From a Big Kid, the Best Children's Movies

Dec 17, 2005

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The Bottom Line These are all great tales of childhood fantasy and fun, that even big kids like me still enjoy watching!

Since I usually watch movies with my son, and many families do, I wanted to choose movies that children would love and that Mom and Dad would enjoy. All the films I have chosen are G or PG, and should be enjoyed by the kids and their parents. You won't find insufferable movies on my list like the three Pokemon movies or a lot of sappy Disney films here, just classic tales that bring back the magic of childhood. For the record, my own ten year old son enjoys these films, but would prefer to watch Alien v. Predator, or Underworld.

Ten - The Iron Giant (1999 Directed by Brad Bird) Before he directed The Incredibles Brad Bird brought us this delightful tale of a boy who meets and befriends a giant robot (voiced by action star Vin Diesel) This is an oft missed film, but I suggest that you go rent it! (rated PG)

Nine - Dark Crystal (1982 directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz) I really enjoyed this fantasy tale about a young Gelfing on a quest to recover a mystical crystal shard from the evil Skekses. Henson and Oz's magical creatures bring this far off fantasy world to life. (rated PG)

Eight - SpongeBob Square Pants - The Movie (2004 directed and written by Stephen Hillenburg) Aww come on, admit it you like the guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea! Well, I do anyway, Spongebob is so earnest, so innocent and so full of exuberance, its hard not to like him. Not only that this film features one of the finest performances ever by David Hasselhoff. Seriously, I enjoyed this film. (rated PG)

Seven - Ice Age - A non Disney, non Pixar non anime great animated film? Yup, My son and I loved Ice Age, and I bet you and your kids will too! Ray Romano's Mammoth Manny, John Leguzamo as a sloth and Dennis Leary as a Saber Tooth Tiger star in a really well animated, humorous and entertaining movie. Set against the backdrop of the Ice Age, the disparate trio find and decide to return a human baby. (rated PG)

Six - Hook (1991 directed by Steven Spielberg) - The retelling of the tale of Peter Pan was well done and fun to watch. What if Peter Pan grew up? and became of all things... a lawyer? That is the question this film poses as Robin Williams portrays an adult Peter Pan who needs to be convinced to go back to Never Never Land and do one more battle with Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). (rated PG)

Five - Labyrinth rated (1986 directed and written by Jim Henson This tale really does a great job of creating a magical tale. Jennifer Connelly in one of her first roles has to recover her baby brother after he is taken away by the Goblin King, played by none other than David Bowie. Great Jim Henson muppets, cool sets, including an M.C. Escher painting come to life, and songs by David Bowie, what more could you want? (rated PG)

Four - Harry Potter the first three movies (based on the books by J.K. Rowling) I have to give J.K. Rowling a lot of credit. When my son was younger I started to read her first book to him, and soon I was up at night reading every one of her adventures of the young wizard. I suppose it seems like too obvious a choice, but her magical world was brought to life on the big screen and I could feel the magic. The fourth is not included here, because as the kids grow up, so did the rating from PG to PG 13. (Sorcerer's Stone / Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban are all rated PG)

Three - Shrek 2001/ Shrek 2 2004 Dreamworks Studios first foray into computer animation was a hilarious parody of all that was the empire Disney. When Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) cooks up the eggs of the bluebird of happiness, who she killed with her singing voice, I cracked up. Other disney stabs include Ogre (Mike Meyers) telling Donkey (Eddie Murphy) NOT to break out singing, and of course the oversized castle of Prince Faracheck (John Lithgow) Both Shrek films are laugh out loud funny and both are in my permanent collection. (both rated PG)

Two - Toy Story 1995/ Toy Story 2 1999 (directed by John Lassiter) These are almost my favorite Pixar films. Who can resist the charms of Spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and his best friend Cowboy Woody (Tom Hanks). Not me! Team them up with all my favorite childhood toys from Mr. Potato Head to my collection of green army men, bring them all to life and you have two films that are watchable again and again. Even though they aren't on my list Pixar's Bugs Life, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. are all also terrific films for kids and adults alike. (both rated G)

I have two movies that I loved the most. Very different films, but I couldn't decide at all which to make my all time favorite children's film, so it's a Tie between:

One - The Princess Bride (1989 directed by Rob Reiner) If you and your family aren't delighted with this light hearted and wonderful comedy fairy tale, forget it. You have become too cynical for your own good. Peter Falk tells his grandson (Fred Savage) the fairy tale about Westley (Cary Elwes) an idealistic young man in love who sets off to save Princess Buttercup (Robin Penn Wright) from an arranged marriage. One of my favorite scenes is the battle of wits between Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) and Westley. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. Also notable are Andre the Giant as a lovable giant Fezzik, Billy Crystal as Max the Miracle worker and Mandy Patankinas Inigo Montoya who is seeking vengance against the six fingered man who murdered his father. I saw this years ago at the movies, and was delighted to find it on DVD so I could share it with my son. (rated PG)

One - The Incredibles (2004, Pixar, directed by Brad Bird) Never have I seen such an action packed funny adventure movie as the Incredibles. It is both a spoof of action adventure super hero films and an action adventure super hero film worthy of inclusion of all the best films which it spoofs. Moreover it is infused throughout with a keen sense of humor. We saw this twice in the theaters and bought it the day it came out on DVD. (rated PG)

Runner Ups: If you do have to go with standard Disney movies, I would recommend one of these runner ups

Aladdin Robin Williams as the hyperkinetic Genie and the songs alone make this one worth repeated viewings.

The Little Mermaid I just enjoyed this tale of a young mermaid who wanted to explore and meet the humans.

The Lion King James Earl Jones as the Lion King! Yes, this classic tale of love, betrayal and redemption told by talking animals was very good.

If you want outstanding children's films in a category of their own, check out Japanese Director Hayao Miyazaki. I didn't include his films here, because he would have dominated more than half the list. (he is heavily featured on my anime list.) You owe it to yourself and your kids to watch at least a couple:

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Castle in the Sky (1986)
Spirited Away (2001)
Porco Rosso (1992)
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds (1984)
Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

All are rated G or PG, and feature stunning animation and storylines that make Disney look Amatuerish.

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