30 Best Kids Movies on Netflix [Spring 2020]
There’s nothing quite like gathering your family around the television at night to watch something together, be it the newest Marvel adventure or a brand-new animated flick from Pixar. Sometimes, of course, you don’t need something that’s good for the entire family—you need something to throw on for the kids to watch in the background. Not every kids’ movie has to be entertaining to everyone in the room, although the best ones can be watched no matter your age. And since it’s currently summer vacation, you’ll probably find that throwing on some entertainment for the kids in your house to chill out to during weekday afternoons might help you get some work done in general.
Netflix has a whole lineup of kid-friendly entertainment, but a lot of it comes from original television shows produced by Netflix. If you’re looking for something a bit longer than the typical 22-minute episode of Beat Bugs or the Boss Baby television show, we’ve got some suggestions in mind. Let’s take a look at some of the best kid-friendly entertainment on Netflix for spring 2020.
A remake of the original Benji tale updated for 2018, this newly-made, Netflix Original film is directed by the original director’s son, Brandon Camp. A reboot for the modern age, Benji tells the story of the titular dog, an orphaned puppy who meets two children who quickly fall into danger. When the kids are kidnapped, it’s up to Benji and his scruffy sidekick dog to save the day. Benji doesn’t do anything new to the basic formula of dog movies, but it is a solid entry for a family night in as opposed to traveling to the movie theater. Plus, as a Netflix Original, it’ll never leave Netflix. Benji is perfect for anyone in the family.
Based on the novella first published in France 1943, The Little Prince is a 3D animated film that uses modern technology and stop-motion animation to recreate the story of the classic bedtime story. When a young girl is forced into a life based on schedules and routines created by her overbearing Mother, she’s thrilled to meet her elderly next-door neighbor, a retired Aviator. The Aviator will tell the Girl the story of the Little Prince, a young boy who lives in space on an asteroid. Critically-acclaimed for its animation style, The Little Prince manages to recreate the world of the original novella in a modern fashion without losing what made the book so amazing to begin with. And since it’s a Netflix Original, you’ll never have to worry about the film being taken off the service.
One of the newest original films from Netflix, The Christmas Chronicles follows two siblings on Christmas Eve. When their single mother leaves them home alone for the night, Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus to prove his existence using a camera. When they manage to capture footage of his sleigh, the two try to land in his sleigh, only to meet the man himself (played by Kurt Russell). The film is a wild adventure through Chicago as the trio attempts to save Christmas, and while we won’t argue the film is high art in any way, Kurt Russell’s performance makes this all the more merrier. Definitely check this one out.
Considered the final film released during the 1990s Disney Renaissance (which, in our opinion, does a disservice to two of the best Disney animated films, Lilo and Stitch and The Emperor’s New Groove, but we digress), Tarzan is perhaps best known for its Phil Collins soundtrack and the excellent adaptation of the original source material, which uses both traditional animation and CGI backdrops to make a unique-looking film, complete with everything you would want in an adaptation. The film follows Tarzan, an orphaned child in the jungle who is raised by a group of gorillas, along with his surrogate mother Kara. Now an adult, Tarzan must protect his clan from the arrival of a group of English explorers, led by the hunter Clayton, who accompanies the Porters, Jane and her father Archimedes. Torn between his newfound love for Jane and his family of gorillas, Tarzan must find his place in this world.
Most people think of Tangled or Wreck-It Ralph as the movies that helped bring Disney back to a golden age of animation, creating classics that hold up today instead of films like Chicken Little or Home on the Range. Unfortunately, 2008’s Bolt seems to have passed many people by, despite critical praise and being held up as one of Disney’s best of the 2000s. In Bolt, a puppy named Bolt is adopted by a young girl named Penny, who eventually becomes a star in a hit television series starring both her and Bolt. Bolt was raised to believe everything is real, including his superpowers and his crime-fighting abilities, which causes him to panic following the filming of an episode which ends with Penny kidnapped. After accidentally shipping himself to New York while chasing after Penny, Bolt must find a way to Penny with the help of some new friends.
Netflix’s first fully-original animated feature film takes viewers on a journey to the futuristic city of Grainland and follows Mai Su, who lives an ideal life with her parents prior to a divorce and her father leaving her family. Mai’s mother Molly gets through the divorce by buying advanced robots known primarily as Q-Bots, but these robots take up Molly’s time and leaves Mai alone with her thoughts. As she abandons the idea of robots, she finds herself ostracized from society, where robots are quickly replacing everything from the education system to law enforcement. Now a teenager, Mai finds herself in trouble when a rare robot known as 7723 (the voice of John Krasinski) escapes from its captivity and must be watched by Mai’s care. With Marvel-like action and a stellar voice cast, Netflix’s first animated original is a rare treat.
From the director of 2007’s Surf’s Up comes Duck Duck Goose, a Netflix original animated film co-produced between the United States and China. The film follows Peng (Jim Gaffigan), a Chinese goose whose flock is in the middle of migration. Unfortunately for Peng, he’s unliked by his flock and is abandoned while asleep, left alone in the wilderness. When Peng runs into a duo of ducklings separated from their mother, the three begin their trek to rediscover their place in the world, with only the others to rely on. The film also features the voice talent of Zendaya, Greg Proops, Stephen Fry, Carl Reiner, and Reggie Watts. Originally slated for release in theaters, the film’s status as a Netflix original means you can stream it whenever you want.
From the director of The Nut Job comes this brand-new Netflix original animated film, Gnome Alone. Based around a war between Gnomes and Troggs, wacky creatures who live underground and are determined to eat the Earth, the film follows pre-teen Chloe (Becky G), who moves into a new house that is filled with garden gnomes that come to life to fight the Troggs. Though Chloe and her new nerdy friend Liam seem destined to take up arms between the two sides, Chloe is forced between her new life of fighting against the Earth’s enemies or becoming a popular middle school student—a choice that is harder than it seems.
Fans of the first Incredibles film waited fourteen years for the sequel to premiere, and though some found disappointment in it, the general reaction to the film was pretty strong. The sequel picks up right where the first film ended, with the Parr family in the parking lot of their son’s track meet, ready to battle the Underminer. After a fight leaves the city in ruins, the family finds themselves without a home and without many options—that is, until Helen gets a new job. While she moonlights as a hero in a brand-new city, Bob is left at home with Violet and Dash, taking care of the kids and out of the spotlight. When a new villain appears on screen, promising to take control of the heroes to turn them into villains, the family has to work together with Frozone and a league of new heroes to stop Screenslaver and save the day.
In this adaptation of the original Pokemon pilot, the film follows Ash Ketchum, a young boy who celebrates his birthday by becoming a Pokemon trainer. After accidentally sleeping in too late, he arrives at Professor Oak’s lab to learn all three Pokemon he could’ve had—Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charizard—have been taken by other trainers. Despite the disappointment, Ash meets his first Pokemon, an Electric-type named Pikachu, who becomes fast friends with Ash as they travel the world. Fans of the original anime will want to check out this retelling of the series, which takes some twists and turns and features all-new characters to replace Brock and Misty.
Some may be turned off by the Hotel Transylvania series, a film trilogy that seemed tired from the get-go, largely thanks to an apathetic view on Adam Sandler’s films in the 2010s. While that may be fair, the director of all three Hotel films will be a name recognized by any fan of animation: Genndy Tartakovsky. Known for his shows on Cartoon Network like Dexter’s Laboratory, Star Wars: Clone Wars (the original 2D version), and Samurai Jack, the three Hotel films represent Tartakovsky’s film output of the last decade, and still manage to feature his love for 2D animation techniques, despite appearing as 3D CGI. In the third film, the group from the hotel decide to head out on a vacation, only to find themselves in trouble when Drac falls for the mysterious captain of the ship.
The winner of the Best Animated Feature at the 2019 Oscars, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is an absolute knock-out on both a technical level and a storytelling one. The film is set outside the traditional Marvel Universe, telling the story of Miles Morales, a teenager who is granted spider powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider. After Morales’ universe’s own Peter Parker gets taken out in a battle, Miles will have to team up with Peter B. Parker, a Spider-Man from an alternate reality, along with Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir, and Peni Parker and SP//dr to take down Kingpin as he attempts to use a supercollider to cross through reality. The film is funny, heartwarming, and feels fresher than most thought a new Spider-Man movie could be. Meanwhile, the visual style and animated makes Spiderverse one of the prettiest CGI films ever made.
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnson (The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger) and written by Ashleigh Powell and Tom McCarthy (Spotlight, Win Win), Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an updated take on the classic ballet. The film follows a young girl named Clara, the holder of a box containing a priceless gift. Unfortunately, Clara lacks the magic key to unlock the box, until she follows a golden thread appears to lead her to her goal. When the thread disappears into a mysterious world, she meets a nutcracker, a group of mice, and regents who preside over three magical realms. Clara and Phillip, the nutcracker and a soldier, enter a fourth realm to retrieve the key and restore harmony to all four realms.
In the hit sequel to 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, Ralph and Vanellope return to set out on a brand-new adventure. Though Ralph has been having a great time since the events of the last film, things have gotten a bit stale for Vanellope. When the arcade Ralph and his friends find themselves living in gains access to a router, the pair of friends travel from the surge protector to the World Wide Web, making for a journey through memes, YouTube videos, and the world of Disney. A film about staying friends even when you’re becoming new people Ralph Breaks the Internet is funnier and more charming than its early trailers might have led you to believe.
One of two television specials originally produced for Nickelodeon before being picked up by Netflix, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is a continuation of the original cult classic animated show, set years after the cancellation of Invader Zim. When Zim and GIR appear on their lawn years after their disappearance, Dib Membrane—Zim’s archnemisis in the original series—confronts them head on. Dib, now having become obese and physically unfit to oppose Zim, is informed that this was all part of Zim’s plan to get to Phase 2 of invading Earth. Unfortunately, Zim has completely forgotten what Phase 2 of his plan is supposed to be, and once he comes up with a new plan, The Tallest wants no part of it. Having irritated The Tallest by summoning the Irken Armada, Zim puts himself and all of Earth in danger. Those listening to some of the smaller roles in the film may notice Rick and Morty‘s Justin Roiland, alongside the show’s original cast.
Like Enter the Florpus, Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling is a continuation and sequel to the original series from the 1990s. Critically-acclaimed on its release, Static Cling picks up 23 years after the original series, with Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt being sprung back into society after spending time in space. Now in a late-2010s era O-Town, the three friends find themselves surrounded by modern amenities like smartphones, energy drinks, food trucks, and coffee shops. While Heffer and Filburt enjoy the 21st century, Rocko would rather spend his time trying to get his favorite TV show, The Fatheads, back on the air, as it remains the last remnant of his past. To do so, he goes on a quest to find Ralph Bighead, the show’s original creator.
The first of three theatrical films based on one of the most-popular Nicktoons of all time, The Rugrats Movie is perhaps best remembered for introducing Dil Pickles to the show, the baby brother to Tommy Pickles. After the birth of Dil (short for Dylan), Tommy and the other babies quickly grow tired of his constant crying and need for non-stop attention, leading to a major fight between Tommy and baby Dil. Despite Tommy’s disapproval, the other babies decide to take Dil back to the hospital using a Reptar Wagon to journey out of the house. Crashed in the woods outside town, the babies must find Dil and return home. Though not as well-received as the sequel, Rugrats in Paris, The Rugrats Movie is notable for being the first Nickelodeon movie based on a Nicktoon, which later led to films like The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and its sequel, and The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
When you’ve finished Rugrats: The Movie, you’ll want to check out its sequel, Rugrats in Paris. By far the best in the trilogy of Rugrats films, Rugrats in Paris changes the focus from Tommy Pickles to his best friend Chucky as the entire crew heads to a vacation in Paris. When Stu and Chaz are sent to Euro-Reptarland to fix animatronic dinosaurs they had built for the park, the babies find themselves in over their head as they face off against Reptarland manager Coco La Bouche. Meanwhile, Chucky’s dad Chaz finds himself the target of Coco’s love, and the group—plus new addition Kimi Watanabe—do their best to stop Coco from becoming Chucky’s mom.
Loosely based on the children’s novel of the same name, Stuart Little is a 1999 family comedy with an insane cast and crew. Directed by first-time live-action director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King, The Forbidden Kingdom) from a script written by, get this: M. Night Shyamalan and Greg Brooker, along with a starring cast of Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire), and of course, the voice of Michael J. Fox. When the Littles go to an orphanage to adopt a new family member, a charming young mouse named Stuart is chosen. While George is initially unwelcoming to his new brother, the family cat, Snowbell, is even less enthusiastic about having a mouse as his “master” and plots to get rid of him. Against these difficulties, Stuart resolves to face them with as much pluck, love and courage as he can muster. In doing so, he shows his beloved new family that great things can truly come in small packages.
Prehistoric family the Croods live in a particularly dangerous moment in time. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), his mate, Ugga (Catherine Keener), teenage daughter Eep (Emma Stone), son Thunk (Clark Duke) and feisty Gran (Cloris Leachman) gather food by day and huddle together in a cave at night. When a more evolved caveman named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) arrives on the scene, Grug is distrustful, but it soon becomes apparent that Guy is correct about the impending destruction of their world. The Croods led to a spin-off television series on Netflix, Dawn of the Croods, and a sequel is due out in December 2020.
What would have been a forgotten kids movie of the 2000s has seen a bump in popularity over the last two years thanks to a resoundingly-popular meme, one surely embraced by Netflix when they gained the rights to stream Bee Movie. Produced, written, and starring Jerry Seinfeld, Bee Movie is, for what it’s worth, a deeply odd film, avoiding the traditional trappings of a three-act structure made for children and detailing what happens when Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) introduces himself to the human population and sues to stop the world from consuming and selling their honey. Strange plot details aside (including moments where both Sting and Goodfellas star Ray Liotta portray animated versions of themselves on trial), the film is pretty standard fare from Dreamworks, but it’s worth watching just to see how weird 2000s animation could be.
Did you know Steven Spielberg directed an animated feature produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and written by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver)? He did, and it’s even an adaptation of the classic French-European comic series, The Adventures of Tintin. In the film of the same name, we find our boy journalist hero Tintin (Jamie Bell, Billy Elliot) purchasing a miniature ship called the Unicorn, which, unbeknownst to him, contains a parchment scroll that hides the location of sunken treasure. Along with his dog Snowy and the drunken Captain Haddock, Tintin must outrun the criminals after him and the treasure. The film is notable for its motion-capture effects and adopting the style from the comics, giving it a unique look and feel, and for its all-star cast, including Andy Serkis as Haddock, Daniel Craig as Sakharine, and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as the bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson.
Directed by acclaimed visionary filmmaker Tim Burton and featuring Johnny Depp as the legendary chocolate maker Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 2005 adaptation of the classic children’s book of the same name. Instead of working from the 1971 musical film that, while well-regarded, did change multiple aspects of the novel for the sake of the songs throughout the film, Charlie is more accurate to the book that the older title, while also making room to add an origin story for Mr. Wonka. The film was a massive box office success, and led to Tim Burton’s later adaptations of other classic fantasy literature, including Alice in Wonderland.
Did you know Steven Spielberg directed an animated feature produced by Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and written by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Baby Driver)? He did, and its even an adaptation of the classic French-European comic series, The Adventures of Tintin. In the film of the same name, we find our boy journalist hero Tintin (Jamie Bell, Billy Elliot) purchasing a miniature ship called the Unicorn, which, unbeknownst to him, contains a parchment scroll that hides the location of sunken treasure. Along with his dog Snowy and the drunken Captain Haddock, Tintin must outrun the criminals after him and the treasure. The film is notable for its motion-capture effects and adopting the style from the comics, giving it a unique look and feel, and for its all-star cast, including Andy Serkis as Haddock, Daniel Craig as Sakharine, and Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as the bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson.
Orphaned and alone except for an uncle, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. Hugo’s job is to oil and maintain the station’s clocks, but to him, his more important task is to protect a broken automaton and notebook left to him by his late father (Jude Law). Accompanied by the goddaughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) of an embittered toy merchant (Ben Kingsley), Hugo embarks on a quest to solve the mystery of the automaton and find a place he can call home. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese, Hugo is an exploration of the magic of movies, and a heartwarming adventure tale the whole family will love.
Plenty of people remember Space Jam, the first theatrically-released Looney Tunes film, either through nostalgia goggles or ironically. The film was a box office success but was panned by critics upon release. Fewer people remember the follow-up to that film, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but that’s unfortunate—it’s undoubtedly the better of the two films. Directed by Joe Dante, one of Hollywood’s most inventive and underrated directors (Gremlins and Gremlins 2, The ‘Burbs, Small Soldiers), Looney Tunes: Back in Action is far more in tone with the original cartoons. While the plot is convoluted and a bit of a mess, the entire experience of watching the film is reminiscent of watching those classic shorts. With plenty of gags, silly jokes, and moments designed purely for laughter, the film—which also stars Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman as the human leads—is worth revisiting.
Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck, American Vandal) has an epic imagination and a slight problem with authority, and these things collide when he transfers to a middle school where students are expected to follow the rules. This doesn’t sit well with Rafe. With help from his new friend Leo (Thomas Barbusca), the mischievous lad concocts schemes to drive his tyrannical principal (Andy Daly, Review) crazy while also using his charm and wits to impress a girl (Isabela Moner) and battle the bullies. The film is based on the novel of the same name by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts, and also features Rob Riggle and Lauren Graham in supporting roles.