Movies

The 10 Best Family and Kids Movies on Netflix Right Now (August 2020)

7 Mins read
  • While the world of streaming has opened up a vast amount of possibilities in terms of viewing options, it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to decide exactly what to choose—especially when you have the entire family on the brain. That’s why we’ve crafted a specially curated list of the best family movies on Netflix, which runs down the very best movie-watching options for all (or at least most) ages to enjoy. They range from animated features to uplifting live-action stories of real-life heroes.

But it’s not only Disney movies—our list of the best family and kids movies on Netflix features films from all kinds of studios, all kinds of eras, and all kinds of genres. So if you’re looking for the perfect viewing option that both kids and parents will enjoy, we’re pretty confident you’ll find something here. Check out our full list of the best family movies on Netflix below.

And for even more recommendations, check out our full list of the 10 best movies on Netflix right now.

The Karate Kid

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Image via Columbia Pictures

Director: John G. Avildsen

Writer: Robert Mark Kamen

Cast: Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elisabeth Shue, Martin Kove, Randee Heller and William Zabka as Johnny Lawrence

If you’re looking for a great movie the whole family can enjoy, look no further than The Karate Kid, because they just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Ralph Macchio stars as Daniel LaRusso, an undersized teen who moves with his mother (Heller) from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where he falls for a beautiful classmate (Shue) and is promptly bullied by Valley douchebag Johnny Lawrence (Zabka) and his fellow Cobra Kai buddies. Eager to defend himself, Daniel begins studying karate under the tutelage of his apartment complex’s handyman, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), who also teaches him valuable life lessons. Daniel-san’s feud with the Cobra Kai culminates in a thrilling karate tournament in which legs get swept and faces get kicked.

The Karate Kid is basically a teenage Rocky, and even hails from the same director (Avildsen) and composer (Bill Conti) as that Oscar-winning film. In fact, the hit song from the Karate Kid soundtrack, Joe Esposito‘s “You’re the Best,” was originally written for Rocky III. But here’s a hot take for ya: The Karate Kid is even better than Rocky. That’s right, I said it. There’s a certain warmth and sincerity to this film — and this franchise in general — that explains why it became a sleeper hit in the summer of 1984 despite coming out just two weeks after Ghostbusters and Gremlins. Not only was Morita nominated for an Oscar for his wonderful supporting performance, but the film led countless kids to take up karate, contributing to the growth of that sport in America. The film spawned three sequels, an animated TV series, a remake, and the streaming series Cobra Kai, which recently moved to Netflix. As good as that show is, nothing can top the original, which still holds up today, even if you sweep its leg.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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Image via Warner Bros.

Directors: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm

Writers: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves

Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Abe Vigoda

By now, all readers of a certain age have reckoned with the fact that Batman: The Animated Series, the classic ’90s kids cartoon about that classic Caped Crusader, was not, in fact, for kids. From its mature themes to its dark character beats to its literally dark animation style, B:TAS remains a strong benchmark in Batman screen stories because of its unwillingness to pander to an audience other cartoons may have viewed as “less than.” But Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the 1993 feature film adapted from the same world from the same creative team, takes this idea of “an adult Batman for kids” even further — all to its invigorating benefit. Mask of the Phantasm is less a “Batman movie that happens to have grown up, noir-leaning themes” and more an “explicitly grown up noir that happens to have Batman-leaning themes.” It communicates thrilling and gripping quandaries in all of their complicated, melodramatic, stylized, mature, entirely grown-up, and entirely noir-soaked glory. But, y’know, for kids!

Mary Poppins Returns

emily-blunt-mary-poppins-returns

Image via Disney

Director: Rob Marshall

Writers: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca

Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Mary Poppins Returns is the Force Awakens of the Mary Poppins-verse, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. Emily Blunt steps into Julie Andrews’ iconic role as the nanny who can do literally anything with prim-and-proper playfulness, pivoting perfectly between tough love and whimsical singing on a moment’s notice. Rob Marshall’s widescreen compositions hearken back to the golden days of Disney’s live-action extravaganzas, and the script gives us musical set piece after set piece that, um, also happens to map over the original script and purpose of each set piece in the original. But when the craft is this good, the songs this catchy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda this “rapping in a cockney accent,” it is simply too fun not to allow yourself to be swept up in its earnest glory. Plus: The emotional underpinnings of the picture, and the familial strife going on with Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, and the younguns hits you hard, giving it the stakes it needs. I cry just thinking about Whishaw’s solo song in the attic.

The Witches

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Image via The Jim Henson Company

Director: Nicolas Roeg

Writer: Allan Scott

Cast: Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, and Rowan Atkinson

Will the 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches give your kids nightmares? Probably! But it’s kind of a rite of passage. Produced by Jim Henson, the film tells the story of a group of evil witches who disguise themselves as ordinary women and kill children. A young boy and his grandmother set out to find a way to stop them, and horrors ensue. This is a blend of Neverending Story-style practical effects with pure nightmare fuel, but it’s also a wildly imaginative story for young ones. You know best whether your kid can handle it, but this is a fun one.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

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Image via Sony Pictures Animation

Directors/Writers: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T, Benjamin Bratt, and Neil Patrick Harris

Before filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller upended convention with wildly entertaining films like The LEGO Movie and the Jump Street films, they wrote and directed the 2009 animated feature Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—and it is delightful. The film is absolutely in the same vein of Lord and Miller’s other films; a mix of goofy humor, gloriously intricate jokes, inventive visuals, and most importantly genuine compassion. Bill Hader voices a wannabe scientist named Flint who lives in a tiny town called Swallow Falls, which is thrown into peril when one of Flint’s wild inventions starts turning water into food, at which point it literally starts raining all sorts of delicious—and gigantic—treats. It’s a great film for all ages really, and a terrifically science-positive story.

Despicable Me

despicable-me

Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

Writers: Cino Paul and Ken Daurio

Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Will Arnett, and Julie Andrews

The one that started it all. Illumination Entertainment’s 2010 animated film Despicable Me kicked off a lucrative franchise and introduced the world to “minions,” and in hindsight the initial film is pretty sweet. Steve Carell voices a baddie known as Gru who wants to be the most powerful supervillain in the world. But his “bad guy” tendencies are put to the test when he becomes the parent of three young girls, all the while battling another supervillain for supervillain supremacy.

Hugo

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Image via Paramount Pictures

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: John Logan

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, and Jude Law

The one and only family film from legendary director Martin Scorsese is also a celebration of cinema because of course it is. Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the 2011 film Hugo follows a young orphaned boy who lives alone in a Paris railway station. He strikes up a friendship with a young girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), and the two set out on a journey that puts them into direct contact with the work and legacy of groundbreaking filmmaker Georges Méliès. The movie was shot in 3D as Scorsese makes unique use of the full frame, crafting a film that’s adventurous and whimsical, but also very much a love letter to the art of moviemaking that underlines the value of film preservation.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

ralph-breaks-the-internet

Image via Disney

Directors: Rich Moore and Phil Johnston

Writers: Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribbon

Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, and Bill Hader

While Wreck-It Ralph delved into the world of arcade and classic gaming to tremendous results, the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet turns its focus to an entirely different kind of beast: the internet. In the mold of successful Disney sequels, this film maintains the core characters that mean so much to audiences while evolving and challenging them to compelling results. Here, we see Ralph and Vanellope potentially going separate ways as they enter the massive world of the internet, and the film explores themes of toxic masculinity and online culture—though never in a preach-y manner. There’s plenty of time for fun as well, and while one could see the Star Wars and Disney Princess references as shameless cross-promotion, that doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderfully delightful. Thankfully, this is a sequel with a story worth telling.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-cast

Image via Sony Pictures

Directors: Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Writers: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber

“Anyone can wear the mask.” That’s the theme of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versewhich makes it not just one of the most inspiring superhero movies ever made, but also one of the most important. While the film’s protagonist is Miles Morales, a mixed race high school student living in New York City who gets bit by a spider and gains superpowers, the movie expands the world into a “multi-verse” as various Spider-People from other dimensions come into Miles’ life. Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir all have different backgrounds and motivations, but they all rose above adversity to become the hero their world needed. The crux of the film is the relationship between Miles, who’s not yet ready to lead, and an alternate universe Peter Parker, who’s going through a mid-life crisis and reluctantly mentors the young, new Spidey. It’s an endearing, hilarious, and touching the relationship, and the film is packed with themes of friendship, heroism, and family that make it a tremendously positive viewing experience for youngsters.

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