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The best family movies on Netflix for all ages

Searching for the best family movies on Netflix? Browse our quick guide to which of your favorites are on the lineup!

Written by
Danielle Valente
Written by
Matthew Singer
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Scrolling for a film to watch on Netflix by yourself is tough enough, so imagine how difficult it is to find one that will satisfy the entire brood – especially if you’ve exhausted all the options on Disney+. If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware how that picking a film for family movie night can be downright Sisyphean. We’re here to make it easy for you. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best all-ages, family-friendly movies currently streaming on Netflix: from perennial favourites to under-the-radar classics; epic fantasies to animated blockbusters; documentaries to variety specials – guaranteed to please everyone from schoolkids to grandma. 

Best family movies on Netflix

Paddington (2014)
  • Film
  • Family and kids

Computer graphics brought the beloved anthropomorphic bear into the 21st century, but this acclaimed live-action update sacrifices none of the character’s essential sweetness and cross-generational charm. In this adaptation, Paddington and his bucket hat arrive in modern-day London, searching for a new home, and run afoul of a craven taxidermist (Nicole Kidman) eager to stuff him. That a sequel arrived three years later should tell you how that worked out, but plot-driven thrills are second to the warm fuzzies brought on simply by watching this walking, talking teddy find a place for himself in human society. Rated G. 

Abandoned by their heartless parents, Jane Willoughby (voiced by Alessia Cara) and her twin brothers (Séan Cullen and Séan Cullen) try to please their sour nanny (Maya Rudolph) and become perfect children. Based on the bestselling book by Lois Lowry, this animated film also features the voices of Ricky Gervais and Terry Crews. Rated PG.

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Monster House (2006)
©Sony Pictures Imageworks

Monster House (2006)

One house on the street is not like the others, and teenager DJ knows it. Unfortunately, it’s harder than expected for him to convince the police and his babysitter that their neighbor’s home is actually a living, breathing monster. DJ and his friends must embark on a crazy adventure in hopes of saving the people the house has eaten (and ideally destroying it afterward). Anxiety-prone kids should pass on this one, but young horror fans will dig this film for its relatable characters and heartwarming ending. Rated PG.

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Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (2017)
Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie (2017)

Watching cartoons that you loved as a kid with your own kids is either a great way to bond or a recipe for falling into a pit of existential despair. In any case, Ol’ Football Head and the gang are back, this time traveling from urban Washington to the wilds of San Lorenzo and attempting to solve one of the original ’90s series biggest questions: what happened to Arnold’s parents? Not rated.

  • Film
  • Fantasy

Steven Spielberg’s lavish JM Barrie adventure did not fare well when it first came out. But now it’s on Netflix, what better time for a family-wider reappraisal? There’s actually plenty of love out there for it from Gen Xers and older millennials, but do its swashbuckling charms and ginormous sets cut it with youngsters who don’t have a clue who Julie Roberts and Dustin Hoffman are? Give it a whirl and find out.

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The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)
Photograph: Netflix

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

This family animation about family dysfunction is an absolute blast. The argumentative, disorganised Mitchells (and their pet pug) are caught up in a robot apocalypse orchestrated by an evil A.I. (Olivia Colman). Are they equipped to become humanity’s heroes? Empathetically not. It all carries the comic stamp of producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who made the magical Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This one is right up there with those animated gems.

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
  • Film
  • Animation

Five years after the events of the original film, dragons and Vikings are still living in harmony, but the arrival of an enigmatic dragon rider and a power-mad warrior threatens to upset the fragile peace. Once again, it’s up to Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his trusty reptilian steed Toothless to maintain order. Rated PG.  

Penguins of Madagascar (2014)
  • Film
  • Animation

A SWAT team of penguins – Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private – take on an evil octopus called Dave in this spinoff of Madagascar’s flipper-bearing scene-stealers. He’s concocted a plan to steal all the penguins in the world. The horror!

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Enola Holmes (2020)
Image: Netflix

Enola Holmes (2020)

Yes, that’s ‘Holmes’ as in Sherlock. Enola is the super-sleuth’s younger sister, and while she’s plenty talented in her own right, she’s also a teenage girl in the 19th century, which means her options are limited. Of course, that doesn’t stop her from going on an adventure of her own. Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown shines in the role, which is good news, since the movie’s massive popularity means she will likely reprise it several times over. A sequel, in fact, is already being made. Rated PG-13.

  • Film
  • Animation

A hideous ogre (voiced by Mike Meyers) competes for the affection of a beautiful princess (Cameron Diaz) who is way out of his league – or so he thinks. Children will love the straightforward fairy tale elements and Eddie Murphy as the wisecracking Donkey, while the in-jokes jabbing at Disney will make parents snicker. Rated PG.

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Disney's New Orleans-set princess movie is one for the books! When our star Tiana is introduced, we learn all about her love for cooking and her aspirations to open the best restaurant in NOLA (we're dreaming of po boys and beignets as we speak). However, her plans are slightly derailed when Prince Naveen shows up. Mistaking Tiana for a wealthy princess, Prince Naveen plants one on her and the two are turned into frogs. Yikes! Will they be able to find the real princess in the bayou? Rated PG.

Vivo (2021)
Image: Netflix

Vivo (2021)

After an elderly Cuban musician passes away, his adorable pet kinkajou teams up with an energetic young girl to deliver a final song to his long-lost love. Bursting with colour and fabulous songs from Lin-Manual Miranda, who voices the titular mammal, it’s one of the liveliest animated musicals to come around in a while. Rated PG.

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John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (2019)
A24

John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch (2019)

Though meant as a parody of Sesame Street and other variety children’s programming, this 70-minute special from the titular well-groomed comic hits those familiar beats so well that youngsters with underdeveloped irony detectors will still genuinely enjoy it. Parents, be prepared to get the little ones a Cameo from Richard Kind for their birthdays. Not rated. 

My Octopus Teacher (2020)
Netflix

My Octopus Teacher (2020)

While free-diving off the coast of South Africa, filmmaker Craig Foster befriends a friendly octopus, whose life he continued to document over the course of a year. His movie, which won Best Documentary at the 2021 Academy Awards, follows the curious cephalopod as it loses (and regrows) a tentacle in a shark attack, lays eggs and eventually dies. Kids won’t like that last part, but it makes for a natural lesson in mortality that isn’t diluted by cartoon fantasy. Not rated. 

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Kung Fu Panda (2008)
  • Film
  • Animation

A loving tribute to old-school Chinese action films, the original Kung Fu Panda gets much of its heart – and, naturally, laughs – from Jack Black, who voices what is essentially his fuzzy, black-and-white avatar. He portrays Po, a lovable if clumsy aspiring martial artist thrust into a hero’s journey to protect his homeland from an evil snow leopard (Ian McShane). Rated PG. 

  • Film
  • Family and kids

A psychotic businessman (Gene Wilder) invites a group of children to his candy factory, only to kill them off one-by-one in what turns out to be a diabolical scheme to find an heir. Sure, that doesn’t sound family friendly, but the ’70s were a different time. Seriously, though: while it does contain some genuinely scary moments — ‘The Wondrous Boat Ride’, anyone? — the literally scrumptious world-building has made this Roald Dahl adaptation a classic that transcends generations. Just don’t accidentally put on the Johnny Depp version, which is also streaming. That’ll really scar the wee ones. Rated G. 

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  • Film
  • Drama

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut is a genuinely inspiring true-life story. A cunning 13-year-old boy (Maxwell Simba) from a poor farming community in Malawi overcomes multiple obstacles to build a windmill he believes will save his village in the midst of a devastating drought. Ejiofor both acts and directs, and brings tremendous passion and heart to both. Not rated. 

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  • Film
  • Family and kids

Fair warning: this classic fantasy epic is ‘family friendly’ by 1980s standards, which means it contains themes and images likely to haunt children well into adulthood. Chased into a library by some bullies, a young boy discovers a book that transports him to a world of gnomes, rock-eating monsters, monstrous turtles, a big-ass flying dog and a destructive force called the Nothing that seems to represent childhood depression. Oh, there’s also the scene where a horse drowns in a swamp. Fun! Rated PG

Despicable Me (2010)
  • Film
  • Family and kids

Ignore the fact that it unleashed the nattering Minions on the world. At a time when seemingly all animated films were aspiring to the emotional heights of adult dramas, the first Despicable Me registered as a refreshing throwback to old-school cartoon zaniness. Steve Carell voices Gru, a professional super-villain whose plot to steal the moon blows up in his face when he starts to – gasp! – develop feelings for the three orphans he manipulates into helping him. Rated PG. 

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Flint is a good guy: He wants to help his neighbors in Swallow Falls, who are only able to eat sardines when hard times hit. The inventor finds a way to make delicious treats fall from the sky, but things seem next to impossible when a few tech glitches cause his machinery to spin out of control. Rated PG. 

ParaNorman (2012)
  • Film
  • Animation

Norman Babcock is a weird kid who sees dead people and is very much OK with that, given they treat him better than the living ones do — but maybe saving his town from zombies will make him more popular. Sillier than most other movies to come from lauded animation studio Laika (Coraline), ParaNorman is also more purely fun, a madcap supernatural caper not far removed from an old Scooby-Doo episode. Rated PG 

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