The 50 best kids movies to watch as a family
We know there’s nothing quite like enjoying family movies with the kids. Enjoy our favorite 50 kids’ movies, ranging from Mrs. Doubtfire to The Goonies
Sat Aug 16 2014
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Every kid wants to run rampant in a candy factory, and this nutty adaptation of Roald Dahl's book is a golden ticket to a dream come true: riding a boat through chocolate rivers, burping your way out of a soda room and getting lots of musical life lessons from Oompa Loompas. Not even Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could top the original's psychedelic goofiness. Rated G.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Julie Andrews had already set the bar high for onscreen child care (see No. 10), but her super-nurturing nanny upped the ante even further: Children have expected their hired guardians to dance with penguins, fly through the sky and serve medicine with spoonfuls of sugar ever since. Rated G.
From its stunning first shot through a cosmic cloud of debris to its second-coming-of-civilization climax, this Pixar movie radiates both a sense of eco-responsibility and a warm, humanistic vibe. All this despite the fact that its hero is a robot, albeit one in love, and the story is a sci-fi take on a worst-case scenario for the planet Earth. That it is, somehow, still kid-friendly is quite a feat. Bravo. Rated G.
Those who know Will Ferrell from his raunchy roles in grown-up comedies may be surprised to see the star playing a sweet, innocent naf like Buddy the Elf. But it's the actor's childlike, gosh-all sense of wonder that sells this story of Santa's helper in the big, bad city and gives the movie its heart—as well as goosing the funny bone of viewers regardless of their age. Rated PG.
Chicken Run (2000)
Britain's Aardman Animations has always had a sly sense of anthropomorphist humor (see their sensational Wallace and Gromit shorts), so it's no surprise that the company's parody of The Great Escape—this time, the POWs are chickens breaking out of a farm—is hilarious. What is shocking is how what could have been a one-joke comedy becomes, in Aardman's deft clay-molding hands, something moving and absolutely poult-errific. Rated G.
The Lion King (1994)
Elderly lion Scar plots to usurp his brother, King Mufasa (James Earl Jones), from the throne, only to find his route blocked by newborn cub Simba (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). Scar orchestrates Mufasa's tragic demise in a stampede of wildebeests, then makes Simba believe he is to blame. The young lion is overwhelmed by guilt and flees his home, ending up in the jungle where he befriends Timon (Nathan Lane) and Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella). Years later, the now full-grown Simba (Matthew Broderick) is persuaded to return to the Pride Lands to overthrow the despotic Scar, and save the pride from extinction with the help of his new friends. The emotional film has the best-selling soundtrack album of any animated movie in the U.S., featuringmemorable songs—written by Elton John and Tim Rice—that only further cement it as one of the best Disney movies of all time. Rated G.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Hans Christian Andersen's fable about a mermaid who longs to be human is chock-full of morals about letting kids follow their bliss, as well as tons of catchy songs courtesy of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. (Just try not to sing "Under the Sea" right now. We dare you.) But it also provided a vibrant new template for Disney's animated features, one that helped the Mouse House kick off a fertile new era of family entertainment. Rated G.
While we tip our hat to Wilbur, the porcine protagonist of Charlotte's Web, our favorite screen oinker has to be the star of this Australian insta-classic: a talking pig who saves his bacon (literally) by learning to become a sheepdog. Seriously, Babe, you deliver a message about finding your inner champion and help keep this family film from turning into saccharine slop. That'll do, pig. That'll definitely do. Rated G.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
It's a simple story, really: Boy meets alien. Boy and alien become best friends. Boy says goodbye to alien when his outer-space buddy has to go home, causing audiences everywhere to sob uncontrollably. How Steven Spielberg tells it, of course, makes a world of difference, as he infuses this family blockbuster with a childlike sense of awe. If you can think of a more magical '80s movie moment than E.T. and Elliott biking past the moon, we'll personally buy you a bag of Reese's Pieces. Rated PG.
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
When a witch-in-training turns 13, she is required to do a residency outside of the house; for Kiki, the irrepressible heroine of Hayao Miyazaki's supernatural anime, that means grabbing her black cat and heading into the big city. The watercolor-like animation and gentle lessons about being on your own and the importance of helping out the community helped confirm what many people were beginning to realize: When it came to complex, emotionally resonant kids' movies, Miyazaki could truly deliver. Rated G.