27 Movies Streaming On Netflix That You & Your Parents Will Love

These films will satisfy the toughest critics of all: your parents.

by Bustle Editors
Originally Published: 
Netflix's 'The Fundamentals of Caring'. Photo courtesy of Annette Brown/Netflix.
Annette Brown/Netflix

Finding a movie to watch with your folks can be tough. It’s difficult enough to agree on something you’ll all like, let alone ensure your selection doesn’t include any unexpected, NSFW scenes. Luckily, this list of movies on Netflix to watch with your parents has you covered.

You may have differing tastes in movies, but that doesn’t mean there's no hope of sharing a good flick. Netflix has plenty of audience-pleasing flicks ready to stream, from prestigious, Oscar-winning dramas like The Pianist to classic, universally-beloved comedies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Eager for an escapist fantasy? Try Labyrinth. Feeling like learning about the real world? American Factory or 13th should do the trick.

From critically-acclaimed fare like Mudbound and Okja, to award-winning foreign films such as Aquarius, and Pan’s Labyrinth, each and every movie on this list has the potential to appeal to a wide range of viewers. While you might not agree with your folks on everything, you’re sure to find a great movie to watch with your parents below.

1. The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs (2018)

At once silly and melancholy, and the Coen Brothers' loopy, episodic film explores every element of the Western, from Manifest Destiny to ballads, guns, and the vast expanse of the American West. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is gritty enough to be enjoyed on its own, but is also perfect for a movie night with your folks.

Click here to watch.

2. Okja (2017)

Before he swept the Oscars with Parasite, Bong Joon Ho made this fast-paced film about a giant, genetically-modified pig. But there’s more to it than the enormous swine — Okja is also about the evils of factory farming, the importance of honesty, and a little girl who’s Terminator-level determined to get back her best friend.

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3. I Care A Lot (2021)

Seacia Pavao / Netflix

Conservatorships continue to be a hot-button topic these days, and I Care A Lot offers a bleak take on the more-often-than-not exploitative arrangements. This pitch-black comedy stars Rosamund Pike as Marla, a con artist who scams elderly people with lots of money into handing over their assets. Sound familiar?

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4. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth follows Ofelia, a young girl who moves into her new stepfather’s estate with her pregnant mother. It’s here that Ofelia is told she’s the reincarnation of Princess Moanna, whose father rules the underworld — and that she’ll have to face a series of strange trials. It’s a fairytale... for anyone but children.

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5. Stuart Little (1999)

Loosely based on the beloved E.B. White novel of the same name, Stuart Little centers on an orphaned mouse who’s adopted by human parents (played by Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis). Their biological son, George (Jonathan Lipnicki), is less-than-thrilled to see that his new brother is a rodent. Naturally, they still manage to grow close — and when they find themselves threatened, the family faces their enemies as a team.

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6. Atlantics (2019)

When a Senegalese worker named Soulemain fails to get paid for his and his friends’ construction work, he’s driven by desperation to search for a better life in Spain, and leave his lover, Ada, behind. Though her heart remains will Soulemain, Ada follows through on her arranged marriage to a callous, wealthy man — but after their wedding bed is set on fire, she begins to realize that something is amiss, and wonders who she can really trust.

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7. The Fundamentals Of Caring (2016)

The Fundamentals of Caring stars Paul Rudd as Ben, a writer attempting to overcome tragedy and divorce by caring for a teenager with muscular dystrophy (Craig Roberts). The film also stars Selena Gomez and Jennifer Ehle.

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8. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

Glen Wilson/Netflix

Paul Reubens is back as Pee-wee Herman, the iconic and enigmatic character who’s become synonymous with the actor. Pee-wee’s Big Holiday follows the titular character as he travels to New York City for the first time to attend a friend’s birthday party. Obviously, hijinks ensue. The film also stars Joe Manganiello, who plays a fictional version of himself, alongside Alia Shawkat and Jessica Pohly.

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9. Dil Se (1998)

Dil Se asks if love really can cross all boundaries — even those entrenched by generations of conflict. This Hindi-language film was a hit with critics upon its 1998 release, and won the Netpac Award at the 1999 Berlin International Film Festival.

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10. Legally Blonde (2001)

You can’t go wrong watching Legally Blonde with your parents. It’s funny, smart, and has one of the most satisfying endings ever filmed. For those who need a refresher, Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is a seemingly ditsy sorority girl who’s just been dumped. She follows her ex to Harvard Law School to win him back, but ends up getting so much more — and proving herself to anyone who dared doubt her.

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11. 13th (2016)

This documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay takes a hard look at race and America’s prison-industrial complex, arguing that mass incarceration is essentially an extension of slavery. By revealing shocking racial inequities in the justice system, 13th makes a compelling case for abolition.

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12. Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird is one of those films that speaks to many different people (in other words, you don’t need to be a high school girl to like this movie about a high school girl). Saoirse Ronan stars as the eponymous character (“it’s the titular role!”), a student unsatisfied with her life in suburban California. She dreams of moving to New York City for college, but must first manage to whether the remainder of high school.

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13. Surf’s Up (2007)

This silly animated film about a penguin who wants to surf features an all-star cast, including the voices of Jeff Bridges, Zooey Deschanel, James Wood, and more. It manages to make something special out of its relatively simple premise, cleverly utilizing a “mockumentary” format to parody other surfing documentaries, like Riding Giants.

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14. Mudbound (2017)

Steve Dietl/Netflix

Mudbound is renowned for its moving depiction of racial and social injustice in rural 1940s Mississippi. The film follows two families of farmers — one Black and one white — as they deal with racism, a dwindling crop season, and PTSD after WWII. It features moving performances from Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, and Mary J. Blige — and even landed Blige her first-ever Oscar nomination.

Click here to watch.

15. American Factory (2019)

American Factory is a documentary about the opening of a new, Chinese-owned car factory in an Ohio town — an area that had been economically devastated when American car companies left years ago. The movie, produced by Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, was named Best Documentary Feature at the 2020 Academy Awards.

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16. Ip Man (2008)

Based on the life story of Yip Man, a Wing Chun master known for teaching Bruce Lee, this fascinating biopic takes some liberties with facts and history, but still delivers a thoroughly entertaining film. The Cantonese-language movie was a hit with critics upon its 2008 release.

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17. Imperial Dreams (2014)

Imperial Dreams explores how American society treats people who’ve been incarcerated. A pre-Star Wars John Boyega plays Bambi, a single father trying to find a job after being released from prison — and being tempted to fall back on his old ways. Set in the Imperial Courts housing projects in Watts, California, the film takes inspiration from real stories of those living in government-funded housing in the United States.

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18. Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Cesar! is a delightful, feather-light romp from the Coen Brothers, about a weary ’40s studio "fixer" Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who straightens out and covers up celebrity snafus before they come to light. But when the studio's top star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped, Mannix finds himself unravelling a conspiracy involving communists, dancing spies, pregnant mermaids, and singing cowboys.

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19. School of Rock (2003)

In the nearly 20 years since its release, School of Rock has become a cult classic. Jack Black stars as a struggling musician who poses as his roommate to take a high-paying teaching gig at an elite prep school. Instead of relying on the textbooks, he teaches them how to rock, and shapes them into a group ready to compete in Battle of the Bands — as long as the kids’ parents don’t stomp all over his plans.

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20. Labyrinth (1986)

The iconic David Bowie stars in Labyrinth, a musical fantasy that’s perfect for both adults and children. While the film was panned upon its release, it’s since gained a massive cult following and has been hailed as a modern classic. The film follows a 16-year-old girl named Sarah (played by a young Jennifer Connelly), who finds herself living inside a real-life fairytale — or, perhaps, more of a nightmare.

Click here to watch.

21. Set It Up (2018)

K C Bailey/Netflix

Set It Up will trigger anyone who has worked as an assistant for a high-profile boss. Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) play two assistants who are burned out by their bosses’ demands. They decide to link their bosses up romantically, thinking they’ll have less time to overwork them if they’re dating. Of course, there’s also chemistry between Harper and Charlie themselves, which blossoms throughout the film.

Click here to watch.

22. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Matthew Broderick stars in what is possibly his most popular role ever: the smooth-talking slacker Ferris Bueller, a high school student who plays hooky for one glorious day. This iconic ’80s John Hughes flick is already a classic, having already been selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Your parents may have loved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as teenagers, and now you can enjoy it with them as well.

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23. The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)

Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges star in The Mirror Has Two Faces, a romantic dramedy that cleverly sidesteps overdone rom-com tropes. Rose Morgan (Streisand) is a Columbia University literature professor who’s recently come to terms with spinsterhood — until she meets fellow professor Gregory Larkin (Bridges), who seeks a platonic life partner instead of a romantic one. Though Rose initially agrees to the idea, she realizes she deserves more — from both Gregory and herself.

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24. A Cinderella Story (2004)

Though A Cinderella Story is a teen movie, there are enough laughs (and sometimes tears) to make it enjoyable for adults, like your parents … and maybe even you. A Cinderella Story also stars two early-aughts icons in the prime of their careers: Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. And Jennifer Coolidge’s performance as Fiona, aka the Evil Stepmother, is one for the ages.

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25. Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Memoirs of a Geisha is based on the book of the same name by Arthur Golden, about a Japanese girl sold by her family and raised in a geisha house. Set in the early 20th century, the film follows Sayuri (played by Ziyi Zhang) as she’s nurtured and tormented into the role that was forced upon her. Like all Oscar bait, this one is appropriate for a movie night with your parents.

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26. Do The Right Thing (1989)

Universal Pictures

If there was ever a decades-old movie that still speaks to today’s times, it’s Do The Right Thing. This Spike Lee “joint” follows the lives of multiple Black residents in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood — all of whom regularly battle structural inequities and brutality from authorities. Like others on this list, Do The Right Thing will hopefully lead to some important and productive conversations with your parents.

Click here to watch.

27. The Pianist (2002)

The film is based on the true story of Władysław Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist who survived the Holocaust. Though much of the film deals with heavy subjects, The Pianist is an acclaimed film that’ll (hopefully) please your parents on movie night. There’s a reason why the flick made Adrian Brody the youngest actor in history to take home the Best Actor trophy.

Click here to watch.

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