Below — in no particular order — are the 10 best family movies on Netflix to check out on your next hang sesh with the kiddos. These are mostly fiction films, but Netflix has a large catalogue of kid-rated documentaries if that’s your groove. I’ve tried to find some that are a bit off the map, because we all know Shrek and Kung Fu Panda (both on Netflix, by-the-way) more or less by heart.
Coraline is the only stop-motion feature on this list. It’s also the darkest film (except maybe for In This Corner of the World).
It will probably be too scary for the younger kids in the house, but older kids should enjoy the wonderfully detailed and enchanting world that helps adapt this Neil Gaiman favorite onto the screen. With voice work from Dakota Fanning, John Hodgman, and Teri Hatcher, Coraline is the story of a young girl who finds a mysterious and magical passage to an alternate world. This world mirrors hers in every way, except that everything seems perfect, unlike the the real world. As Coraline becomes more and more enchanted by this Other World, she also begins to see through the perfection and comes to realize that not all is what it seems.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Kubo tells the story of a young boy who must go on an quest to find his late father’s armor so that he can help save his home from an evil spirit.
With top-tier voice acting from Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Rooney Mara, and Matthew McConaughey and incredible animation, it is surprising that this film was a box-office failure. Still, I think it will be something the whole family should enjoy while providing a nice break from Kung Fu Panda.
Mune: Guardian of the Moon
This award-winning film combines an interesting and imaginative story with breathtaking animation to create a movie that is sure to please the whole family.
Set in a world in which the sun and moon are cared for by a single guardian each, the story details the struggles of two new guardians who each lose their celestial charges and must set aside their differences to bring light back to their planet.
Mune is a French production that gives anything Disney and Pixar have produced a run for its money. It’s also a wonderful addition to Netflix’s global animated cinema collection, and one of the best family movies on Netlfix.
In This Corner of the World
This award-winning film from Japan is definitely one for the older kids in the family, as it deals with the trials and hardships of everyday life during war.
Set during WWII, Suzu (Non) is an 18-year old who is married off to a young man who lives in Eba, Hiroshima, Japan. As the young wife adjusts to keeping house using rations and struggling to find happiness in her new position, the viewer’s knowledge of the U.S. bombing looms large, and emphasizes an unspoken existential ennui.
In This Corner of the World is beautifully animated and will provide a basis for some interesting family discussion.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, chances are you’ve seen at least some of Pee-wee’s various productions – whether in or out of the Play House.
A box-office bust, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure still helped launch Paul Reubens’ character into a movie franchise, and the film has become a cult classic for its wonderful mix of earnestness and camp.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Pee-wee (Reubens) is a doll-like manchild whose bike is stolen, prompting him to go on a cross-country adventure to try to recover it.
This early Tim Burton-directed film is probably best for older kids, and you can even make a marathon of it with Pee-wee’s Playhouse and the Netflix original, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, though I imagine you’ll be testing your patience if you decide to go that route.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
The Prophet is unlike any other movie on this list, as it uses ten different animation styles as visual representations of nine of the twenty-four poems in the Gibran’s original text.
Utilizing a frame story to help facilitate the telling of these poems, the film tells the story of Mustafa (Liam Neeson), a poet whose travels allow him to muse on a wide range of topics. Much like Fantasia, the film is made of different sections comprised of these poems, and thus we move from one animation style to the next as Mustafa’s topic of interest shifts.
The film was produced by (and includes voice work from) Salma Hayek, and was co-written and directed by Roger Allers of The Lion King fame.
Boy and the World
Boy and the World is the winner of over 40 global film festival awards, and is yet another addition to Netflix’s small-but-impressive catalogue of first-rate global animated films.
With an imaginative yet simple animation style, Boy and the World is a great change of pace from the Disney/Pixar style that has come to dominate the world of children’s animated movies. Kids will enjoy the playful animation and the adventurous story, while teens and adults will see a tale that confronts the impacts of globalization and capitalism.
Encounters at the End of the World
While I limited my focus primarily to fiction films, I couldn’t pass up the chance to include a Werner Herzog movie on this list of the best family movies on Netflix.
As a film scholar, Herzog has loomed large in my watching habits for years, but being able to bring the joyful, depressing, absurd wonder of this masterful filmmaker to the family is always a treat.
Encounters at the End of the World relates a trip to the South Pole during which Herzog finds only the oddest and most interesting people to talk to, meanwhile exploring the nature wonders of the most foreign of environments.
The Adventures of Tintin
The Adventures of Tintin is Steven Spielberg’s animated feature debut, and it does not disappoint.
An action and adventure story full of excitement, Tintin is the story of the titular character and his faithful dog, Snowy, who end up in a high-seas adventure. With live-action 3D animation starring the masterful Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, King Kong, The Lord of the Rings), it blends the line between animation and live action, dropping us somewhere in the uncanny valley à la Polar Express, but with more finesse to help alleviate the creepiness!
In this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s books, a small Peruvian bear travels to London only to find that the city he has loved from afar is more dangerous than he imagined.
With wonderful casting, high-quality animation, and a heartwarming story, Paddington is a family favorite, and one of the best family movies on Netflix. It can also help break the tedium of all-animated features.
Those are our picks of the best family movies on Netflix, but there are so many to choose from to make your family movie night a success.
Did we miss any of your family’s favorites? Give us your top recommendations in the comments!