These Are the Best Kids’ Movies of 2021 to Watch With the Whole Family

Disney/Pixar

Family movie night is still on! While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the opening, closing and attending of movie theaters, it hasn’t stopped the production of some excellent-looking family films. In fact, the schedule for the year is set to be stocked with fairy tales, new animated movies, robot adventures, musicals and, of course, the ever-popular sequels and remakes. We took a look at the calendar and compiled a list of the best kid’s movies of 2021.

Pandemic realities still are what they are, so there’s a good chance that these release dates may shift as they get closer and movie studios see what the cinema situation is across the country. Some of these might wind up getting pushed to later in the year, or go straight to video-on-demand. (VOD is an excellent way to catch up on the best kids’ movies of 2020, by the way.) But for now, you can pencil these into your calendar. Or, if you’re looking for more inspiration for at-home family movie nights, you can also check out the best kids’ movies of all time, the best kids’ movies on Netflix or the best animated films. Now, who wants popcorn?

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Tom & Jerry

Release Date: February 26, 2021

Tom the tomcat and Jerry the mouse have been chasing each other around for decades, and they’re still having crazy adventures. This time, Tom is hired to chase Jerry out of a fancy New York City hotel before an A-list wedding. Chloë Grace Moretz co-stars as the hotel’s interim wedding planner.

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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

Release Date: March 5, 2021

Gary, SpongeBob’s beloved pet, is missing! To get him back, SpongeBob and Patrick follow a series of clues that lead them on an adventure to the city of Atlantis. The movie premiered on the Paramount+ streaming network at premium VOD on the same day it was released in theaters, and it’s still available to stream there.

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Raya and the Last Dragon

Release Date: March 5, 2021

Disney’s first movie of the year is an animated film about Raya, an aspiring protector of a mystical Dragon Gem. When trouble strikes in her world of Kumandra, she must find the last dragon to help save humanity. Kelly Marie Tran stars as Raya, and Awkwafina is the voice of Sisu the water dragon. Raya is available on Disney+ and no longer requires a Premier Access fee.

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The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Release Date: April 30, 2021

This Netflix movie follows the Mitchell family, which embarks on a cross-country road trip to drop off the eldest daughter at film school — and are waylaid by a tech uprising, forcing them to band together to save the world. It’s from the creators of The Lego Movie, so expect it to have lots of fast-paced humor.

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Cruella

Release Date: May 28, 2021

Emma Stone takes on the role of the infamous Disney villain in a film that explains how Cruella de Vil became Dalmatian-obsessed to begin with. It takes place in the fashion world in London during the 1970s, so expect some outrageous Cruella fashions. This movie is available on Disney+ and no longer requires a Premier Access fee.

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Sailor Moon Eternal

Release Date: June 3, 2021

This is actually a two-for-one: Two full-length movies, released on the same day, bring the Sailor Moon universe to Netflix. In it, the guardians must be reunited to tangle with a ominous entity called the Dead Moon Circus.

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Spirit Untamed

Release Date: June 4, 2021

Sure, Spirit fans can get their fix with the Netflix series, but it’s extra exciting to know that there’s another feature to watch. It’s a re-telling of the early adventures the plucky Lucky Prescott and her untamed stallion.

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Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Release Date: June 11, 2021

This movie was supposed to come out in time for last Easter — better late than never! This time, Peter ventures out beyond the garden walls when he becomes a runaway bunny.

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Wish Dragon

Release Date: June 11, 2021

This Aladdin-like Netflix movie follows a college student who discovers a dragon that can grant him wishes. He wants to use the newfound powers to reconnect with a now-famous childhood friend. But is the magic all its cracked up to be?

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Luca

Release Date: June 18, 2021

Luca and Alberto dream of a life of freedom, a life of adventure — and, most of all, a life with a Vespa to ride. They try to win the money to buy a scooter in the Italian town of Portorosso, but they’re hiding something big that would scandalize the townsfolk, including their newfound friend, Giulia. This one came straight to Disney+ without a premium fee.

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Boss Baby: Family Business

Release Date: July 2, 2021

If your kids are fans of the first Boss Baby movie or the Boss Baby: Back in Business series on Netflix, they’ll be happy to know there’s another bundle on the way. This time, Tim and Ted are grown-ups who — at the behest of Tim’s infant daughter — have to turn back into babies to help stop an evil villain. This was released simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock, where it’s still around for streaming.

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Space Jam: A New Legacy

Release Date: July 16, 2021

If you’ve been waiting for a Space Jam sequel since 1996, now’s your time to shine. This time, LeBron James teams up with all the Looney Tunes characters to save his son, Dom, from a sinister Warner Brothers algorithm. This one is available through HBO Max.

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Jungle Cruise

Release Date: July 30, 2021

This family adventure film is based on the Disney theme park attraction (and includes a lot of corny puns like the ride does). Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star as an unlikely duo sent into the wilderness by river to find the Tree of Life, which is said to have mysterious healing powers. You can watch it in on Disney+ with a Premier Access fee until November 12, when it will become free for subscribers.

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Vivo

Release Date: August 6, 2021

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote a spate of brand-new songs for this Netflix animated film, about a music-loving kinkajou and his travels from Havana to Miami.

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Paw Patrol: The Movie

Release Date: August 20, 2021

It was only a matter of time before the pups made their way from Adventure Bay to the big screen. The movie promises to have bigger action, more thrilling rescues, even cooler vehicles and a pup voiced by Kim Kardashian. The movie debuted in theaters on Paramount+ the same day.

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The Loud House Movie

Release Date: August 20, 2021

Netflix offers up a new adventure with the Loud family, and it’s appropriately rowdy. In this new movie, the crew heads over to Scotland, where they learn they’re descendants of Scottish royalty. Also, it’s a musical!

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Cinderella

Release Date: September 3, 2021

Camila Cabello stars in a musical adaptation of the fairy tale, which co-stars Pierce Brosnan as the King, James Corden as a footman an Billy Porter as “Fab G,” a fairy godperson. It comes from Kay Cannon, who wrote the Pitch Perfect films, and the songs are a mix of originals and popular tunes like “Somebody to Love” or “Rhythm Nation.” It went directly to Amazon Prime.

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My Little Pony: A New Generation

Release Date: September 24, 2021

To coincide with the new My Little Pony G5 series, this movie follows a new crew of equines. The land of Equestria has lost its magic, and an Earth Pony named Sunny teams up with new friends to try and get it back. And for those who like to stay home: This movie is premiering directly on Netflix.

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The Addams Family 2

Release Date: October 1, 2021

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a visit from the Addams Family in some shape or form. This time, it’s a sequel to the 2019 animated movie, the one with characters that look more like the original Charles Addams cartoons. Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron return as Gomez and Morticia Addams, and SNL‘s Bill Hader also joins the cast. It’ll debut simultaneously in theaters on premium VOD.

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Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle

Release Date: October 8, 2021

As part of Pokémon’s 25th anniversary celebration, the company is releasing its 23rd animated movie straight to Netflix. In it, Ash and Pikachu meet Koko, a boy raised by a member of a troop of insular Zarude Pokémon. Koko has to figure out if he’s human or Zarude.

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Ron’s Gone Wrong

Release Date: October 22, 2021

Ron lives in a world where robots and kids are best friends. But his robot BFF is malfunctioning, which leads him to learn new lessons about friendship. It’s reminiscent of other robot/kid buddy movies, like Big Hero 6 or The Iron Giant.

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Home Sweet Home Alone

Release Date: November 21, 2021

Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney and Archie Yates star in a re-imagining of Home Alone, coming out in time for the holiday season. This time, a couple wants to retrieve a priceless heirloom, and a young boy is the only thing standing in their way. It’ll go straight to Disney+.

Encanto

Release Date: November 24, 2021

Disney returns with a new, animated film, about a special family living in a magic house in Colombia, and a 15-year-old who has to figure out where she fits in. Like Vivo, this one is also a musical with songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Robin Robin

Release Date: November 27, 2021

This isn’t a full-length movie — it’s a 30-minute holiday special — but it is going to be an event. The stop-motion musical was made by Aardman, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, and features songs by the Bookshop Band. Gillian Anderson and Richard E. Grant provide voices. It’ll premiere on Netflix in time for the holidays.

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A Boy Called Christmas

Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas

Release Date: December 3, 2021

Those who loved the gentle humor of Shaun the Sheep and Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon will be thrilled to find a new sheepish holiday adventure on Netflix. In it, Shaun’s little buddy Timmy gets lost, and has to be found before he becomes somebody’s present. If your kids like it, they can always watch the series for more.

Sing 2

Release Date: December 22, 2021

The band of performing animals from Sing are looking to get a new act together, but they need to recruit a reclusive star in order to do so. Each performer has to overcome past setbacks to do their part in the show. Expect lots of your favorite pop songs to turn up, just like in the first movie.

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Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Release Date: TBD

Johnny, wanting to feel like a closer member of the family, uses an invention to turn himself into a real monster. But will the monsters also use the machine to turn into people? It’s a monster mash if there ever was one. It’ll premiere on Amazon.

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Clifford the Big Red Dog

Release Date: TBD

Follow Emily Elizabeth, her uncle Casey and the famed Big Red Dog as they race around New York City getting into mischief. How much trouble can a 10-foot puppy get into, anyway?

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