The rise of the internet has brought with it both convenience and entertainment for people all over the world. There’s more access to the news, to the greatest movies and TV shows, to job postings, and to hilarious memes to laugh at. But the internet has also made it nearly impossible to not be a member of a streaming service. And with so many different options out there, you basically have to pay as much as you would for just a cable subscription in monthly costs for all the different services.
With Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount+, Disney+, and more, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all there is to watch, and to pay for. But there’s one more service you might not have considered, and it’s actually filled with the best free movies you can watch from anywhere: YouTube. This platform is home to more than just hilarious videos and vlogs from influencers — there are actually a ton of great films on there. In fact, some of the absolute best free movies you can watch on YouTube might surprise you, so keep reading to see what they are.
The Reef is good family fun
If you have kids or you just sometimes crave a light and fun animated flick, then YouTube has a great movie for you. The Reef, which is actually called Shark Bait in other countries, is a sweet family film all about a young fish defending his home and his true love from a bully shark. The Reef is completely free to watch on YouTube, and while it might not be a cinematic masterpiece, it’s safe to say that kids will probably love it.
According to Common Sense Media, the movie is totally appropriate for kids aged six and up to watch alongside their families, and though there is a slightly scary scene involving fish being captured by fishermen, it’s no more intense than the opening scene in Finding Nemo. And if that movie’s beloved by kids, then The Reef is sure to be another favorite, as well. As a bonus, stars like Freddie Prinze Jr. and Evan Rachel Wood provide voices.
Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes team up in Mad Money
If you want a high-stakes, intriguing movie to watch on a Friday night, then Mad Money is where it’s at. In the film, three women — played by Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes — work together to slowly steal cash from the Federal Reserve Bank where they all work demeaning jobs. While it borders on being funny at times and sadly poignant at other points during the movie, Mad Money is highly entertaining, and it makes a great point about the state of financial stress so many people face in the United States.
According to The New York Times, the movie is a fun mix between Fun With Dick & Jane and 9 to 5, so, with that comparison, you might as well grab some popcorn and settle in — it’s bound to be a fun ride! The movie is free on YouTube, and is definitely worth the watch if you haven’t seen it before. After all, who doesn’t want to watch three strong, independent women take some well-deserved cash for themselves? Mad Money is totally satisfying, as it sees several unsuspecting women bring down “the man,” as it were.
Agent Cody Banks 2 is full of nostalgia
While some movies on YouTube aren’t exactly masterpieces, there are more than a few that are still a complete joy to watch, whether or not critics loved them. For some movies, being technically brilliant isn’t the point, and that’s definitely the case with Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, which is free on YouTube. In fact, it might just be the perfect flick for a family movie night.
Common Sense Media reported that the movie is appropriate for viewers aged 9 and up, and while there are a few moments that younger kids might not totally understand, it’s a pretty fun movie for the whole family. The sequel to Agent Cody Banks, the film follows titular character Cody as he goes on a new assignment in London and is tasked to essentially save the world from an evil, controlling villain. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London is light, fun, and easy to watch, which is sometimes all you want a movie to be.
Super Size Me is an interesting watch
Super Size Me is a documentary that follows one man’s quest to see what happens when he eats nothing but McDonald’s for an entire month. Luckily for documentary fans, Super Size Me is free to stream on YouTube.
The movie received pretty great reviews. It was even nominated for an Oscar in 2005! As Empire reported, it can be hard to watch the man behind the movie, Morgan Spurlock, stuff his face with McDonald’s, but his humor throughout it all is highly entertaining. Not only does Super Size Me make an important point about health concerns regarding fast food, but it also shows just how easy it can be to get into the habit of only eating out.
So, if you’ve wondered what really happens to someone’s body when they only eat unhealthy fast food, then check on Super Size Me, because it’s wild.
Guys and Dolls is a musical not to be missed
Some of the best free movies on YouTube are actually a lot older than you would imagine. Of the older films that are free on the site, one of the best is the musical Guys and Dolls. The movie musical follows a known gambler, Nathan, as he tries to get some cash by betting a friend, Sky, that he can’t get good girl Sarah out on a date. And of course, there are plenty of complications and hilarious missteps along the way that make the movie super fun to watch.
The 1955 classic musical stars Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, and Vivian Blaine — all of whom are icons in Hollywood — so that alone is reason enough to check it out. Additionally, Guys and Dolls features gambling, romance, and plenty of musical numbers to keep anyone entertained. If that wasn’t enough to persuade you to check it out, then maybe the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score of 91 percent will. Guys and Dolls is beloved by many, and for good reason. Don’t let this classic pass you by.
This version of Cinderella is pure magic
Believe it or not, but YouTube has quite a few old classics in its library that might surprise you. And one of those is a super old, live-action version of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella from 1965. The movie stars Ginger Rogers and Lesley Ann Warren, among others, and is seriously a must-see if you’ve never watched it.
While it might not be the animated Disney classic you’re used to or the fun 1990s version starring Brandi, this Cinderella is still pure magic. In fact, you might recognize it from an elementary school music class, as the movie emphasized musical numbers and romance equally. The 1965 version of Cinderella has a 74 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s safe to say that the movie will definitely entertain you. And since it’s free to watch on YouTube, you might as well check it out for yourself.
A Little Bit of Heaven will have you reaching for the tissues
Sometimes you want to watch something that won’t make you think too hard, something you won’t have to read too much into, so it’s great to have a list of movies that fits the bill. And as it turns out, some of those movies might just be free on YouTube — like A Little Bit of Heaven. The plot? When good-time girl Marley, played by Kate Hudson, is diagnosed with cancer, she fights love with everything in her, but is ultimately unable to fend off her feelings for her gorgeous doctor.
A Little Bit of Heaven might just be the epitome of the “so bad it’s good” film genre. Between Hudson’s awkward and sometimes misguided attempts to make death funny and the strange plot points of the movie (at one point, there’s a Peter Dinklage moment you wouldn’t expect), A Little Bit of Heaven is more than a drama about finding love in the midst of death. Really, it’s a comedy about finding light in the darkness, too. The movie is worth a watch, if only to laugh at the melodrama.
Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge can't be ignored
One of the best free movies to watch on YouTube is Moulin Rouge. Not only does the movie star Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, but the plot and music in the film provide top-notch entertainment. The film follows singer Satine as she finds herself in a love triangle between a duke and handsome Englishman, while keeping a deadly secret from them both.
Moulin Rouge is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert gave the movie three and a half stars, which is pretty high for Ebert. Moulin Rouge tackles some serious issues, but it does so with gorgeous and stunning scenery, bright lights, and an incredibly talented cast. As Ebert wrote, the film was truly “about glorious romantics, who believe in the glitz and the tinsel,” even when real life is anything but shiny. If you haven’t seen Moulin Rouge before, then now’s the time.
Ghost in the Shell is beloved
If you want to get a proper film education, then YouTube might actually be the best place to start. Between all the old classics and new, fun films, YouTube has plenty to keep you entertained. Specifically, 1996’s Ghost in the Shell is available to stream for free on the website, and shouldn’t be missed.
The plot of the movie is pretty intense, as it follows a cyborg policewoman who, along with her partner, tracks down a dark and mysterious hacker known as the “Puppet Master,” according to IMDb. So how did it do with audiences? Famed critic Roger Ebert wrote that he still “enjoyed its visuals, its evocative soundtrack (including a suite for percussion and heavy breathing), and its ideas.” Ghost in the Shell is an iconic anime film, and it being free on YouTube is kind of incredible, so definitely check it out.
This documentary is a must for comic lovers
If you’re a fan of Marvel comics or even the Marvel superhero movies, then you probably know just how influential Stan Lee, the creator of those comics, was. Lee was a huge part of the Marvel universe, and fans of his work will be thrilled to know that the documentary following his life, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, is free to stream on YouTube.
IndieWire gave the documentary a pretty glowing review, making the important point that, while comic book lovers will know his work, they may not know his life’s story. As The New York Times reported, Lee sadly passed away in 2018, but his legacy in comics and beyond will live on forever, partially due to With Great Power. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of comics or superheroes, the movie is still touching and is a little piece of history everyone can enjoy.
Mr. Church is an impressive drama starring Eddie Murphy
Is there a person out there who doesn’t enjoy the works of Eddie Murphy? Whether he’s voicing an animated donkey in Shrek, playing an overworked father in The Haunted Mansion, or just cracking viewers up on Saturday Night live, Murphy has had quite the impressive career. And while he’s known for his comedic acting, one of his more serious roles was in Mr. Church, which is free to stream on YouTube. So, if you want the full Murphy experience, definitely give it a go.
Mr. Church tells the endearing story of a man, played by Murphy, who is hired to cook for a single mother and her daughter after she received a devastating breast cancer diagnosis and doesn’t expect to live past six months. The woman’s daughter is apprehensive towards Murphy’s character, Mr. Church, but soon warms up to him, and the movie really takes off. The Hollywood Reporter described Mr. Church as “captivating” and even noted that it truly showed just how talented of an actor Murphy is. So, if you haven’t seen it, what are you waiting for?
Trollhunter is an intriguing movie
Because YouTube is full of free movies, there are bound to be some available on the website that you don’t give much thought to. Whether you’ve never heard of it or don’t recognize any of the actors, it’s understandable that you might miss a film like Trollhunter. But since it’s free on YouTube and is a lot more complex than it sounds, missing it would be a mistake.
Though it might sound like a strange, fantasy film, Trollhunter is actually a lot more real and human than you first think. A group of young filmmakers meet an actual troll hunter for Norway’s government, and then the real adventure begins. According to Paste, while Trollhunter is obviously “ridiculous,” that’s what makes it so much fun to watch. It’s so out of this world and strange that it actually feels realistic. Additionally, Common Sense Media reports that it’s appropriate for kids 13 and up, so it might just make for the most interesting family movie night you’ve ever had.
2016's Hunt for the Wilderpeople is pretty fun to watch
Sometimes a movie comes along that captures your heart in a way you didn’t know was possible. Maybe it’s an animated kid’s film or a romantic comedy you didn’t expect to love so much. Or maybe it’s the most random film out there, one that really flew under the radar. That’s certainly the case for this flick, which is also free on YouTube. Hunt for the Wilderpeople might just be the best movie you’ve never heard of.
In a review, Empire gave the film five stars and also described it as almost entering into “caricature territory, but it’s mitigated by a strong sense of warmth, sweetness and humanity pervading the entire film.” The movie follows a young boy and his foster uncle as they get lost in the New Zealand bush and a giant manhunt is started to find them. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is quirky and smart, exactly what you want in a movie.
If you love Jackie Chan movies, check out Shaolin
One of the great things about the internet is it provides access to movies you might not have ever thought to watch before, especially foreign films or films set in foreign lands. Take, for instance, Shaolin. Shaolin is free to stream on YouTube, and it’s definitely the kind of movie you’ll find yourself ignoring your cell phone for. Shaolin isn’t the kind of movie you can just watch in the background while playing Candy Crush on your phone — it requires attention. The movie sees a young general who was betrayed by his brother and ends up having to hide out at a Shaolin temple where an eccentric cook, played by Jackie Chan, teaches him martial arts.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film wasn’t a huge hit in the United States, but it still deserves to be seen, as it has a 74 percent rating. If you love Jackie Chan, especially, then Shaolin will totally excite you. Shaolin is fascinating to watch, and with plenty of action, it’s the kind of movie that everyone could get invested in.
Dirty 30 is all kinds of fun
There’s really nothing quite like a good comedy to make you forget about everything else in the world. They say laughter is the best medicine, so a raunchy and relatable comedy about turning 30 is something adults can enjoy, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with Dirty 30, which is perfectly hilarious. And Dirty 30, is luckily free to stream on YouTube, making it the best movie for a Friday night.
The movie, starring popular YouTubers Mamrie Hart, Grace Helbig, and Hannah Hart, follows a woman’s adventures with her two best friends as she turns 30 and faces some pretty big fears, finding herself in hilarious situations. As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Each performer has individually achieved a massive online following with her chat-show-style YouTube channel, and Dirty 30 offers a loose story blueprint in which the three can showcase their rapid-fire, quippy personalities.” The movie is every bit as hilarious as you would think it would be and is just a ton of fun to watch. So, if you have a girls’ night or just want to stay in alone and watch something light and funny with a glass of wine, then Dirty 30 is the perfect choice.
This sports film is seriously inspirational
Movies like Remember the Titans are typically beloved by a wide audience. Viewers love to see an underdog rise to the occasion, and there’s nothing like a good ol’ sport’s film to inspire hope and change in anyone. And for fans of intense sports movies, YouTube is actually a great place to check out for your next movie night because 4 Minute Mile is available to stream on the platform for free.
The movie is about a track coach who takes a chance on a teen with a tragic story and turns him into a champion. As The New York Times reported, the movie certainly follows a formulaic plot in terms of inspirational sports movies — “Boy struggles with adversity, boy meets trainer, boy finds inner strength through record times” — but, that said, the movie is still seriously inspirational. If you’re any kind of sports fan, then this entertaining, motivational, and engaging movie is one to see.
Khumba shares an important message for kids and adults
As any parent knows, watching the same animated children’s movie every day for a month can get exhausting. So, if you’re sick of watching Frozen or Tangled, then head over to YouTube because there’s a hidden gem there that your kids will probably love: Khumba, another great free movie on YouTube.
Khumba, a New York Times Critic’s Pick, is described as “a wondrous and slightly deranged story about oddballs embracing their differences,” making it the perfect movie for children and adults alike. The titular character finds himself ostracized by his fellow zebras for only having half his stripes, so he goes out to find the truth about himself and meets plenty of friends along the way. After all, who doesn’t need a reminder that being different is a good thing? The film also features musical numbers and some seriously stunning animation, making it a very underrated kids’ movie. Of course, Khumba is also the kind of film that you could totally watch without a kid because even adults love it.
The Escort is more than meets the eye
Lest you believe that all the free movies on YouTube are old, are for kids, or are just silly romantic comedies, The Escort is the kind of movie that viewers will rave about. And since it’s free to stream on YouTube, there’s no time like the present to check it out, because it’s another great, highly underrated movie on the internet. As The Hollywood Reporter aptly put it in their review, “By turns giddy, formulaic, sobering and keenly funny, the movie has a cool precision that suits a story about people bent on avoiding emotional involvement.”
The movie, as the title would imply, is about a journalist befriending a sex worker, following her on the job for a story. Obviously not for children, The Escort is a lot more complex and interesting than you might expect, and is a must-see for anyone who wants to get a little out of their comfort zone.
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