Best Family Films to Stream at Home

30 Mar 2020 BY Michael Prescott in Film Features

5 mins
The Cat Returns
The Cat Returns

As the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation continues and many schools are closed, we're putting together a series of recommendations for fantastic films that can be readily streamed at home for young people to enjoy. In this first edition, we've gathered together some of our favourite family films, and highlighted some reasons we believe them to be an educationally valuable watch.

While there are many fantastic titles available to view, we've attempted to highlight some of those which might not be as well-known or as oft-discussed elsewhere. We've also listed which streaming platforms the titles are available to watch on - including, where possible, any expiry dates - as well as links to any accompanying resources or other materials to help young people get the most out of their viewing experience.

The films below are suitable for all ages, but are particularly appropriate for those aged between 5-11 years.

Note: While most streaming platforms require a paid subscription, or one-off rental fee, many offer a free trial that you can make use of. In addition, our recommendations will always include some titles on free-to-watch platforms.

Note: The information about films on streaming services is aimed at people at home only, and not for any film clubs still running in schools. Licencing conditions do not permit the access of streaming platforms from a school setting.

If you want to find out the complete details of where any given title is available to watch or purchase, please visit FindAnyFilm.com.

Review 100

To help young people continue to practise and develop their literacy skills while many schools are closed, we're running a new Review 100 competition on our social media channels, encouraging young people to write a review of any film they watch in 100 words or less for the chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher.

And for those that want to say more than 100 words can convey in their reviews, remember - club members can also still log in and post their reviews on the Into Film website, where our ongoing Review of the Week competition continues as normal.

The Book of Life

A film which could be seen to be Coco's big brother, The Book of Life is a ravishing animation set around the Day of the Dead in which two men compete for the love of a woman, not knowing that there are spirits meddling in their affairs. This film is a great way to explore storytelling, animation styles and different cultures, and will go down a treat for fans of folk and fairy tales.

Captain Underpants

Available on BBC iPlayer (Expires: Friday 3 April, 7.50pm)

Note: Requires TV licence to stream.

George and Harold become best friends at a young age through their shared love of pranks, especially ones which involve their strict headmaster, Mr. Krupp. In their spare time, the boys write a comic about a superhero they've created called Captain Underpants. And one day, the two worlds collide when their headmaster becomes hypnotised into thinking he is that same silly superhero to very comic and chaotic effect. Captain Underpants, adapted from a popular set of stories, demonstrates the power of friendship and celebrates creativity in all its forms.

The Cat Returns

Most of the Studio Ghibli catalogue is now available to stream on Netflix (the final batch will be added on 1 April), but it may be difficult to know where to start. Though you can't really go wrong with Ghibli, The Cat Returns is a gentle, under-seen introduction to the studio's style - and anime in general - suitable for the youngest of viewers. It's a story of friendship, doing the right thing… and lots of furry felines.

Chicken Run

Available on BFI Player (£3.50 to rent)

The first feature-length film from Bristol-based innovators Aardman Animations, this stop-motion animation - heavily influenced by The Great Escape - sees a brood of chickens rebel against their farmer owner with the aid of an alluring new rooster. As well as its great voice cast, Chicken Run provides a neat introduction to the distinctive Aardman style, as well as celebrating various aspects of British culture.

Corpse Bride

Available on Amazon Prime Video (Expires: Tuesday 31 March)

Another person with a distinctive style running throughout their whole career is Tim Burton, who co-directed this stop-motion animation which contains a familiar touch of the macabre. It has much in common with The Book of Life - one groom divided between two brides - but a very different setting and mood. Its late 1800s Victorian village allows for insight into historical times and practices within the framework of a ghoulish romance.

Lu Over the Wall

Available on NOW TV (Expires: Thursday 4 June)

A slightly madcap adventure involving mermaids, music and a middle school student called Kai, Lu Over the Wall has elements of Spielberg classics Jaws and ET, with the people of Hinashi Town suspicious of tbe sea creatures - fearing they will be eaten by them - and with a powerful local figure trying to seize them for his own gain. This is a high-energy, colourful anime that'll have children dancing for days.

Mary and the Witch's Flower

Available on Film4 on All4 (Expires: Sunday 5 April)

Another anime, this one from the newly-formed Studio Ponoc; a company which contains many artists and animators that previously worked at Studio Ghibli. This is a sweet adaptation of children's book The Little Broomstick, a fantasy adventure about a red-haired girl and the magical school she finds. But Mary must be careful what she wishes for... With an anti-bullying message at its centre, Mary and the Witch's Flower is a must-see for young film fans looking to discover new worlds.

Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants

This dialogue-free adventure follows the story of a ladybird caught between two warring ant armies who are set to fight over a big box of sugar cubes. A funny tale of friendship and survival, Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants is an acclaimed French-Belgian co-production which introduces viewers to the natural world, its habitants and their everyday struggles.

The Witches

Available on NOW TV (Expires: Friday 29 January 2021)

No list like this would be complete without a Roald Dahl classic, and while there are a number of adaptations available to devour, The Witches is our choice. In it, a nine year-old orphan - who is told by his grandmother that witches hate children - stumbles upon the real thing and attempts to foil their wicked plot. A great film to enjoy alongside reading the original novel.

Zarafa

Available on BFI Player (£3.50 to rent)

Another co-production from Belgium and France, this remarkable story is based on actual historical events in which a giraffe is taken on an incredible journey through sea and sky to Paris, where he is gifted to King Charles X of France. Alongside the story's explorers, pirates and merchants, Zarafa provides conversation starters around topics such as slavery and child safety.

Michael Prescott

Michael Prescott, Curation Coordinator

Michael has an MA in Film Studies with Screenwriting from Sheffield Hallam University. He has previously worked at the British Council and on the BFI Film Academy, and has volunteered at organisations including Sheffield Doc/Fest and Cinema for All.

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