75 Best Family Movies You Can Watch Right Now

75 Best Family Movies You Can Watch Right Now

May 14, 2024

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Whether you’re looking for a movie to entertain the kids, a movie the whole family can enjoy, or even just a movie about that beautifully complex familial bond, we’ve got you covered. We combed through everything from classic animated films to heartwarming comedies to gut-wrenching dramas and compiled the very best of these you can stream right now. So gather everyone, pop some corn, and settle in for a night of the best family movies.

 

61. The Velveteen Rabbit (2023)

7.5

Country

United Kingdom

Director

Female director, Jennifer Perrott

Actors

Alex Lawther, Bethany Antonia, Clive Rowe, Helena Bonham Carter

Moods

Emotional, Lovely, Sweet

A beloved children’s story gets its umpteenth adaptation here, this time from the screenwriter of 2018’s Watership Down — who proves that it’s a story worth retelling. This version of The Velveteen Rabbit is mostly faithful to Margery Williams’ original 1920s-set tale, but it does pad the plot out with a backstory of sorts about the shy little boy at its center. We’re introduced to William on the last day he spends at his school before moving to another town; the filmmaking gently plays on memories of the scariness of that first-ever goodbye, starting us off on a tender melancholy note that sets the tone for the rest of the 45-minute-long seasonal special.

For his first Christmas in the family’s new house, William is given a cuddly toy bunny in which he finds the comfort and company he misses so acutely. If you had a beloved plaything as a child, chances are you wished they’d come alive with all the might that little you could conjure up — nostalgia that this adaptation taps right into when the rabbit comes to life via mixed animated styles. The sincere emotion of the duo’s commitment to each other — involving sickness and self-sacrifice — is thus difficult to resist, no matter how grown up you are.

62. Merry Little Batman (2023)

7.5

Country

United States of America

Director

Mike Roth

Actors

Brian George, Bumper Robinson, Chris Sullivan, Courtenay Taylor

Moods

Action-packed, Easy, Funny

While it might not be the most inspired story featuring the titular caped crusader—nor is it a particularly Christmas-y tale—Merry Little Batman still stands out just for how bright and warm its versions of these characters are. In this Gotham, crime is literally pushed aside for once, and that odd sense of holiday isolation takes over for the heroes and villains of the city. It’s all pretty silly when you give it more thought, but the film wholeheartedly embraces its tone, resulting in a Home Alone-esque adventure that moves briskly and is loaded with great visual gags and throwaways zingers. It could stand to have a more substantial emotional center, but for what it is, this is consistently entertaining holiday viewing for all ages.

63. John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch (2019)

7.5

Country

d, United States of America

Director

Rhys Thomas

Actors

Alexander Bello, Annaleigh Ashford, Ava Briglia, Camille De La Cruz

Moods

Dark, Funny, Smart

John Mulaney’s comedy special has candid interview segments, gallows humor on a children’s show, oddly specific musical numbers, and other variety show tropes. It having a children’s cast is largely why its snarky, uneasy tone works, and the topics that make it so are why you might watch it again. The cute absurdity of it all, as well as brief moments of introspection that can catch you off guard, are why you might even watch this with (older) kids—just don’t expect them to sit through the whole thing. It’s a comedy special for kids, by adults, so by design it’ll always be a bit off.

64. The Secret Garden (1993)

7.4

Country

UK, United Kingdom, United States of America

Director

Agnieszka Holland, Female director

Actors

Andrea Pickering, Andrew Knott, Arthur Spreckley, Colin Bruce

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Heart-warming

Even if it seems like nothing really “happens” for much of The Secret Garden, its characters paint quite the moving picture of neglected children and their indomitable capacity to find hope in the world. Director Agnieszka Holland tells this story with just the right amount of whimsy: at times it’s spooky and magical, but everything is grounded in the charming performances of the film’s young actors, who are allowed to be difficult, smart, and sorrowful whenever they need to be. It may be old-fashioned, but watching it in this new decade—when we’re all trying to guard our kids from sickness and death—makes it feel all the more relevant.

65. Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical (2022)

7.4

Country

United Kingdom

Director

Matthew Warchus

Actors

Alisha Weir, Amanda Lawrence, Andrea Riseborough, Ann Firbank

Moods

Easy, Emotional, Funny

It’s very likely you already know about the fictional character Matilda, a clever but neglected child who discovers she has telekinesis and uses it for good. You may have even grown up watching the 1996 film multiple times, as I have, and secretly tried to move a random object with your mind to see if you somehow shared Matilda’s powers…as I have.

If so, I can assure you that you’ll enjoy the latest Matilda adaptation, aptly called Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical on Netflix. It’s pure energy, all bright colors and high-pitched emotions, but not overwhelmingly so. It is also funny and tender, and the techniques it uses to transition and transpose are eye-poppingly inventive. It stars Emma Thompson, once again prosthetic-ed to perfection; Lashana Lynch, a grounding and heartwarming presence; and Alisha Weir, a revelation of a child actor.

66. Friday Night Plan (2023)

7.4

Country

India

Director

Vatsal Neelakantan

Actors

Aadhya Anand, Amrith Jayan, Babil Khan, Juhi Chawla

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Lighthearted

Friday Night Plan resembles many a classic teen film (most notably, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Booksmart), but it also doubles as a thoughtful inquiry into the delicate bond between siblings who could not be more different from one another. Sid and his younger brother Adi (Amrith Jayan) have different ideas of what matters most in life, ideas that get tested when their mother’s car gets towed away during their night of fun. Sid thinks it’s only right to come clean and retrieve the car no matter what, but Adi believes this can all wait until tomorrow morning: tonight is Sid’s night to celebrate and finally connect with peers he’s shut off all his life. This tension comes as a surprise in what otherwise looks like an ordinary teen movie, but it’s also a welcome addition that helps Friday Night Plan stand out from the rest. 

67. Togo (2019)

7.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Ericson Core

Actors

Adrien Dorval, Brandon Oakes, Catherine McGregor, Christopher Heyerdahl

Moods

Emotional, Gripping, Inspiring

Togo may be set in a cold Alaskan town, but the story it tells is nothing short of heartwarming. It follows a pup who starts out as an unwanted underdog but who quickly becomes a beloved leader thanks to his tenacity, pluck, and undeniable charm. Watching Togo onscreen, whether as a puppy escaping his cage or as a senior leaping through sea ice, is a marvelous sight to behold, not least because of the sans-CGI direction.  

And like many a dog tale, Togo is a sure tearjerker, but unlike most of them, this specific story never feels exploitative. Togo is given a proper backstory and sufficient characterization, a refreshing focus that makes every emotional curveball well-earned. Watch this and you’ll never take a day with your pet for granted again.

68. Orion and the Dark (2024)

7.3

Country

United States of America

Director

Sean Charmatz

Actors

Aliki Theofilopoulos, Amy Hill, Angela Bassett, Aparna Nancherla

Moods

Character-driven, Funny, Heart-warming

Going to sleep is something we do every day, though, when we were kids, it certainly wasn’t easy. With family-friendly source material and a new (and adorable!) sleepytime ensemble, Orion and the Dark plays with this fact of childhood, but screenwriter Charlie Kaufman transforms it into something more as the title characters journey into literal midnight dreams, tell stories-within-stories, and return back home with a poetic repetition. It still has some of his existential despair– after all, the overly imaginative Orion literally contemplates the possibility of death through his many, many anxieties– but it doesn’t just play with the classic childhood fear. Kaufman transforms the bedtime story, and the act of storytelling itself, as co-creation and connection between generations of filmmakers and viewers, with this film’s surprisingly layered writing.

69. My Extraordinary Summer with Tess (2019)

7.2

Country

Germany, Netherlands

Director

Steven Wouterlood

Actors

Guido Pollemans, Hans Dagelet, Jennifer Hoffman, Johannes Kienast

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Funny

This Dutch movie is a wonderful family story about a young boy who meets a peculiar girl while on vacation. He helps her find out more about her father who she has never met.

In its essence, this story is an uplifting coming-of-age story, not only because it was based on a young adult novel by Dutch writer Anna Woltz, but also because of a Moonrise-Kingdom-like staging. But like all great movies of its kind, it carries an emotional twist that packs enough depth even for not the not so young adult. 

70. Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022)

7.2

Country

Netherlands, United States, United States of America

Director

Richard Linklater

Actors

Bill Wise, Brent A. Riggs, Brian Villalobos, Buzz Aldrin

Moods

Easy, Feel-Good, Slice-of-Life

Narrated by the familiar voice of Jack Black, Apollo 10 ½ is a throwback story told with admirable specificity and imagination. Black plays a grown-up Stan, who looks back on his younger years with a mix of fondness and wonder: how did they get away with the things they did then? American suburbia in the 1960s was both loose and conservative, caught between a generation holding on to the reins of the earlier century and one eager to launch into the next. 

Stan, as the youngest child of a big, rowdy family, gives us a charming look into the times, as well as a projection of his own fascination: Apollo 11 and the space age. He inserts himself in this monumental narrative and generously brings us along in his fantasy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Stan’s recruitment by NASA is actually fact or fiction, but that’s part of the fun, especially since Stan himself doesn’t seem to mind at all.

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