On rainy days, cranky days and days when you just need a little downtime, it’s good to have a stable of always-at-the-ready kids’ movies on-hand to fire up at a moment’s notice — especially as we head toward the end of the year, when holiday events and family visits pop up and you might need to occupy them while you take care of other things. The best kids’ movies have migrated to a host of different streaming services, and some seem to bounce around from one to the other depending on the month. But, if you make sure you subscribe to one that always has a deep bench for kids, you’ll never be caught in a bind.
These are currently the best movies for kids on Netflix. Some of them are toddler movies or animated movies can be enjoyed by everyone, including the littlest ones in your family. Others are fun-for-the-whole-family movies, so everyone, including your picky tweens, can get in on the fun. Others are scary movies, or maybe just a bit mature, and are teen movies best reserved for your older ones. And a lot of them are Netflix originals — some of which might end up being among the best kids’s movies of 2022 — which means you won’t be able to find them on any other services (and, if your kids love them, they’re unlikely to leave the service, too). From thrilling action and adventure to sweet stories about friendships, you’re sure to find something that’ll please everyone in your brood.
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Coming Soon: The School for Good and Evil
The School for Good and Evil is where fairytale characters go when they want to learn all there is about princesshood — or villainy, depending on the situation. Best friends Sopbie and Agatha attend together, assuming Sophie would attend the School for Good while Agatha would attend the School for Evil, only to find their situations reversed. Can they make it through the year? The movie, directed by Bridesmaids‘ Paul Feig and based on the book series by Soman Chainani, has a cast that includes Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Yeoh, among others. It’s due on Netflix on October 19
Based on the beloved children’s book series by Michael Bond, Paddington follows the adventure of a bear who grew up in the jungles of Peru but finds himself settling into city life in London. While there’s some peril, this is an extremely gentle movie even the youngest film fans can enjoy. And while it’s not on Netflix, some like Paddington 2 (not on Netflix) even more.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
Katie Mitchell, a budding filmmaker, is headed off to school, and her family decides to drive her as one last road trip family vacation. The only problem? A robot apocalypse breaks out on the way, and the Mitchells are the only ones who can stop it. This movie comes from some of the same creative team as The Lego Movie, and has a similar zany energy.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
An alien (that looks more like a puppy than anything you’d see on The X-Files) gets separated from her parents, and it’s up to Shaun and the rest of his farm friends to reunite them. From the makers of Wallace and Gromit, every Shaun the Sheep adventure — including the TV series, which is also on Netflix — is pretty gentle and appropriate for younger film fans.
This movie will remind you of the babe. What babe? The babe who gets whisked away by the Goblin King when his older sister, Sarah, wishes him away. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) must then go on a quest through to the center of the Labyrinth, where she must defeat the Goblin King (David Bowie) and rescue her brother. Along the way, she meets tons of puppet characters, both helpful and not, created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
This Netflix adventure takes to the high seas in a time when the oceans were ruled by monsters. The film follows two heroes: a young girl named Maisie Brumble who longs for adventure and stows away on a ship, and the famed monster-hunter Jacob Holland who begrudgingly becomes her partner.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
The poor Baudelaire orphans: They’re still grieving their parents’ death when they’re placed in the care of Count Olaf, who will stop but nothing to get his hands on the family’s fortune. But is there something even more sinister at play? The movie, based on the book series, is a mix of darkly comic and macabre, and if kids like the tone they can watch Netflix’s series of the same name.
Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal: The Movie (2021)
This is actually a two-for-one, since the movie is split into two, feature-length, TV-14-rated halves. In it, a solar eclipse brings the Dead Moon Circus to Earth with plans to spread nightmares across the land. Usagi and Chibi-Usa have to round up the guardians and save the planet. They must be doing a good job, or at least an entertaining one: So far, this has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (2022)
This is one the whole family can gather around and watch together — especially if there are any adults around who have nostalgia for watching space launches on TV. Director Richard Linklater draws on his own memories to tell an animated tale of the 1969 moon landing through the eyes of a 10-year-old child.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)
Based on a true story, this follows a boy living in Africa who teaches himself engineering. When his village suffers a drought, he has big plans to create a turbine that can power a water pump.
Everyone knows Sherlock Holmes had a brother, but what about his sister? Based on a book series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes follows the teenaged detective as she helps her more famous family members look into the disappearance of a runaway lord. Millie Bobby Brown, star of Stranger Things, takes on the role of the young sleuth, and Enola Holmes 2 is scheduled to come to Netflix on November 4.
Another one for anime fans, this Japanese film follows a young girl named Miyo who pines after a boy named Hinode. One day, she buys a cat mask from a mysterious seller, and it transforms her into a cat named Tarō — and Tarō can get closer to Hinode than Miyo can. And while Miyo gets caught up in magical antics, there is a message in there about the way adolescents process difficult emotions.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
Finding ʻOhana (2021)
For tweens and older kids, The Water Man is about two kids who team up to research a local legend, believing it has the power to save one of their parents, who is sick with cancer. It’s the directorial debut of actor David Oyelowo, and it has a fairytale feel to it.
In Havana, Cuba, Vivo the kinkajou, has everything he needs. When his owner wants to travel to Miami and connect with an old friend and musical partner, Vivo is wary of leaving, but journeys onward anyway — and meets a girl name Gabi who vows to help him. The movie was co-written by Quiara Alegría Hudes with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the pair that created In the Heights together.
The Sing gang is back and ready to put on another show — bigger and better than ever. U2’s Bono joins the cast as a reclusive lion who has to be cajoled back into the limelight.
A Little Princess (1995)
Sara is a wealthy Brit growing up in India, but, when her father is called off to war, she’s sent to an unfamiliar boarding school in New York City, where she must find her strength and resilience. It’s loosely based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who later won Netflix three academy awards for Roma (but is probably better known to kids for directing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).
Maybe you’ve heard this one before: A boy wants to get close to a girl, so he meets a magical being who can grant him three wishes to help him on his quest. No, it’s not Aladdin — it’s Wish Dragon, which takes a similar premise and transports it to a contemporary world. This time, Din wants to reconnect with childhood friend Li Na, but she has gone on to greater fame. Can a wish-granting dragon help?
Octonauts and the Ring of Fire (2021)
Back to the Outback (2021)
Deadly animals like snakes, spiders, scorpions, venomous toads and crocodiles often get a bad rap. When a bunch of dangerous animals feel unappreciated at an Australian zoo, they plan a jailbreak. Things don’t go as planned, however, when they’re joined by Pretty Boy, a rude koala who’s a zoo favorite.
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020)
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (2018)
This is a little confusing because it is a live action/CGI hybrid movie based on the work of Rudyard Kipling, but it’s not the Disney Jungle Book remake. (For that one, you’ll need to head to Disney+ or Prime Video.) But this one, directed by Andy Serkis, still has plenty of adventures with animals, with motion-capture performances Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Benedict Cumberbatch.
We Can Be Heroes (2020)
The Spy Next Door (2010)
Jackie Chan is a friendly, normal neighbor who anyone would love to live next door to — or is he? When he agrees babysit two neighborhood kids, they blow his cover as a spy, sending him on an action-packed adventure through suburbia. This is a fun, family-friendly way to introduce kids to Chan’s amazing stunts.
Legendary animator Glen Keane, who worked on films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin (and who is the son of The Family Circus creator Bil Keane), directs this fantasy about a girl who builds her own rocket to the moon to find a mythical moon goddess. It’s also a musical, with songs by Christopher Curtis, Marjorie Duffield and Helen Park, who composed the KPOP musical.
Whether you’re looking for a spooky movie for kids or are just in the mood for a Transylvania Twist, this movie is about vampires, monsters, werewolves and other ghouls without really going for any scares. It tells the story about how Lily, a vampire, meets and falls in love with Herman Munster — over the objections of her father, The Count. It’s mostly silly and even kind of sweet, which is a surprise considering it’s directed by horror icon Rob Zombie!
Home is the story of an alien named Oh who can’t seem to do anything right — know any kids who can relate? On Earth, he befriends a girl named Tip, who helps him on his quest to get back in his planet’s good graces.
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (2022)
Ever generation gets their own twist on the Ninja Turtles. For this animated adventure, Casey Jones comes from the future to warn the teenage reptiles that they’ll soon be under attack from beings from another universe.
Spirit Riding Free: Ride Along Adventure (2020)
It’s a Peter Pan story like you’ve never seen it before. Director Joe Wright, who has done film adaptations of literary heavyweights like Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, and Cyrano, turns his eye toward the action and adventure in Neverland, and the orphan who gets transported there to discover his true destiny. The movie stars Garrett Hedlund as James Hook, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily and Hugh Jackman as the pirate Blackbeard.
Pokémon: Mewtwo Strikes Back – Evolution (2019)
13: The Musical (2022)
If your tween likes singing and dancing, this is the one for them. It follows a young teen named Evan who is bummed to learn that he has to move from New York City to the suburbs of Indiana right before his bar mitzvah, and it’s centered on teenage concerns like popularity and first kisses. It’s based on a musical by Jason Robert Brown, known for shows like The Last Five Years and Parade.
Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson provides the voice for the oversized great dane in this movie, about a plucky trainer who thinks he can turn Marmaduke into a show dog.
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