Amazon Prime Video is the second most-used streaming video on-demand platform, trailing only Netflix in the most recent quarter, according to the online streaming guide JustWatch.com.
An Amazon Prime membership ($14.99 per month) gives access to the Prime Video library, which includes Amazon original movies and television series alongside older films and TV shows.
Is Prime Video good for families?
The majority of the original content on Prime Video is produced for adults and carries either a TV-MA (television) or R (movie) rating. There’s also no way to filter a search for family-friendly titles or by rating.
However, parental controls allow users to block content by rating. Prime does feature content from the family-focused “Dove Channel” and “UP Faith & Family.” And it does feature a robust “Kids” section with some terrific offerings.
But if you’re looking for something an entire family can watch together — something in that sweet spot where younger viewers won’t be bored and older viewers will still feel engaged — you’ll have to do some searching and make some decisions based on your audience.
The following are some recommendations, with added context for decision-making.
- TV series, 2 seasons.
- What to know: Innovative and compelling, this crowd-funded dramatization about the ministry of Jesus Christ has been described by the New York Times as a “miracle” — “a hit with a Christian fan base that is breaking into the mainstream.” Season 3 started in theaters, but Prime offers the first two seasons on demand.
- Movie, 1 hour 34 minutes.
- What to know: This 1985 comedy is an adaptation of the board game. It’s described by Collider as a “black comedy mystery film” and will soon get a modern remake led by Ryan Reynolds. Parents should be aware that “Clue” might get a PG-13 rating these days, as it features sexual innuendo, sexual humor and some revealing outfits. The language is fairly mild.
- TV series, 1 season.
- What to know: Pretty standard reality baking show, but against the backdrop of the colorful world created by Dr. Seuss. It features nine teams of cake artists and pastry chefs challenged to create Dr. Seuss-themed treats — which also have to taste good, too. An easy, uplifting watch.
- Movie, 1 hour 44 minutes.
- Rated PG for some mild language.
- What to know: A documentary about the people behind the project that landed two rover robots — Spirit and Opportunity — on Mars, and how one managed to survive for 15 years. Little kids will have no interest, but older kids and teens — especially those with an interest in science — may stick around for the whole thing.
- Television series.
- Rated 7+.
- What to know: Quiet and sweet, this kids drama follows three friends who discover some not-so-normal things about their suburb. One of Amazon’s first original series that was made for younger audiences.
- Move, 1 hour 31 minutes.
- Rated PG for some rude humor, action and scary images.
- What to know: Adam Sandler is Dracula, who runs a resort for monsters but is also a protective father of a teenage daughter. This animated movie series began in 2012, and has been more highly regarded by audiences than critics. (“Hotel Transylvania 4” is also available on Prime.)
- Movie, 1 hour 50 minutes.
- Rated PG for thematic elements and some violence.
- What to know: This film from 2018 is described as “the inspiring and unknown true story” behind the Christian song of the same name, and the painful journey that led to its writing. A faith-based film that also gained some favor with critics.
- Television series, 5 seasons.
- Rated 7+.
- What to know: Three friends find a cookbook where the recipes have magical results. This series has plenty of episodes offering age-appropriate drama and mystery — and lots of cooking montages.
- Television series, 1 season.
- Rated TV-14 (flashing lights, frightening scenes, alcohol use, violence).
- What to know: This is Amazon’s most expansive — and expensive — television offering yet. It’s based on material from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “appendices” (writings found at the end of “Return of the King”) and imagines the second age of Middle-earth. Five seasons in total are planned. This show is not for little kids — it’s scary and there’s plenty of violence — but it’s restrained enough to be appropriate for teens and some older children.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy
- Rated PG-13.
- What to know: All six of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of Tolkien’s novels are on Prime to spend hours and hours watching in whatever order you’d like — “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001) “The Two Towers” (2002), “The Return of the King” (2003), “An Unexpected Journey” (2012), “The Desolation of Smaug” (2013) and “The Battle of Five Armies” (2014). Take the PG-13 ratings seriously, though.
- Movie, 1 hour 42 minutes.
- Rated PG for language, smoking and thematic elements.
- What to know: This is not the R-rated film “Being the Ricardos” (which is also on Amazon Prime), but rather a documentary on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz — the “No. 1 team” of television and a story of “unconditional love,” as the film states early on.
- Comedy special, 59 minutes.
- Rated 13+.
- What to know: Anjelah Johnson, here in her fourth comedy special, might get adults, teens and younger kids laughing at the same time.
- Movie, 1 hour 55 minutes.
- Rated PG.
- What to know: Steven Spielberg’s adventure masterpiece from 1981 was followed by three other Indiana Jones films — “Temple of Doom” (1984), “Last Crusade” (1989) and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008) which are all now on Amazon Prime — but the original is regarded as the best. There’s definitely some violence and a scary, somewhat gory climactic scene, but “Raiders of the Lost Ark” also envelops its story in World War II and ancient religious history. As Dr. Jones says while explaining the significance of the Ark of the Covenant, “Any of you guys ever go to Sunday school?”
- Movie, 2 hours 27 minutes.
- Rated PG-13 for some strong language and unsettling images.
- What to know: Director Ron Howard dramatizes the true story of the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018. Common Sense Media recommends this movie for ages 11 and older, pointing to the language (albeit infrequent) and scenes of peril. Critics gave this inspirational film a warm reception with an 86% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Movie, 1 hour 38 minutes.
- Rated PG for thematic elements, language and smoking throughout.
- What to know: A young girl fascinated by outer space recruits a troop of Birdie Scouts in 1977. The volume of mild profanity probably pushes the limits of the PG rating. Comedian Jim Gaffigan stars in this film, and if you like his standup routines, you’re pretty safe watching the Prime specials “Quality Time,” “Noble Ape” and “The Pale Tourist” with your kids within earshot.