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Best Family Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

Discover the best family movies, ranked by Metascore.

Lara Vukelich
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It's time for family movie night again. Instead of arguing over which film will please your entire clan, why not skip straight to the cream of the crop? Some of the best family movies are simply timeless. From cartoons to whimsical live-action sagas, stories designed for all ages can turn a regular Friday night into a special family memory. 

When you're looking for a movie that's appropriate for both kids and adults, you can't go wrong with these fan and critical favorites. We've selected the movies on our below list due to their high Metascores. You're sure to find at least one movie here that pleases the entire family, but why not watch them all?


Pinocchio (1940)

Metascore: 99
Best for: Disney fans, young children
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 88 minutes

Parents love Pinocchio because it's an age-old warning against lying. Kids will love it because there are puppets and a talking cricket. This classic cartoon follows a wooden boy who is trying to prove himself worthy to become a real boy. It's heartwarming, easy to follow, and musical. While the film has been remade over the years, the original 1940 version gives off a very vintage feeling that the entire family can appreciate. With a relatively short run time, many small kids can make it through the entire story in one sitting. 

"Perhaps the most perfect of the great Disney animated features — the most expressively animated, the least pretentious, the best balanced between horror and joy, adventure and comedy." — Dave Kehr, Chicago Tribune


Dumbo (1941)

Metascore: 96
Best for: Disney fans, sentimental viewers
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 64 minutes

Dumbo was made in 1941, so the animation may seem quaint compared to modern standards — but the tale will still tug on your heartstrings. The movie follows a young circus elephant who is made fun of for his large ears. While the storyline is very sad in parts, including a scene in which Dumbo's mom is put in a cage and separated from her son, the movie can still be viewed by most ages — just bring some tissues. The movie only runs for about an hour, making it a tolerable length for kids with a short attention span. 

"With its genuinely cute hero and appealing storyline, Dumbo's exactly right for younger children but not too milk-soppy for anyone over eight. Indispensable." — Kim Newman, Empire


Fantasia

Metascore: 96
Best for: Musicians, older kids
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 125 minutes

This movie is a little unconventional as animated films go. Instead of carrying a single narrative throughout the film, the movie uses classical music to create a series of independent vignettes. The music used includes The Nutcracker Suite, Rite of Spring, and The Pastoral Symphony. Mickey Mouse shows up throughout the movie, as do some characters from Greek mythology and various dancing animals and flowers. And, there are plenty of dancing fairies. Fantasia runs over two hours and may be suited for small kids who don't care about storyline or your burgeoning band member. 

"Fantasia is caviar to the general, ambrosia and nectar for the intelligentsia. It makes no compromises; it is the noblest experiment of a wizard in his bright field of artistry and creativeness." — Edwin Schallert, Los Angeles Times


Ratatouille

Metascore: 96
Best for: Animal lovers, aspiring chefs
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 111 minutes

Rats in a kitchen have never been so beloved — or welcomed! Ratatouille came out in 2007, and it quickly became a beloved family film. Viewers watch as Remy, a small rat with a big dream learns to become a talented chef who is voiced by Patton Oswalt. Through a series of silly mishaps and a stroke of good luck, Remy finds himself in the kitchen of his hero, whipping up delicious food. It wouldn't be a family-friendly animated movie without some lovable sidekicks, so you won't be surprised when the garbage boy develops into a sweet helper to Remy. This one goes for almost two hours, so it might be better for older kids, but even young ones will become enchanted with the cute mouse.        

"A nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times


Spirited Away

Metascore: 96
Best for: Fantasy fanatics
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 125 minutes

Spirited Away is not as well known as most other animated films, so the whole family can watch it for the first time together. Originally released in Japan in 2001, the movie is about a young girl (voiced by Rumi Hiiragi in the original Japanese film and Daveigh Chase in the English version) and her parents who find themselves moving from one town to another. During their journey, the family winds up in a strange village. In fact, the trio are surrounded by unfamiliar spirits and magical happenings. Soon, the girl's parents transform into pigs, and she must fight to return them to normal form and escape. At over more than hours with complex themes, this movie is great for older kids.  

"The most deeply and mysteriously satisfying animated feature to come along in ages." — Peter Rainer, Vulture


Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Metascore: 95
Best for: Fans of musicals and nostalgic viewers
Where to watch: 

Google PlayiTunesVudu
Runtime: 84 minutes

A young woman named Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) finds herself imprisoned in a cavernous castle, but at least she has a giant library to browse and a talking teapot to keep her company. This movie is one part whimsy, one part peril. Belle is forced to live alone in a strange castle to spare her father the same punishment, and she only has a mysterious beast (her captor) to keep her company. Soon, she makes friends with the castle's enchanted residents and even begins to befriend the beast. Ultimately, Belle learns that beauty is more than what is on the surface. Beauty and the Beast is a Disney classic that will be enjoyable for most ages. 

"It's an instant classic, in every way the equal of the great Disney animations of the past." — Jay Carr, The Boston Globe


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Metascore: 95
Best for: Fans of classic fairy tales
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 83 minutes

Evil stepmothers are the worst. In this classic Disney tale from 1937, an orphaned young woman is exiled because her stepmother, the queen, is jealous of her. After a mirror tells the queen that her stepdaughter Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) is the fairest one of all, she sends her to the forest. Once there, Snow White is gracefully taken care of by seven dwarfs. However, her evil stepmother discovers she is still alive and decides to poison her with an apple. This film can be a little bit spooky for young kids, but at just over an hour it's a good length for impatient viewers and just silly enough to keep all ages happy. 

"The detail and fluidity, the denser-than-reality feel, the astonishing palette (check out the red on the poisoned apple) of the film. Watching it, you don't forget it's a cartoon: You relish that it is. What bigger compliment is there than that?" — Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald


Toy Story

Metascore: 95
Best for: Small kids
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 81 minutes

All kids wonder what their toys are doing when the lights go out. Toy Story provides the answer. The movie takes place in a world where toys come alive after everyone goes to bed, living emotionally rich lives. All of the toys belong to a boy named Andy (voiced by John Morris); when he acquires a new toy, the old toys start to worry that they will be forgotten. There are misadventures and jokes aplenty. You'll recognize some familiar voices, including Tom Hanks, making the movie entertaining for both kids and adults. 

"Though computer-animated rather than hand-drawn, this wry, ripplingly paced buddy movie is as delightful in its own way as any of Walt Disney's traditional fairy tales." — Rita Kempley, The Washington Post


WALL-E

Metascore: 95
Best for: Environmentalists, techies
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 98 minutes

In the 29th century, the planet has become uninhabitable and only a single clean-up robot remains. Named WALL-E, this robot believes he is all alone until he discovers another robot, EVE. The two go through a series of adventures as they — along with the evacuated humans watching remotely — discover new signs of life on Earth. The themes here will be better understood by older kids. At about an hour and a half long, it's a good mid-afternoon watch. 

"This magnificent animated feature from Pixar starts on such a high plane of aspiration, and achievement, that you wonder whether the wonder can be sustained. But yes, it can." — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal


Inside Out

Metascore: 94
Best for: Teaching moments, laugh-out-loud moments
Where to watch: 

, , Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 94 minutes

This movie gives life to our familiar emotions. Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) all live inside the head of the young protagonist, a young girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). The movie follows Riley and her family on a move across the country, and viewers see how her personified emotions struggle to take control in her brain. As her emotions try to negotiate the best way to navigate a major life change, Joy tries to remain in control. This movie is great for kids of all ages, especially young people who may be working to name and regulate feelings. It only runs for about an hour and a half — but it packs in a lot of great life lessons. 

"Inside Out movingly but casually plays with our emotions, like a baby walking her fingers across a parent's face; it leaves you changed, entertained, nostalgic, dazzled." — Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times