There are so many good, classic, culturally relevant films out there and I wanted to make sure that my kids leave home having seen most of them, so this is my (ridiculously anal-retentive) effort at organizing towards that goal.
The movies are ordered based on how we will view them as a family, starting when our kid is at age 5 (or thereabouts), so the first movies are pre-school friendly and they go up in age/maturity until they are watching things like 'Saving Private Ryan'. Although the movie order may seem a bit random, I specifically tried to do it that way in order to mix up the genre/tone/style so that each movie could be seen on it's own merit rather than compared to something very similar. So, for example, I don't simply go through and list all the Disney animated movies in a block, but rather break them up with animated movies from other studios or even some live-action films in between. Or I made sure something like 'Babe' was not next to 'Charlotte's Web', since they have a fairly similar feel. So while I do apologize that this massive list may seem disorganized, please be aware that this is why it is the way it is.
Please note that I am approaching this as an educational opportunity (teaching about our popular culture, movie making history, and appreciation of film mediums) as much as an entertainment opportunity, so my choices reflect that. I do not have every (or even most) Oscar winning films - this is a list of movies that either 'everyone has seen', movies that greatly impacted our culture in some way, or are great examples of a genre/style/etc. This means that I have examples of genres that I'm not a huge fan of (like Westerns, stupid comedies, and Horror) simply to provide a well-rounded selection. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should provide a fairly good overview. I viewed many 'top ten' lists to try to get a sampling of almost everything. And, besides the movies actually listed, I mention quite a few more in the comments (especially sequels) for those interested. Almost everything here is highly rated (over 6 stars), but there are exceptions. I also include upcoming movies that may or may not stay on this list (depending on whether they turn out to be well done or not).
I frequently add discussion ideas for you to bring up with your kids (or project ideas for some of the younger ages) as I am also posting this list with the idea that it would be read by a parent planning to watch these movies with their child.
Many of the age ratings came from CommonSenseMedia. I stuck fairly close to their recommendations for the first several years, but then don't bother for the later ones (I didn't always agree with those age-ratings and feel more relaxed about what an older child sees anyway). If you are interested in films for supplementing history studies, see my other lists!
As always, parental discretion is advised!
A Charlie Brown Christmas
(1965 Short Film)
Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. (25 mins.)
“ This list starts out with movies appropriate for children aged 4 or 5.
This movie is listed first because of its short length and lack of serious conflicts in the plot. At 30 minutes, this classic seems an appropriate choice to ease a child into the idea of sitting still for our weekly movie nights (assuming we manage to resist the urge to let our kids watch much more than the occasional TV episode prior to this point).
A project idea for this young age would be to make a paper chain and decorate a house plant or yard plant (or a plant at a nearby park if you don't have either of those). ” - Sherrill777
Big Bird in China
(1983 TV Movie)
Big Bird and his Sesame Street companion, Barkley, the big, fluffy dog, travel across China in search of the legendary Feng Huang... (75 mins.)
“ Sesame street! There were several made-for-TV or direct-to-video movies with Elmo and other characters. Feel free to pick your favorite, but this (old school) one is fairly good for a preschool child. This is here, not because the movie itself is a must-see, but because Sesame Street in general is important for a young child to experience. (There are a few more movies like this on this list and I point them out as they appear).
Find a globe and point out where you live and where China is. Do a mini-geography lesson using Google Earth or a paper map. Point out where grandma lives or where another frequently visited place is on a local map. ” - Sherrill777
“ Classic Winnie the Pooh and classic Disney! There are many animated Winnie the Pooh movies (like the Piglet Movie), which I don't list, as well as the original books.
Get your kids to gather their favorite plush-toys and have them tell you a story staring them. Or you tell them a story staring their favorite toys. ” - Sherrill777
“ You'll notice a trend here with Christmas movies. I have no idea why so many of the best films for the youngest children are Christmas movies, but that's the way it turned out. Another short (1 hour) Christmas movie. Less famous than Rudolph or the Grinch, it nonetheless is a classic! I also recommend 'A Year without Santa Claus' and 'Life and Adventures of Santa Claus'.
Why not do a bit of research about how another culture handles Santa (like putting out shoes instead of stockings for Santa to fill) and then having a non-Christmas-time celebration based on that other culture? ” - Sherrill777
Winnie the Pooh
During an ordinary day in Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh sets out to find some honey. Misinterpreting a note from Christopher Robin... (63 mins.)
“ This comes from a completely different era of film making as the previously listed 'Many adventures of Winnie the Pooh', and I feel it's worth listing as well. I believe there will also be new movies produced soon too...
For a snack, make some treats with honey! ” - Sherrill777
Horton Hears a Who!
Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists. (86 mins.)
“ Dr. Seuss movie - what's not to like? I recommend reading the book to your child first.
Talk about how to be a good listener. ” - Sherrill777
The Peanuts Movie
Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home to win the love of his life. (88 mins.)
“ It appears that this movie was just as sweet as the old classics. ” - Sherrill777
The Pirate Fairy
When Zarina steals Pixie Hollow's Blue Pixie Dust and flies away, Tinker Bell and her friends sets on a journey to get them back. (78 mins.)
“ Disney has created a whole slew of Tinkerbell movies and books. I'd recommend showing this one to your child and if it sparks interest, delve further into that world before moving on, but otherwise leave it at that.
For my kids, I have the same philosophy with movies as I do with food - I want to give them a taste of everything, even if it isn't something that they end up loving. Tinkerbell isn't my favorite, but it's not horrible and a whole lot f people love her so...here this is. I also don't really believe in the idea that some movies are 'girl-only' or 'boy-only', so don't have a problem in letting a 5-year old boy watch something like this any more than I have a problem letting a little girl watch Disney's 'Cars'. ” - Sherrill777
“ The highest-rated movie on this list for a 5-year-old, this film is also only 30 minutes. The Jim Carry version of this story is not on this list, and I'd recommend seeing this version, even if you prefer the other one since this is so famous.
At this age, you can't get too deep in discussion questions, but you can still talk about some simple ideas. What is Christmas to your family? A time to focus on 'goodwill for all men'? A time for family to get together and renew your relationships? Jesus Birthday? Ask your children to tell you why you celebrate Christmas and then expand on their answer if they don't give you a complete one. ” - Sherrill777
“ Another 1/2-hour movie, final Charlie Brown story, and the only Halloween film for this age group. With so many Christmas stories for five year olds, we won't be limiting them to just December, but we'll be showing this in October. There are several other Charlie Brown films (episodes?) out there, but none as famous as the ones on this list.
This age is a bit young for actually carving pumpkins, but at any time of the year you can find acorn squash at the grocery story. Pick a couple up and use markers to make silly faces on the gourds! ” - Sherrill777
“ There's actually a sequel to this 'The Island of Misfit Toys', which, if you are a huge fan of this might be worth checking out, but it's not nearly as good as this first one.
Discuss how people can be different (perhaps point out some 'oddities' in your family, like wearing glasses or having freckles), but how we should never make fun of them for that because it can hurt people's feelings.
Or, break out the play-doh and let your kids make a 'movie' with whatever they create. ” - Sherrill777
VeggieTales: Lord of the Beans
A lesson in using your gifts told in a manner of JRR Tolkien's classic "The Lord of the Rings." (51 mins.)
“ VeggieTales! Fantastic preschool movies! Even if you aren't religious, and aren't under age 6, these are still fantastic and funny films. There are a whole bunch of them, many of which are spoofs off of other famous movies (like this one). We'll probably pause here on this list and watch a bunch of these before moving on, but if your child hasn't seen any of these, I'd recommend picking out a few and trying them. ” - Sherrill777
The Care Bears Movie
The Care Bears watch over a young brother and sister who have lost their trust in humanity. Meanwhile an evil wizard wishes to cover the Earth in concrete. (77 mins.)
“ As an adult, the plot is somewhat cringe-worthy now, but the characters, like Tinkerbell, are ingrained in our collective culture enough that I think exposing my kids to this is a good idea. There are a few sequels out there as well, if that strikes your fancy.
Talk about some good characteristics, like being cheerful, generous, patient, etc. and why those are good things. ” - Sherrill777
The Tigger Movie
Tigger goes looking through the hundred-acre-wood to find his family. (77 mins.)
“ '...and the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is....'
Tigger always was my favorite of the Winnie the Pooh characters. This is the last of the Winnie the Pooh movies I list.
This would probably be a great film to play around with bouncing afterwards. Hop on one foot, jump backwards, jump rope, skip, etc. ” - Sherrill777
Frosty the Snowman
(1969 Short Film)
A living snowman and a little girl struggle to elude a greedy magician who is after the snowman's magic hat. (25 mins.)
“ Another of the classic Christmas movies not to be missed.
An experiment with freezing water might be fun. Try putting a couple ice-cubes in a glass of warm water before the movie starts and noting how high the water level is and have your kids predict what will happen after the ice melts (you must push the ice below the water for this to work correctly). Then, once the movie is over, go over to the glass and see what happened. Then explain that water expands when frozen, so the water level actually went down. Five-year-olds might not grasp the whole idea, but they'd probably still enjoy doing the experiment anyway, since it's so short and easy. ” - Sherrill777
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. (86 mins.)
“ This movie isn't bad, but there's an older version (1970s I think) which is shorter, but better, in my opinion.
It might not be a bad idea to explain the idea of extinction to your kids. Try to find some videos of animals that have gone extinct on YouTube (such as the Western Black rhino or the Javan Tiger) or pictures of some of the more famous animals like dinos or the Dodo bird. Then explain that people are trying to make sure that this doesn't happen to more animals (it's up to you how deep you want to go on this issue). ” - Sherrill777
My Little Pony: The Movie
When a dark force threatens Ponyville and the Mane 6, they go on a journey to the end of Equestria to save their beloved home and they meet new friends and dangerous challenges along the way.
“ I could be wrong about where this upcoming movie fits on this list (it may be for an older audience). The 80's cartoon movie was pretty bad, but the more recent series has been very well received and they have several direct-to-video 'movies'. ” - Sherrill777
When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into New York City. (103 mins.)
“ Pretty bland film, but every kid should be familiar with the smurfs! I added this because I doubt we'll watch the cartoon episodes, but I'd like my kids to know what the Smurfs were about. Considering the low ratings, I wouldn't call this a 'must see' movie, so feel free to skip if your kids are already familiar with the smurfs (unless they love them). This is another example of a movie on this list where I don't think the film itself is all that great, but it represents something larger that I don't think should be missed. I also have a (relatively short) separate list of TV shows that we'll probably pick from as a family to expose our kids to some of the more iconic shows. ” - Sherrill777
Donald in Mathmagic Land
(1959 Short Film)
Donald's goes on an adventure in which it is explained how mathematics can be useful in real life. Through this journey it is shown how numbers are more than graphs and charts, they are geometry, music and magical living things. (27 mins.)
“ This is really a place-holder for any of the Mickey Mouse shorts. We're going to have a movie-night featuring several Disney shorts because, like Looney Tunes, every kid should see a selection of these at some point. We'll try to see both the fun and 'educational' shorts (like all the Goofy 'How To...' episodes). I don't list them later, but I think re-visiting some of Disney's earliest black and white shorts (like 'Steamboat Willie' and 'Silly Symphonies' ) when a child is older is a nice idea for seeing the evolution of animated film.
Another example of a series of shorts you might be interesting in making sure your kids don't miss is 'Schoolhouse Rock' - an educational classic. ” - Sherrill777
A gentle and wise grey spider with a flair for promotion pledges to save a young pig from slaughter for dinner food. (94 mins.)
“ I grew up watching this version, so it'll always be my favorite, but I intend to have us watch the newer version later as well. Note that Charlotte (the spider) dies near the end, so that may upset a sensitive child.
Talk about something that each of your kids do that's special - point out something that they can be proud of about themselves. ” - Sherrill777
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
A local scientist is often regarded as a failure until he invents a machine that can make food fall from the sky. But little does he know, that things are about to take a turn for the worst. (90 mins.)
“ Like many movies based off of books, it's a good idea to get a copy of the book (The local library probably has one) and discuss the differences. There is a sequel out too which seems comparable in quality.
What would it be like if food rained down? What would be good about it? What wouldn't be so nice? ” - Sherrill777
Feature adaptation of Beatrix Potter's classic tale of a rebellious rabbit trying to sneak into a farmer's vegetable garden.
“ Upcoming movie that I'm guessing will be gentle and sweet.
And this is my cue to mention that I have several movies on this list that have not yet be released, but which I include because I am guessing that they'll need to be on here by the time my kids are old enough to see them. This is an ever-evolving list so movies like this may disappear once they are out in theaters if it turns out they aren't any good. I'll leave this (and others like it) up here until I know more! ” - Sherrill777
With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country. (78 mins.)
“ Another of the 'not my favorite' Disney movies. It's pretty forgettable, in fact, and borderline on whether it should be on this list or not, but I decided to include it anyway.
I'll mention here the few Disney Animated 'Classics' that don't make this list: 'Hunchback of Notra Dame', 'The Black Cauldron', 'Atlantis', 'Brother Bear', 'Princess and the Frog', 'Home on the Range', and 'Chicken Little.' If you liked any of those (or just want to see every Disney Animated movie), be sure to include them, but I didn't care for them, so they aren't listed here. ” - Sherrill777
The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones
(1987 TV Movie)
Elroy Jetson invents a time machine that takes his family back to prehistoric times, where they meet the Flintstone family. (92 mins.)
“ I haven't watched this since I was young, but I remember really enjoying it. It's also a great opportunity to expose your kid to some of the Hannah-Barbara cartoons (like the Mickey Mouse shorts above, you might want to take the time to pause and focus on some of the other classic cartoons shorts that came out of this company, although for us, this'll probably be all we'll need.) ” - Sherrill777
Wilbur the pig is scared of the end of the season, because he knows that come that time, he will end up on the dinner table. He hatches a plan with Charlotte, a spider that lives in his pen, to ensure that this will never happen. (97 mins.)
“ The 1973 animated version is listed earlier. Having watched two different versions of the same movie, it might be a good idea to discuss which version is 'better' and why. I have several movies like this on this list where both the original and the re-make are listed, but I more frequently post up the better of the two and mention that there is another version out there. ” - Sherrill777
The Emperor's New Groove
Emperor Kuzco is turned into a llama by his ex-administrator Yzma, and must now regain his throne with the help of Pacha, the gentle llama herder. (78 mins.)
“ Kind of a tongue-in-cheek movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. The sequel, 'Kronk's New Groove' isn't bad, if you like this movie.
What lesson did the Emperor learn in the end? ” - Sherrill777
When a litter of Dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella de Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement. (79 mins.)
“ There is a more recent live action movie version and it might be worth seeing too, but isn't on this list. Also, it appears that Cruella (the antagonist) will be getting her own movie soon too as part of Disney's recent plan to remake a lot of their animated collection in to live-action films (a la 'The Jungle Book').
If you have a pet, talk about what it means to be a responsible care-taker for it. ” - Sherrill777
A five year-old boy develops a relationship with Ponyo, a goldfish princess who longs to become a human after falling in love with him. (101 mins.)
“ This movie, made by the 'Disney of Japan', Studio Ghibli, is the first of many on this list. Honestly, this company has produced some amazing movies and everyone should see every one of them (I'd argue that a few are better than most of Disney's stuff). They aren't anime, really (fans of anime tend to not like these since they expect anime from Japan), but they are beautiful films and well done.
Like all foreign films, the different culture sparks a very different way of seeing the world around them and this is reflected in this movie. So, if you haven't seen this before, be prepared to come away going 'huh, that was a bit different' for some parts. Point out a few things that you noticed that this family does differently than your family (like perhaps removing shoes on entering a home). ” - Sherrill777
Babe, a pig raised by sheepdogs, learns to herd sheep with a little help from Farmer Hoggett. (91 mins.)
“ Discuss: if your family pet could talk, what would it say? ” - Sherrill777
Lady and the Tramp
The romantic tale of a sheltered uptown Cocker Spaniel dog and a streetwise downtown Mutt. (76 mins.)
“ It almost seems silly to list all the Disney animated movies out there since most parents will ensure that their kids see them all over and over again, but since this is my list, I'll add them in anyway.
This has very little 'evil bad guy' action in it. The Siamese cats are naughty, but not really scary and the rat at the end is quickly dealt with. ” - Sherrill777
Kiki's Delivery Service
A young witch, on her mandatory year of independent life, finds fitting into a new community difficult while she supports herself by running an air courier service. (103 mins.)
“ Another fantastic movie by Studio Ghibli! It's cute and gentle and sweet and the detail of the drawing is amazing. I highly recommend this! ” - Sherrill777
In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind. (98 mins.)
“ This is the first movie rated for a 6-year-old. However, note that it hasn't been 52 weeks yet (if you paid attention earlier, I mentioned that we are planning to watch 1 movie per week starting at age five for our oldest), however, there are so many movies for the 6-year group that I felt starting earlier rather than finding 'fluff' movies to fill in the gap was the better choice. And this PIXAR movie is perfect for that! It can easily be watched by a younger child since there's nothing scary going on.
Unsurprisingly, nearly every PIXAR movie is on this list, so this is just the first of many.
Discuss littering and recycling. ” - Sherrill777
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it's up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. (85 mins.)
“ I'll confess, I haven't seen this yet, but the ratings and reviews I've seen convinced me that this should be watched. ” - Sherrill777
(1975 Short Film)
A young mongoose protects his human family from two murderous cobrae. (30 mins.)
“ This collection of shorts known on Amazon as 'The Chuck Jones Collection' contains 'Rikki-tikki-tavi', the best of the set, plus several other shorts, both original and from Richard Kipling's writing. It's a cute way to expose kids to a few classic tales. Don't expect Disney-level of animation or story-telling here. ” - Sherrill777
Alice in Wonderland
Alice stumbles into the world of Wonderland. Will she get home? Not if the Queen of Hearts has her way. (75 mins.)
“ I always found this movie a bit...trippy. Seriously, what was Carroll smoking when he made this story? But it's another of those classic Disney films that every kid should see, so here it is.
You can talk about dreams - how they can be silly or scary, but aren't real. Do you kids remember any dreams they've had? ” - Sherrill777
“ This is another one of those movies that I enjoyed as a kid, and provides exposure to something a child might otherwise miss (namely, Scrooge McDuck and his nephews).
Ask your kids what they'd wish for if they could have a genie grant their wishes. ” - Sherrill777
When Cinderella's cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from the lovable mice Gus and Jaq, and from her Fairy Godmother. (74 mins.)
“ Classic Disney. Need I say more?
Try heading to the library and picking up several different picutre-book versions of this fairy tale and reading them aloud to your kids. Cinderella is a folktale that can be found in many different cultures, so you can find quite a few variations, if you take time to look. ” - Sherrill777
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
Lady Tremaine gets her hands on the Fairy Godmother's wand, then turns back time to the day Cinderella tried on the glass slipper... (74 mins.)
“ I don't really recommend most of the Disney direct-to-video sequels, but this one was actually okay. It actually adds to the original (which had a few very bland characters - namely the prince), which is nice. This is the only direct-to-video sequel I'm including on this list, although it might be worth considering the Aladdin sequels the later.
Talk about the not-so-bad step-sister and whether Cinderella should have forgiven her for what she did or not. Discuss apologizing and extending forgiveness. ” - Sherrill777
“ Like the 'Care Bears' earlier, this is to expose my kid to the 80's pop culture I grew up with and loved. And I have to say that this movie isn't nearly as bad as it could have been. There's enough action that the pace feels pretty snappy, and the plot, while silly, isn't so bad that a parent can't sit through it.
And speaking of 80s culture, if you are interested, there was a Transformers animated movie (that wasn't all that good), a He-man/She-ra movie (that also wasn't all that good) that you could find. Plus, of course, all the shows themselves. I confess to not having as strong a handle on the most popular 90s and later cartoons, but this might be a good point to think back on the shows you grew up on and whether you can find some to show your kids.
You can talk about selfishness is and how that can hurt others. ” - Sherrill777
A Muppet fanatic with some help from his two human compatriots must regroup the Muppet gang to stop an avaricious oil mogul from taking down one of their precious life-longing treasures. (103 mins.)
“ Almost all the Muppet movies are listed here (my husband is a fan). I admit to not being sure if watching this first, or the 'Great Muppet Caper' (listed later) is a better plan. ” - Sherrill777
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. (80 mins.)
“ An animated version of the well-loved story. It doesn't come close to the brilliance of the live-action film, but as a gentler introduction to a classic, it's not bad.
What was the lesson the hero learned in this movie? ” - Sherrill777
After his son is captured in the Great Barrier Reef and taken to Sydney, a timid clownfish sets out on a journey to bring him home. (100 mins.)
“ Be aware that your child might question what happened to Nemo's mother at the beginning of this film.
Talk about what they should do if your kids get lost, including in the wilderness. ” - Sherrill777
The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish begins a search for her long-lost parents, and everyone learns a few things about the real meaning of family along the way. (97 mins.)
“ It seems Pixar is still King of excellent movies for kids! Another fabulous one! ” - Sherrill777
The story of the legendary outlaw is portrayed with the characters as humanoid animals. (83 mins.)
“ I watched this over and over and over as a kid, so I can't recommend it enough, despite the fact that Disney aficionados frown on the 'borrowed' elements (if you watch this and the Jungle Book, you'll notice at least one obvious dance move that they share). There are several versions of Robin Hood on this list - the rest are all live action - so your child should end up very familiar with the legend!
You could draw/paint a target on a piece of cardboard and 'shoot' at it with balls, giving points if the ball hits part of it. ” - Sherrill777
A bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights is in the middle of the bull ring.
“ Upcoming movie. The picture book was so cute, but we'll just have to wait and see if that translated to film well. ” - Sherrill777
The Adventures of Milo and Otis
The adventures of a young cat and a dog as they find themselves accidentally separated and each swept into a hazardous trek. (90 mins.)
“ Although a great movie for a kid, there are several rumors about animal abuse (including the death of many of the 'actors'), so if that is a concern, be aware that you may want to research this before deciding whether to let your child watch it or not.
If it wouldn't upset your kids, you can talk in an age appropriate way about the balance between using and abusing animals. ” - Sherrill777
The Sword in the Stone
A poor boy named Arthur learns the power of love, kindness, knowledge and bravery with the help of a wizard called Merlin in the path to become one of the most beloved kings in England history. (79 mins.)
“ Classic Disney! Despite the brisk pace of this movie, there really are no 'scary' parts, in my opinion, although a sensitive child may disagree.
Ask your kids whether they think they'd like to be a fish or a bird or a squirrel. ” - Sherrill777
A rat who can cook makes an unusual alliance with a young kitchen worker at a famous restaurant. (111 mins.)
“ Cute Pixar film
Let your child help you make cookies. They could stir batter or crack eggs or measure things - and of course taste test the dough :-) ” - Sherrill777
“ Another chance to give your child some exposure to a classic tale! Then, when they're older, they might be willing to read the original :-)
I believe there's also a Micky Mouse version of the 'Prince and the Pauper' too (although I think it is part of the Disney shorts rather than a full-length feature). ” - Sherrill777
“ A cute intro to superheroes (and I love superheroes!). ” - Sherrill777
“ I was very hesitant to put this on the list because I haven't watched it yet and it contains some 'natural, non-sexual nudity', but the premise and ratings seem too good to pass up. I'll preview it before letting my kids see it and I'd recommend you do as well, but I think it'll probably end up deserving to be on this list. Considering how hard it is to find good movies focusing on 'non-European/American' culture for young children, this seems important to include. ” - Sherrill777
Oliver & Company
A lost and alone kitten joins a gang of dogs engaged in petty larceny in New York. (74 mins.)
“ Not quite as obscure as 'Brave Little Toaster' (listed later), this movie still isn't one of the most well known out of Disney's animated vaults. But it's worth viewing anyway.
Talk about adoption and fostering kids. ” - Sherrill777
When the newly crowned Queen Elsa accidentally uses her power to turn things into ice to curse her home in infinite winter, her sister, Anna, teams up with a mountain man, his playful reindeer, and a snowman to change the weather condition. (102 mins.)
“ Another Princess Disney movie! Those are always popular, and this is no exception.
Use marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti noodles (or toothpicks) and make 'ice sculptures'. ” - Sherrill777
Plot unknown. This is the sequel to Disney's 2013 animated feature film, 'Frozen'.
“ The first one made so much money, there was no question about a sequel eventually hitting theaters. Hopefully it is well done. ” - Sherrill777
The Polar Express
A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. (100 mins.)
“ Great Christmas fare. Pretty animation and gentle message.
Talk about believing in something you can't see vs. things you can see. Have you kids name some things we believe exist, but can't see. (Some examples might be 'love' or 'reason' or even subatomic particles, if you want to get technical). ” - Sherrill777
The Jungle Book
Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a difficult time trying to convince a boy to leave the jungle for human civilization. (78 mins.)
“ Not one of my favorite disney movies, but like all the rest from that company, it still manages to be one that every kid should see. The newer live-action film is listed later.
Have kids speculate about how they would be different if they'd been raised by different parents or in a different time or on a different world. ” - Sherrill777
When a street urchin vies for the love of a beautiful princess, he uses a genie's magic power to make himself off as a prince in order to marry her. (90 mins.)
“ My husband's favorite Disney animated movie. I kind of want to cover my kid's ears and go 'la, la, la' at all the lying Aladdin does. But it all turns out well in the end.
Discuss lying. Point out how Aladdin couldn't keep the lie going and he was eventually discovered. ” - Sherrill777
For the Birds
(2000 Short Film)
A group of snooty birds roosting on a telephone wire get their just desserts when a goofy bird drops in. (3 mins.)
“ Although the title of this is just a single Pixar short, this is a place-holder for all the Pixar shorts. They created some fabulous mini-movies and we'll spend an evening watching them all! Amazon lists a couple of collection DVDs, as well as having individual shorts for sale. (I'm hoping our library will have them for free). Disney also has a few modern shorts (like "Frozen Fever"). ” - Sherrill777
The Lego Batman Movie
Bruce Wayne must not only deal with the criminals of Gotham City, but also the responsibility of raising a boy he adopted. (104 mins.)
“ I think the Batman from the Lego movies is hilarious. It's hard to say if this upcoming movie is really "must see" or not, but our family will probably watch it since we love superheroes. ” - Sherrill777
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe
(1979 TV Movie)
Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a lion messiah. (95 mins.)
“ I'm not 100% positive that the movie that IMDb found for me is the film I remember seeing. Well, in any case, I recommend seeing an animated version of this fantastic book. And reading the book to your child as well! This is a wonderful story - everyone should know about Narnia.
Talk about love and sacrifice. Perhaps give examples of how you have sacrificed for those you love and ask your kids if they can think of any way they've done something similar. ” - Sherrill777
In order to power the city, monsters have to scare children so that they scream. However, the children are toxic to the monsters, and after a child gets through, 2 monsters realize things may not be what they think. (92 mins.)
“ This is one of my favorite Pixar movies.
Talk about fear, if it won't upset your kids. Sometimes it's a healthy thing (you won't go jumping off a bridge because fear of injury is reasonable), but sometimes it's not (fear of what your friends might think of you if you do/don't do something can get you in trouble). ” - Sherrill777
A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University -- when they weren't necessarily the best of friends. (104 mins.)
“ At the time that I created this list, this movie hadn't come out in theaters yet - and I still haven't gotten to see it yet, but from the reviews, I think this is definitely worth including. ” - Sherrill777
An English soldier and the daughter of an Algonquin chief share a romance when English colonists invade seventeenth-century Virginia. (81 mins.)
“ Well, despite the fact that this is one of the Disney movies that most people don't really like, I think it's important to watch. If nothing else, it will lay the foundation for later reflection on historical revisionism and how legends can be distorted from reality.
And the 'Colors of the Wind' song is far too famous to miss. ” - Sherrill777
The Great Muppet Caper
Kermit, Gonzo and Fozzie are reporters who travel to Britain to interview a rich victim of jewel thieves and help her along with her secretary, Miss Piggy. (95 mins.)
“ More muppets... ” - Sherrill777
(1958 Short Film)
The life, career, and challenges of the legendary giant lumberjack. (17 mins.)
“ This is one of the shorts on Disney's 'American Legends' DVD, which also includes 'John Henry' and 'Johnny Appleseed'. These quick tall-tales are, like classic fairy tales, are the kind of legends I want my kids to be familiar with. The old (and rather poor) animations actually add charm, I think. It certainly makes for a visual change from the normal cleaned-up look of the other features on this list.
Have everyone re-tell a story as a 'tall tale' (a story will lots of extreme exaggeration). Or do research and tell your kids who the actual people (like Johnny Appleseed) really were. ” - Sherrill777
Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to the magical world of Neverland with the hero of their stories, Peter Pan. (77 mins.)
“ One of those stories that's told again and again, but this one is still fun, although has some serious issues with political correctness (Native Americans would probably be appalled at their portrayal here). This would also be a perfect time to read the book to your kid (it may be better than the movie!).
Ask if your kids want to grow up. What are they looking forward to? ” - Sherrill777
Benji the Hunted
Benji is left in the wilderness after an accident. Can he survive? (88 mins.)
“ Although it has relatively low ratings, I enjoyed this as a kid and think my own children will enjoy it. But, technically, it's not a 'must see' either. I believe there are other Benji movies out there too...
Talk about how 'family' doesn't always mean being blood-related. ” - Sherrill777
Beauty and the Beast
A young woman whose father has been imprisoned by a terrifying beast offers herself in his place, unaware that her captor is actually a prince, physically altered by a magic spell. (84 mins.)
“ One of the best of Disney's peak film-making periods. There are at least two, maybe three, sequels, but like most of the Disney direct-to-video films, they aren't all that great and thus not listed out here.
Discuss the ideas behind the cliches 'Beauty is only skin deep' and 'don't judge a book by its cover'. ” - Sherrill777
“ Halloween story, Disney style. Sensitive children may find the headless horseman scary, but overall this is pretty tame.
Tell 'scary stories'. Preferably around a campfire, but a flashlight works well too! ” - Sherrill777
When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds their love is profoundly changing him for the better. (95 mins.)
“ Cute! This is the first film created by Illumination Entertainment. ” - Sherrill777
Despicable Me 2
When Gru, the world's most super-bad turned super-dad has been recruited by a team of officials to stop lethal muscle and a host of Gru's own, He has to fight back with new gadgetry, cars, and more minion madness. (98 mins.)
“ This turned out very cute as well. ” - Sherrill777
Despicable Me 3
Balthazar Bratt, a child star from the 1980s, hatches a scheme for world domination.
“ Upcoming sequel. I also list "Minions" later in this list. ” - Sherrill777
Muppets from Space
Gonzo is contacted by his alien family through his breakfast cereal. He is kidnapped and it's up to Kermit and the gang to rescue Gonzo and help reunite him with his long-lost family. (87 mins.)
“ Hubby wanted this on the list - I thought it was 'meh'. ” - Sherrill777
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White, pursued by a jealous queen, hides with the Dwarfs; the queen soon learns of this and prepares to feed her a poison apple. (83 mins.)
“ Disney's first full length animated film. It was actually banned in some countries because of how scary the witch was, so keep in mind that a sensitive child may find this frightening.
Talk about how kindness makes a person 'prettier'. ” - Sherrill777
Lilo & Stitch
A Hawaiian girl adopts an unusual pet who is actually a notorious extra-terrestrial fugitive from the law. (85 mins.)
“ This movie spawned a rather cute TV series on the Disney Channel. I liked how very different this was movie (the hero wasn't perfect!), but some parents might find Sitch's naughty behavior less than desirable viewing material.
Lilo picked the 'weird dog' to add to her family. Discussion ideas might center around how different doesn't mean bad. Also, the idea of what 'family' really means is a theme in this movie that could be talked about. ” - Sherrill777
On a planet where the surface is constantly changing shape, a girl will partner up with her worst enemy to rescue her family and return the much desired stability to her world.
“ Upcoming Christmas animated movie ” - Sherrill777
A Bug's Life
A misfit ant, looking for "warriors" to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turn out to be an inept circus troupe. (95 mins.)
“ Pixar made a fun film that takes the child into the realm of the very tiny (which kids love).
Have each kid collect a different bug in a jar then have them try to sketch the insects. ” - Sherrill777
The Lego Movie
An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied 'Special', is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis. (100 mins.)
“ I think this is something a young child will love... and not only young children, but older kids would probably get a kick out of it too. It ends in a sweet message and is very watchable by adults.
Play with Legos! ” - Sherrill777
“ Upcoming sequel. ” - Sherrill777
Animated feature film based on the TV series, "The Flintstones."
“ Upcoming film that may or may not be any good. ” - Sherrill777
In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain's daughter's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the Demigod to set things right. (107 mins.)
“ Looks like Disney will have another hit princess movie.
Discuss Tattoos. ” - Sherrill777
“ Although no one dies (well, except for the fox mother, but I'm not sure most children will pick up on that enough to get upset), I always found this movie a bit heartbreaking as a kid, so keep that in mind.
Talk about friendship. ” - Sherrill777
The magically long-haired Rapunzel has spent her entire life in a tower, but now that a runaway thief has stumbled upon her, she is about to discover the world for the first time, and who she really is. (100 mins.)
“ The first traditional fairy tale movie Disney attempted after a hiatus. Not bad, really, but perhaps not excellent either. Still, it is worth watching at least once.
If anyone in your family has long hair, spend some time making zany styles! ” - Sherrill777
Two mice of the Rescue Aid Society search for a little girl kidnapped by unscrupulous treasure hunters. (78 mins.)
“ Classic Disney. ” - Sherrill777
The Rescuers Down Under
The R.A.S. agents, Miss Bianca and Bernard, race to Australia to save a boy and a rare golden eagle from a murderous poacher. (77 mins.)
“ I think this sequel is one of the only sequels Disney made that they (and the public) consider comparable to their original films.
Do a bit of research about Australia. Look up videos on YouTube of the more famous animals, find the country on a globe, or talk about some of this nation's history. ” - Sherrill777
A feature adaptation of Hanna-Barbera's animated TV show about a futuristic family.
“ Upcoming film ” - Sherrill777
A young tomcat named Tailchaser leaves the comfort of our world for a mysterious forest when the cat he cares for most goes missing. Soon he discovers the secret world of cats, learns of his special heritage, and confronts an evil cat god.
“ Upcoming animated fantasy epic by a non-Disney studio. We'll see if it's any good... ” - Sherrill777
The Little Mermaid
A mermaid princess makes a Faustian bargain with an unscrupulous sea-witch in order to meet a human prince on land. (83 mins.)
“ This movie kicked off the Disney company's run of best loved hits. It might be interesting to pull out a book of fairy tales and discuss how very different this story is from the original (where the mermaid dies) - as long as this wouldn't upset your child.
Or you could focus on how Ariel disobeys her father. That could bring up a discussion of whether she was right to do so or not. What about her father - why did he forbid her to go to the surface in the first place? Was there some other way they could have tried to communicated their views to each other? ” - Sherrill777
“ This claymation movie tells the life story of Jesus. Even a non-Christian ought to have some exposure to this story, and this is a pretty gentle re-telling.
Watch this at Easter, then talk about what Jesus' life, death, and resurrection mean to you. ” - Sherrill777
After being snubbed by the royal family, a malevolent fairy places a curse on a princess which only a prince can break, along with the help of three good fairies. (75 mins.)
“ The evil fairy/dragon may be scary for sensitive children. Otherwise it's quite the fun story.
Talk about 'true love'. It might be very interesting to see what your kids think of this idea. ” - Sherrill777
Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential. (64 mins.)
“ This movie has quite the split-personality in my opinion. On one hand, you have 'Pink Elephants on Parade' which has been known to freak out some little kids (and even weird-out some adults) and on the other hand you have the tear-jerker scene where Dumbo's mother rocks her baby.
There are rumors of a "live action" version of this movie being created.
Try to see if/when a circus might be in your area and attend. (Or a Cirque Du Soleil show...or simply go see elephants at a zoo!). ” - Sherrill777
An American Tail
While emigrating to the United States, a young Russian mouse gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country. (80 mins.)
“ Excellent non-Disney animated movie.
Might try to discuss the concept of 'grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. ” - Sherrill777
A hot-shot race-car named Lightning McQueen gets waylaid in Radiator Springs, where he finds the true meaning of friendship and family. (117 mins.)
“ The previous movie is more of a 'chick flick' and this one appeals more to the guys, but I think they're all so very well done and can be enjoyed by both genders.
Since this film centers around racing, stage some family races! Three-legged races, races while carrying an egg on a spoon, races hopping backwards, etc., etc. ” - Sherrill777
Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race. But the road to the championship becomes rocky as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. (106 mins.)
“ Not as well liked (or as well done) as the first Cars movie, this may still worth taking the time to watch. At least it is if you're a six year old. It is probably the lowest rated Pixar movie here, so if the first movie didn't thrill, then this is pretty skip-able. There are two other sequels, which weren't created by Pixar, but if your kids love this, it would probably be worth finding those too.
Talk about spying - when is it a good thing and when is it a bad thing? Is spying the same thing as eavesdropping or cheating? ” - Sherrill777
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
A wild stallion is captured by humans and slowly loses the will to resist training. Yet throughout his struggles for freedom, the stallion refuses to let go of the hope of one day returning home to his herd. (83 mins.)
“ The horses are silent, so there is little talking in this movie, but that just highlights the animation since the emotion is conveyed purely through the visuals. Really lovely film.
You could talk about whether the family pet would survive and be happy out 'on its own' and whether a wild animal would be happy being a pet. ” - Sherrill777
Tales of the Night
Tales of the Night weaves together six exotic fables each unfolding in a unique locale, from Tibet, to medieval Europe, to the Land of the Dead. From the imagination of internationally renowned animator Michel Ocelot. (84 mins.)
“ A series of folktales told with silhouettes on colorful backgrounds - so very artistic! There are several different short tales told with classic fairytale tropes, but they are stories that most children wouldn't be familiar with since they come from lesser-known cultures (like Tibet). The story-lines are perhaps a bit clunky, I thought, but it's really the unique animation that makes this worth seeing. ” - Sherrill777
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
A family of Emigre mice decide to move out to the west, unaware that they are falling into a trap perpetrated by a smooth talking cat. (75 mins.)
“ This movie doesn't have the same gravity as its predecessor. It's still fun though. ” - Sherrill777
The Great Mouse Detective
Basil, the rodent Sherlock Holmes, investigates the kidnapping of a toy-maker and uncovers its link to his arch-enemy, Professor Ratigan. (74 mins.)
“ Basil, the Sherlock Holmes of the rodent world, takes center stage here. Supplimenting this with some reading of some of the best of Sherlock Holmes might not be a bad idea (Try 'The Speckled Band' or the 'Red-headed league', for example). Or, if that doesn't seem to appeal to your kids, just try an age appropriate mystery. ” - Sherrill777
“ I can't tell if this upcoming Dreamworks film is going to be animated or not, let alone if it'll be any good... ” - Sherrill777
A cowboy doll is profoundly threatened and jealous when a new spaceman figure supplants him as top toy in a boy's room. (81 mins.)
“ Toy Story Marathon begins!
You can always talk about what your kid's toys get up to when there are no people around :-)
You have to click on "Page 2" below to see the next page of this list. ” - Sherrill777