Ideas for great family films to see on Netflix

PUBLISHED: 14:51 08 April 2020

Dustin Hoffman in Hook

Dustin Hoffman in Hook


Top choices for family films on Netflix

AIDAN MONKS recommends 20 more great family films on Netflix

The Neverending Story (1984) U

Dir. Wolfgang Petersen

Wondrous escapism into the realm of fantasy through the eyes of a troubled young boy, as he is absorbed by the power of fiction. From the director who created Das Boot.

Klaus (2019) PG

Dir. Sergio

Pablos, Carlos Martínez López

Recently nominated for Best Animated Feature, and incorporating the voice acting talent of Jason Schwartzman and J.K. Simmons, Klaus is a stunning and intriguing commentary on the importance of kindness and good will.

Nativity! (2009) U

Dir. Debbie Isitt

Perhaps more of a guilty pleasure, what makes Nativity! so appealing is both the energy in the adult performances, from Martin Freeman and an eccentric Marc Wootton. Plus the innocence of the child actors and the way they play off of one another. The result is pure family fun.

Shrek (2001) U

Dir. Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jensen

Biting satire of the fairytale concept. Mike Myers brandishes an iconic Scottish accent as the loveable ogre who rescues the princess from the fire-breathing dragon that guards her. Dreamworks Animation masterpiece.

Shrek 2 (2004) U

Dir. Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon

The jokes are funnier,the stakes are higher, the action is better. Is this sequel even greater than the first? You make your own decision. Jennifer Saunders, Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy star alongside Myers.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) U

Dir. Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

One of Dreamworks’ most beautifully animated movies, with all the characteristics of a Disney classic, and an underappreciated and majestic score from Hans Zimmer. Matt Damon and James Cromwell star.

Rango (2011) PG

Dir. Gore Verbinski

From the director of Pirates of the Caribbean, Verbinski presents a film that revels in its own energy and exaggeration, with as funny a protagonist as you will find in any animation. Johnny Depp is his usual entertaining self, even if it’s only through the use of his vocals. Winner of the 2012 Best Animated Feature Academy Award.

Missing Link (2019) PG

Dir. Chris Butler

Nominated for the 2020 Best Animated Feature, Missing Link provides a satisfying 90 minute expierience featuring incredible sensitivity and understanding of its mature themes of longing and vulnerability, yet also retaining a sense of childlike fun with a loveable group of protagonists.

Matilda (1996) PG

Dir. Danny DeVito

From the magnificent, other-worldly children’s book by Roald Dahl, Danny DeVito presents Matilda in a delightfully enjoyable way, with all the innocent fun and wonderment, as well as the harrowing twisted bleakness, that it requires to do justice to the great novel.

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Annie (1982) U

Dir. John Huston

There is a certain charm and optimism to the original production of Annie that has subsequently proven it as timeless an experience as any musical of its era. The musical numbers do it more justice than the actual filmmaking as such, but it is nonetheless still as resplendent afilm as ever. From the great director who brought us The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of Sierra Madre.

The Studio Ghibli Collection

This year, many films from the Japanese animation production company, Studio Ghibli, have been distributed on Netflix. The titles that appear currently include Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Tortoro and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. More of these incredible, enriching films will be added in the coming months.

Monster House (2006) PG

Dir. Gil Kenan

The engaging characters do so much for this movie. We witness a remarkably creepy story from the perspective of children, which, as was utilised by Stephen King when writing IT, achieves the end of hyperbolising the terror in order to make a genuinely eerie experience.

Hook (1991) U

Dir. Steven Spielberg

From J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, Spielberg brings to life a middle-aged Peter Pan in Robin Williams as he returns to Neverland to rescue his captured children and confront his long-term nemesis, Hook (Dustin Hoffman) - on this journey, he will rediscover the innocence and the world of the boy who would never grow up. Dazzlingly-told adventure movie with a magnificent score from John Williams.

Jumanji (1995) PG

Dir. Joe Johnston

Robin Williams also features in this spontaneous coming-of-age comedy-fantasy, bringing the same life and exuberance to his fish out of water role, as the man out of time. A young Kirsten Dunst co-stars.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) 12A

Dir. Jake Kasdan

With wonderfully excessive action set pieces and truly entertaining, often quite witty, comedy, Welcome to the Jungle serves as a worthy sequel and as exhilarating a family adventure as its predecessor. Dwayne Johnson leads the playful ensemble.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) PG

Dir. Zack Snyder

From the visionary director of 300 and Watchman came this stunning, aesthetically pleasing, underrated fantasy animation. Filled with thrilling sequences, phenomenal slow-motion, compelling characters and voice over performances from Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess and David Wenham.

Free Willy (1993) U

Dir. Simon Wincer

Not dissimilar to Spielberg’s cinematic formula for E.T. Free Willy tells a joyous and engaging story, simultaneously bearing more serious themes, as a boy and a whale form a friendship that has become nothing short of iconic in the world of family movies.

Star Trek (2009) 12A

Dir. J.J. Abrams

Abrams breathed new life into a tired franchise, with a virtuosic cast and spellbinding visuals, from the extravagant set design to Dan Mindel’s encapsulating manipulation of light. This is a high-octane, pulse-raising space opera, and will appeal to Trek fans and the wider audience both. The best science fiction film for family viewing currrently on Netflix.

The Dark Crystal (1982) PG

Dir. Jim Henson, Frank Oz

Of the Jim Henson canon,this is one of the best, and certainly the most visually splendid. Like Labyrinth or The Neverending Story, - the former of which is unfortunately not on Netflix - this is another inventive and intriguing fantasy narrative that will suffice for 90 minutes of escapist entertainment.

Groundhog Day (1993) PG

Dir. Harold Ramis

What is so brilliant and intelligent about this film comes from Ramis and Danny Rubin’s masterful screenplay, but also, of course, Bill Murray’s dry, confident and snide delivery of his profoundly cynical and amusing dialogue. A great 90s comedy.

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