Great Family Movies and Shows to Stream for AAPI Heritage Month
Turn family movie night into something to celebrate with these movies and shows perfect for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!
Maria Bailey and Sarah Burns
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — a celebration of the cultures, contributions, and experiences of all people with origins in the Asian continent and Pacific Islands, including Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. Why does AAPI Heritage Month fall in May? The month was chosen to commemorate the first Japanese immigration to the United States back on May 7, 1843, and also to mark the anniversary and completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869 — a massive undertaking that changed American history, constructed primarily by Chinese workers.
While AAPI Month puts a spotlight on the Asian American Pacific Islander community, there is perhaps no better (or more necessary) time than now to embrace inclusivity at home, to encourage empathy in the generations to come, and to center AAPI experiences.
One way to do just that: Watching a really awesome movie as a family! Cue up some of these AAPI movies this month to celebrate the stories of our Asian American and Pacific Islander friends.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya is a warrior princess who embarks on a mission to find the elusive "last dragon" to save her divided fantasy land. This film takes us on a visual journey through the kingdom's five districts, inspired by countries within Southeast Asia, and on an emotional journey, too. Raya comes to realize it's going to take more than a dragon to save the world — it's going to take trust and teamwork as well. This beautiful film is voiced by an all-star and mostly Asian cast — including Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of the fearless warrior Raya; Awkwafina as the legendary dragon, Sisu; Gemma Chan as Raya's nemesis, Namaari; Daniel Dae Kim as Raya's visionary father, and Sandra Oh as Namaari's powerful mother.
Crazy Rich Asians
Heralded as the first major American film to feature a predominantly Asian cast, Crazy Rich Asians made history not only for what it did for representation in Hollywood but also as the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. Based on an outrageously funny book of the same name, this love story follows native New Yorker Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family. However, when she arrives, she quickly learns her boyfriend Nick is anything ordinary. His family is rich — crazy rich! Rachel is thrust into the spotlight and forced to contend with jealous socialites, and something much worse: Nick's disapproving mother! Featuring Constance Wu as Rachel Chu, Henry Golding as Nick, Michelle Yeoh as Nick's mom, Eleanor, and Awkwafina as Rachel's friend and confidante, Peik Lin Goh — this hilarious and heartwarming PG-13 film will capture your family's hearts.
My Neighbor Totoro
This enchanting film not only offers a glimpse into Japanese culture and anime but also exposes little viewers to the Japanese language. One of the most beloved family films of all time, My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 subtitled Japanese fantasy that follows the adventures of Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei. Their move to the countryside takes an exciting turn when they meet their neighbor, Totoro: a larger-than-life forest spirit only children can see.
Meet Moana — the strong-willed daughter of a Polynesian village chief who sets sail on a daring mission to save her people. To do this, she must find and join forces with the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) and convince him to embark on a journey across the ocean to complete the quest of her ancestors. Join Moana and Maui as they encounter huge monsters and overcome impossible odds on an adventurous voyage and journey of self-discovery.
Mighty Little Bheem
Netflix's first animated series from India centers around a mischievous toddler called Bheem, who embarks on an adventure across an Indian village in the fictional kingdom of Dholakpu. Woven throughout the storyline are references to traditional ceremonies and traditions. Mighty Little Bheem is a non-verbal animation, making it a universal show that introduces the imaginations of young viewers to Indian storytelling and customs.
She is the ultimate heroine and woman warrior. Defying gender roles to save her sick father, Mulan disguises herself as a male soldier to bravely take his place in China's Imperial Army. Sure, a live-action version was released in 2020, but you can never beat the 1998 animated original in our books.
Lilo & Stitch
When a six-year-old Hawaiian girl named Lilo Pelekai adopts a "dog" from a local pond, she is completely unaware that her newfound friend — whom she calls Stitch — is actually the galaxy's most wanted extraterrestrial! Through Lilo's unwavering belief in ohana — the Hawaiian concept of family — she is able to unlock the heart of the blue extraterrestrial animal-like creature, giving Stitch the ability to love and care for others.
One of the most critically acclaimed films of all time, Spirited Away is a wondrous fantasy-adventure created by one of the most celebrated filmmakers in animation history, Hayao Miyazaki. The story begins when Chihiro, a ten-year-old girl, moves with her parents to the Japanese countryside. But, when they decide to stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation. Chihiro is thrust into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress Yubaba and must use all her wits to survive and escape.
Over the Moon
Led by a mostly Asian cast, Over the Moon is a Netflix animated feature set in China centered around a 12-year-old girl named Fei Fei. Fueled by memories of her late mother, Fei Fei builds a rocket ship to prove the existence of a legendary goddess on the moon. Listen out for Sandra Oh, Cathy Ang, Ken Jeong, Margaret Cho, Philippa Soo (and more) who bring the characters to life!
Mira, Royal Detective
Featuring Indian music, dance, food, fashion, and language, Mira, Royal Detective is a celebration of Indian culture and customs. The CGI-animated mystery-adventure series follows a brave and resourceful young girl named Mira, who acts as a detective in the fictional Indian city of Jalpur. With an exclusively South Asian cast, the characters are voiced by an impressive roll call of notable actors, including Kal Penn, Freida Pinto, Aasif Mandvi, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Jameela Jamil, and many more.
This heartwarming tale takes the classic "coming of age" genre, and stands it on it's head. Mei seems like a normal pre-teen, but she's been keeping a BIG secret – she turns into a big floofy red panda when her emotions get the best of her. Fortunately she has a host of supportive friends that try to help, but balancing the pressures of school and the expectations of her family is no easy task.
Led by an all-star cast headed by Rosalie Chiang as the strong-willed Mei, and Sandra Oh as Mei's equally strong-willed mother, Ming, Turning Red is a charming depiction of of pre-teen friendship, what growing up means, and what it doesn't have to mean.