Easter looks to be a bit different this year and chocolate eggs may well be harder to get hold of – but there’s no reason why the family in your household can’t get together to watch a good film.
But if you’re struggling to find a good Easter film – they’re not quite as common as Christmas movies – then have no fear, we’ve come up with a few suggestions for just about everyone, from the religious epics of the 1950s to the more easy-going The Secret Life of Pets 2.
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Many of the best Easter movies for the whole family are of course Disney films – you can get a seven day free trial or sign up to Disney+ for just £59.99 for a full year’s subscription (or £5.99 a month). You will be able to enjoy various Pixar and Marvel films, and so much more.
Every good Easter film needs a rabbit, and few come more famous than Peter Rabbit himself. This 2018 update of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale sees James Corden voice the titular bunny – now computer-generated – as he battles Domhnall Gleeson’s Mr. McGregor for his vegetable garden. A sequel was originally due out this Easter but has since been delayed.
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Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Wallace and Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Aardman Animations)
For rabbits of the bigger variety, you can’t do much better than Aardman’s only theatrical entry into the popular claymation series. Featuring a cast befitting a big-budget adaptation – Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter bring the starpower – but losing none of the charm of the original shorts, this comedy will have the whole family laughing. Adults will love the references too – the film parodies everything from King Kong to Top Gun.
Watch Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on Netflix and NOW TV
Read our full Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit review
While Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny doesn’t sound like the most family-friendly choice, this live-action/CGI comedy is thankfully suitable for all. In perhaps the most Easter-themed film there is, Brand’s E.B. – the Easter Bunny’s son – heads to Hollywood to become a drummer, and teams up with a human named Fred to stop an evil chick attempting to take over the family business. Look out for Sonic the Hedgehog‘s James Marsden and The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco too.
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Rise of the Guardians
The Avengers of holiday films, this 3-D computer-animated film sees the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost as you’ve never seen them before. Reimagined as superhero-esque protectors, the fantasy characters team up to form the Guardians in order to stop the evil spirit Pitch from taking over the world. Some real-life acting legends appropriately take on the parts – Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Isla Fisher and Jude Law all lend their voices.
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The Secret Life of Pets 2
A sequel to one of the biggest animated comedies of the last few years, The Secret Life of Pets 2 which sees Max the terrier embark on a worrisome trip to the countryside with his friends. Turns out pets secretly have movie star voices – the film features Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Eric Stonestreet and Harrison Ford of all people in his voice acting debut. At a time when we’re spending more time than usual with our pets, here’s a chance to see what they do when you’re not around…
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Read our full The Secret Life of Pets review
Disney’s first fully computer-animated movie – and one of their first forays into 3D – this oft-forgotten film from 2005 has an adorable cast of animal characters to keep the kids entertained this Easter. When Zach Braff’s Chicken Little becomes convinced that the sky is falling, no one believes him – until aliens start invading…
Watch Chicken Little on DisneyPlus and NOW TV
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The Prince of Egypt
Charlton Heston’s live-action Moses features a little further down this list, but this 1998 animated iteration may be a better choice for the kids. The Book of Exodus is retold here complete with a talented voice cast including Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sandra Bullock, as well as the mandatory catchy tunes. The pop hit When You Believe – remember that? – by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey came from this movie, and won Best Original Song at the 1999 Academy Awards.
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Disney’s 2005 blockbuster adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis book delivered a perfect Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy epic suitable for younger children, with impressive battle scenes for the adults as well. The Christian parallels are easy to see for the older viewer – a resurrection halfway through is particularly obvious – making Easter the perfect time to reunite with the Pevensie children, Mr. Tumnus and co. The franchise may have struggled afterwards, but this first film still stands as a high point for children’s fantasy.
Watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on Disney Plus and NOW TV
Read our full The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe review
While there are no Easter celebrations here, one tough bunny is the star of one of Disney’s biggest hits of the last few years. Zootropolis (better known as Zootopia outside the UK) follows rookie rabbit cop Judy Hopps as she teams up with con artist fox Nick Wilde to solve a conspiracy. As well as earning over $1billion worldwide, it’s also one of the best modern Disney films – we gave it five stars.
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Jesus Christ Superstar
A chance to remind ourselves of the original Easter story – perhaps with a few creative liberties – this 1973 adaptation of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical emphasises the superstar part of the title. If you prefer your bible stories with jet fighters and disco costumes, then this is the film for you.
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The Greatest Story Ever Told
This ambitious film features not only the story of the resurrection, but Jesus Christ’s entire tumultuous life. Epic in scope – and runtime – this film took inspiration from a 1947 radio series to become one of the great religious biopics of the 1960s. The cast is just as epic – the ensemble cast includes Charlton Heston, John Wayne and the late Max von Sydow.
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Yes, not only is this movie called Chocolat and follows a family who open a chocolate shop, but the film mostly takes place during Lent and then climaxes during the Easter sermon. An Easter film all-round for the grown-ups, this romantic drama will surely get you into the seasonal spirit – or at least in the mood for chocolate…
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MGM’s classic musical follows a performer who hires a chorus girl as his new dance partner to make his previous one jealous, setting up a G-rated love triangle. Sure the plot doesn’t have that much to do with Easter, but is more of an excuse to see Fred Astaire and Judy Garland sing and dance through some of their biggest hits. To keep just enough Easter spirit, the film culminates with a proposal at, you guessed it, a show-stopping Easter Parade.
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Now, this doesn’t follow Jesus or the resurrection story per se, but runs in parallel with the life of the Son of God – who makes a brief appearance in the film. The highest budgeted film at the time and winner of eleven Oscars, Ben-Hur is an epic in every sense of the word, using a literal cast of thousands well before the days of CGI. An ill-advised remake came out in 2016, but there’s no beating the 1959 original – that nine-minute chariot race still holds up.
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The Ten Commandments
Charlton Heston again headlines another religious epic, this time playing Egyptian prince Moses as he discovers his Hebrew roots and becomes a messenger for God. Cecil B. DeMille’s remake of his 1923 silent film is one of the most financially successful films of all time, making well over $1billion if you adjust for inflation. The film has aired at Easter on network television in the US every year since 1973 – you can now join our American cousins through the more modern technique of streaming.
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This starry ’80s comedy-drama is perfect viewing when back with the family, following a group of women who form a close bond in a small-town Louisiana salon. While the film depicts all the major holidays and not just Easter, the chocolate egg hunt scene is just too good to miss. Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts make up the ensemble cast – though the remake starring Queen Latifah is worth checking out too.
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The Easter story given a gritty, 21st Century makeover, this film takes a different approach by following a Roman soldier on the hunt for Christ’s missing body following his crucifixion. Starring The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Joseph Fiennes and Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton, this retelling has more in common with Game of Thrones than the religious epics of the 50s and 60s – so definitely not for the kids.
Rent Risen on Amazon Video
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The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson’s gives Jesus the Braveheart treatment in this ambitious and unflinching account of Christ’s last twelve hours prior to his crucifixion. The film has proved controversial due to its use of extreme violence, but was incredibly successful and is still the highest-grossing R-Rated movie in the US, despite stiff competition from Deadpool and Joker. Rumours of a sequel have been swirling around for a few years now – perhaps it will beat its previous record…
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Read our full The Passion of the Christ review
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
A more comedic take on Jesus Christ’s life, this British classic from the legendary Monty Python troupe has great fun parodying many of the religious epics on this list. The film follows Brian, who was born in a Jerusalem barn next to a certain religious figure and spends his life getting hilariously mistaken for the messiah. The movie was hugely controversial on its release and outright banned in several countries, but has gone down not only as one of the Python’s best films, but as one of the greatest British comedies of all time.
Watch Monty Python’s Life of Brian on Netflix
Read our full Monty Python’s Life of Brian review
The Last Temptation of Christ
Martin Scorcese may be best known for his high-quality gangster films – culminating with The Irishman in 2019 – but great things still happen when Scorcese plays with other genres. Before he experimented with Hugo and Silence, Scorcese dabbled with the religious epic all the way back in 1988 with The Last Temptation of Christ, which follows Jesus Christ’s spiritual conflict as he struggles with temptations. A young Willem Dafoe plays a tormented Jesus, with Scorsese regular Harvey Keitel as Judas and even David Bowie as Judea governor Pontius Pilate.
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Find out what films are showing this Easter with our TV Guide