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What to Watch With Your Family This January

It's gonna be a good month for family movie night, folks. Get those popcorn bowls ready.

Kerry Acker



So far 2022 is shaping up to be an awesome year for family movie nights! There are some awesome new films and TV to check out this month, as well as classics and fun throwbacks that the whole family will appreciate. From mermaid tales to monsters, from bounty hunters to Bengal tigers to Harry Potter (of course!), here are our picks for January. 

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (Amazon)

The Drac Pack is back! My family can’t get enough of Johnny and this rowdy crew of misfit monsters. This time, everything goes topsy-turvy when the monsters are turned into humans and Johnny turns into — you guessed it — a monster! The fourth (and apparently final, sniff, sniff) film of the franchise, this one promises to be just as rambunctiously fun as its predecessors, even if no one says, blah, blah, blah! How could it not be when the voices of Andy Samberg, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, and Molly Shannon are involved? (Releases January 14, rated PG)

Belle (In Theaters)

Count us among the anime fans who have been anxiously awaiting this feature from Academy Award–nominated director Mamoru Hosada. The action centers on Suzu, a schoolgirl in a rural village who transforms into Belle, a globally adored singer, when she escapes into the virtual world of “U.” There’s a mysterious dragon-like beast, an epic quest, and sweeping musical anthems! Belle looks visually stunning and utterly captivating, not to mention super relatable for social media–savvy tweens. It’s easy to see why this modern take on Beauty and the Beast generated so much buzz at the Cannes Film Festival. (Releases January 14, rated PG)

Selma (Amazon Prime, Hulu Premium)

If you’re looking for a powerful, educational film about the civil rights era, this is an excellent one. Covering the events leading up to the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march, Selma is historical cinematic storytelling at its best. Dramatically riveting, historically accurate, and beautifully acted, the film is a rich, nuanced portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement to secure voting rights for African Americans. That said, because it contains disturbing scenes of the violence perpetrated against the protesters, it’s probably not suitable for younger kids. (Rated PG-13)

Stand by Me (Netflix)

Parents, pull out the tissues, and get ready to ugly cry with your family over this 1980s classic, one of the most heartfelt, unforgettable movies about the wonder and power of childhood friendship. We know, we know. You’ve seen it 12 times before — but have you seen it with your kids? It’s new to Netflix this month! Though the Rob Reiner-directed feature is suitable for older children, it’s got a fair amount of cursing and sex-related jokes — oh, and there’s that darn dead body, too. (Welp, it IS based on a Stephen King short story ... ) But there’s so much empathy, great music, and understanding of what it actually means to be a kid that we simply had to include it on this list. (Rated R for language, violence, and adult themes)

Ada Twist, Scientist (Netflix)

We’re assuming you’re already familiar with the best-selling Andrea Beaty picture book of the same name (see also Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect), but even if you’re one of the two parents on planet Earth who are not, this STEM-focused series (Season 2 is new this month) is super fun and well worth a watch. Basically, Ada and her buddies use science — Question! Test! Hypothesize! — to find answers and learn about the world around them. They even learn to build a skate park, which is a useful skill for any kid to have, really.

The King’s Daughter (In Theaters)

There’s nothing like a dreamy, fantastical mermaid tale — tail? — to take all your troubles away. Especially when it takes place in swoon-worthy historical France. Here, Pierce Brosnan’s King Louis XIV, in search of immortality, commissions a young sea captain to capture a mermaid so the king can steal her life force (because of course he does). But things get complicated when the king’s illegitimate daughter befriends the mysterious sea creature. (Releases January 21, rated PG)

The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+)

Picking up where both Return of the Jedi and The Mandalorian left off, The Book of Boba Fett is practically mandatory viewing for Star Wars fan families. Centering on the legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett, one of the most mysterious figures in the Galaxy, the series looks to feature flashbacks, loads of special effects, and an abundance of super cool alien beings and sand-swept action. (Rated TV-14)

Annie (Netflix)

While we all know that the sun will come out tomorrow, sometimes you need the sun RIGHT NOW, which is where the classic 1982 version of the beloved musical (new on Netflix) comes in real, real handy. If you don’t get teary-eyed listening to our favorite plucky orphan crooning “Maybe” or sing loudly and dance with your broomstick (you have one, right?) to “It’s a Hard-Knock Life,” then it’s possible that you might not be alive. (Rated PG)

The Tiger Rising (In Theaters)

Based on Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times bestseller, this heartwarming tale stars Dennis Quaid, Queen Latifah, and a TIGER. When lonely 12-year-old Rob, who has just lost his mother, comes across an actual Bengal tiger held captive in the woods by a surly Florida man/motel owner, his imagination takes flight and wondrous adventures ensue. Have we mentioned there’s a TIGER? (Releases January 22, streaming on Paramount+ in February; rated PG)

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts (HBO Max)

Whether you’re team Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff; whether you relate to Hermione, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, or (heaven forbid) Dolores Umbridge; we can all agree that “There’s something about Harry Potter that makes life richer,” as Emma Watson notes in this much anticipated anniversary celebration. So grab some butter beer, wrap yourself in your invisibility cloak, and sit back and enjoy this nostalgic journey back to your childhood.