Viewers who chose to cut the cable cord have a plethora of options when it comes to selecting what movie to watch for a family night or if you’re in need of some self-care. It’s easy to spend significant amounts of time scrolling through what to watch on Netflix, even with the “Suprise Me” feature. With that comes the process of sifting through the good, the bad, and the ugly films of any genre.
From Netflix originals to cinematic classics, these films earned a PG rating, making them suitable for most viewers, young and old. While Netflix has dozens of PG titles, these family-friendly films all earned high praise from critics and viewers, and some even earned a few Oscar nominations.
‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ (2021)
A Netflix animation film, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, provides audiences with the right amount of laughter and heart, rivaling any Disney production. The film is directed by Michael Rianda and was also written by Rianda and Jeff Rowe. It follows the dysfunctional Mitchell family when their road trip is suddenly disrupted by the world’s electronics coming to life. They appear to be humanity’s last hope as they fend off a robot takeover.
The animated family is brought to life by Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and Rianda. The Mitchells vs. the Machines earned high praise from audience members and critics. The film went head-to-head with two Disney features and one Disney-Pixar film for Best Animated Feature at the 94th Academy Awards, losing to the highly-coveted Encanto. Nonetheless, this family film is a PG Netflix gem that appeals to viewers of all ages.
‘Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story’ (2005)
Strong performances by a seasoned Kurt Russell and young but established Dakota Fanning make Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story a perfect PG movie to stream while it’s on Netflix. Released in 2005, the drama follows struggling horse trainer Ben (Russell) and his daughter Cale (Fanning) Crane as they put everything on the line to rescue and rehabilitate Soñador, a racehorse, after she breaks her leg on the track.
The film is based on real-life thoroughbred Mariah’s Storm, who suffered from a front leg fracture that would typically end a horse’s racing career. Her owners and dedicated trainers worked tirelessly with veterinarians to heal her injury and restore her racing chances. Dreamer is an emotional film that manages to work with and around the standard racehorse film clichés to garner deserved praise.
Bringing a children’s book to the big screen, Paddington features cinema’s most cuddly bear besides Winnie-the-Pooh. Traveling to England after losing his home in the Peruvian rainforest, a bear finds a new home with the Brown family while he discovers the wonders of city living. With Ben Whishaw as the voice of Paddington, the live-action film boasts a cast containing stars like Sally Hawkins, Henry Bonneville, and Julie Walters.
One of the most highly-rated films of all time, Paddington won over critics and audiences with its ability to modernize a 1950s children’s book series without losing the charm that made the original character famous in the first place. Despite its beloved status with moviegoers, the film did not earn any Oscar nominations. Still, this family-friendly film is an exceptional choice to stream while available on Netflix.
‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998)
The classic ’90s romance film You’ve Got Mail brings Netflix streamers a fan-favorite film for those nights where an oldie-but-a-goodie is needed. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, the rom-com follows bookstore owner Kathleen (Ryan) as she begins an internet romance unknowingly with a man she hates, Joe (Hanks), the owner of a corporate bookstore chain that is trying to run her out of business.
The chemistry between Hanks and Ryan was undeniable and elevated the film to its status as one of the best romantic comedies to grace the screen. The film’s age and charm serve as a comedic reminder of what online dating looked like before apps and swiping. Its PG rating makes it accessible to coming-of-age viewers and their parents who were around when the film was first released.
‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (2010)
While the sequel, shorts, and spinoff shows are available on the streaming giant, the original How to Train Your Dragon holds its own as one of Dreamworks’ top animated films following Shrek. A Norse teenager named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) has progressive views that clash with that of his father and clan. His life gets more chaotic when he befriends and rescues an injured dragon he names Toothless.
The animated film was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards but lost to Toy Story 3 for Animated Feature and The Social Network for Original Score. Critics and audiences fell in love with the CGI animation style and Toothless’s minimalist but mysterious character. This PG blockbuster has withstood the test of time and is worth revisiting on any Netflix movie night.
Teens who were still swooning over Zac Efron following High School Musical’s 2006 release wouldn’t need to wait long to see him on the big screen. The film version of Hairspray arrived in 2007, receiving acclaim for the film’s talented cast that included Efron as Link Larkin. The Broadway musical tells the story of Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) as she becomes a teen sensation when she wins a spot as a dancer on “The Corny Collins Show” in 1960s Baltimore.
For those unfamiliar with the stage show or the film, Hairspray is more than just a musical. It’s a story about diversity and racial segregation during an important chapter in U.S. history. The film boasts Hollywood legends like John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, and Queen Latifah. The last day to stream this PG musical is May 31.
‘Corpse Bride’ (2005)
A Tim Burton classic, The Corpse Bride bridges the director’s spooky, gothic style with a family-friendly film that makes for a perfect rainy evening movie. With voices from Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Emily Watson, the undead film finds Victor Van Dort (Depp) caught in a love triangle with his arranged marriage to Victoria Everglot (Watson) and a corpse bride (Bonham Carter) who unknowingly said his vows to. As Victor tries to return to the land of the living and marry his beloved Victoria, the mystery of the Corpse Bride’s death begins to complicate things.
Burton’s film earned a Best Animated Feature nomination at the 78th Academy Awards but lost to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Critics and audiences have always valued Burton’s production and art style, and this film is no exception. Viewers can find a bit of everything in this film: elements of horror, romance, comedy, and musicals, are tied together by excellent production values.
‘Little Women’ (1994)
The 1994 adaptation of Louise May Alcott’s classic novel is available for period-piece movie lovers to stream on Netflix. The film follows the March sisters moving through life’s growing pains in post-Civil War America, with each sister struggling with a different life transition. Directed by Gillian Armstrong, the 90s classic stars Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kirsten Dunst.
The original film earned three Oscar nominations but did not take home anything at the 67th Academy Awards. The film was re-imagined by director Greta Gerwig in 2019, earning six nominations and taking home one. Both films are rated PG, but only the 1994 version is available on Netflix at this time, serving as an excellent precursor to streaming the 2019 version on another platform.
A Netflix original animated feature, Klaus is the perfect PG holiday film to stream when the classics feel too repetitive. Jesper (voiced by Jason Schwartzman) is the postmaster in a frigid town called Smeerensburg, where he befriends a reclusive toymaker named Klaus (voiced by J.K. Simmons). The two form an unlikely friendship, and wind up creating the Santa Claus legend.
In love with the hand-drawn animation style, critics and audiences praised the film for its awkward charm and ability to entertain parents and children alike with its spin on the story of Santa Claus. Klaus earned the Best Animated Feature nomination but lost to Toy Story 4 at the 92nd Academy Awards.
‘The Water Man’ (2020)
A coming-of-age story, The Water Man, follows a young boy named Gunner (Lonnie Chavis) who seeks out a mythical figure named the Water Man to find a cure for his ailing mother, Mary (Rosario Dawson). As he ventures deeper into the woods, his journey becomes more perilous. The film co-stars David Oyelowo, who also directed, and Amiah Miller.
The film is Oyelowo’s feature directorial debut. It earned high praise and a certified fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics and a relatively high score with audiences. Earning a PG rating, The Water Man is an adventure drama that will entertain families with comedic moments, but with the heart of a film brings families together.
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