The 10 Best Family Movies on Amazon Prime

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The 10 Best Family Movies on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime still doesn’t have a great selection of family and kids movies, to put it mildly. To compile this list of 10, we had to wade through every off-brand animation and modern take on the after-school special and skateboarding chimpanzee adventure. Even still, we had to include a few IMDB channel offerings that are free to Amazon Prime members but include ads. Children deserve quality as much as adults, and these 10 kids movies are more than just a cute animal on the cover, from adaptations of classic books to movies that everyone should see before they leave the nest.

Here are the 10 best family and kids movies streaming on Amazon Prime Video:

1. Fantastic Mr. Fox

mr-fox.jpg Year: 2009
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman
Rating: PG
Runtime: 86 minutes

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Wes Anderson’s trademark ironic eccentricity and Roald Dahl’s vaguely menacing but entirely lighthearted surrealism combine to form Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson’s first animated effort, which uses the same maddeningly traditional stop-motion techniques as Isle of Dogs. It’s ostensibly a children’s film (Mr. Fox and his family and friends try to outrun the mean farmers), but rather transparently aimed at their parents, who likely read Dahl’s books in grade school, remember stop-motion when it didn’t feel vintage and have followed Anderson’s work for years. But Fantastic Mr. Fox is broader and more straightforward than any of Anderson’s other films. The tale has been greatly expanded from the Dahl original to cover familiar Anderson themes of family, rivalry and feeling different. And with its lush autumnal palette and hijinks worthy of Max Fischer or Dignan, the result is a film that only Wes Anderson could have made.—Alisa Wilkinson


2. The Bad News Bears

bad-news-bears.jpg Year: 1976
Director: Michael Ritchie
Stars: Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, Vic Morrow
Rating: NR
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Vulgar, politically incorrect and heartfelt to the extreme, this baseball flick about a youth baseball team of misfits is a metaphor for that shocking reality check we all had as kids. Maybe all grown ups aren’t role models. But through all the winning and losing—mostly losing in the beginning—both the bad-example, beer-guzzling coach (Walter Matthau) and his bad-news Bears find redemption through each other. Is it a “kids” movie? No, it’s an everyone movie. —Joe Shearer


3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

roger-rabbit.jpg Year: 1988
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Robert Zemeckis sparked a massive animation revival with this part-animated, part-live-action meta-noir, the first such hybrid to win multiple Oscars since 1964’s Mary Poppins. The superbly crafted Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is set in a fantasy 1940s Hollywood where humans coexist with “Toons,” many of whom work in “pictures” (the back lot of Maroon Cartoons is a hilarious collage of references to every classic Disney feature and Saturday morning cartoon). Mostly it’s a peaceful coexistence, but not for morose private investigator Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), who’s been in alcoholic down-and-out-ville and an avowed Toon hater since an animated character killed his brother Teddy. Of course, he finds himself tied (sometimes literally) to impulse-control-challenged cartoon star Roger Rabbit, who’s been framed for the murder of gadget magnate Marvin Acme. Roger’s sultry pinup-girl wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner) and Valiant’s long-suffering ex Dolores (Joanna Cassidy) team up with the reluctant odd couple to solve the murder, in which a shady, erasure-happy Toon Town magistrate named Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd in perhaps the single best cinematic use of his signature eye-bugging) seems to be implicated. The mosaic of references to both classic film noir and classic animation is the stuff of drinking games, the story is hilarious and, sometimes when you least expect it, genuinely affecting, and the antics of live-action characters in the “Forget it, Jake—it’s Toon Town” universe are a joy to watch. —Amy Glynn

4. It’s a Wonderful Life

wonderful-life.jpg Year: 1946
Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Rating: PG
Runtime: 130 minutes

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If you don’t adore this 1946 movie starring Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore, then perhaps, like the Grinch, your heart is two sizes too small. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) has a crisis on Christmas Eve and believes the world would be better without him. He’s wrong, of course, and this life-affirming movie always makes me happy. Remember: “No man is a failure who has friends.” —Amy Amatangelo


5. The Secret of Roan Inish

secret-roan.jpg Year: 1995
Director: John Sayles
Stars: Jeni Courtney, Eileen Colgan, Mick Lally
Rating: PG
Runtime: 102 minutes
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In 2013, we talked to the legendary director John Sayles about this film about a little girl solving a mystery in her small island village, and we’ll let him tell you about it. “There was a children’s book called The Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry, set in Scotland, that Maggie, who I live with and who produced the movie, had read as a 10-year-old girl and loved. And she had been bugging me for years to read it and make the movie. At one point she was visiting her home town, and the library was selling a bunch of old books, and she bought it for a quarter. And she said, “Finally, you have to read this thing.” And I knew I’d have to add some things to make it a feature, but I knew it was a great story. The writer was also an illustrator, and there were beautiful little line drawings, some of which are replicated in the movie. The shooting of it was fun. We went over to Ireland with maybe four crew people. We brought Haskell Wexler and his operator, and a couple more people, and we got everyone else over there. We were informed that this was the first time a lot of these people had worked on a mixed crew. And we thought, “But there’s no black people in this crew.” But what they meant was, people from Northern Ireland and the south of Ireland on the same crew. But luckily, they liked each other, and went on to make other movies together. And we went over there not knowing a single actor we were going to work with. I had just John Lynch in a movie, and knew I wanted to cast him. But other than that, we thought, “We’ll find some actors. And we’ll find an amazing little girl.” And we did. The only performers that we had really lined up were the seals. —Michael Dunaway


6. Galaxy Quest

galaxy-quest.jpg Year: 1999
Director: Dean Parisot
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 minutes
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Galaxy Quest is a film about equilibrium between love and parody; a movie made with less of the former and too much of the latter becomes a mean-spirited dunk on sci-fi fandom, and a movie made in the reverse becomes too much about fan service than honest-to-goodness storytelling. Dean Parisot, aided and abetted by writers David Howard and Robert Gordon, finds the perfect balance of both, and Galaxy Quest gets to be a straight-up sci-fi adventure flick that embraces its genre as enthusiastically as it pokes fun at its tropes. You don’t make that kind of affectionate self-satire without caring. It’s not like sci-fi fandom couldn’t stand a little dunking, after all, but only a real sci-fi fan knows where to draw the line. So Parisot, Howard and Gordon must be real sci-fi fans. Much as Galaxy Quest picks away at the conventions of its category, and at the people who worship sci-fi with as much reverence as the average Baptist praises Jesus, it’s built on an abiding fondness for Star Trek: For phasers, for warp drives, for teleportation, for holograms, for alien races exotic and bizarre, for every other damn cliché in the sci-fi playbook that makes us groan but which we know we couldn’t quite live without. (What’s a good sci-fi movie without a brash, macho commander who makes questionable strategic calls that somehow work anyway?) This one’s for the sci-fi fans. And if you’re not a sci-fi fan, then it might be the movie to make you into one. —Andy Crump


7. The Secret of NIMH

secret-nimh.jpg Year: 1982
Director: Don Bluth
Stars: Derek Jacobi, Arthur Malet, Dom DeLuise
Rating: G
Runtime: 82 minutes

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The film adaption of Robert C. O’Brien’s award-winning book was the first project from Don Bluth after he left Disney with some of his fellow animators to start his own production company before partnering with Steven Spielberg on franchises like The Land Before Time and An American Tail. It’s the story of mouse Mrs. Brisby and her frantic search to move her children to safety as plowing season threatens to destroy her home. Along the way she uncovers N.I.M.H.’s (National Institute of Mental Health) horrific animal-testing past and meets the world’s most terrifying owl. —Rachel Dovey


8. A Monster in Paris

monster-paris.jpg Year: 2001
Director: Bibo Bergeron
Stars: Matthieu Chedid/Sean Lennon, Vanessa Paradis, Gad Elmaleh/Adam Goldberg
Rating: NR
Runtime: 82 minutes
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One of the most American-style animation films from France, A Monster in Paris is set in 1910. Expect to see some lovely landmarks and monuments in this comedic tale of two unlikely partners saving a misunderstood monster who has landed in Paris. Loosely inspired by Phantom of the Opera, the film was nominated for the César Awards for Best Animated Film and Best Original Music in 2011. —Madina Papadopoulos


9. Benji

benji.jpg Year: 1974
Director: Joe Camp
Stars: Higgins, Patsy Garrett, Cynthia Smith
Rating: G
Runtime: 85 minutes
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The soft-focus photography and mawkish music—not to mention the ’70s fashions worn by the humans—have dated this much-loved dog movie, but it doesn’t diminish the charm and courage of the titular lovable pooch. Much like Tramp, Benji is a stray known all over town to different people by different names—and loved by all, including two children whose dad won’t let them have a dog of their own. Dad reverses his “no dogs” policy after the kids are kidnapped and Benji leads them to the culprits. Fun fact: Benji was first played by Higgins, a shelter dog. In subsequent Benji films, including the dreadful Oh Heavenly Dog with Chevy Chase, Higgins’ daughter, Benjean played the adorable mutt. —Sharon Knolle


10. Marley & Me

marley-me.jpg Year: 2008
Director: David Frankel
Stars: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Eric Dane, Kathleen Turner, Alan Arkin
Rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes

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If the trailer and marketing for Marley & Me accurately portrayed the film, it would have been about following a dog and its owners through a lifetime of misadventures. What the film’s actually about is a pair of people who marry and soon afterward find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibilities of work and family, all of which is somewhat exacerbated by their ill-behaved pet. It was a big switcheroo, but Fox is smart and its choice of showcasing the attractive dog rather than the depressing realities of maturing is a big PR coup. Marley himself is the biggest MacGuffin this side of Hitchcock. Starring in this family dramedy is Owen Wilson in his first fully three-dimensional role. He plays John Grogan, the newspaper columnist who wrote the book Marley & Me who marries Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston) at the beginning of the film. Afraid that she may want children, he buys her a dog to keep her occupied. Their love for the dog blossoms into the need for a real family, and the rest of the film simply documents their life and the sacrifices they withstand for the sake of, at least according to the film, the greater pleasure of family. Marley & Me’s storytelling coasts on the talent of its leads who, perhaps surprisingly, flesh out their characters in robust if occasionally cliché ways. It dips a little too deeply into unnecessary sentimentality and ends on a gimmicky note, but all of its faults don’t detract from a whole that’s deeply concerned with its characters. That the dog never becomes particularly relevant is no big loss. —Sean Gandert