Get us in your inbox

Inside Out
Photograph: Pixar, Courtesy the PresidioInside Out

The 50 greatest animated movies to watch as a family

The best animated movies for kids will keep the whole family entertained—these movies are great for adults and children!

Written by
Danielle Valente
&
Oliver Strand
Written by
Andy Kryza
Advertising

Animated movies are a solid choice for family movie night, but they’re far from a sure thing. Some of the best animated movies of all time are decidedly not for kids. And some of the best kids’ movies are a little too cutesy for grownups. Pleasing everyone can be tough. We’re here to help. 

These hilarious and entertaining movies are so much fun the whole family will want to cozy up when the action start. They include the best of Disney, the greatest family filmscartoonish comedies, classics, brand-new favourites and other gems guaranteed to please everyone on family night.

Animated movies for kids

This family flick is one of Pixar’s most creative storylines—prepare for a roller coaster of emotions! The key characters of this sweet movie are actually a little girl’s feelings—Disgust, Joy and Sadness, to name a few—and accompany her on an unexpected move from the Midwest to the West Coast. Clever, charming and gut-busting funny, this is a movie the whole crew will love! Stream on Disney+Rated PG

The Mitchells Vs. the Machines (2021)
Image: Netflix

2. The Mitchells Vs. the Machines (2021)

A visual stunner from the team behind Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, The Mitchells takes its cues from the classic road-trip films of yesteryear. Parents trying to connect with their uninterested kids? Check. Pit stops at roadside attractions? Yup. A quest to free all of humanity from a machine apocalypse launched by a sentient iPhone and an army or robots? Okay, the Griswolds never dealt with that. But still, despite its kinetic action, this is very much a tender family film at its heart, one whose jokes hit with precision that speaks to parents and kids alike. Rated PG.

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

The rat can cook! This sweetly ridiculous movie about a naive, ambitious rodent named Remy (charmingly voiced by Patton Oswalt), who longs to become a great chef is witty, clever, gently moral and dramatically convincing. Who doesn't love Linguini (voiced by Lou Romano), a hopeless human moppet controlled by the supremely talented Remy? Will they win over the Snow White-style villain, a power-crazed food critic named Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole)? We won't spoil the fun for the three of you out there who don't yet know the ending! Stream on Disney+Rated G

Tim Burton's claymation masterpiece is a lovable Halloween–Christmas mashup that begs for multiple screenings once autumn swoops in. In this delightful tale of discovery, Pumpkin King Jack Skellington grows tired of Halloween's spooky shenanigans. When he stumbles upon Christmas, he's immediately intrigued and gives 'ol Kris Kringle a run for his money, much to kids' dismay. Will Jack's good intentions unintentionally cause some Christmas chaos? You better believe it! Stream on Disney+. Rated PG

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

Don't worry about the strange setup–that all babies are sorted into two categories, and the ones who don't become part of a family are trained as managers in Babycorp–because your kid will love it when the gravel-voiced Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin) goes undercover with the Templeton family. For some reason, the schtick of baby sounding like a cynical middle-aged manager doesn't get old. This is a film that's snarky, and funny, and deeply silly. Stream on Amazon PrimeRated PG

Advertising

This Pixar classic, quite literally, takes the fun to new heights when balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen has his way. The grouchy senior ties a bunch of balloons to his home and lifts off to South America, something he's been dying to do for ages. All is fine and dandy...until Carl realizes he has company in the form of an overly enthusiastic Boy Scout. Stream on Disney+Rated PG 

  • Film

This Pixar feature is set in a fairy tale land that’s losing its magic—the elves who live there would rather use their phones and other devices than spells. But then young Ian Lightfoot (voiced by Tom Holland) brings his dead father back to life. Or, rather, just his legs. He sets off with his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) to complete the spell so he can see his father one last time—and maybe bring magic back to the elves. Stream on Disney+Rated PG

Advertising
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
  • Film
  • Animation

This lovely tale of a young witch coming of age in a new town is the perfect entrypoint to Japan’s magnificent Studio Ghibli, a film of breathtaking artistry and huge heart. There’s really no conflict here. Just the story of a young girl making friends, hanging out with her wisecracking cat and learning to be independent. That’s not to say there’s no excitement – the climax featuring an imperiled dirigible is a white-knuckle bit of braveau animation – but really, just watching the hero cruise the friendly skies on her broom is enough to keep even the most cynical viewer smiling. Rated G

Advertising

Is there a sister duo out there more popular than Anna and Elsa? The two rose to Disney fame in 2013 when Elsa's powers froze the entire kingdom. Anna sets out on an adventure to put a stop to the never-ending winter and free her big sis from seclusion. We're willing to be you've heard the flick's popular tune, "Let It Go," a few million times, right? Stream on Disney+. Rated PG

Ariel has had enough of her mermaid tail, and the youngster yearns to see what life is like on land. The singing sensation of the sea gets a taste of this fantasy, courtesy of the wicked octopus, Ursula. However, the sea witch has a plan. If the hunky prince Ariel sets her sights on fails to kiss her within three days, Ariel will lose everything. Stream on Disney+Rated G

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

If you think your four-legged friend waits patiently by the door for your arrival then you haven't met Max, the mischievous dog who thinks he's the king of the house. Max is thrown for a loop when his owner brings home another pup, Duke. The two end up on the streets of NYC—will they make it home? A few of Max's friends join forces to help see them back to safety. Stream on Amazon PrimeRated PG

  • Film
  • Animation

A bold, beautiful and (let's be honest) somewhat bleak film transforms a dystopian future into something delightful and laugh-out-loud funny. The year is 2700, and a robot named WALL-E that has a cube for a belly and binoculars for eyes is left to clean up the Earth. The only humans left live a sterile, bloated life in a cruise ship-like spaceship—it's robots like WALL-E, the lovely and graceful EVE and even the sinister autopilot named (what else?) Auto who have the vivid personalities. Stream on Disney+Rated G

Advertising
The Willoughbys (2020)
Photograph: Courtesy Netflix

15. The Willoughbys (2020)

Abandoned by their heartless parents, Jane Willoughby (voiced by Alessia Cara) and her twin brothers (Séan Cullen and Séan Cullen) try to please their sour nanny (Maya Rudolph) and become perfect children. Based on the bestselling book by Lois Lowry, this animated film also features the voices of Ricky Gervais and Terry Crews. Stream on NetflixRated PG

 

Shrek is an ogre who appreciates his seclusion from society, so you can imagine his discontent when a bunch of fairytale creatures invade his swamp, and in turn cramp his style. They've all been banished from Lord Farquaad's kingdom, so Shrek makes a deal with the pint-sized authoritarian to get his land back. All he has to do is retrieve the beautiful Princess Fiona—who's been locked away in a castle—so Lord Farquaad can make her his bride. It seems simple, right? Matters become complicated when Shrek grows close to Fiona on their journey—and when Fiona reveals a deep-rooted secret. Stream on Amazon PrimeRated PG

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

Ernesto de la Cruz—a fictional Sinatra, if you will—is Miguel's idol. All the youngster longs for is to belt out beautiful ballads like his favorite singer. However, music is strongly prohibited in his family, for reasons unknown. With a trip to the Land of the Dead, Miguel starts to make sense of his family's ways. Stream on Disney+Rated PG

Disney's 2016 princess tale follows the fearless Polynesia heroine Moana. Although she's young, she's faced with a pretty big task: to save her island for a terrible curse. She joins forces with legendary demigod Maui in order to confront the creatures in the seas and fulfill her dangerous quest. Stream on Disney+Rated PG

Advertising
Advertising
  • Film

Taking a page from Wonder Woman's book, The Incredibles 2 starts off with Elastigirl fighting crime while her hubby, Mr. Incredible, is home with the kiddos. It's not ideal, but it'll do. But when the crew needs to take down another nefarious plan, they'll just have to make it work. Stream on NetflixRated PG

22. Minons (2015)

From sidekicks to superstars, the Minions busted out of the Despicable Me franchise and have gone rogue in this slice of slapstick silliness. Little, yellow and essentially useless, can they carry an entire film? The answer is yes. The Minions indulge their weirdest, most randomly hilarious instincts. Set in the summer of 1968, the film follows three Minions as they search for a new evil master to serve. They fix upon supervillain Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock)—the action sequences are wild, the jokes dumb-but-smart, and the sense of anything-goes is glorious. Stream on Amazon PrimeRated PG

Advertising
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

A clownfish named Marlin is likeable and relatable, a sea critter who is uber-protective of his Nemo, his young son. No surprise there! Also unsurprising? Nemo’s defiance. When the little guy goes missing in the deep blue sea—and encounters one large great white along the way—it’s up to Marlin to bring his fella to safety. Kiddos, we hate to tell you, but Mom and Dad know best! Let Nemo’s experience be a lesson to you! Stream on Disney+. Rated PG

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Film
  • Animation

The breakout star of 2014’s The LEGO Movie now gets his own action-packed, completely batty superhero spinoff, The LEGO Batman Movie. The first LEGO film was a real surprise: What could have been a lazy cash-in turned out to be sweet, funny and fiendishly original in the way it acknowledged and celebrated its own artificiality. And one of the film’s highlights was its take on Batman: a self-involved millionaire playboy who dresses in black body armor to fight crime and chase chicks. The inept egomaniac is at the center of this ferociously paced, wildly silly pastiche of the comic-book blockbusters that dominate today. Stream on HuluRated PG

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Lightning McQueen, a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. On route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town's offbeat characters--including Sally, a snazzy 2002 Porsche, Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past, and Mater, a rusty but trusty tow truck, who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame and sponsorship. Stream on Disney+Rated G

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

This Disney Pixar film is a new classic that tells the story of monsters Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal), who work together at Monsters, Inc., a power company fueled by the screams of human children collected by monsters who go into the human world to scare them. When a haunting fail brings a small child into their world, they must work together to make things hilariously right. Stream on Disney+. Rated G

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

This long-anticipated sequel feels entirely fresh. The world it creates is charming, the wit sparkles, and—one brief burst of “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” aside—the songs are all new. So let go of “Let It Go” and clear some room for a new batch of earworms. As you’d expect, Frozen II’s story again focuses on Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel), but her exuberant sister, Anna (Kristen Bell), is very much a co-conspirator this time, having When Harry Met Sally-ish tiffs with the lovestruck Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), and helping guide the scene-stealing Olaf (Josh Gad) through a very funny coming-of-neige plotline. The hilarious “When I Am Older” and some philosophical musings on the nature of existence are an absolute delight. Stream on Disney+. Rated PG

  • Film
  • Animation

This globehopping adventure has plenty of glittery visual allure—dig that trippy Tokyo skyline! The sequel is a spy film, and the focus shifts from the first installment's burnished, smooth-talking race-car protagonist, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), to rusty, drawling tow-truck sidekick Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), who's unwittingly drafted into an undercover operation run by a secret-agent sedan Finn McMissile (Michael Caine). It seems someone is planning to put a wrench in the works of the World Grand Prix, a three-part race—all the cars, McQueen among them, are supposed to use Axlerod's new clean-fuel compound, Allinol, though it has, shall we say, an explosively fatal flaw. Car jinks ensue! Stream on Disney+Rated G

Advertising
  • Film

Mulan doesn't let anything stand in her way. She's fearful that her ailing father will be forced to serve in the military. That's when she gets the idea to go undercover as a man—a highly forbidden act. In true Disney fashion, there's also some romance along the way. Stream on Disney +Rated G

  • Film
  • Animation

This adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel Notre Dame de Paris stars Quasimodo (voiced by Tom Hulce), a grotesquely deformed but kind-hearted young man who was abandoned by his parents and rescued by the priests of Notre Dame, the massive cathedral in the heart of Paris, and he lives there, earning his keep as a bell ringer. Quasimodo has become the ward of Judge Frollo (voiced by Tony Jay), an outwardly pious but deeply hateful man. Frollo hopes to clear the Gypsies out of Paris with the help of Phoebus (voiced by Kevin Kline), leader of the troops under Frollo's command. However, Phoebus harbors no ill will against the Gypsies—in particular Esmerelda (voiced by Demi Moore), a hot-blooded but compassionate gypsy beauty. Will love triumph? Stream on Disney +Rated G

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

This moving sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo follows the adventures of Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), an adorably ditzy amnesiac blue tang fish, as she seeks the Californian family she suddenly remembers losing. Dory rediscovers her childhood home in a corner of the California Marine Life Institute, a place for ichthyological study, presided over by the disembodied, omniscient voice of Sigourney Weaver, playing herself—she brings a wonderfully surreal note to the film that will sail over the heads of younger viewers but that you will love. Stream on Disney+Rated PG

  • Film
  • Animation

Princess Rapunzel is kidnapped from her crib by a woman intent on staying forever young with the help of the princess’ magical long locks. Rapunzel grows up within the confines of her tower, always wishing she could explore the world and the lanterns that float outside her window. When her endless stream of creative activities no longer satisfies her, she ventures out with a tower thief and begins a journey to discover that the danger never lurked beyond the walls of her tower, but rather within them. Stream on Disney +Rated PG

Advertising
  • Film
  • Action and adventure

Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is all hair: Her long, flowing crimson locks steal the show. She's also plucky, rebellious and not down with the traditions sanctioned by her mother, Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson), that go with the regal lifestyle. Her Royal Highness isn't impressed by the princess’s radical notions. (Marry for love instead of having your hand won by a suitor?!? Ridiculous!) So is it any shock that when Merida finds herself in the presence of a wood-carving enchantress, she wishes the Queen into a, shall we say, bear of a predicament? The slapstick that follows takes us through stunningly detailed Scottish locations. Stream on Disney+Rated PG

  • Film
  • Animation

Never-ending adolescence seems like a dream come true for Wendy and her two brothers. They're immediately intrigued when the magical Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fly into their home, discussing the forever youth they achieved in Neverland. Naturally, it's only right for Wendy and co to take a peek at what all the hype is about. When they do, things take a turn, largely thanks to Captain Hook. Stream on Disney+Rated G

Advertising

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's beloved story gets an animated spin in this 2016 release. Journey alongside an aviator who shows a girl a whole new world where she has a chance to relive her childhood and learn what really matters in life. Stream on NetflixRated PG

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

Dumbo's certainly the most eccentric part of the circus. The poor elephant with gigantic ears is the target of much ridicule, which makes things even more grueling during the circus. However, the joke's on everyone else when Dumbo learns his ears allow him to fly! Expect to shed a few tears with this one. Stream on Disney+Rated G

This classic cartoon is one of the most iconic films in the Disney repertoire. With dream-like visuals, a gorgeous classical score and Mickey at the center of it all, the 40's flick will easily captivate viewers into its surreal world. Note that some visuals might be better suited for the older tots in your crew. Stream on Disney+. Rated G 

Advertising
  • Film
  • Animation

Walt Disney had already made a name for himself, having worked on a number of animated shorts (he actually had high hopes for a rodent character he'd just created, Mickey something or other), but in early 1934 he felt it was time to move into the big leagues. Disney announced that he and his team would be starting on their first feature-length film: an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a princess and her septet of pint-size friends. The rest, as they say, is history. When you watch this extraordinary effort today, you can see the company's decades-old recipe for success forming before your very eyes: the heroine in peril, the moving musical numbers ("Some Day My Prince Will Come"), the humorous (Dopey), the horrifying (the Wicked Queen) and the happily-ever-after ending. It all starts here. Stream on Disney+Rated G

More fun for kids

The last thing on Kelly's mind is military school, but that's exactly where the teen ends up after her bossy new stepfather has his way. Life at George Washington Military School is certainly intense, especially when Kelly's commanding officer decides to give her a hard time. Things seem impossible...until she sets her sights on a hunky classmate. Well, it looks like military school isn't so bad after all! Think Kelly (played by Hillary Duff) will be able to keep up? After your Lizze McGuire marathon, make sure to watch Hillary gem, too. 

In the early 2000s, it seemed Lindsay Lohan made a cameo in just about every Disney movie ever created. We see her as an investigative journalist/super sleuth whose humble beginnings start on the school paper. The sassy NYC kiddo is used to writing for the paper's gossip column, but before you know it, her beat shifts to crime. Will she be able to uncover her missing teacher's whereabouts?

Advertising

Casey Stuart is trying to get used to life without her mother, but the loss is too much for the tween (played by Lindsay Lohan) to bear. The tomboy retreats from her friends and looks for ways to bring her mother back...and actually stumbles upon it. She gets her hands on a book of spells—without paying for it—and tries to resurrect her mom with a spell. Instead, it's her new doll, Eve, who comes to life. 

Taylor and Courtney have better things to do than work on the family farm...yet their father seems to think that is exactly where they need to be. In order to instill some responsibility in his girls—Michalka sisters—he tasks them with managing the every-day chores of the biz. The ladies get more than they bargained for when the family's funds go missing. Will they be able to keep things running? 

Advertising

The National Hot Rod Association is looking for young racers...but not eight-year-old Erica. Girls aren't meant to race, but naturally, she has ideas of her own. Determined to succeed in a man's sport, Erica does everything in her power to prove those naysayers wrong. 

Recommended

    More on Time In

      You may also like
        Advertising