Fall is almost here, and it’s already starting to get a little chilly in Portland. What better way to celebrate the changing seasons than planning a family movie night? Whether you’re interested in going out to one of Portland’s local theaters or staying inside for a quiet night in, there are tons of fantastic movie options available this month. Read on for the best children’s movies to see in theaters and stream in September, including new releases and old favorites the whole family will enjoy. 

New Releases:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (2023), Dir. Jeff Rowe – PG – In Theaters Now

Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Rafael are all back in this instant animated classic. Mutant Mayhem follows the ninja turtles as they grapple with life as teens confined to the underground. Though they’ve got plenty of pizza and support from their beloved mentor, Master Splinter (expertly voiced by Jackie Chan), they long for a normal adolescent life. When the ninja turtles befriend up-and-coming journalist April O’Neil (Ayo Edebiri), they soon forge a plot to keep the city safe and win over their peers once and for all. The film boasts a stacked cast and top-notch humor that will make both kids and adults laugh out loud. Catch the film at Oak Grove 8 Cinemas this weekend to support a local Portland movie theater! 

The Little Mermaid (2023), Dir. Rob Marshall – PG – Streaming on Disney+

The much-anticipated 2023 remake debuts on Disney+ this week, and it couldn’t be better. Ariel (marvelously played by Halle Bailey) is a rebellious young mermaid who dreams of life above water. Confined by her father King Triton’s strict rules, and mistrust of the human world, Ariel must decide between the safety of home and the allure of the unknown. The film captures all the best qualities of the original, with special effects that only enhance the story’s sense of imagination and wonder. Halle Bailey couldn’t be more well cast, with a singing voice that gives new life to familiar songs.

The Monkey King (2023), Dir. Anthony Stacchi – PG – Streaming on Netflix 

The demon-fighting Monkey King (Jimmy O. Yang) dreams of nothing more than fame and victory. As his lavish daydreams and demands grow out of control, life’s battles give him a rude awakening. Soon, the monkey king must learn the importance of humility (while battling a Dragon King along the way). The story is adapted from the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, and the film’s rendition of the story is action-packed and full of thrills. As you watch the Monkey King face each challenge, you can’t help but root for him despite his flaws. 

Old Favorites:

The Iron Giant (1999), Dir. Brad Bird – PG – Streaming on Max (formerly HBO Max) 

After staying up past bedtime one fateful night, Hogarth Hughes stumbles upon an unfamiliar and startling sight: a giant, 50-foot-tall robot. Soon, the young boy is drawn to help the giant, feeding him scrap metal and hiding him from a world that doesn’t understand his peaceful nature. Adapted from the 1968 novel The Iron Man, the story is a remarkably profound metaphor for valuing each other’s differences and staying true to yourself. Parents will enjoy revisiting this masterpiece with their kids and may be surprised to find its message remains as relevant as ever. 

The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), Dir. Hiromasa Yonebayashi – G – Streaming on Max (formerly HBO Max) 

All of Studio Ghibli’s films are available to stream on Max (formerly HBO Max), and you couldn’t go wrong choosing any of them for a family movie night. Based on the 1952 children’s novel The Borrowers, the story follows a tiny family that lives secretly in the nooks and crannies of the human world. When Arrietty is spotted by a young boy named Shō on her first trip to “borrow” a sugar cube, an unexpected friendship blossoms. The film captures the humanity and depth found in all of Studio Ghibli’s offerings, with gorgeous animation and music that makes the film more impactful.

If you cannot find September’s picks on your favorite streaming platform, try stopping at the local video rental store Movie Madness! Tune in next month for October’s spooky offerings to stream and see in theaters.