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The 20 best flicks to stream with the entire family on movie night
With lockdowns happening once more across Australia, we've got a foolproof list of titles available to stream that will entertain the entire family.
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Unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic continues to be an issue in Australia, leading to a new set of lockdowns in various states across the country. That means scores of people are now stuck at home again for extended periods, often needing to find more for themselves and especially the kids to do.
This is where streaming platforms sure can help. Thanks to a range of options now on the market, you can watch a plethora of movies in the comfort of your living room, from grand fantasy epics to homegrown Aussie flicks.
Yet choosing what to stream is often a struggle, especially when you’re looking for something that will appeal to the entire family. Because let’s face it – while watching Frozen for the 20th time can be a treat for the little ones, adults may be far less keen to listen to "Let it go" yet again.
When coming up with this list, we wanted to showcase titles from diverse genres and there's something here for everyone – whether you’re subscribed to Foxtel Now, Netflix, Stan, Amazon, BINGE or Disney+. Without further ado, it’s time to ditch the face masks, get some snacks and settle in for an epic night of movie watching.
1. The Lion King
- Year: 1994
- Cast: James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Nathan Lane
Although released more than 20 years ago, The Lion King still stands out within Disney's vast collection of classic family films.
The animated musical follows young lion Simba, the next king in line after his father, Mufasa. Simba’s wicked uncle Scar kills Mufasa and takes the throne for himself, forcing Simba to flee into exile. When he grows up, he decides to return and end Scar’s tyranny so he can take his place as the rightful king.
The Lion King is a fascinating tale of good versus evil, incorporating themes like family, society and principles. The stunning animation and amazing music will keep the little ones glued to the screen, while the grownups will surely appreciate the brilliant storytelling. As for the characters, they’re as memorable as they come.
2. Toy Story
- Year: 1995
- Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn
Boasting themes of friendship, identity, community and change, Toy Story takes place in a world where anthropomorphic toys pretend to be lifeless playthings whenever humans are present.
We follow the relationship between cowboy doll Woody and Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure. The two go from rivals for their owner's affections to friends who have to figure out their way back home.
Toy Story is inventive and ingenious, with charming humour and a timeless appeal. Definitely one of the best kids’ movies of all time, it still holds a 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The animation is great, the story is irresistible and the characters are incredible.
What more could you wish for?
3. Finding Nemo
- Year: 2003
- Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Andrew Stanton, Alexander Gould
While Finding Dory is adorable as well (and also available to stream), the first movie in the franchise is more visually dazzling than its successor.
Finding Nemo tells the story of an overprotective clownfish named Marlin who, along with a regal blue tang named Dory, searches the deep waters for his abducted son Nemo. It’s all about teamwork, loyalty and a father's never-ending love for his son.
A rewarding and engaging flick, Finding Nemo is full of both clever humour and easy-to-get jokes, making it a good pick for the entire family. Plus, it has its fair share of thrills and suspense, so no one will get bored enough to offer to go make more popcorn.
- Year: 2014
- Cast: Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman
The charming movie tells the story of Paddington, an anthropomorphic bear who migrates from the jungles of Peru to the streets of London, where he is adopted by the Brown family. All seems well – until the cuddly bear catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
Funny and well-acted, Paddington is a delight. It manages to remain faithful to the character's roots while also placing him within a modern setting.
All about tolerance and family values, the movie is warm and fuzzy – a feel-good flick that will likely leave a big smile on your face.
- Year: 2016
- Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger
A luscious movie, Moana follows an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.
During her journey, Moana meets the demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering terrifying monsters and beating impossible odds.
Big musical numbers and stunning visuals make this movie a must-watch. Moana is undoubtedly Disney's strongest female hero to date, who charts her own way and discovers her own identity – and all without a love interest in sight, which is refreshing.
Although we bet she’ll immediately conquer your heart.
- Year: 2007
- Cast: Brad Bird, Patton Oswalt, Lou Romano, Peter O'Toole
Talk about unlikely heroes!
Ratatouille follows Remy, a rat with a passion for cooking. He ends up in Paris, where he meets Linguini, a garbage boy at a famous restaurant. The two strike a deal, ultimately setting into motion a hilarious and exciting chain of events that turn the culinary world upside down.
Ratatouille is pure joy, ridiculously enjoyable and charming. Patton Oswalt does a perfect job at voicing Remy, the animation is stunning and the story will stay with you for a long time.
After all, Ratatouille is an inspiring tale about pursuing excellence and ignoring the preconceptions of others to fulfil your calling.
7. The Parent Trap
- Year: 1998
- Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Natasha Richardson, Dennis Quaid, Elaine Hendrix
Before Lindsay Lohan resorted to a life of questionable choices, she made this memorable little movie that eventually became so embedded in pop culture it’s hard to stumble upon someone who hasn’t seen it at least once. Alas, it remains a fun tale for all ages and a great choice for movie night.
The movie follows identical twin sisters, separated shortly after birth by their parents' breakup. Unaware of each other's existence, they coincidentally meet at summer camp. Eager to meet their respective parents, the girls devise a scheme to switch places and ultimately reunite their mom and dad. It's a light and charming romantic comedy for the ages.
8. The Jungle Book
- Year: 1967
- Cast: Louis Prima, Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway
Jazzy songs and expressive animation? Yes, please! While the more recent live-action version of the story isn’t available to stream at the moment, this 1967 classic remains a delight for all audiences.
The plot follows Mowgli, a child raised by wolves in the Indian jungle, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle to escape the evil tiger Shere Khan.
A fun movie about friendship and finding family in unexpected places, The Jungle Book is lighthearted and hugely entertaining. Caution, though – you’ll be humming "Bare Necessities" for days.
- Year: 2012
- Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen
This spectacular book adaptation, recommended for tweens and up, delivers touching messages about perseverance and overcoming fears.
Hugo is the astonishing and magical adventure of a resourceful boy whose quest to unlock a secret that his father leaves for him will transform him and all those around him. An orphan living in a train station, his mission might also lead him to find a safe and loving place to call home.
The movie received 11 Academy Award nominations, so you know you’ll be in for a memorable ride complete with enchanting visuals and fascinating storytelling. Moreover, Hugo is basically a love letter to the art of cinema, so if your family loves movies, this one will captivate you all.
10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- Year: 1982
- Cast: Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton
E.T. the Extra-terrestrial paints a remarkable portrait of childhood, one that adults will be quick to resonate with.
Co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie disguises itself as an exciting sci-fi adventure, while actually delivering a touching and magical tale about a homesick alien. Moreover, it’s a widely-acclaimed and timeless story of friendship, one that will pull in viewers from the very first scene.
E.T. follows Elliott, a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial dubbed E.T., who is stranded on Earth. Elliott and his siblings set out to help him return to his home planet, but of course, they have to do so while keeping the alien hidden from both their mother and the government.
It’s a movie everyone should watch at least once, regardless of age.
11. The Hunger Games
- Year: 2012
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks
While The Hunger Games isn’t recommended for the little ones, it’s a thought-provoking pick for teens (14+ years).
The action takes place in Panem, where every year twelve districts are forced to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in The Hunger Games as a twisted punishment for past uprisings. The games are a nationally-televised event in which young tributes fight each other to the death until only one of them remains. In the games, our young protagonist competes against fierce rivals and must make impossible choices to stay alive.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a tremendous performance as Katniss, effortlessly going from tough to emotional in one scene. The movie is raw and action-packed, keeping viewers on the edge of the seat until the bitter end.
A faithful and masterful adaptation of the book with the same name, The Hunger Games explores themes about reality television and screen violence as entertainment, so it will likely give the entire family something to talk about.
- Year: 2001
- Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Cody Cameron
Shrek focuses on a solitary ogre of the same name who finds his swamp overrun by fairy tale creatures banished there by Lord Farquaad. To get his swamp back, Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to bring him a queen. To reclaim his home, Shrek rescues Princess Fiona so she can marry the evil lord.
However, he also starts to fall in love with the princess and the rest is animated history.
Shrek is the epitome of a solid family movie – funny, original and heartfelt. Children will love it and adults will find plenty to laugh at. The movie was so successful that it prompted three sequels, two holiday specials and a spin-off.
- Year: 1996
- Cast: Mara Wilson, Daniel DeVito, Pam Ferris, Embeth Davidtz
Adapted from a Roald Dahl book with the same name, the movie follows Matilda, a resourceful girl forced to tolerate cruel and unkind parents. Moreover, the evil principal at Matilda's school turns out to be a terrifyingly strict bully.
However, Matilda begins fighting back once she discovers she has telekinetic powers.
A surreal adventure, odd at times while charming at others, Matilda is a true gem among kids' movies (although not recommended for very small children due to the darker themes). Humorous and endearing, it will put everyone in a good mood.
All in all, it’s the kind of film children get a kick out of and parents aren’t ashamed to admit they like.
14. Mirror Mirror
- Year: 2012
- Cast: Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane
Starring Lily Collins and Julia Roberts, Mirror Mirror is a re-imagining of Snow White. While not incredibly original, the movie is beautiful and the performances by the entire cast are compelling enough.
The plot follows Snow White as she fights to reclaim her birthright and win her prince, aided by seven courageous dwarfs.
Overall, Mirror Mirror is a fun ride and a worthy homage to the timeless classic. If you feel like escaping into a fairytale world, this is your chance. Expect some witty dialogue and gorgeous costumes along the way.
15. The Smurfs
- Year: 2011
- Cast: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofía Vergara
The Smurfs is a hybrid live-action and animated family comedy based on the comic book series with the same name.
When the evil Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village, they're forced through a portal into our world, landing in the middle of New York's Central Park. They then have to find a way back home before Gargamel tracks them down.
While this movie is in no way a masterpiece, it wins bonus points for appealing to a huge audience. The kids will love its humour, while the adults who grew up with The Smurfs cartoons can bask in nostalgia.
Plus, The Smurfs seamlessly blends live-action with animation, making for some highly-entertaining visuals.
- Year: 2020
- Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Angela Bassett
Winner of the 2021 Oscar for Best Animated Movie, Soul is a prime example of a terrific movie that tackles larger-than-life concepts in an accessible way.
We follow a middle school music teacher who is also a talented jazz pianist just about to get his big break. But before he can stress about seizing his chance, an accident sends him to the Great Before, a realm where mentors prepare unborn souls for life. To make it out, he has to help a cynical soul find their spark – which proves somewhat difficult.
This is a movie about cherishing life and enjoying each day to the fullest, a positive message both kids and adults can take to heart. Add some exquisite Pixar animation into the mix and we can almost guarantee that this movie will be a crowd-pleaser for the entire family.
17. Yes Day
- Year: 2021
- Cast: Jennifer Garner, Edgar Ramírez, Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla
In the mood for something extremely silly yet surprisingly entertaining? You can't go wrong with Yes Day.
The story centres on a family who goes on a memorable adventure. See, the mom and dad feel bad for always telling their kids no. So, they agree to take part in something called yes day – for 24 hours, the kids make the rules.
What follows is a series of exciting endeavours they all take part in, from going through a car wash with the windows down to riding roller coasters and eating a giant sundae. As you might expect, this day of craziness will only bring them closer together.
Yes Day may not be a masterpiece, but it's a whole lot of fun, especially if you're looking for something to please several age demographics. Just be aware that the kids may suggest organising your own yes day as a result. You might want to prepare some excuses – or some ideas – in advance.
Sorry, we've found no buying or renting options for this title.
18. Dora and the Lost City of Gold
- Year: 2019
- Cast: Isabela Merced, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria
A live-action adaptation of the popular animated series Dora the Explorer? Call us crazy, but this is something even older folk can get excited about. Isabela Merced is an absolute delight in the lead role and the plot is intriguing, so you'll be in for a relaxing ride.
When Dora's parents go looking for the Inca city of gold, Parapata, they send their daughter to high school, which proves trickier to navigate than even the deepest areas in the jungle. During a field trip to a museum, however, Dora and her friends are kidnapped and taken to Peru. Once they escape, they go on a quest to decipher the mystery behind the lost city.
Funny and earnest, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is targeted to viewers older than the animated series, so it's recommended for kids eight years old and up. As for adults, this movie will be a pleasant surprise.
19. The Willoughbys
- Year: 2020
- Cast: Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara, Terry Crews, Seán Cullen, Ricky Gervais
Does your family appreciate kooky humour? Then this offbeat movie is the perfect pick for you.
Meet the Willoughbys, a family consisting of two neglectful parents and four resourceful kids. Convinced that they are better off raising themselves, the children send their parents on vacation, secretly hoping they won't come back. They don't know the basics of running a household, but thankfully a nanny makes an appearance. Together, the nanny and the kids will eventually learn the true meaning of being a family.
The world of the Willoughbys is full of colour and eccentricities, the movie is humorous, the message of the movie is ultimately uplifting. The premise is dark, sure – but if you think your little ones can stomach the idea that some parents just aren't that interested in their kids, this will make for a satisfying watch for everyone. It may even spark some important conversations about what being a family is all about.
Sorry, we've found no buying or renting options for this title.
20. Spirited Away
- Year: 2001
- Cast: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, Miyu Irino
A tremendous Japanese fantasy flick, Spirited Away was written and directed by the great Hayao Miyazaki. If you want to expand your children's cultural horizons – as well as your own – this makes for an excellent choice.
However, while this movie is technically fine for kids nine years old and up, we don't recommend tuning in if the little ones are prone to getting scared easily. Spirited Away features several creepy-looking creatures, so it may be challenging for younger viewers.
The action follows Chihiro, a girl who wanders into a world ruled by gods, monsters and witches. When her parents are turned into pigs, it's up to Chihiro to navigate the spirit world and find a way to escape and return her parents to their normal form.
Spirited Away is dazzling from start to finish, with an immersive story and brilliant visuals. The adults might like it even more than the kids will.
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