When you think of kids’ movies, what comes to mind? Animated cartoons? Computer generated graphics? Puppets? Teenagers saving the world? You’re right, but great kids’ movies don’t always fall into one narrow type. And while there’s generally a little bit of difference between movies for 10-year-olds versus 3-year-olds, it’s easy to find movies that entertain them all.
Netflix is a hotbed of excellent movies for kids of all ages, and many of the best are designed to entertain mom and dad too (though we’ve also got a separate list of the best movies on Netflix for the whole family). This is a list of the ones we currently recommend for kids, listed in no particular order.
This Pokemon movie takes place in an underground realm known as the Diamond Domain, so named because its sole source of energy comes from the Heart Diamond. When the Princess Diancie loses control of this powerful diamond, her world starts falling into chaos. She teams up with Ash and his Pokemon friends on a quest to find help. Along the way they encounter many villains who want to destroy them and steal their powers.
A young boy living in Alaska has one small dog, but he dreams of having a dog sled team. Meanwhile a group of five small puppies follow an ice cream truck in the hopes of getting some. They end up on a plane and they get dumped into the snow in Alaska along with the ice cream delivery--now the boy and his puppy have a team to help him win the dogsled race!
This is an older Disney movie that pairs classical music with vivid stories. In one famous sequence Mickey Mouse tries to use magic to make a broom do his chores for him, set to the music of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Another story features an amusing ballet that is performed by ostriches, elephants, alligators and hippos. There's dinosaurs, and more.
In this funny and heartfelt sequel to Finding Nemo, Nemo and Marlin's friend Dory goes off in search of her lost family. It's a quest that leads the forgetful fish all over the ocean and outside of it, meeting many dangers and colorful characters.
Luke discovers a baby polar bear that has lost its mother, so he decides to take a journey to find her and reunite the baby with her. Along the way Luke befriends Muktuk, a local guy who knows the terrain. Muktuk also knows where the polar bears usually live and how to find the cub's mother, so he agrees to help Luke find her. But they get separated by a floating iceberg and Luke must find it in himself to keep the cub alive and finish the mission he set out to accomplish.
When Maria Merryweather is 13 years old, her father passes away. As an orphan she cannot stay in elaborate London home she grew up in. Instead she is sent to go live with an eccentric old uncle, Sir Benjamin, that she didn't even know she had. He owns a mysterious estate known as Moonacre Manor. Maria discovers that there are many magical secrets in the Manor, and she is something of a princess there. The Manor exists in a world mired in an ancient feud with another family. As Maria uncovers the secrets of being the last Moon Princess, she is tasked with uncovering dark secrets from the past before the Moon rises for the 5,000th time.
Animation collides with real life in this comical movie where real humans live and work alongside Looney Tunes characters. Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny work together in a Hollywood studio when Daffy decides to quit his job because he feels like Bugs ends up getting all of the attention. At the same time, a recently-fired stuntman decides to look for a mythical blue diamond of his father's. Daffy decides that sounds like fun so he teams up with him in search of it. Soon the two of them are traveling all around the world while Bugs Bunny follows them to try and get Daffy to come back to his acting career.
A troubled young boy finds himself forced to clean up a marine-animal theme park that he vandalized, where he develops a surprising friendship with one of the attractions--a killer whale named Willy.
The whole gang of little rascals is back and up to no good. Actually they're trying to do a lot of good, but their mischievous actions wreak all sorts of havoc. Grandma's bakery is going to be closed if something isn't done because she owes the bank $10,000, so everyone pitches in and tries to raise the money for her. They try a dog walking and washing service, but all they manage to do is turn the dog green. They try a taxi service, but it's terrible too. They can't seem to raise a single dime. Finally they all decide that their last hope is to enter a local talent contest and win the prize money. Unfortunately even Petey the dog howls better than Alfalfa sings.
This is not the live-action and not-so-kid-friendly movie from 2014--it's a more family-friendly animated movie from 2012. The ninja turtles are four popular super heroes who happen to be mutant turtles living underground in the sewers of New York City. The stars align so that the city is about to be overrun with many different types of monsters. Master Splinter--the turtles' ninja trainer--puts the guys to work to get back into shape and hone their skills so they are prepared for the battle to save the city.
This is an animated version of the story of Moses, based on the Book of Exodus from the Bible. A young Hebrew mother puts her newborn baby boy into a basket and pushes him out into the Nile River. Eventually his basket floats near the palace where he is seen by the queen. She looks into the basket and is stunned by the beautiful and the baby inside. She decides to adopt that infant as her own and names him Moses. But when the boy grow up, he will follow God to defy the Pharaoh himself to free the Hebrew people from slavery.
Once upon a time Chicken Little thought that the sky was falling because in acorn fell out of the tree and hit him on the head. In this movie he attempts to fix his reputation. Things are going well when, unfortunately, an actual piece of the sky really does fall on as head. Chicken Little decides that prudence is in order this time and refuses to go around telling everyone about it. Instead he gathers up a group of misfit friends--Turkey Lurky, Runt of the Litter, Ugly Duckling and many others--to try and save the world while keeping the rest of the town in the dark.
A little prince lived on an asteroid, until one day he came to Earth. He told the stories of his adventures to an eccentric pilot, who tells them to a young girl. Through these stories, the girl discovers that life does not need to be quite as practical and logical as she has been taught.
This animated comedy is about a shy boy named Jake who is very talented at playing foosball. When a rich childhood bully returns to town and kidnaps Jake's friend, Laura, Jake thinks there is no hope left--when suddenly the figure from his foosball table come to life. So he and the animated foosball players set out to save Laura and the town.
Harry and the Hendersons is a cute little story about a friendly Sasquatch, lovingly called Henry by the Henderson family. The family meets him when they accidentally hit him with their car while out on a hunting trip. Dad realizes it's the discovery of a lifetime, so he decides to load him onto the car and take him home. The family is stunned and frightened to discover the Sasquatch is alive and well, and he begins to destroy their home through a series of comical accidents. As the family copes with having this big galoot inside, they also desperately try to keep knowledge of him away from the authorities, and away from another hunter who wants to catch Bigfoot.
Paddington is an adorable Peruvian bear, one of the rarest kinds of bears, who takes a trip to the big city searching for a place to call home. During a batch of comical adventures and mishaps, he discovers he is lost and not enjoying the city as much as he thought he might. Then he meets the Brown family. They read the note around his neck that asks for Paddington to be taken care of, so they offer him a place to stay. Paddington begins to think he finally found his home, until he gets noticed by a taxidermist from the museum, who wants to put him on display.
This spooky and silly movie adapts plotlines from R.L. Stine's series of Goosebumps books. In the movie, Zach is a boy who is unhappy when he has to leave the city to move out into the country. When he meets the girl next door, however, he cheers up. But when he meets her dad, he thinks the guy is a lunatic. One night when he hears Hannah screaming, he runs to her rescue only to discover the truth: Hannah's dad is R.L. Stine, the famous author. The truth to those books is actually inside them. Each original book is locked up on a shelf, and if you unlock them the monsters escape. When all of the monsters from the books inevitably do escape, Zach, Hannah, and their friends must work to try and recapture them.
Heavyweights is a great comedy for kids. It is about a group of overweight kids who go to a weight-loss summer camp that is supposed to be luxurious and easy. They are promised a summer of good times, but when they get there they discover the camp has been bought by a fitness fanatic who is determined to show the boys no mercy. Over the course of six weeks, he cuts out the junk food and puts the boys on an insane training program. These pudgy, young, soft kids decide to take matters into their own hands. It all starts with locking away the new owner.
When Po, the Kung Fu master panda, finally meets his long-lost father, the two of them travel together to a secret place where hundreds of other pandas live. Encountering outrageously funny characters in this secret paradise, Po and his father make many new friends. Before very long however, a new bad guy named Kai starts wiping out Kung Fu masters all across China. Kai is a powerful villain with supernatural powers and it is up to Po to try and stop him. Po takes on an almost impossible task: he decides to try and provide Kung Fu training to all of the clumsy, sweet, and fun-loving characters living in the Panda Paradise.
Barry B. Benson is a worker bee in new Hive city. He recently graduated from college, but he is not looking forward to the same old career everyone gets: a job at the Honex Company making honey. One day he decides that he wants to leave the hive and look around the world, and in his travels he meets a florist name Vanessa. He likes her so much that he breaks one of the biggest rules bees have: he talks directly to her. They end up becoming great friends and Barry starts learning more about humans. Once he discovers that people can buy honey in a grocery store, he decides that it is his mission in life to stop them!
Oh is a cute little alien from a another planet. He is a misfit with his own kind, and he finds himself on the run because he caused so many problems for them. While looking for a home he ends up making friends with a fun-loving girl named Tip, who is on her own personal quest. The pair soon find themselves in the midst of multiple hysterical adventures. Through it all they both learn that it's okay to be different, and that making mistakes is part of the process of living life.
Minions have been around since the very beginning of time. Their entire goal has always been to serve the meanest bad guy they could find. Finding bad guys to serve however, is always the easy part. Keeping them around is where it gets tricky, because they always seem to die. After many such losses, the minions find themselves without an evil master to serve, so several of them set out to explore the world looking for a new one. They eventually discovered a super-villain named Scarlet Overkill. Serving her takes them around the world, until they eventually end up in London trying to steal the queen's crown.
Annie and Hailey are two identical twins who have never met. They were separated when their parents broke up at their birth--one girl was raised by their mother and the other was raised by their father. But neither was ever told about the other, until one summer they end up at the same camp together. Once they realize who their parents are, they come up with an elaborate plan to switch places. The goal is to each meet the parent they've never known, and to eventually get the two parents back together.
The Jungle Book is a wonderful movie about a little boy who grows up among the animals in the jungle. When he gets threatened by the tiger Shere Khan, he ends up running away from the jungle in fear of his life. This begins a long journey where he attempts to discover more about himself. He is joined by two friends, a fun loving bear Baloo and Bagheera the panther.
Zootopia is a movie about a world where humans do not exist. Instead the animals walk around on two feet and wear clothes just like people do. Animals from everywhere in the world live in the city Zootopia, and they work together--but not all of them get along. When a young bunny rabbit, Judy, decides to become a police officer, it's not easy for her: she is the first bunny to be on the police force and she's really small. But she ends up teaming up with criminal fox, and with their unique skills they uncover the biggest crime in the city.
This wonderful movie tells the story of a group of young dinosaurs trying to reunite with their families in the distant past. Together they face many dangers, especially the ravenous tyrannosaurus they call "The Sharp-Tooth." Alternately funny, sad, exciting, and beautifully animated, The Land Before Time is a classic. Kids may be glad that several of this movies countless sequels are also on Netflix, but adults--especially adults who remember the movie from their own childhood--will prefer the original.
In one of Disney's latest animated musicals, a Polynesian princess embarks on a quest across the ocean to save her people. She's accompanied by the heroic demigod Maui, played charmingly by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The songs in this adventure are by the ascendant Lin-Manuel Miranda, making the whole journey a solidly entertaining Disney movie.
This movie flew under the radar in 1999, but it deserves to be recognized as a modern animated classic. During the Cold War, a young boy named Hogarth finds a giant, friendly robot that apparently fell from space. He tries to teach the robot to use its strength to help people, while keeping it out of the hands of a paranoid government agent who just wants to destroy it.
In this creepy animated kid's tale, a little girl finds a door to another world that's a lot like this one, except that it gives her everything she wants. It sounds too good to be true, and it is too good to be true--Coraline needs to outsmart a monster in order to escape back to her home and her family.
In this funny and offbeat Disney movie, Kuzco he's a young and arrogant ruler of a mythical mountain kingdom. The witch Yzma makes up a plan to poison him so that she can take over his throne. For some reason, though, her poison turns Kuzco into a llama instead of killing him. The young llama-emperor meets a peasant named Pacha, who proceeds to save him from the horrors of the jungle and helps return him to the throne.
Stitch is an extraterrestrial who is being chased by half the galaxy. He crash-lands on Earth in Hawaii and was discovered by a young, lonely Hawaiian girl named Lilo. She adopts Stitch because she thinks he is a dog. Her mother has serious doubts as to what he actually is, but Lilo firmly believes in family, and her mother agrees that you do not leave family behind. They do what they must to save Stitch from the humans and aliens out to get him.
Fievel is a young Russian mouse whose family immigrates to New York City. Along the way Fievel and his family get separated, and America turns out to be more dangerous than the cat-free paradise they had heard of. Fievel's journey back to his family is touching but might be too scary for the youngest viewers.
In this stunning stop-motion film, Kubo is a young boy in feudal Japan, with the power to play magical music. He sets out on a quest to find a suit of armor that belonged to his father. Along the way he befriends a monkey and a beetle, finds a magic sword, and faces his grandfather--who happens to be Raiden, the Moon King.
E.T. is the nickname that is given to an alien who finds himself stranded on earth. The small, gentle being is discovered by a little boy named Elliot, near his home in California. Elliot brings E.T. into his house and introduces him to his older brother and his little sister. All of the kids decide that they need to keep him a secret from the grownups. They hide him with the stuffed animals in the closet, and throw a sheet over him at Halloween to pretend he is a ghost. When ET gets sick though, he is discovered by the government. When they step in, things get tricky for everyone.
The last unicorn in the world is the most beautiful creature alive, but she is lonely. To find where the other unicorns have gone, she has to leave her forest and go on a long journey. Along the way she is joined by an ineffective wizard named Schmendrick, a prince, and a second-rate outlaw. Their adventures teach them all the importance of stories and beauty in the world.