Kids can be hard even when the world is operating normally, but now more than ever, they're a handful. There's no shame in getting some respite from the constant line of questions — Are you done with work yet? What can I do now? Can we play Restaurant again? Pretend like we're kittens, OK? — by sitting the kids in front of the TV to watch a movie (or three) for a few hours. And thanks to streaming and on-demand video, it's easier than ever to do so.
We've put together a list of the best kid-friendly flicks that are available on Netflix, Disney+, and other platforms right now, so you and your little one (or just you, no judgment!) can get to what you need to be doing.
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We know what you're thinking. You've already seen Smallfoot and Missing Link, do you really need to see another animated movie about a yeti/Sasquatch? Probably, as this one is lauded as the best of the three. Abominable follows a Chinese teenager (Chloe Bennet) who discovers a yeti and works with a couple friends to bring it home. Though not wholly original, it's vividly animated and a good choice for family movie night. You can stream Abominable on Hulu for free with a subscription and $3.99 on Google Play, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Vudu.
Pixar's 2020 film Onward might be the product of a Disney executive saying, "Frozen has sisters, what if we did a movie with brothers?" But, as is everything from Pixar, it's well worth a watch. The film follows two elven brothers (Chris Pratt and Tom Holland) who live in a fantasy world that has ignored magic in favor of technology, but at it's heart, it's about the strong bond between the bros as they attempt to reconcile with their late father, who died before the younger brother was born. It's available now on Disney+, or you can purchase the movie through Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, FandangoNow, or iTunes.
In an attempt to deliver "some fun and joy during this challenging period," Disney announced that Frozen II is arriving on its streaming service three months later. The movie will make its Disney+ debut on Sunday, March 15, to the relief of many parents who are scrambling to keep their kids entertained after schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. So settle in with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf as they embark on another exciting adventure into the unknown. Stream the movie for free with a paid Disney+ subscription, or if you prefer to buy the movie for $20, your digital HD options include Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, FandangoNow, or iTunes.
The Boss Baby
Give your little one an overinflated sense of superiority with this goofy movie about a baby who believes he is in charge. Told from the perspective of a 7-year-old named Tim whose family is infiltrated by a baby who's a secret agent baby in the war between babies and puppies for adults' love (yes, for real), The Boss Baby earned mixed reviews from critics. But that's because most critics aren't between the ages of 3 and 12! Also, it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2017 Academy Awards, so there's that. Stream the animated flick for $3.99 on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu and iTunes. If your tyke likes, they can watch the Boss Baby television series, which is on Netflix.
Despicable Me 3
OK, so Minions are the worst. But kids love the little critters from the Despicable Me franchise, and this is the only movie in the series that's available on Sling for free. Steve Carell's Gru teams up with his long-lost brother Dru (also Carell) to defeat a former child actor who becomes a supervillain after his show gets canceled. It's not Citizen Kane, but this list is all about making your kids happy, and the box office receipts (more than $1 billion worldwide) speak for themselves. Throw it on, sit the kiddo down, and open a bottle of rosé. Silent cries are also understood. You can also stream Despicable Me 3 for $3.99 on Vudu, YouTube, Amazon Prime and Google Play.
Pixar's latest is also one of its greatest. The anticipated sequel to The Incredibles once again follows the Parrs, a family of superheroes who team up to stop bad guys. Set immediately after the events of the original, The Incredibles 2 finds the family working missions to bring trust in superheroes back to society after they wrecked the city saving it. Forget Mission Impossible or John Wick; this has the best action sequences of any movie from 2018, making it good for parents, too. Stream it on Netflix for free with a paid subscription or $2.99 on YouTube and Google Play and $3.99 on Vudu.
Pixar's most culturally rich film is set in Mexico and follows a boy who is accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he seeks help from his great-great-grandfather to return to his family and the realm of the living. There's wonderful music in it, and though its topic of death is a major theme, it teaches kids how to process death and respect their family history. Warning for little ones: There are lots of skeletons, but they're harmless. You can stream Coco on Disney+ for free with a subscription and $2.99 on Google Play and for $3.99 on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Vudu.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
Sometimes, all your kids need is a good fart joke. They'll get that, as well as poo-poo, doody and bum-bum gags, in this imaginative and delightfully low-brow animated movie that's an adaptation of Dav Pilkey's books. The story follows a pair of elementary schoolers who are too smart for their own good and draw up a series of comic books about their overbearing principal, turning him into a superhero who wears underwear and a cape and uses wedgie power to take on a host of potty-themed villains. Netflix must have liked this a lot, because it also ordered a Captain Underpants series for its library. Stream the movie on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Vudu for $3.99.
Mary and the Witch's Flower
Sad fact of the day: There are no Hayao Miyazaki films streaming on Netflix in the United States. But if you're a fan of his imagination and animation style, this Japanese film based on The Little Broomstick will do the trick. Mary is a young girl who finds an enchanted flower and broomstick in a forest, which take her to a secret school for magic in a faraway fantasy land. It's not quite up to par with Miyazaki's classics like Ponyo or Spirited Away, but it comes close thanks in part to the film's connection to Miyazaki; director Hiromasa Yonebayashi worked with Miyazaki on several of his films. You can stream it for free on Netflix with a paid subscription or pay $3.99 on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube.
Beauty and the Beast
You grew up on the animated classic, so let your kids learn the true lesson of love: Love someone for who they are in the inside, and if you love them well enough, then a spell will be broken and they will turn out to be a total hottie! But for realsies, this is a pretty epic retelling of the story with Emma Watson as Belle, big ole' musical numbers on the scale of a Baz Luhrmann joint, and killer costumes. Stream it for free with a Disney+ subscription, or stream it on Google Play for $2.99 and $3.99 on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Vudu.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Before they broke into the big time with The Lego Movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's first feature film as directors was this adaptation of the book of the same name. The film follows a hapless inventor who seeks approval with the invention of a machine that can fabricate food out of the sky, which becomes a major tourist attraction for his humble fishing town... before it causes all sorts of trouble. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a technicolor rainbow, and it's loaded with some of the best food puns out there, making it entertaining for kids and adults alike. Stream it for $3.99 on Amazon Prime and YouTube, and $2.99 on Vudu.
The Cars franchise doesn't have the same zing as Pixar's other films (I mean really, talking cars?), but saying a movie isn't as good as Pixar's best still means it can be much better than most. In this chapter, Lightning McQueen sets out to prove that he's still the best racer out there, even against a crew of new cars that use the latest and greatest technology to boost their chances. Stream it for free on Disney+ with a paid subscription or $3.99 on YouTube and Amazon Prime.
An American Tail
Admit it, you're already tearing up thinking about Fievel and his sister Tanya singing "Somewhere Out There," in this classic family movie. So give your kids something to get emotional about, too. It tells the story about a young mouse who immigrates to America with his family, but he gets separated and must find his way back to them. There's one knock on the film: It's kind of downbeat and maybe too sad for kids. But the 1986 film is a reminder that there's nothing that can replace true hand-drawn animated films. Steven Spielberg executive-produced the movie, and it was directed by Don Bluth, who created the revolutionary Dragon's Lair arcade game. Stream it for free on Hulu with a paid subscription or pay $3.99 on Google Play, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.
For more great family-friendly streaming recommendations, check out the best movies and TV shows to watch on Disney+.