22 New Family-Friendly Movies to See in 2022

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After nearly two years of social distancing and watching movie premieres at home via streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max and Disney+, housebound popcorn lovers and cinephiles will be delighted by the prospect of increasingly more theaters reopening in the new year. Luckily, studios are happy to satisfy moviegoers’ pent-up demand for the big-screen cinema experience, and 2022’s diverse roster of family-friendly films promises to entice fans of all stripes. Check out our list of 22 must-see family-friendly movies.

© 2021 Studio Chizu

Belle

Academy Award-nominated director and writer Mamoru Hosoda’s latest animated film Belle will appeal to children and parents alike. Set in a not-so-distant, high-tech future, this stylish anime follows a shy school girl named Suzu who leads a double life as a globally beloved online pop singer named Belle. The theme of being true to oneself while navigating the pressures of always-on social media will resonate with many viewers.

Directed by: Mamoru Hosoda
Starring: Kylie McNeill, Julie Nathanson and Aaron Phillips
Studio: Studio Chizu
Rated PG
Theatrical release: January 14, 2022

© Sony Pictures / Amazon Studios

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

The fourth installment in the popular Hotel Transylvania series takes a wacky turn as Van Helsing’s “Monsterfication Ray” goes haywire and transforms Dracula and his monster colleagues into humans while turning Drac’s human son-in-law Johnny into a monster. The gang needs to figure out how to switch back to their authentic selves before they drive each other crazy and are permanently stuck in their transformations.

Directed by: Derek Drymon and Jennifer Kluska
Starring: Brian Hull, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Buscemi, David Spade and Keegan-Michael Key
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation and Amazon Studios
Rated PG
Amazon Prime release: January 14, 2021

© Gravitas Ventures

The King’s Daughter

Partly filmed in the appropriately regal Palace of Versailles, this fantasy adventure features enough period opulence and grandeur to fill Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors. The movie tells the fictional story of King Louis XIV’s quest for immortality, which led him to capture and steal a magical mermaid’s life force. The king’s plans are disrupted when his daughter arrives at the palace. Based on the 1997 novel The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre.

Directed by: Sean McNamara
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Bingbing Fan, Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt and Benjamin Walker
Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Rated PG
Theatrical release: January 21, 2022

© The Avenue Entertainment

The Tiger Rising

Based on Newbery Medal-winning author Kate DiCamillo’s best-selling 2001 children’s book, The Tiger Rising tells the story of Rob Horton, a 12-year-old boy mourning the recent loss of his mother. When Rob discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home and befriends an opinionated new girl at school, the pair are faced with setting the tiger free and dealing with their anger and grief. Lead actor Christian Convery was most recently seen in the title role of Netflix’s fantasy series Sweet Tooth.

Directed by: Ray Giarratana
Starring: Christian Convery, Madalen Mills, Sam Trammell, Katharine McPhee, Dennis Quaid and Queen Latifah
Studio: The Avenue Entertainment
Rated PG
Theatrical release: January 21, 2022; Apple TV release: February 8, 2022

© Disney / Pixar

Turning Red

Growing up is hard, but it’s especially so if you’re anything like Mei Lee. Whenever the precocious 13-year-old becomes overly excited or agitated, she transforms into a giant red panda. Mei’s parents explain that the onset of this life change is related to her family’s ancestral connection to the adorable red-tailed creatures. How will Mei learn to live with her newly discovered powers? This fun animated film features music by Billie Eilish.

Directed by: Domee Shi
Starring: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, James Hong and Jordan Fisher
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: March 11, 2022

© Lionsgate

The Unbreakable Boy

Despite living with a rare brittle-bone disease and autism, Austin is a young boy with a unique and life-affirming worldview that has the power to engage everyone around him. Based on the best-selling book by Scott LeRette and Susy Flory, The Unbreakable Boy is a heartwarming movie about the power of faith and living life to the fullest.

Directed by: Jon Gunn
Starring: Zachary Levi, Gavin Warren, Jacob Laval and Bruce Davis
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated PG
Theatrical release: March 18, 2022

© 2021 Paramount Pictures / Sega of America, Inc.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Coming fast on the heels of the original 2020 hit movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 once again has our speedy, furry hero going head-to-head with Dr. Robotnik and his new partner Knuckles. As the bad guys pursue an emerald that has the power to build and destroy civilizations, Sonic partners with new sidekick Tails to chase down the powerful green gem before it falls into the wrong hands. The mix of live action and CGI animation makes this a fun, fast-paced adventure.

Directed by: Jeff Fowler
Starring: Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey and James Marsden
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rated PG
Theatrical release: April 8, 2022

© Warner Bros. Pictures

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The third installment of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series follows the adventures of Newt Scamander and features a young Albus Dumbledore (from Rowling’s Harry Potter series). While plot details are scarce, Potterheads and Beast fans are anxiously awaiting this film’s spring release.

Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Katherine Waterston and Eddie Redmayne
Studio: Heyday Films and Warner Bros. Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: April 15, 2022

© DreamWorks Animation

The Bad Guys

Based on the irreverent graphic novel series by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys follows the story of five misfit animals—Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark and Ms. Tarantula—who try to redeem their past villainous ways, only to be drawn back to the dark side in order to pull off one more ultimate heist.

Directed by: Pierre Perifel
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Awkwafina and Anthony Ramos
Studio: DreamWorks Animation and Universal Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: April 22, 2022

© Warner Bros. Pictures

DC League of Super-Pets

Following the untimely kidnapping of Superman and the rest of the Justice League, crime-fighting super-dog Krypto enlists a ragtag pack of shelter animals—ranging from Merton the turtle to Chip the squirrel to PB the pot-bellied pig—to harness their newfound powers to help rescue the waylaid superheroes.

Directed by: Jared Stern
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon, John Krasinski, Vanessa Bayer, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna and Keanu Reeves
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Rated PG
Theatrical release: May 20, 2022

© 20th Century Studios

The Bob’s Burger Movie

Now in its 11th season, the cult favorite animated TV series is finally getting a full-length movie treatment and Bob’s Burgers fans can’t wait for the film’s spring release. Plot details have yet to be disclosed, but the fandom has suggested that the movie should focus on the origin story of the restaurant’s opening.

Directed by: Loren Bouchard and Bernard Derriman
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal and Dan Mintz
Studio: 20th Century Studios
Rated PG-13
Theatrical release: May 27, 2022

© Disney / Pixar

Lightyear

While it’s not quite a prequel, Lightyear tells the origin story of the fictional astronaut who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy line in the Toy Story universe. The animated film reveals how the young test pilot became the space ranger he is today—and inspired kids everywhere to dream of going to infinity and beyond.

Directed by: Angus MacLane
Starring: Chris Evans
Studio: Walt Disney Studios and Pixar
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: June 17, 2022

© Illumination Studios

Minions: The Rise of Gru

After several delayed openings, this much-anticipated prequel to Despicable Me tells the origin story of lovable super-villain-slash-not-actually-a-villain Gru. Growing up in 1970s suburban America, young Gru is a fanboy of a supervillain supergroup known as the Vicious 6 and he hatches a plan to become evil enough to join them.

Directed by: Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin and Russell Brand
Studio: Universal Pictures and Illumination Studios
Rated PG
Theatrical release: July 1, 2022

© Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Secret Headquarters

A young boy named Charlie Kincaid discovers a superhero’s secret headquarters under his house and he starts to suspect that maybe his estranged father is leading a double life. When villains attack the secret headquarters, Charlie enlists his friends to defend the newly found headquarters.

Directed by: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Starring: Owen Wilson, Michael Peña and Jesse Williams
Studio: Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Paramount Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: August 12, 2022

© Lionsgate

White Bird: A Wonder Story

Based on R.J. Palacio’s best-selling collection of stories, Augie and Me, which expands on characters from Palacio’s beloved novel Wonder, White Bird tells the story of a young Jewish girl hidden away by a boy and his family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. This family drama about friendship and salvation will tug at moviegoers’ heartstrings.

Directed by: Marc Forster
Starring: Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren and Olivia Ross
Studio: Lionsgate
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: September 16, 2022

© DreamWorks Animation

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

While the character Puss in Boots is ostensibly from the Shrek universe, this time the courageous cat realizes that his passion for adventure has taken its toll. Burning through eight of his nine lives, Puss set out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish in order to restore his nine lives.

Directed by: Joel Crawford
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Chris Miller and Miguel Gabriel
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: September 23, 2022

© Walt Disney Pictures

Hocus Pocus 2

Following the 1993 cult classic, Hocus Pocus 2 reunites Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson Sisters in this highly anticipated Disney+ sequel. Three young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern-day Salem and subsequently need to figure out how to stop the witches from once again wreaking havoc on the world.

Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Hannah Waddingham, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Doug Jones and Tony Hale
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Disney+ exclusive release: Fall 2022

Common Sense Media

Monster High: The Movie

This animated musical set at Monster High features the offspring of famous monsters, including Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman, who undergo the trials and tribulations of high school. 

Directed by: Todd Holland
Starring: Kyle Selig, Steve Valentine, Mila Jones, Ceci Balagot, Case Walker, Marci T. House, Lilah Fitzgerald and Jy Brishkulnik
Studio: Universal Pictures, Storyline Entertainment and Mattel Television
Not Yet Rated
Streaming release: October 29, 2022

© Skydance Animation

Spellbound

This animated musical follows the adventures of Elian, a spirited teenager who comes of age using her magical powers to defend her family when opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom. Alan Menken, who led music production for countless Disney animated musical classics including The Little Mermaid and Tangled, is slated to lead music for Spellbound.

Directed by: Vicky Jenson
Starring: To be announced
Studio: Skydance Animation and Paramount Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Apple TV release: November 11, 2022

Common Sense Media

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

Based on the 1965 children’s book classic by Bernard Waber, Lyle is a city-dwelling croc who lives with the Primm family in a Victorian brownstone in New York’s Upper East Side. While the Primms consider Lyle to be part of the family, others believe he belongs in a Zoo. This live-action and animated film follows Lyle’s quest to show that he’s not like other reptiles.

Directed by: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Starring: Javier Bardem, Constance Wu and Winslow Fegley
Studio: Sony Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: November 18, 2022

© Tunche Films

Kayara

Courageous and athletic, 16-year-old Kayara is destined to be the first female to break into the Incan Empire’s male-only group of Chasqui Inca messengers. As she learns what it takes to be a Chasqui along with its challenges, she succeeds in every mission and discovers the ancient stories of her land and her people.

Directed by: César Zelada
Starring: Anna Tenney
Studio: Tunche Films
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: December 1, 2022

Common Sense Media

Super Mario Bros.: The Movie

Nearly 30 years after Disney’s original live-action movie adaptation fizzled at the box office, Nintendo is once again lending its most famous mustachioed brothers to Illumination Studios for an animated movie reboot. The film’s storyline hasn’t yet been announced, but the all-star cast and seasoned superhero cartoon directors are sure to make this a popular 2022 holiday hit.

Directed by: Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic
Starring: Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, Keegan-Michael Key, Seth Rogen and Fred Armisen 
Studio: Illumination Studios and Universal Pictures
Not Yet Rated
Theatrical release: December 21, 2022

—Kipp Jarecke-Cheng

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