The 5 Best Family Movies Of 2024 So Far

At their best, films aimed at young kids can be enjoyed by adults as well and truly earn the "family movie" title. 2023 brought plenty of titles that fit the bill, from box office hits like "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" and "Migration" to streaming treats like "Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget" and "Leo."

Now it's 2024's turn to show us what it's got, and while the early months of the year tend to be pretty dry when it comes to family movies, as studios are holding them back for school vacations and long summer days, there are some fresh, funny, and heartwarming new releases on offer. From a new "Peanuts" special to a fantasy movie filled with dragon-related perils to the latest high-flying antics of "Kung Fu Panda," here are the best family movies of 2024 so far.

The Casagrandes Movie

As you might be able to guess from the name, "The Casagrandes Movie" is connected to a TV show ("The Casagrandes"), which itself is a spin-off of another TV show ("The Loud House"). But school's out for the summer — in the movie, at least — which means there's no homework required and you can just dive right in. Despite the large ensemble of Casagrandes family members featured, "The Casagrandes Movie" is really a tale in the spirit of "A Goofy Movie," with a central focus on the strained relationship between a parent keen to get in some bonding time with their kid, and a kid who's old enough to want to go off and do their own thing.

Actually, it's a two-fer. The movie opens with Punguari (Paulina Chávez), demigoddess of the moon, feeling frustrated that her parents don't recognize that she's 12,000 years old and ready to become a full god. Punguari decides to take matters into her own hands, with earth-splitting results. 800 years later we meet Ronnie Anne Santiago (Izabella Alvarez), who feels frustrated that her mother doesn't recognize that she's 12 years old and ready to spend the summer acquiring cool and gruesome injuries at Xtreme Eddie's Sick and Twisted 12 and Over Skatepark. Instead, Ronnie Anne gets whisked off in a cramped minivan to go and visit her great-grandmother in Mexico and learn about her heritage. With a little help from a magic necklace, that heritage is brought to life in a very village-destroying way.

The animation is bold and fun, the fantasy elements add a cool spin to a family-vacation plot that could have otherwise been boring, and there's a joke about the mysterious relationship between miles and kilometers that made me laugh out loud. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

Director: Miguel Puga

Cast: Izabella Alvarez, Paulina Chávez, Sumalee Montano

Rating: TV-Y7


With a well-earned PG-13 rating, Netflix fantasy adventure "Damsel" is probably best reserved for older and/or braver kids. Aside from the strong peril that Millie Bobby Brown's Elodie finds herself in, there are also some gross deaths at the claws of the dragon (voiced by Shohreh Aghdashloo), including numerous incinerations and one unfortunate knight getting splatted underneath a dragon claw. But hey, '80s kids watched Artax sinking into the Swamp of Sadness in "The Neverending Story," and that was far more traumatizing than any number of bloody dragon deaths.

"Damsel" upends the old-fashioned fairy tale of a handsome prince rescuing a princess from a vicious dragon by having the handsome prince yeet the princess into the dragon's lair and run away. You see, the royal family of this particular kingdom have an uneasy peace treaty that involves sacrificing three princesses to the dragon in each generation. Elodie is the latest sacrifice, but fortunately she's been getting in some great upper body workouts chopping wood back home, and she also has the benefit of all the clues scrawled on the walls by previous princesses. And if she can just survive the dragon, she wants to have a chat with that handsome prince about why you shouldn't throw girls down holes. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

Director: Dan Mazeau

Cast: Millie Bobby Brown, Ray Winstone, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Rating: PG-13

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 56%

Kung Fu Panda 4

After nearly a decade away from the big screen, Jack Black is back as the unlikely Dragon Warrior in "Kung Fu Panda 4." Though the latest sequel in the DreamWorks Animation franchise doesn't quite measure up to the greatness of the original trilogy, there's still a good adventure here that's bolstered by spectacular animation, slick action, and the always hilarious presence of Jack Black as Po. This time he's paired with a stealthy fox named Zhen (voiced by Awkwafina), and the two have an amusing buddy cop dynamic that adds some new flavor to the franchise.

Standout moments include a chase through a bustling city set to an orchestral version of Ozzy Osborne's "Crazy Train" and the final fight sequence where the villain known as The Chameleon (Viola Davis) transforms into each of Po's most formidable foes, as well as Po himself, before meshing all the power of all the kung fu masters together into a fearsome beast. Plus, stick around for a fun credits sequence featuring a lively cover of Britney Spears' trademark tune "Baby One More Time" performed by Tenacious D. In fact, the music throughout the movie, composed by Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro, is a top notch score, even if the movie can't reach those same heights. Despite not being as fantastic as the previous installments, it's still better than 90% of the family entertainment out there, so you can't go wrong. (Ethan Anderton)

Director: Mike Mitchell, Stephanie Stine

Cast: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston, James Hong, Ke Huy Quan, Ronny Chieng

Rating: PG

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72% 

Orion and the Dark

Whether it's the mysterious, murky depths of the ocean, the possibility of an infected mosquito bite rotting your arm off, or something as simple as the dark, everyone has things they're afraid of. In Frank Herbert's "Dune," some characters are able to rise above their fears thanks to a little mantra: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration..."

Sean Charmatz's animated fantasy adventure "Orion and the Dark" starts out as a lesson in overcoming your fears and not being afraid any more, but admits early on that grown-ups are in no position to teach that lesson. After all, we're afraid of things too. It's not easy for parents to admit to kids that they don't have all the answers, but that's exactly what Orion (voiced by Jacob Tremblay as a kid, and Colin Hanks as an adult) has to admit to his own daughter, Hypatia (Mia Akemi Brown) in the film's "Princess Bride"-esque bedtime story framing device.

To help Orion cope with his fear of the Dark, the Dark itself (Paul Walter Hauser) offers to take him on a 24-hour adventure through nighttime around the world, meeting other entities such as Sleep (Natasia Demetriou), Dream (Angela Bassett), and Unexplained Noises (Golda Rosheuvel). Yes, the ultimate message of "feel the fear and do it anyway" might literally be the title of a self-help book, but here it's delivered in a package that's considerably more engaging for kids. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

Director: Sean Charmatz

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, Paul Walter Hauser

Rating: TV-Y7

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin

With a 39-minute runtime, Apple TV+'s "Peanuts" special "Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home Franklin" might be pushing the definition of 'movie' a bit ... but hey, kids have short attention spans. This is an origin story of sorts for Franklin (Caleb Bellavance), adapting the 1968 comic strip storyline in which he was introduced. A military brat who has already grown used to moving from town to town and never having the same set of friends for long, Franklin relies on advice from his grandpa to fast-track his way to new friendships as quickly as possible. However, his grandpa's tips about opening conversations with a joke and peppering people with compliments fail him in his weird new neighborhood, where there's a kid who worships a giant pumpkin and another one who has set up her own psychiatric practice despite questionable qualifications.

Fortunately, this town also contains another anxious and lonely kid, who goes by the name Charlie Brown (Etienne Kellici). Franklin and Charlie are both left without partners for the big soap box derby that's coming up, so they decide to team up and do their best to win — a goal that soon threatens to drive a wedge between their freshly-forged friendship. It's a sweet story, made more entertaining by seeing a newcomer's reactions to the idiosyncrasies of the "Peanuts" world. (Hannah Shaw-Williams)

Director: Raymond S. Persi

Cast: Caleb Bellavance, Etienne Kellici

Rating: G

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%