If you need a break from your regular Friday night binge and The Suicide Squad isn’t your cup of tea, now is the perfect time to hop over to Netflix and put on a good old-fashioned family film. Sometimes you just need that warm, fuzzy feeling only family movies can provide, the one that reminds you of what’s really important in life.
Netflix is particularly good at rounding up some of our forever faves while also churning out new originals for us to enjoy. Here are some of the best family flicks you can watch on the streaming service right now with your kids or your kid at heart.
If you’re wondering what Lin-Manuel Miranda is up to these days, Netflix has your answer. The mastermind behind Broadway’s Hamilton is at it again with his starring role in Vivo, the first-ever musical from Sony Pictures Animation. Miranda plays the title kinkajou — AKA rainforest honey bear — who sets out to deliver a love song to his beloved owner’s old flame. His task becomes the adventure of a lifetime, fueled by new friendships and fresh tunes written by Miranda himself, who also sings in the film. If his contributions to Moana offer any hint of what Vivo might be like, we’re surely in for another heartwarming, toe-tapping treat.
Have you ever wished that your parents would stop saying no to everything and start saying yes? So do Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramírez’s kids in Yes Day, one of Netflix’s newest originals. After realizing that her life has stopped being as adventurous as it once was, Garner’s Allison Torres decides to let her kids call the shots for an entire twenty-four hours. What could possibly go wrong? This feel-good family comedy comes equipped with plenty of laughter, heart, and water balloons. It will give you more than a few ideas for how to liven up a lazy Saturday with your family and might even help awaken your own inner child. All you have to do is say yes.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Think your family is dysfunctional? Try being mankind’s last hope for survival during the robot apocalypse. That’s exactly what the title family is up against in The Mitchells vs. The Machines from Sony Pictures Animation. If you enjoyed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Lego Movie, you can expect similarly dazzling visuals and plenty of humor in this one, especially with SNL alums Maya Rudolph and Fred Armisen voicing two of its characters. The Mitchells might not be perfect, but they serve as a beautiful reminder that no matter how chaotic life can get, family is the most important thing.
Fans of Stranger Things, rejoice! Millie Bobby Brown is nothing short of delightful as Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister in this coming-of-age adventure tale. Brown breaks the fourth wall as Enola, narrating her story directly to the audience as she sets out to find her missing mother and solve the mystery that’s been left in her wake. Exploring modern-day lessons about femininity and individuality against a 19th-century backdrop, Enola Holmes offers a fresh take on the traditional mystery and a lighter character for Brown to play after three seasons as the intense Eleven. Enola has been so popular since it landed on Netflix in 2020 that a sequel is currently in the works. In the words of Enola, “The game is afoot!
Over The Moon
The possibility of life on other planets has been the talk of the town lately, but what about life on the moon? Fei Fei, the young protagonist of Over the Moon, knows that something’s up there — more specifically someone. After growing up listening to her mother’s stories about Chang’e, the mythical goddess rumored to be waiting on the moon until she is reunited with her true love, Fei Fei decides to prove all the naysayers wrong by going to the ball of cheese herself. This animated musical finds her building her own rocket ship and embarking on a magical adventure that neither her nor her stowaway soon-to-be stepbrother will ever forget. You don’t want to miss Broadway’s Ruthie Ann Miles and Phillipa Soo lend their vocal chops to the soundtrack of this Oscar-nominated film.
Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning triumph about an orphan living in the walls of a train station in 1931 Paris. When his father passes away, Hugo is left with only a lifeless automaton to remember him by. When he finds the key that will bring the automaton to life, Hugo begins to unlock a mystery bigger than he could have imagined, one that could very well change his life. The cinematography and special effects in this film won awards for a reason and the film’s themes of following curiosity and embracing friendship will make you want to grab a pal and plan your own extraordinary adventure straightaway.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
You haven’t fully lived until you’ve experienced the amazing world of Jimmy Neutron. This boy genius makes inventing things look as easy as cracking an egg. Speaking of eggs, his movie kicks off when an intergalactic fleet of gooey aliens kidnaps all the parents in his town, prompting Jimmy and his wacky friends to band together and bring them back. Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is funny, inventive, and as enjoyable now as when it was released in 2001.
Kids will enjoy the animation and jokes while parents will appreciate the film’s nod to the importance of paying attention in science class as well as its killer soundtrack, which features music from Aaron Carter, the Backstreet Boys, No Secret, and *NSYNC. The whole family is going to fall in love with Jimmy’s robotic dog, Goddard, who basically puts all regular dogs to shame. (Sorry, Balto.)
Dennis The Menace
“Hey, Mr. Wilson!” Any 90s kid will tell you that it doesn’t get much better than Dennis the Menace. This hilarious comedy about a neighborhood rascal and his infuriated next-door neighbor is packed with memorable performances, including one by the late, great Walter Matthau. When school lets out for the summer and Dennis’ parents go out of town, Mr. Wilson bites off more than he can chew when he agrees to babysit Dennis. He’s ready to push Dennis out of his life forever, but when a shady thief—brought to terrifying life by Christopher Lloyd— rolls into town and steals from Mr. Wilson, Dennis might be the only kid in town clever enough to catch him. Seriously, though, Lloyd is hella scary in this. 90s kids are still shuddering.
Many of Roald Dahl’s famous children’s books, including Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches, have been adapted into films over the years, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the title character in The BFG finally got his turn. A little orphan girl named Sophie meets him one night when he plucks her from the window of her orphanage and takes her to Giant Country. While she learns that her new friend is a Big Friendly Giant, she also finds that there are bad giants as well, and together she and the BFG must work together to stop them from terrorizing humans. Dahl has proven over the years that his tales are nothing short of magical, and this one is no exception. Follow up your viewing of The BFG by reading the book!
If you’d like a sneak peek at what will happen to our planet if we don’t start taking better care of it, take a trip to the town of Thneedville, where all the plants and trees are completely artificial in the wake of an environmental collapse. In order to win the heart of Taylor Swift’s Audrey, who longs to see real trees, Zac Efron’s Ted must seek out the legendary Once-ler and the mystical Lorax to learn the truth about what happened to the trees — and hopefully find a way to bring them back. The Lorax packs a rather timely punch, driving home an important lesson from Dr. Seuss himself: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Gen Z has heard him loud and clear. The question is, have the rest of us?
A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Although everything you hear about Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will tell you to proceed at your own peril, it’s likely that you’ll thoroughly enjoy your time spent with the Baudelaire orphans. Their lives are forever changed when their parents die in a tragic and mysterious fire, putting them in the charge of their evil distant relative, Count Olaf. Played colorfully by Jim Carrey in the film, Olaf will stop at nothing to steal the orphans’ fortune, forcing the siblings to work together and use their various talents to prevent him from doing so. Once you finish the film, which encompasses the first three books of the 13-book series, be sure to check out the phenomenal Netflix original series led by Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Olaf. Both are delectable treats that will make you want to devour the books as well.
Puss In Boots
Long before he batted his big green eyes at Shrek and Donkey, Puss in Boots was a cat on the run. His solo film finds him crossing paths with all kinds of fairy tale creatures, including Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and the seductive Kitty Softpaws, voiced by Salma Hayek. Our hero, of course, is Antonio Banderas, and in order to clear his name, he must seek out the Golden Goose while he still has enough lives left to do so. After Puss in Boots inevitably charms your socks off, check out the sword-fighting kitty’s other offerings on Netflix: The Adventures of Puss in Boots and Puss in Boots: Trapped in an Epic Tale.
Move over, Jumanji. There’s a new game in town and it’s called Zathura: A Space Adventure. Is it basically Jumanji in space? Yes, but it also features baby Josh Hutcherson and Dax Shepard as an astronaut. Plus it was directed by Jon Favreau, who a few short years later would change the world with Iron Man. Basically, Zathura teaches us that if you open an ancient board game with a strange name, the results are probably going to be cataclysmic. There are no monkeys or rhinos in this one (just aliens and robots), but if the two young brothers at its center don’t reach the title planet in time, they could get stuck in space forever. As if you’re not already enticed, bear in mind that Zathura also stars the liveliest actress of our time, Kristen Stewart.
Mowgli: Legend Of The Jungle
Not to be confused with Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle dives even deeper into the origins of everyone’s favorite man-cub. Though it’s not a musical, it does feature a familiar cast of characters including Bagheera, Baloo, Kaa, and Shere Khan. Unlike in both Disney versions, Mowgli spends a lot of time with his fellow humans, raising the question of whether his own humanity might be more dangerous than his clashes with animals in the jungle. We find it hard to believe that humans are worse than that psycho Shere Khan, but at least Mowgli gives us an excuse to go on another exciting trip through the wild jungles of India.
Yours, Mine, & Ours
If Cheaper by the Dozen and The Parent Trap had a baby, you’d get this remake of the 1968 comedy of the same name. Make that a lot of babies. Yours, Mine & Ours follows a father of eight kids and a mother of ten as they try to merge their families together. The only problem? Dennis Quaid’s kids hate Rene Russo’s, and vice versa. They go so far as to hatch a plan to turn their parents against one another so they won’t get married and the kids won’t have to move in with each other. Hilarity and chaos ensue, the kind that families of all shapes and sizes can relate to. If you want to see Quaid fall face-first into a vat of paint and get smooched by a pig, be sure to stream this one before it leaves Netflix on September 1st.