10 Of The Best Movies On Netflix To Enjoy With Your Kids

What do you want to watch today with your kiddo? There's a good selection on Netflix to enjoy, after all.

When a parent is taking care of their kids, one of the biggest hurdles to tackle is the topic of entertaining them. Our preferences become more complex as we grow up so, at times when we look at the media directed at children, we might groan. Movies for children, particularly animated movies, have garnered a reputation for low-budget products. Yet among the films that a parent might have to suffer through, there are some we all can find enjoyment in—and those films are closer to home than you think. Right on your Netflix, in fact. 

Here are 10 animated movies on Netflix that would be fun to watch with the kids.

1. Canvas

Canvas movie
Source: Kickstarter

We’re going to be starting off the list in an unconventional way by looking at a short film. Parents are busy people; they don’t always have a lot of time to sit down and watch a full hour and a half long movie with so much to do on their plate. Short films can sometimes be a better alternative when on a schedule. Netflix has just the one to enjoy, too: Canvas, a nine-minute-long film focusing on an elderly grandparent and how art affects both himself and his family. Due to the nature of the film—without words, while being short and sweet—there is not much to be said that wouldn’t spoil the experience of watching it yourself. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: A selection of cute, Disney-esque characters with an uplifting story.

What the Parents will Enjoy: Vivid and charming visuals accompanied by a story that doesn’t need words to tell itself.


2. Rango 

Rango movie
Source: Scannain

If you have some older kids, maybe middle or high school, a good one to try out would be Rango. An Oscar award-winning film featuring the voice talents of Johnny Depp, there is a unique grittiness in Rango that flawlessly saddles the line of being an animated movie for kids while still maintaining adult themes. Be warned that Rango, while enjoyable for an audience of older children, contains quite a lot of guns and prominently displays both smoking and drinking.

What the Kids will Enjoy: The high octane action of a Western-styled film accompanied by the wacky antics of Johnny Depp’s performance as Rango. 

What the Parents will Enjoy: A deeper storyline with philosophical explorations of self alongside a variety of more adult references that may fly over a younger audience’s head, like the above Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference.


3. Surf’s Up 

Surf’s Up
Source: WallpaperAbyss

It’s nice to be able to watch a movie that is simply different. Surf’s Up is one of those movies, especially in the pantheon of animation. With the presentation of a sports documentary based around surfing, it utilizes everything it has to make a tongue-in-cheek parody of the genre. It manages to keep up that genre parody while slipping in hints of emotional storytelling. Surf’s Up is without a doubt a different sort of film, and when you watch enough animated media with your kids, a little bit of difference can be very appreciable. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: The laid-back comedic relief of Chicken Joe as well as the exciting surfboarding action.

What the Parents will Enjoy: The genre parody format of sports documentaries, comfortable performances from familiar and loveable actors like Jeff Bridges, and a variety of amusing adult jokes peppered throughout the narrative.


4. Klaus

Source: Angelus

Whether Christmas is coming around or not, Netflix’s exclusive holiday film Klaus is always worth sitting down for. This film got a lot of coverage on the internet in the months surrounding its initial release and not without reason. In a storytelling climate where it is so easy to just retell an old story, especially when it comes to Christmas stories, Klaus instead opted to go the route of retelling the origins of good old Santa Claus, and focusing around the origin of Christmas with the idea of written mail as the starting point. 

If nothing this film is worth a watch based on visuals alone—most people did not even realize for a good long time that the animation in Klaus is entirely 2D animation. The soft and calming lines are artistic and inviting, a good movie to sit down with some hot tea or hot cocoa with. This is one of those sweet movies that kids and adults can enjoy for the same reasons.

 5. Paranorman 

Source: ConventionScene

Paranorman is the second feature film of Laika Studios, arguably one of the best animation studios in the modern era. They specialize in the rarer and work-intensive style called stop-motion, typically approaching their story writing with darker or more cynical humor. These aspects make their content stand out in a sea of modern CGI effects films, and Paranorman is no exception. 

The movie is a tale of people who are outcasted for the very things that make them special, and how important it is to embrace difference rather than reject it in fear. If you enjoyed a show like Stranger Things, Paranorman would likely appeal as well. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: Some PG-rated scares, a relatable protagonist for a younger audience, and exciting chase sequences. 

What the Parents will Enjoy: The lowkey parody of Americana and the horror genre, as well as the unique set design and realistic feel of the character personalities.

6. The Little Prince

The Little Prince
Source: Scout

Based on the book of the same name, The Little Prince is a novel dip into the original story. To expand to the full hour and a half-length required for the film, an expository character was introduced in the form of the Little Girl to frame the classic story around. This results in a film that shifts its animation form frequently, tackling the topic of what it means to grow up and how important it is to make that jump. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: Characters that they can step into the shoes of and eye-catching visuals.

What the Parents will Enjoy: The metaphorical and philosophical exploration of maturity and growth, as well as another appearance on this list from classic actor Jeff Bridges.

7. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Source: NPR

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an adaptation of the book of the same name. Of all the movies here, this one is without a doubt the highest energy. The movement is active and expert in its cartoony expectation—something increasingly rarer in CGI animation—and the character are all full of ambition and exaggeration. 

It can only be assumed that the writers had that same energetic ambition as the plot is a rather clever and well thought out take on the simple ideas presented in the original book, with the food that falls from the sky being the work of a young inventor who has never had any recognition for his intelligence—but in the end, finds more validation in the love of his friends and family. The design work is stunning and creative, while the characters are lovably awkward. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: The wacky and high-energy animation and the equally wacky cast of characters.

What the Parents will Enjoy: A potential jolt of nostalgia for a childhood classic novel and the high levels of creativity and design presented in the animation, background, and effects.

8. Princess and the Frog 

Princess and the Frog 
Source: HouseofGeekery

With the advent of Disney+, there are not many streaming sites that have contracted to host Disney films anymore—except for some that are contractually obligated to continue streaming on Netflix. One of those films is Princess and the Frog, Disney’s 2009 return to 2D animation with the display of their first African American princess. Even in 2021 the film still holds its grounds very well, displaying both beautiful animation and contagiously likable characters. It is a movie that will remind older viewers of Disney’s more classic films, such as The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast, following their older conventions of storytelling while delivering a more modern sensibility at the same time. 

What Kids will Enjoy: Bright and colorful animation, masterfully composed musical show tunes, and wacky side characters ready to provide comic relief. 

What Parents will Enjoy: The exquisite showcase of beautiful New Orleans and the Louisiana Bayou, the tough and responsible Tiana, and the nostalgic feel reminiscent of the Renaissance era Disney films.

9. The Croods

The Croods
Source: PureNintendo

Like Disney, the Dreamworks animation studio has a licensing contract with Netflix and has actually worked with the streaming company to produce several exclusive shows based around their properties. One of these properties was The Croods, a movie developed and co-directed by Chris Sanders of Lilo and Stitch fame. The Croods is not necessarily what it appears on the box—while it may seem to be an action-adventure about a headstrong young girl in the time of cavemen, it is the story of family and making peace with change based more around the father character. 

Despite the somewhat misleading advertising, the film ends up stronger for this writing choice, having a good emotional core surrounding family and how to approach their individuality. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: A lush, brightly colored atmosphere full of equally energetic character and monster designs. 

What the Parents will Enjoy: The themes of parenthood and the important role it plays in both the development of the children and the adult.

10. Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back

Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back
Source: GamesRadar

Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back is a somewhat unique entry on this list as it is a shot-for-shot remake of the 1998 Pokemon film, Pokemon: The First Movie. The look of the old film has been updated to the standards of modern CGI animation and is the first mainline entry in the Pokemon franchise to feature such graphics. Pokemon has been a phenomenon across the world for almost three decades now, spanning at least two full generations—the older of which are starting to have kids of their own. 

Even if a parent doesn’t have that nostalgia, Pokemon is something to sit down with and see a cult classic in action, to bring the Pokemon of twenty-odd years ago into the modern age. It’s always good to sit down to watch and understand the content that stands the test of time for children. 

What the Kids will Enjoy: The simple yet memorable Pokemon and the action-heavy storyline. 

What the Parents will Enjoy: For some the nostalgia of the franchise, for some the soft and inviting new animation makeover.

It's always good to have some time to spend with your children. It's even better if what you do during that time isn't something that is particularly demanding. Being a parent is a non-stop activity, so being able to sit down and watch some movies with your kids will make your tough day all the more enjoyable. It will help you understand your children, and give you a way to be closer to them. So sit back and enjoy what the animation world has to offer--maybe you might find something that appeals to yourself inside that world as well. 

A writer located in the lush Redwood forests of Northern California who loves animation and food.

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