With the school holidays upon us, we’ve burrowed through the Netflix catalogue for family films that will keep both kids and their parents hooked to the screen.
UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020
Why settle for any movie when you’ve got great movies at your disposal? That’s solid logic when it comes to family films—an often unappreciated genre that holds some of the best storytelling you’ll find.
Here are 12 great family films currently on Netflix designed to entertain both kids and adults.
* Everything coming to Netflix in October
* All new streaming movies & series
1995’s classic family farm adventure following Babe—an orphaned, talking piglet trying to find a family and make a home at the ranch of Farmer Hoggett (James Cromwell). With the help of the sheepdogs, Babe discovers an unusual knack for sheepherding… Co-written by Mad Max‘s George Miller, who’d take directing reins for the sequel (fear not, he wisely keeps things G-rated each time).
Both hilarious and visually delicious, this animated food comedy erupts with creativity like some sort of confetti volcano. Following a wannabe scientist with huge ambitions, his latest invention miraculously turns water into food. Which is great, until it malfunctions and causes food-related weather events like spaghetti-nados and—you guessed it—raining meatballs. Guaranteed to light up a child’s imagination while continually jabbing a parent’s funny bone.
Author J. K. Rowling and director David Yates return to the Harry Potter universe with this spinoff story, starring Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as wizard and “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. Arriving in New York with his suitcase of magical creatures, Scamander has to track some down when they escape. Followed by sequel Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which you can also find on Netflix.
Killer garden gnomes. Werewolves in sneakers. Jack Black as a ventriloquist dummy. That’s just a taste of what’s on offer in this highly entertaining kid-friendly creature feature tribute to author RL Stine and his popular horror books for children. Fun fact: the director would go on to direct Detective Pikachu.
Sign up for Flicks updates
The beginning of DreamWorks’ beloved trilogy was, and still is, a total triumph. An easy pleaser for kids who always dreamed of having a dragon as a friend, this joyous animated adventure also shows young boys how to become better men with a lead character who chooses respect over rage and seeks peace rather than power.
Another quality trilogy from DreamWorks, the Kung Fu Panda series combines the glory of martial arts cinema with the appeal of talking animated animals. The third film isn’t on Netflix (yet), but that’s fine—it doesn’t quite match up to the original and its outstanding sequel.
A triumph of creativity and the imagination, powered by magical practical effects, wonderfully bizarre creatures, and the performances of David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Jim Henson’s fantasy adventure is thrillingly inventive as it takes us on a wild ride with teen Sarah, who has only 13 hours to solve an otherworldly maze and reach Jareth’s castle—before her baby brother is turned into a goblin.
Uniquely pairing stop-motion animation with CGI, this Netflix Original adaptation of the classic children’s book is simply superb. Following a girl whose mum tries way too hard to prepare her for the dull grown-up world, she finds solace in her elderly neighbour and the imaginative yarn he tells. Pure, storytelling magic.
Proof that there’s still astonishing live-action films being made about completely wholesome characters, Paddington’s two live-action heartwarmers never stop being utterly charming. Sadly, Paddington 2 is no longer on Netflix, but its predecessor Paddington is still there to showcase Ben Whishaw’s sugary voice, like bread on butter as the ever-polite and kindly Paddington Bear, who makes the grumpy ol’ city of London his home.
Stop motion animated Aardman Studios adventure follows Shaun, whose mischief inadvertently leads to his farmer being taken away and the farm animals heading to the city to rescue him. On the surface, this feature film may seem like it’s only for fans of the TV show. Give it a shot though and you’ll discover an incredibly well-done visual comedy that needs no dialogue to tell its story or sell its gags. Aardman outdid itself here and this movie deserves a (re)watch
Aardman’s Oscar winner delivers so many delightful mocks on horror cinema that this recommendation will likely appeal more to adults than their kids. Not that anyone could possibly leave unsatisfied with any Wallace and Gromit story. In fact, this outing might be the pair’s greatest, as their pest-catching company is forced to deal with something more spooky.
Based on the beloved children’s novel, four siblings believe they’re better off raising themselves and trick their awful parents into going on a life-threatening vacation in this animated family film. When it arrived on Netflix, Liam Maguren labeled The Willoughbys “a visually delightful and consistently hilarious black comedy for older kids” in his 4-star review.