Adventure Movies

The 20 best kids and family movies on Amazon Prime (August 2023)

November 16, 202316 Mins Read

Picking out a movie the whole family can enjoy is a Herculean task that usually involves shouting out titles (which all get shot down) as the pizza gets cold and the kiddos get cranky.

It’s almost enough to make you give up on a night of bonding — but wait! Here at EW, we’ve done the hard work for you by putting together a list of the best family films on Amazon Prime right now. Most of our picks are rated G or PG, except for a few PG-13s (which we’ve noted) — and they’ve all been road-tested by our own kids. And because we care, we’ve only highlighted films included with your Prime subscription.

So, gather the fam and take a seat. Here are the best family movies on Amazon Prime.

Big Top Pee-Wee (1988)

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett

While perhaps not Paul Reubens’ strongest film, in light of his recent death, we couldn’t not include it — because honestly, even his lows are still wonderful. As a sequel to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, this one puts the gray-suited goofball into a circus setting and brings Valeria Golino along as a trapeze star/love interest. Despite universal panning from critics, there’s still plenty to love about Big Top Pee-Wee, especially when you look at the film through an autobiographical lens, as a tribute to the profound influence the circus had on his life and work.

Where to watch Big Top Pee-Wee: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Randal Kleiser

Cast: Paul Reubens, Penelope Ann Miller, Valeria Golino, Kris Kristofferson

Related content: Paul Reubens and the enduring queer legacy of Pee-wee Herman

The Black Stallion (1979)

Everett Collection

The Black Stallion stands tall as the polar opposite of the “typical” family fare. Instead of loud, frantic, and busy, it goes for quiet and majestic, creating an utterly gorgeous film with sparse dialogue and some of the most sumptuous cinematic visuals ever (credit goes to Zooey’s dad, Caleb Deschanel). With a rich and sensitive script written by Melissa Mathison (who went on to pen E.T., with obvious parallels between the two) this film is, at its core, about the unspoken and intense magic of the human/animal connection. Selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, The Black Stallion will have viewers on the edge of their seats from the first shot (a ship speeding along the coast of North Africa) until the soaring conclusion.

Where to watch The Black Stallion: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Carroll Ballard

Cast: Kelly Reno, Teri Garr, Mickey Rooney

Related content: Horse movies we love

The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett

Calling The Brady Bunch Movie a “sly and witty surprise,” EW’s critic described this resurrection of the classic ’70s TV staple as turning “cheese into comic gold.” Plunging the decidedly square Brady fam into the grungy, cynical ’90s was a brilliant idea, one which only gets funnier as the film goes on. By the end, you’re truly rooting for the family with the lovely lady (and the man named Brady) to succeed. (Note: This one is rated PG-13.)

Where to watch The Brady Bunch Movie: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: A- (read the review)

Director: Betty Thomas

Cast: Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Christine Taylor, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jennifer Elise Cox, Florence Henderson, Michael McKean, Jean Smart

Eloise at the Plaza (2003)

Disney Entertainment

If Eloise sprung to life from the pages of her books, you can bet she would look a lot like 10-year-old Sofia Vassilieva’s portrayal of the spunky heroine. Eloise, if you don’t know, was the star of the strangely sophisticated, ’50s/’60s-era children’s book series about a girl who lives full-time in the fawncy Plaza Hotel, treating it like her own personal playground. Fun, fun, fun! Besides repeating things three times, Eloise also has an absentee mother who travels 365 days a year, leaving her nanny (Mary Poppins in grandma mode, Julie Andrews) to take charge.

Eloise at the Plaza is perfect for the younger set — especially those who tire of their suburban surroundings and long for big city sophistication, total freedom, and a reprieve from their pesky parents. Bonus tip for said parents: If you’re in the New York City area, you can visit the actual Plaza Hotel (it looks just like the book!) and see portraits of Eloise, plus there’s a shop full of dahling little souvenirs.

Where to watch Eloise at the Plaza: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Kevin Lima

Cast: Julie Andrews, Jeffrey Tambor, Sofia Vassilieva, Christine Baranski

Free Willy (1993)

Courtesy Everett

If you’ve already seen Free Willy, congrats — you’re the answer to the “tell us you were an ’80s kid without telling us” meme. But if you haven’t, buckle up. This one takes the “kid saves animal from certain death” trope to its furthest (and largest) extreme. Casting serious doubts on the ethics of aquariums and using sea mammals as entertainment LONG before Blackfish, the story of Willy the orca will have the animal lovers in your house on the edge of their seats. Entertaining, heart-warming, and thrilling, it really hits that family entertainment sweet spot. Not to mention the casting is another stunt in itself… like, how did Michael Madsen, fresh off Reservoir Dogs, end up here? On a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction note, the “whale actor” Keiko has a seriously dramatic life story of his own, filled with a ton of heartbreaking (and heartwarming) ups and downs.

Where to watch Free Willy: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: (read the review)

Director: Simon Wincer

Cast: Jason James Richter, Michael Madsen, Lori Petty

Related content: Free Willy‘s Jason James Richter

The Goonies (1985)

Everett Collection

Despite its big budget credentials (screenplay by Chris Columbus, story by Steven Spielberg, direction by Richard Donner), The Goonies has always felt somehow… indie, like a secret shared between you and your BFFs. Even today, calling yourself a “Goonie” is like a secret password to an all-ages underground clubhouse (the fandom is intense). And if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the film, take comfort in the fact that everything holds up, from the rain-smudged, gritty charm of its Oregon setting to the loose, chatty friendship between the gang.

With it’s jittery, caffeinated pace, “just scary enough” vibe, mini class warfare plot, and zillions of fun details (you’ll be Googling “how to build a zipline” before Cyndi Lauper’s theme song finishes), it’s the kind of film you’ll forbid your kids from watching without you because you want to experience it WITH them. If you need further proof of The Goonies‘ eternal charm, check this out: Even now, people are finding cool new ways to celebrate this slice of peak ’80s magic.

Where to watch The Goonies: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Richard Donner

Cast: Corey Feldman, Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton, Ke Huy Quan, Jeff Cohen, Joe Pantoliano

Related Content: The Goonies cast: Where are they now?

Gulliver’s Travels (1939)

Mary Evans/FLEISCHER STUDIOS/Ronald Grant/Everett

Why is there a never-ending fascination with the story of Lemuel Gulliver, a man who becomes a “giant?” Is it the fish-out-of-water concept, or simply the demonstration of how perspective is everything? Whatever the reason, the many versions of this film (based on the classic book by Jonathan Swift) are legion — Gulliver’s been portrayed by everyone from Jack Black to Ted Danson, Richard Harris to Mickey Mouse. The 1939 Fleischer studios musical gem is fashioned in a sorta-realistic rotoscoped Snow White style (an attempt to compete with Disney’s game changer from two years prior). Enchantingly odd, the princess is like a blonde Snow White, complete with songbirds landing on her fingers. Gulliver’s Travels is not a perfect film, but perfectly enjoyable to watch with little ones. (And in our book, the town crier’s tune, “All’s Well,” remains one of the great childhood song classics.)

Where to watch Gulliver’s Travels: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Dave Fleischer

Cast: Jessica Dragonette, Lanny Ross

How To Train Your Dragon (2010)

DreamWorks SKG/Courtesy Everett Collection

How To Train Your Dragon (first in the series of soaring crowd-pleasers) is pretty much a perfect animated family film. As charming as it is exciting, the story (based on the book by Cressida Crowell) tells the tale of a misfit viking named Hiccup, wonderfully brought to life by Jay Baruchel (She’s Out of My League, This Is the End). Baruchel’s Hiccup is the perfect mix of earnest and silly, awkward and sincere. With Gerard Butler as his father (and clan chief) and America Ferrera as Astrid, his competitive and fierce love interest, the roster is strong — and the dragon in question (Toothless) is as cute as a scaly button.

Where to watch How to Train Your Dragon: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: A- (read the review)

Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig

Related content: Universal Pictures pulls a Disney with live-action remake of How to Train Your Dragon

The Little Princess (1939)

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett

The Shirley Temple version of this touching tale with a big ol’ last-minute twist (loosely based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel of the same name) is great fun, especially for kids who might’ve never seen an “old” movie. Luckily, Temple’s charm is forever irresistible, even for the most modern kids, and, this being her first Technicolor film, it looks as bright as a candy box. Directed by Walter Lang — who had a long and storied Hollywood history, from silent films (The Red Kimono) to musicals (State Fair) to the weirdest Three Stooges picture ever made — The Little Princess hits the spot for imaginative kids who, soon after the closing credits, will pretend that their room is a chilly attic and their quilt is a shawl, just like brave and resilient Sara Crewe.

Where to watch The Little Princess: Amazon Prime Video.

Director: Walter Lang

Cast: Shirley Temple, Arthur Treacher, Richard Greene, Anita Louise

Megamind (2010)


Will Ferrell is having too much fun as the titular character, a big-headed blue bad guy in a unique predicament. After defeating his No. 1 enemy, Metro Man (a hunky Superman/Elvis hybrid voiced by Brad Pitt), Megamind feels adrift in the world, so he does the obvious thing: creates a new opponent! When the fresh foe threatens Metro City (which Ferrell rhymes with “atrocity”), our anti-hero now has the chance to become an actual hero. An excellent supporting cast (Tina Fey, David Cross) plus a booming classic rock soundtrack (kids, this is AC/DC) make this a Mega-funny, Mega-fun adventure.

Where to stream Megamind: Amazon Prime.

EW grade: B+ (read the review)

Director: Tom McGrath

Cast: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, David Cross, Tina Fey

Related content: Megamind star Will Ferrell recruits more than 1,500 superheroes to break Guinness world record

Men in Black (1997)

Everett Collection

You already know that Men in Black is a wildly fun, rollicking crowd-pleaser… but did you know it was one of the first “based on a Marvel comic” movies (in this case, a book by Lowell Cunningham)? This isn’t the only way this flick was ahead of its time — its mix of smirky comedy and mega action was, too. (Even the poster’s tagline, “PROTECTING THE EARTH FROM THE SCUM OF THE UNIVERSE,” holds up today.) If your family includes older kiddos and teens, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more surefire pick on this list. Props to director Barry Sonnenfeld for creating such a funny, thrilling, high-energy, alien-buddy-cop adventure — and to the leads, (Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones) for bringing major chemistry to the mix. Putting just as much effort into the character design and SFX as the comedy (legendary monster-maker Rick Baker won an Oscar for his makeup work here) helped make MIB a classic that endures. (Note: This one is rated PG-13.)

Where to watch Men in Black: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: (read the review)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D’Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub, Rip Torn

Related content: Will Smith recalls how Steven Spielberg convinced him to do Men in Black — he sent a helicopter

Mousehunt (1997)

Courtesy Everett

What happens when Gore Verbinski, Nathan Lane, and Lee Evans team up to make a kid’s movie? Besides a skewed world view, you also get the kind of anarchic chaos reserved for more adult fare — making this the kind of “family” film anyone (from little toddlers to surly middle schoolers to distracted teens) can enjoy. Ostensibly about two brothers attempting to restore a grand old mansion, Mousehunt is really just an excuse for slapstick (and, truth be told, rather violent) Three Stooges-style humor (if one of the Stooges was a mouse). All of this, plus the never-not-amazing Christopher Walken playing the exterminator? Bring on the (cheese-flavored) popcorn.

Where to watch Mousehunt: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: (read the review)

Director: Gore Verbinski

Cast: Nathan Lane, Lee Evans, Vicki Lewis, Christopher Walken

Paddington (2014)

Everett Collection

Is there a sweeter, gentler, lovelier children’s film in existence? Paddington (and its beloved sequel) has inspired cult-like levels of adoration for good reason. The charmed tale of the very polite bear is as comforting as a marmalade sandwich without ever feeling cloying, and our critic favorably compared it to a Wes Anderson or Muppets movie. Based on Michael Bond‘s classic book, the film is a gorgeous mix of live-action and animation, so smoothly done you quickly forget the bear isn’t as real as the cozy London setting and stellar cast of actors.

Where to watch Paddington: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: A- (read the review)

Director: Paul King

Cast: Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Peter Capaldi

Related content: Yes, Nicolas Cage really does love Paddington 2

The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)

Seth Johnson/Roadside Attractions/Armor

Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome, pairs with Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon, an astounding, unlikely buddy adventure. This low-budget feel-good film about a kid with a dream to become a pro wrestler is so wholesome and naturally shot (at South Carolina’s Outer Banks) that it’s one of those rare joys: a small story with a giant heart. And though some parts are rather predictable, we’re here for it — especially LaBeouf’s transformation from hard-edged meanie to true blue friend for life. À la Rocky, you’ll be rooting for everyone in this film by the end. (Note: This one is rated PG-13.)

Where to watch The Peanut Butter Falcon: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz

Cast: Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson, Shia LeBeouf, Jon Bernthal, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern

Rio (2011)

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett

For all the exhausted parents out there, here’s a fast 411: made by the Ice Age people, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, and filled with more bright colors and great songs than you can shake a ganzá at. Rio is an upbeat wonder, a surefire treat for the 10-and-under set: joyful, funny, and sweet, like a trip to the beach without any of that annoying sand stuff.

Where to watch Rio: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: (read the review)

Director: Carlos Saldanha

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Wanda Sykes, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015)

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett

Say what? A live action SpongeBob movie? Yes, it’s true, and just as goofy, giddy, and weird as it sounds — a real treat for fans of the talkative (and absorbent!) yellow square. Packed with tons of pop cultural references and laugh-out-loud moments, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water will cheer even the grumpiest in your group. Antonio Banderas (as chief bad guy) has a great time hamming it up here, and you will too.

Where to watch The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Paul Tibbitt, Mike Mitchell

Cast: Tom Kenny, Jill Talley, Antonio Banderas, Bill Fagerbakke, Tim Conway, Billy West

Related content: ‘Why am I saying ‘Who’s ready?’ three times?’: An oral history of SpongeBob SquarePants

Troop Zero (2019)

Curtis Bonds Baker/Amazon

The best little indie you’ve never heard of is a charming underdog story, complete with a perfectly dogeared 1970s Southern setting and a gold-star cast (um, Viola Davis and Allison Janney?). Discovering Troop Zero on Prime will feel like a win for families in search of something solidly PG and yet a little… different, because this baby wears its quirk status proudly. (Mckenna Grace plays a girl named Christmas, and that’s just the beginning.) Not to worry — the film is also immersive, good-natured, and a helluva fun watch. Plus, there’s a NASA theme and a Bowie-heavy soundtrack to boot. Not to sound all algorithm-y, but if you liked Because of Winn-Dixie, Little Miss Sunshine, or Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll want to join scrappy lil’ Troop Zero, too.

Where to watch Troop Zero: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Bert and Bertie

Cast: Viola Davis, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Mckenna Grace, Mike Epps

Related content: Troop Zero is so personal to Viola Davis she cried during filming: ‘It’s very, very, very rare’

The Truman Show (1998)


When your kids get a little older, say, 12 and up, finding satisfying family films can become a challenge. Enter: The Truman Show. While not technically a “family” film, this is one of those outliers that transcends classification. You should really encourage your kin to put their phones away and pay attention (and if you face resistance, just promise “the biggest twist, one you’ll never guess”). We’ve actually shown The Truman Show to kids from about 5th grade up, and it’s simply magnetic — the mysterious pastel quality of the “perfect town,” which Jim Carrey navigates with charming naivete, and, of course, an underlying sense that something just isn’t right. Perhaps it’s such an amazing family feature because of the philosophical discussions it can inspire (and how weird it is to see a movie that kind of predicted our current screen-y era).

Where to watch The Truman Show: Amazon Prime Video

EW grade: A (read the review)

Director: Peter Weir

Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Ed Harris

Related content: There should be a sequel: The Truman Show

Where the Red Fern Grows (1974)

Everett Collection

Weeper warning — it’s no joke, folks! This classic film is Sad with a capital “S,” perhaps too sad for the young animal lovers in your house (and, truth be told, this reviewer). But if you can handle it, this well-made, sensitively-acted drama really is worth it. Set in the Ozarks during the Great Depression, the story of a boy and his pair of loyal hound dogs is based on the excellent (and perhaps even more heart-wrenching) book by Wilson Rawls, which was inspired by his own childhood. The fact that this film is such a tear-jerker and yet so beloved tells you something — it’s a special work of art, and watching this has been a childhood milestone since 1974. Lights, camera… sobbing!

Where to watch Where the Red Fern Grows: Amazon Prime Video

Director: Norman Tokar

Cast: James Whitmore, Beverly Garland

Related content: 25 best movie adaptations of classic children’s books

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