This article is updated frequently as titles leave and enter Max. *New additions are indicated with an asterisk.
Is this one of those nights when the whole family wants to watch a movie together? Or maybe you want something to distract the littles one tonight? The deep catalog of Max (née HBO Max) draws from classic cinema, years of Warner Bros. history, and the Studio Ghibli library, allowing its family section to be one of the richest out there too. It offers a little something for everybody in just the 20 movies below. We will keep this list constantly updated, so come back often for new recommendations for the whole family on Max.
Runtime: 2h 2m
Director: Mamoru Hosoda
The brilliant director of Mirai retold the Beauty and the Beast legend with a tech twist in this striking, gorgeously animated feature film. It may have barely made an impact in the States, but it was actually the third-highest grossing film of the year in its home country of Japan. It’s a truly excellent fantasy adventure that you should see.
Runtime: 1h 40m
Director: Henry Selick
The first film under the LAIKA banner remains one of the best from these stop-motion pioneers because it was a perfect marriage of creators. Who could possibly bring the vision of someone like Neil Gaiman to life better than the director of A Nightmare Before Christmas? No one. And this movie has really sustained itself by not being afraid to scare kids a little bit, understanding that they can take a few thrills with their family entertainment.
Runtime: 1h 45m
Director: Jared Stern, Sam J. Levine
BFFs Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart anchor one of the best animated voice casts of 2022 as the voices of Superman’s superdog Krypto and the not-so-super Ace, who ends up becoming Batman’s pooch. It’s a silly super-comedy that’s elevated by The Rock and Hart as well as Kevin McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna, Marc Maron, and a wonderfully dry Keanu Reeves as the Dark Knight himself.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Runtime: 1h 26m
Director: Wes Anderson
The director of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel adapted the 1970 children’s novel of the same name in this delightful stop-motion animated classic with one of the best voice casts in history. George Clooney, Meryl Steep, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Owen Wilson star in the tale of the titular character as his family is hunted by three farmers. It’s a visual marvel for the whole family.
The Harry Potter films
J.K. Rowling is horrible now, but the books and films that emerged from her work continue to maintain and even build an incredibly loyal audience. They have a habit of rolling on and off streaming sites, and they’re back on Max for now, waiting for the entire family to have a marathon of the story of the Boy Who Lived. Like any massive franchise, they’re a rollercoaster of quality, but Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire rule.
Runtime: 1h 17m
Director: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin
Long before Peter Jackson traveled to Middle Earth, the geniuses at Rankin/Bass – known most for their stop-motion holiday specials – shot an animated version of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic. Broadcast on NBC, it became a formative adventure for kids in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, really shaping how Jackson’s vision would come to life a generation later.
Horton Hears a Who
Runtime: 1h 26m
Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Blue Sky Studios handled this animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, the story of Horton the Elephant, voiced very well by Jim Carrey. Try and use films like this one as a portal to get your little ones to read more Seuss, one of the most essential writers in any family library. It may not do the source material true justice, but no film has, but at least this one has great voice work from Carrey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, and many more.
The Karate Kid
Runtime: 2h 19m
Director: Harald Zwart
In 2010, the 1984 Ralph Macchio classic was remade with a wonderful turn from Jackie Chan in the role that Pat Morita made famous in the original. He’s the best reason to see this film, anchoring what can be a pretty hollow cash-grab of a remake. With the action moved to China and the lead now played by Jaden Smith, this Karate Kid didn’t have the impact of the ‘80s movie but likely has some fans with Max subscriptions.
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Yes, it takes a certain kind of family to sit down in front of a silent film, but maybe you’re one of those families? Even if you think you may not be, try and introduce the little ones to Charlie Chaplin at an early age. This is a great starting point for an appreciation of movies made before not just 2000 but before the advent of sound in film. Chaplin is timeless. People will be watching movies like The Kid for generations to come.
The LEGO Batman Movie
Runtime: 1h 45m
Director: Chris McKay
More than just a child’s version of a superhero movie or a spoof of the genre, this family flick is a legitimately clever and well-crafted action film. Will Arnett spins off his version of the Dark Knight that premiered in The LEGO Movie for a film that unpacks the clichés about Bruce Wayne and Batman in a manner that’s funny and very smart.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Runtime: 1h 35m
Director: Rob Letterman, Conrad Vernon
It may seem a bit dated now, but this 2009 blockbuster likely already strikes a nostalgic chord for Netflix subscribers who grew up when this kind of 3D animated film was a major event. It’s really all there in the title. There are monsters. There are aliens. They fight. What more do you need to know?
My Neighbor Totoro
Runtime: 1h 29m
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
For the longest time, only Spirited Away served as the representative for Studio Ghibli on this list, but we’re expanding now to include the second-best film in the catalog, this gentle and beautiful kids movie from 1988 about an unforgettable friend to two little girls. After their mother is hospitalized, two girls move to an old house, and become friends with the spirits in the woods. That’s just the start of one of the best animated films of all time.
Runtime: 1h 35m
Directors: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
Did you know that the directors of Dumb & Dumber directed a kids movie over twenty years ago that starred Chris Rock? Yeah, this one is a definite oddity, a live-action/animated hybrid about a white blood cell trying to save his host from a virus, and it’s hard to argue that it deserves reappraisal. But it’s old enough now that Max subscribers could have nostalgia for when they saw it when they were kids themselves.
*The Peanuts Movie
Runtime: 1h 28m
Director: Steve Martino
Do kids today appreciate Charlie Brown and Snoopy like their parents used to do? A great gateway drug for the work of Charles M. Schulz for modern young people is this fun and heartfelt big-screen version of the most famous comic strip characters in history. It’s such a sweet movie, one that really gets the core of these characters, and the biggest shame is that a sequel seems impossible after the collapse of Blue Sky Studios and the Disney/Fox merger.
Runtime: 1h 30m
Director: Chris Wedge
It’s another Blue Sky movie! This one doesn’t have the reputation of Ice Age or even Rio, but it might scratch a nostalgic itch. It tells the tale of a robot named Rodney Copperbottom (Ewan McGregor) who travels to Robot City to find his idol and stumbles onto a conspiracy to take an advantage of older robots. The voice cast also includes Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Robin Williams, and Mel Brooks.
Runtime: 1h 33m
Director: Karey Kirkpatrick, Jason Reisig
Channing Tatum wonderfully voices the lead character in this musical comedy. He plays a Yeti who descends from his cloudy mountain village and encounters a human – both realizing that the other species thought them a mythical creature. The visuals are engaging and the jokes are just clever enough to work for all ages.
Runtime: 1h 50m
Director: Joe Dante
A young Kirsten Dunst stars in this film from the beloved director of Gremlins about warring toys. Made at a time when studios were developing breakthrough special effects, the best things about this movie feel like Dante turning the games he would play with action figures in his backyard into a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s dated and a little boring, but there’s a reasonable amount of fun to be had here.
Runtime: 2h 4m
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Almost all of the Studio Ghibli films are on Max, the now-exclusive home to them when it comes to streaming. The truth is that we could devote about 10% of this list to Hayao Miyazaki and his colleagues, but we’ll give up some that space and just point you here to the ranking of the entire output of the most important modern animation studio in the world. Start with Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Castle in the Sky. You won’t stop.
Teen Titans Go to the Movies
Runtime: 1h 24m
Director: Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
Teen Titans Go! Is one of the smartest superhero cartoons of the modern era and their feature film debut is an underrated joy. The writers here joyfully satirize the world of superheroes, including cameos from many famous DC characters, while never losing the heart of their leading men and women. It’s very funny and clever.
Runtime: 1h 56m
Director: Terry Gilliam
Between his Monty Python era and the production of Brazil, Terry Gilliam got the financing for a fantasy family film that would end up like no other. Casting some of his Python buddies (Michael Palin, John Cleese) and legends like Sean Connery, Ian Holm, David Warner, and many more, Time Bandits is an imaginative fairy tale about a boy who travels through time with a group of rowdy thieves. It’s like nothing else.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Runtime: 1h 40m
Director: Mel Stuart
They can remake this story as many times as they want (and are again now with an upcoming series) but the most beloved version of the Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will always be the 1971 starring the legendary Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. Joyous and a little dangerous at the same time, Wilder understood the Dahl sense of humor, one that doesn’t baby young viewers as it takes them on an unforgettable journey through pure imagination.
Runtime: 1h 41m
Director: Victor Fleming
Maybe you’ve heard of it? Seriously, what could possibly be written if you’re on the fence about The Wizard of Oz? Maybe you haven’t seen it since you were a little kid? Revisit the journey of Dorothy over the rainbow if that’s the case and appreciate this wonderful fantasy on a new level.
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