graphic of the year 2021 with a popcorn bucket replacing the O, in a story about family movies
With plenty of high-quality family films of all genres coming out this year, movie night doesn't need to mean settling for a juvenile or cheesy flick. (Illustration by Julie Chow, University of California, Berkeley)

The Top 10 Most Anticipated Family Movies of 2021

From live-action flicks to animated delights, these movies will thrill audiences of all ages.

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graphic of the year 2021 with a popcorn bucket replacing the O, in a story about family movies

From live-action flicks to animated delights, these movies will thrill audiences of all ages.

In a world surrounded by entertainment, it can be surprisingly difficult to find movies that are both age-appropriate and enjoyable for every member of the family. After all, rarely does anyone want to sacrifice their time for movies that are cheesy and predictable. Parents and older siblings are often forced to surrender their nights and accommodate younger relatives in hopes of spending time together as a family.

However, the lineup of family movies for 2021 promises to bring giggles and smiles out of both the young and the old. These family movies are not just for the kids in your life — they guarantee stories that will keep your eyes fixed on the screen no matter what age you are. This guide offers a sneak peek at 10 of the most anticipated family movies coming out this year, what they are about and why you should look forward to watching them.

From live-action movies such as Paramount’s “Peter Rabbit 2” and Disney’s “Cruella” to animated films such as “Tom & Jerry” and Universal’s new “Minions: the Rise of Gru,” 2021 is sure to be a year filled with quality entertainment. You can plan out your must-watch movie nights for the year with these suggestions.

1. “Tom & Jerry”

The fun continues as iconic cartoon character Tom the Cat yet again chases Jerry the Mouse across the screen. The movie begins after Jerry has taken up residence in one of New York City’s finest hotels. Tom is committed to catching him, motivated by both personal reasons and his obligation to the wedding planner who hires him. This time, however, they must figure out how to work together to prevent an angry staffer from antagonizing them both.

Join Tom and Jerry in their wild adventure across New York City as they navigate the treacherous waters of playing cat-and-mouse in an entertaining combination of classic animation and live-action film. The movie will be screened in theaters and broadcast on HBO Max on Feb. 26. Watch the trailer here and learn more about the movie on the “Tom & Jerry” website.

2. “Raya and the Last Dragon”

Disney’s newest animated film features the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons coexist peacefully. In fact, legend has it the dragons would defend the humans against the sinister monsters called the Druun at the cost of their own lives. Now, however, all but one of the dragons are extinct. The warrior Raya must search for the last dragon in a desperate attempt to protect her people from the Druun that have once again returned.

Follow her into the far corners of her world on her quest to find the dragon, where she must learn how to not only be brave, but also trust others and herself in order to save Kumandra. “Raya and the Last Dragon” will be released for those with premier access on Disney+ on March 5, and it will become available to all subscribers on June 4. Watch the trailer here.

3. “Cruella”

Cruella is back and ready to take the stage in Disney’s latest rendition of the animated “101 Dalmatians” movies. This live-action film is set in the 1970s and features young fashionista and designer Estelle de Vil as she discovers a love for animal furs. The movie highlights the progression of this obsession and Estelle’s relentless pursuit of animals for their fur, particularly Dalmatians.

Her cold-blooded infatuation, cruelty to animals and evil exploits earn her the nickname “Cruella.” Enjoy this and a sense of comedic relief in this must-watch Disney movie. “Cruella” will be available to watch in theaters on May 28. View the trailer here.

4. “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway”

This sequel promises to be just as good as the original, with lots of mischievous rabbits, wild adventures and hilarious moments you can’t help laughing at. Tired of the garden, Peter fixes his eyes on the big city and sets out on a venture of self-discovery. Meanwhile, his makeshift family, including the humans Bea and Thomas, search fervently for him, risking it all to bring him home.

In this live-action family comedy, Peter must decide what type of bunny he wants to be and whether he wants to come home. The cinematic premiere of “Peter Rabbit 2” is currently set for June 11. Look on the movie’s website for more information and find the trailer here.

5. “Minions: The Rise of Gru”

If you’re a fan of Universal’s “Despicable Me” and “Minion” movies, you’re in for a treat. This movie offers insight into Gru’s past, recounting the story of his 12-year-old self and his dream to become the world’s biggest supervillain.

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is a computer-animated movie brimming with the perfect combination of comedy, heartfelt emotion and action. The movie shares Gru’s story and reveals that his motivation for becoming a villain stems from a desire to fit into the Vicious 6, a supervillain group he adores. You don’t want to miss this over-the-top sequel. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” comes out on July 2. Click here for the trailer and here for the movie’s website.

6. “Cinderella”

Disney is putting a new musical twist on the classic “Cinderella” in this anticipated romantic comedy. In a modern retelling of the story of Cinderella, the movie puts a particular emphasis on the poor orphan girl who has the opportunity to meet the prince. Loaded with a stellar cast of famous singers including Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel and Billy Porter, this enchanting musical will be a huge hit in theaters on July 16.

7. “Space Jam: A New Legacy”

If you or your relatives are seeking a movie that offers both comedy and sports entertainment in a mashup of animation and live-action, you will find no better movie to watch than “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” Furthermore, this long-anticipated sequel to 1996’s “Space Jam” will be a highlight for many basketball lovers.

In the movie, basketball star LeBron James and his son become stuck in a virtual space by an evil computer algorithm and must find their way back home by playing basketball against Bugs Bunny and other “Looney Tunes” characters. The team of James and Bugs Bunny will have you cracking up nonstop. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” is set for release in theaters and on HBO Max on July 16. Click this link for the teaser trailer.

8. “The Jungle Cruise”

“The Jungle Cruise” is a live-action adventure film set in the 20th century in the midst of the jungle. Starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, this action-packed movie vows to keep you on the edge of your seat. It depicts a riverboat captain as he pilots a scientist and her brother through murky and perilous waters.

Fraught with suspense and excitement as they are forced to fight off wild animals and other explorers, the trio seeks out the Tree of Life in hopes of encountering its healing powers. “The Jungle Cruise” is set to come out on July 30. You can find the trailer here.

9. “Hotel Transylvania 4”

What’s better than a hotel filled with monsters of all shapes and sizes? You’ll be pressed to find an answer in the lovable fourth installment of the “Hotel Transylvania” series, which follows Count Dracula and his adventures with his monster friends and family. This movie leads Dracula and his motley crew to outer space in the wake of an alien invasion. The planned release of “Hotel Transylvania 4” is on Aug. 6.

10. “Boss Baby: Family Business”

Yet another sequel aims to hit movie theaters in 2021 — and this one is all about babies. Nevertheless, “Boss Baby: Family Business” is not just for babies, but a hilarious animated film perfect for the whole family. Brothers Tim and Ted, now adults, have drifted apart. However, upon discovering that Tim’s daughter is actually a Boss Baby there to infiltrate his other daughter’s school, the brothers must unite once again to combat the plan of an evil genius. “Boss Baby: Family Business” releases on Sept. 17. Click here for the trailer.

You won’t want to miss the exciting and entertaining family movies that 2021 has to offer in the coming months. So grab a friend or a family member and hold on tight, because these movies will leave you spinning in a whirl of amazement.

Writer Profile

Julianna Steen

Auburn University
English Literature, minoring in History

A few of my favorite things include reading romance novels, watching action movies, baking (and consuming) anything chocolate, creating for my business, He is Simply Goodness, and going on adventures with friends and family!

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