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These Are the 21 Very Best Family Movies of 2021

Truly a fantastic year for original family movies. Here are a few of the very best.

Jack Shepherd

18-Mixtape

There are two types of parents when it comes to picking a movie for the family to watch: The type that has a carefully updated spreadsheet of all the movies they’ve been recommended that they can consult ... and the type that thinks they’re going to remember all these things without a spreadsheet but actually can’t. Hey, no judgment here — I’m just telling it like it is. But whether you’ve got a spreadsheet or not, try and remember that this list of the absolute best new family movies to come out in 2021 exists, so you can come back to it next time it’s family movie night, rather than trying to make everyone watch Goonies again.

Luca

1-Luca

A delightfully original Pixar movie about secret sea monsters who disguise themselves as humans to win a scooter race in a charming Italian town. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Streaming on: Disney+

Clifford the Big Red Dog

2-Clifford

It’s a genuinely fun and funny adventure starring everybody’s favorite comically oversized canine and the hilarious Jack Whitehall as a feckless babysitting uncle who’s gotten way more than he’s bargained for. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 57%

Streaming on: Paramount+

Vivo

3-Vivo

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s beautifully animated musical story about a kinkajou who wants to play a very special song for an old friend of his beloved master. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 86%

Streaming on: Netflix

Raya and the Last Dragon

4-Raya

An exciting fantasy adventure from Disney in which the princess Raya must go on an epic quest to bring back the one thing that can save her world from the monsters who are engulfing it … dragons

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Streaming on: Disney+

Encanto

5-Encanto

Lin-Manuel Miranda has been really busy this year, huh? Seriously, where does he find the time? But his score makes this gorgeous animated story about a magical family and their one ... not-so-magical daughter absolutely shine. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%

Streaming on: Disney+ (beginning Friday 12/24)

CODA

6-CODA

The term “CODA” stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” and this wonderful, heartwarming movie about a hearing girl whose dreams of becoming a singer prove difficult for her deaf family to understand, is one that your family will want to watch over and over again. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Streaming on: Apple TV+

Ghostbusters: Afterlife

7-Ghostbusters

It’s the Ghostbusters, for a whole new generation! What’s not to love? Well, just one thing honestly: We need about 10 times more Paul Rudd in this movie. But that’s kind of true of every movie, isn’t it? 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 63%

Streaming on: (Still in theaters. No streaming date announced yet.)

The Mitchells Vs. the Machines

8-Mitchells

Well, it finally happened. The robot apocalypse, I mean. And that’s not even the bad news. The bad news is that humanity’s last, best hope is a hilariously dysfunctional family called the Mitchells. Watch this highly amusing, creatively animated movie to find out if they pull it off. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Streaming on: Netflix

Wish Dragon

9-Wish-Dragon

Another whimsical and sweet animated dragon movie to meet your dragon-movie needs after you’ve watched Raya and the Last Dragon 100 times (hey, from one parent to another — I get that we’ve got to keep that dragon content coming), Wish Dragon is the story of a magical dragon who helps a young man reunite with his childhood best friend. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 65%

Streaming on: Netflix

Jungle Cruise

10-Jungle-Cruise

It’s just such a no-brainer to cast The Rock in a contemporary Indiana Jones-style exploration adventure that I’m surprised it’s never happened before! Oh wait, it has: Jumanji 2, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff. Anyway, it’s a winning formula.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 62%

Streaming on: Disney+

PAW Patrol: The Movie

11-Paw-Patrol

The PAW Patrol’s big screen adventure is everything anyone could have hoped for. Which is saying something, because we live in a world populated almost entirely by young PAW Patrol superfans who had sky-high expectations for this fun, fresh, and frolicsome family movie. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%

Streaming on: Paramount+

Back to the Outback

12-Back-To-The-Outback

The most fun you can have with animated animals in Australia since Rescuers Down Under! Anyone remember that one, or is that just me? This one’s about a spider, a scorpion, a snake, a Thorny Devil lizard, and a koala who are trying to find their way home from the zoo. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

Streaming on: Netflix

Flora & Ulysses

13-Flora-+-Ulysses

It’s a question we’ve all had to ask ourselves at one time or another: What would we do if we rescued a squirrel who suddenly became a superhero? This sweet and funny movie based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo finally answers that age-old conundrum. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%

Streaming on: Disney+

12 Mighty Orphans

14-Orphans

Hands up if you like stories about underdogs who overcome incredible adversity to achieve the impossible. Is that everyone? OK, awesome — here’s a movie about an orphanage football team. This one’s PG-13, but it’s great fun for older kids. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%

Streaming on: Starz

Sing 2

15-Sing-2

The all-star animal cast of Sing return for another endearing, karaoke-adjacent adventure that kids will love and parents will feel compelled to sing along to. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 67%

Streaming on: (Still in theaters. Will eventually be available on Disney+.)

The Water Man

16-Water-Man

A heartwarming fairytale adventure about a young boy who sets out on a magical adventure to find a cure that will save his sick mother. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 78%

Streaming on: Netflix

Finding Ohana

17-Finding-Ohana

A treasure-hunting adventure for the “geocaching” set, this adventure story will provide fun and thrills for the young ones, and Goonies-esque nostalgia for parents. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%

Streaming on: Netflix

Mixtape

18-Mixtape

Heartfelt, sweet, and with just the right amount of nostalgia, Mixtape is a movie about a young girl who seeks to learn more about her late parents after finding a tape that they made in 1994. If you were lucky enough to be around and listening to music in 1994, you’re going to really enjoy this soundtrack. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Streaming on: Netflix

Blue Miracle

19-Blue-Miracle

The best movie about a cantankerous boat captain teaming up with a family to win a fishing competition you’ll see all year — that’s a guarantee. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 70%

Streaming on: Netflix

8-Bit Christmas

20-8-Bit-Christmas

It’s got Neil Patrick Harris, it’s set in the ’80s, and it’s about a quest to get a brand-new Nintendo Entertainment System. Your kids will like this movie, but let’s be honest — this one’s for you. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 80%

Streaming on: HBO Max

In the Heights

21-In-The-Heights

It’s a universal law that you’re not allowed to end a list of movies from 2021 until you’ve found a way to include at least three Lin-Manuel Miranda vehicles, so let’s finish up with this charming movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel’s musical. This one’s PG-13 for language and references, so it may be only appropriate for teens and up. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Streaming on: HBO Max