documentary is a must-see conversation starter, appropriate for older grade school kids and teens. Zion, the subject of the film is a remarkable black teen, born without legs and abused while in the foster system, became a fierce competitor in high school wrestling before going on to thrive in life as an adult. The material is heavy, but this deeply moving tale of courage, resilience and triumph is well worth a watch.
27. ‘e.t.: The Extra Terrestrial’ (ages 7+)
Spielberg’s classic tearjerker about the bond between little girl and alien is kid-friendly and full of positive messages about the importance of loyalty and kindness, and the magic of friendship. This oldie but goodie has certainly stood the test of time, and it’s no surprise: moving, memorable and heartwarming—grab a grade schooler and a box of tissues and tune in for a viewing experience no one will regret.
28. ‘bee Movie’ (ages 5+)
Seinfeld is behind this light-hearted family-friendly movie, which is refreshingly free of scary scenes and bad guys to boot. If you’re looking for something that’s full of age-appropriate laughs and not too tense to watch with a preschooler, Bee Movie is a very safe bet. Bonus: Despite how tame it is, this film is surprisingly not snoozy for adults, either.
29. ‘the Pursuit Of Happyness’ (ages 9+)
Will Smith stars alongside his son Jaden Smith in this powerful and heartbreaking movie about a father who, after struggling and failing to financially support his family, is abandoned by his wife (Thandie Newton) and left to fight for survival while caring for their child. Depressing and brutally honest at many points, this film is best viewed by tweens and teenagers who can handle the subject matter. Still, the material touches on relevant topics of racial and socio-economic injustice in a heartfelt manner that’s thought-provoking and, ultimately, inspiring.
30. ‘beat Bugs: All Together Now’ (ages 3+)
If you are the parent of a preschool kid (or younger) and are wondering what movie you can possibly watch that won’t be too boring or too scary, Beat Bugs: All Together Now is the answer. Young kids (like everyone else) love the music of the Beatles and this cute, silly movie makes every song fun and relatable to small children, thanks to a colorful bunch of bugs who turn very literal interpretations of the music into a narrative that’s cohesive, engaging and full of feel-good social and emotional learning.