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The 30 best kids' movies on Netflix

20. Goosebumps (2015)

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Region: UK

With hundreds of books, and hundreds of millions of sales, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series is a publishing phenomenon that almost rivals Harry Potter. But with so much source material to choose from, where would anyone start to turn it into a movie? The ingenious solution here is to make Stine a character in his own right (played by Jack Black) and to take the story in a very meta direction. It turns out that the Goosebumps books have the power to unleash actual monsters – don’t worry, it’s only in the film, not in real-life – and that the author needs to write a new story on a magical typewriter to banish them. Think Stranger Than Fiction with a pre-teen horror edge. 

Age range: 8 – 12

19. Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

(Image credit: Disney)

Region: US

Having riffed off video games in the first movie, reformed arcade villain Ralph escapes into the world wide web to repair his diminutive BFF Vanellope von Schweetz’s out-of-guarantee game. While kids will enjoy the lead characters, exciting computer world, and much-publicised Disney Princesses reunion (everyone from Snow White to Moana shows up), there’s arguably more here for grown-ups. Much of the running time is spent spoofing the likes of Google, eBay, and the ultra-violent car racing of Grand Theft Auto, and while it’s not quite as clever as it thinks it is, there’s a satirical edge to the knockabout fun.

Age range: 8 – 12

18. The BFG (2016)

(Image credit: Disney)

Region: UK

Steven Spielberg was the king of the family movie in the 1980s, but these days he tends to concentrate on more grown-up fare. He made a rare return with an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale of an orphan who befriends a Big Friendly Giant, and the result is sweet and remarkably faithful to the source novel. Spielberg regular Mark Rylance is perfect as the BFG, though even the beautifully realised snozzcumbers, whizzpoppers and trogglehumpers can’t hide the thinness of Dahl’s plot.

Age range: 7 – 10

(Image credit: United Artists)

Region: UK

It may feel like an evolutionary step backwards after stop-motion studio Laika’s dark, complex Kubo and the Two Strings, but there’s still lots to like about their story of a Bigfoot on the hunt for rellies in the Himalayas. Hugh Jackman shows why he should play for laughs more often as dapper, delusional British explorer Sir Lionel Frost, while Emma Thompson crops up as a wonderfully icy Yeti. But as always with Laika, the main thing on your mind is pondering how they managed to create such sophisticated scenes in stop-motion animation. CG isn’t the only kid on the animation block… 

Age range: 6 – 10

16. Stuart Little (1999)

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Region: US

Released the same year as The Sixth Sense, M Night Shyamalan’s other big script of 1999 is resolutely twist free. Instead, it’s a fun, kid-targeted adaptation of E.B. White’s 1945 novel about a mouse adopted by a human family. Michael J Fox is perfect as the voice of Stuart, a talking robot who sees plenty of action negotiating the human world. As Stuart drives diminutive vehicles and dodges hungry cats, you find this is one mouse you’re happy to see running around in your front room.

Age range: 4 – 10

15. The NeverEnding Story (1984)

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Region: UK

Okay, the title’s rather misleading – the running time is a mere 94 minutes – but you can forgive the exaggeration because this is one of the most beloved fantasy movies of the ’80s. A shy, book-loving kid learns that reading isn’t always good for you when he dips into the eponymous library book, and finds himself sucked into the magical world of Fantasia. It’s a world packed with memorable iconography – the child-like princess; the faceless, malevolent Nothing; cute, dog-like dragon Falkor – and all cut from the same cloth as Labyrinth and Return to Oz.

Age range: 8 – 12

14. Klaus (2019)

(Image credit: Netflix)

Region: UK, US

It seems appropriate that this list of the best kids’ movies on Netflix should feature one of the streaming platform’s own – especially as Netflix’s first animated feature made a big enough impression to earn itself an Oscar nomination and a Bafta win. This seasonal tale about a wannabe postman who offers to deliver toys for the eponymous toymaker stands out for its very modern take on traditional animation, with the stylised, angular 2D characters augmented by CG flourishes. The script lacks the laughs that are second nature to Pixar – and the PG rating means it’s too dark for toddlers – but it’s still a good way to celebrate Christmas any day of the year.

Age range: 7 – 10

13. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Region: US

This movie should have been huge. After all, it’s a major Hollywood adaptation of Hergé’s beloved Tintin stories, directed by Steven Spielberg from a screenplay by Steven Moffat (who left during production to become showrunner on Doctor Who), Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. Uber-fan Peter Jackson was even set to direct the sequel that never came. That it never happened possibly owes more to Uncanny Valley performance capture than it does to storytelling which – like the character design – captures the essence of the graphic novels. 

Age range: 8 – 12

12. Happy Feet (2006)

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Region: UK

Aussie director George Miller’s career is one of extremes. At one end is the bleak post-apocalyptic violence of the Mad Max movies; at the other is family-friendly talking animal fare. Even after the success of sheep-herding pig blockbuster Babe, however, Happy Feet felt like a gear shift – after all, how did anyone conceive a movie about a group of Emperor penguins who spend their time singing classic songs at each other? And the Footloose-inspired rebel among their number who just wants to dance? Beautifully made, moving and with a powerful environmental message, Happy Feet is a bizarre – but entertaining – concoction.  

Age range: 6 – 10

11. Jumanji (1995)

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Region: UK

Two decades before Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan played avatars in a misbehaving video game, the eponymous gaming franchise was already giving interactive gaming a bad name. Kirsten Dunst plays one of a pair of siblings who play a board game whose every dice roll unleashes numerous species of rampaging jungle animals and a very confused Robin Williams – his character has been trapped in the game since he was a kid. There’s a Spielbergian, Gremlins vibe to the whole thing, and the early CG effects are dated but impressive.

Age range: 8 – 12

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