30 Best Kids Movies on Netflix – Winter 2019
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 winter 2019.
When the Hendersons, who are vacationing in the Pacific Northwest, accidentally run over a strange Bigfoot-type animal, they mistake him for a bear and take him home to be stuffed. When they realize what the creature really is, they decide to adopt Harry as a pet. In order to protect Harry from the authorities who hunt him, they must keep him a secret. This 1987 fantasy comedy stars John Lithgow as the patriarch of the Hendersons, and won an Academy Award for Best Makeup. This sweet story of a lovable Bigfoot is perfect for audiences of all ages.
Another live-action remake of a classic animated feature, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast earned a mixed critical reception when it premiered in 2017, but became an audience favorite and a box office giant, earning over one billion dollars worldwide. The film is an adaptation of the 1991 Disney animated original, and largely plays out following the same story. Emma Watson plays Belle, the titular Beauty who trades places with her father after he is taken captive by a castle-dwelling Beast (Dan Stevens, Legion) for stealing a rose. While held at his castle, Belle begins to see the humanity in Beast—and just in time too, because he’s at risk of losing out on being turned back into a human. It’s a bit scarier than the animated version, but most viewers should be comfortable watching the tale as old as time brought into live-action.
Before Moana, there was Lilo and Stitch, Disney’s other 2000s animated tale set in the Oceanic region. The sci-fi comedy follows Lilo, a young girl who lives with her older sister following the passing of her parents. Lilo’s sister agrees for her to adopt a dog, but instead, she ends up with an escaped alien creation, codenamed Experiment 626, who crash-landed on the planet after escaping from its captors. Under Lilo’s tutelage, Stitch must learn how to behave like a polite being on Earth, in order to escape both the watch of the government and the aliens who have come to get him back. Lilo and Stitch led to three direct-to-DVD sequels, a full series on Disney Channel, and plenty of merchandise still available today. The movie feels slight for how much it eventually led to, but it’s also the best of the entire media franchise.
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.
Mulan was released towards the end of the “Disney Renaissance” of the 1990s, but it’s very much a part of that lineup of films. Telling the story of Mulan (Ming-Na Wen; singing voice provided by Lea Salonga), the film begins with the Huns, led by Shan Yu, invade Han China by breaching the Great Wall, causing a mobilization from the Emperor of China. Fa Mulan, hearing that her elderly father will be forced to go to war once more, disguises herself as a man in her father’s armor in order to enlist in his place. Meanwhile, a small dragon named Mushu (Eddie Murphy) is sent to awaken the Stone Dragon to protect Mulan, accidentally destroying it in the process. He teams up with Mulan to protect her himself as she begins her training to battle Shan Yu’s army. With a live-action adaptation on its way for 2019, now’s a perfect time to catch up on the original.
A remake of the original 1920s-1940s short films, The Little Rascals updates the comic premise for the modern day (or at least the 1990s) in this hit comedy. Though the film earned negative reviews upon its release in 1994, the adventures of Spanky, Alfalfa, Stymie, Froggie, Porky, Buckwheat, and of course Darla are chronicled here as the gang gets into trouble throughout the neighborhood while trying to help Alfalfa win back the heard of Darla after she leaves him for the new rich kid on the block, Waldo. The film has some potty humor in it, and it’s probably not something the adults in the room will want to watch more than once, but it’s a solid Saturday-afternoon film to relax with while hanging out with your kids. Plus, at 83 minutes, it’s pretty short.
Disney might be riding high on the success of their current lineup of live-action adaptations, but they started making money on them way back in 1996 with the live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians, based on the ’60s cartoon of the same name. The film stars Glenn Close as Cruella De Vil, a dastardly social magnate who is obsessed with fashion. When she chances upon a litter of dalmatian puppies, she realizes their skins will be perfect for her new coat. When she sends two goons to steal the pups (played by Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams, the latter best known for portraying Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter), it’s up to Pongo and Perdy, the parents of the dalmatian pups, to stage a daring rescue, accompanied by their owners. Close was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of De Vil.
Meet the Robinsons isn’t exactly Disney at its peak of brilliance, but it is considered something of an underrated gem by fans of the animation company. The film was the second CGI creation from the company, released after Chicken Little (which is on Netflix, but frankly, not worth watching), and the first film released after John Lassetter took over animation control for the entire company following the purchase of Pixar. Following the adventures of Lewis, a 12 year old genius inventor, who meets Wilbur Robinson, a 13 year old boy who brings him to the future. The film is a blast of comic hilarity, even if the story doesn’t hold a candle to the original book, and it’s well worth a watch for animation nerds and families alike.
Pixar’s had something of a rough stretch for the last few years. Although the company’s streak of film’s between 1995 and 2010 are largely indisputable as incredible (with the single exception of Cars and, arguably, parts of Up), the production company’s films between 2011 and 2018 have been mixed. Some have held up well, including 2015’s Inside Out, and plenty of them (Monsters U, Finding Dory, Brave) have been warmly received, but others like The Good Dinosaur were largely ignored or met with a shrug. Coco is closer to Inside Out in this regard, a warm hit that has a slow first act but picks up in the halfway point of the movie, coming around in the third act to hit you with the Pixar-signature emotional punch. It’s a great film, and if you’re looking for something new to watch on Netflix with the entire family and missed this one in theaters, it’s a perfect time to revisit it.
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.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, Coraline is the first feature film produced by Laika Studios, a stop-motion animation studio that has created some incredible work over the past decade. Coraline tells the story of Coraline Jones, an adventurous 11-year-old who is uprooted from her home to move to a new one she doesn’t much care for. While looking for something to do in her new area, she goes exploring and discovers a secret door in her new house—one that leads to a parallel world, where her parents have time for her and listen to her needs. While this idealized world feels too perfect to be true, the truth is far more sinister: the world is hiding a dark secret. The film was directed by Henry Selick, best known to animation fans as the man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.
In this sequel to the 2002 children’s horror film, the gang at Mystery Inc. return to once again work to solve a case that seems to have supernatural elements. When monsters invade their town, the group begins working to try to crack the case, all while television journalist Heather Jasper-Howe tries to discredit their investigations as fake and phony. The whole crew returns in this sequel, including Scooby-Doo, Shaggy (Matthew Lillard), Velma (Linda Cardellini), Fred (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Daphne (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as they work to discover why the monsters they’ve previously stopped have been returning to the town.
Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Academy Awards, The Boss Baby caught a lot of flack online for its high-concept story. The second most-recent release from Dreamworks Animation after the previously-mentioned Captain Underpants, The Boss Baby follows a 7 year old boy named Tim, who is surprised when a baby in a suit and tie show up at his house one day and his parent announce him as his baby brother. Tim is surprised to learn his brother, now named Theodore, can talk (and sounds like Alec Baldwin). When Theodore begins to plot and scheme, Tim learns that he has ulterior motives for joining the family, which includes fueling a battle for attention from adults between babies and adults.
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.
A 2007 adaptation of the classic children’s novel of the same name, Bridge to Terabithia tells the story of Jesse “Jess” Aarons (Josh Hutcherson, in a pre-Hunger Games role), a 12-year-old boy who attends a local school where he’s routinely bullied by Janice Avery, Scott Hoager, and Gary Fulcher. One day, he meets Leslie Burke, a new student in his class who manages to beat Jess in a running contest, much to his frustration. Jess learns Leslie isn’t just a new classmate, but a new neighbor as well. Together they become fast friends, exploring the woods behind their houses and finding a creek, an abandoned tree house, and an entire world created out of their own imaginations. Together, as they explore Terabithia, they’ll deal with school, family problems, and more as they learn to bond together as their own makeshift family. Bridge to Terabithia is a faithful adaptation and, at times, a difficult watch, but it’s worthy of viewing.
Prepare to run through an intense cycle of emotions in this comedy about a cop (Tom Hanks) who has to work with a new partner: a drooling Mastiff. Turner & Hooch is one of the greatest dog movies of all time, and that’s saying a lot. The dog, Hooch, witnesses a murder and subsequently helps his new owner to catch them, while Turner strikes up a relationship with a veterinarian played by Mare Winningham. The adventures of Turner and Hooch are ideal for anyone who can handle a bit of violence along the way.
This month saw the removal of more than two dozen Disney Channel original movies from Netflix, but it also saw the arrival of one of the best Disney Channel sequels ever created. Unlike the previous two films, High School Musical 3: Senior Year was released into theaters, marking the first time that a sequel to a Disney Channel movie made the jump to a feature film. As implied by the sequel, the film follows Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Sharpay, and Ryan as they start their senior year at East High. With college and other career prospects facing them down the barrel, the six high school seniors will have to learn how to prepare for the real world outside of high school, while simultaneously participating in the final basketball season and the group’s final musical on stage. While the film won’t win over new viewers, it’s easily the most fun you can have watching a musical on Netflix today.
Based on the comics and novels of the same name, Captain Underpants follows the adventures of George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two elementary school students who enjoy pulling pranks at their school and creating comics in their spare time. When the boys are threatened with separation, George manages to hypnotize their mean principal, Mr. Krupp, into believing he’s the superhero in their stories, Captain Underpants. With an all-star cast including Thomas Middleditch and Kevin Hart as the two heroes and Ed Helms as Mr. Krupp, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie uses the series art style to make an exceptionally well-done family cartoon.
To be honest, the animation in 2005’s Hoodwinked hasn’t aged well. Unlike most of the films on this list, Hoodwinked was self-funded and independently animated, made on a budget of less than $8 million. Still, the film managed to receive strong reviews outside of the animation quality, and both its script and the film’s voice actors have all received praised. The film reimagines the story of Red Riding Hood as a police investigation story, using flashbacks and clues to tell the story from multiple points of view. The film begins when Red (Anne Hathaway) has discovered that the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) has disguised himself as her grandmother, only for Granny (Glenn Close), to jump out of the closet just as the Woodsman (Jim Belushi) bursts through the window. As police investigate the situation, they learnt that not all is as it seems.
The fourth narrative-based film from acclaimed director Ava DuVernay (Selma) promised to be a major milestone in film for multiple reasons. With the filming of A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay became the first African American woman to direct a film with a budget totalling nine figures, and the first African American director of a film to make more than $100 million at the box office. Despite these historical precedents, A Wrinkle in Time is no perfect film. Though it’s visually stunning, the novel is a difficult work to adapt to the big screen. While we enjoyed it, it’s definitely something to keep an open mind on before diving into such a divisive film.
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.
Most people probably didn’t see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs becoming a critical darling, in addition to its massive box office success, but that’s exactly what happened when the film was released in 2009. Loosely based on the children’s book of the same name, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs follows Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader), a failed inventor who thinks he has the answer to the town’s crisis. He builds a machine that converts water into food, and becomes a local hero when tasty treats fall from the sky like rain. But when the machine spins out of control and threatens to bury the whole world under giant mounds of food, Flint finds he may have bitten off more than he can chew. The film was directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, creators of the cult hit Clone High, who later went on to direct critically-acclaimed films like The Lego Movie and both 21 and 22 Jump Street.
In this live-action/CGI adaptation of the classic children’s character, Peter Rabbit follows the titular character (James Corden), alongside his three sisters Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-Tail, who spend their days in Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. However, when one of McGregor’s relatives (Domhnall Gleeson) moves into Mr. McGregor’s house without warning, the rabbits are suddenly under attack from McGregor’s great-nephew, who doesn’t like finding a group of rabbits living in the garden out back. A battle of wills soon breaks out as the new owner hatches scheme after scheme to get rid of Peter — a resourceful rabbit who proves to be a worthy and wily opponent.