Best movies for kids and parents to watch together

The other day we looked at eco-friendly movies for kids. Sadly, in my opinion, there are few decent green movies for kids. In fact, if you remember, my son Cedar only pointed out two he liked.

Still, it’s not like Cedar never ever watches movies. Like any kid, he does like movies. Plus, so long as you don’t sit in front of screens 24/7, movie night can be a fun time for families. I don’t want him watching total junk though or stuff that’s very inappropriate. That said, I figured we’d veer off green issues for today and discuss some of the better kid movies around – in case you’re looking.

Cedar’s favorite movies now:

Cedar is ten (11 years old tomorrow!) so he’s had years to see lots of films and form opinions. Keep in mind, since he’s ten, some of his current favorite movies are for older, not younger kids. When I asked him about his favorite movies Totoro came up, but we discussed that in the last post and he also said…

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9: Cedar says 9 is hands down his favorite movie. I think that’s odd because he doesn’t watch it much. Personally I find 9 a bit depressing, but still cool. It’s a little freaky for younger kids probably. He also loves The Nightmare Before Christmas, which makes me happy, because I also LOVE this movie. In fact, here’s a little story – I hate sitting in movie theaters. I get bored from sitting and want to walk around, so I rarely go. Still, I saw Nightmare Before Christmas a total of 7+ times in the theater. That, for me, is insane. I’m a big fan. While there are spooky elements in Nightmare, Cedar saw it when he was four and it didn’t scare him. I think it depends on your kid’s personality.

The other movies Cedar said were his favorites include:

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Napoleon Dynamite: This isn’t really a kid-minded movie, but Cedar watches it over and over. Not sure why. He thinks it’s funny. It’s mostly appropriate for nine or ten year olds and up. There’s very little bad language and nothing too adult. Still, it’s not a usual movie I’d suggest for kids if asked. If your child has an odd sense of humor, go for it.

Kiki’s Delivery Service: Obviously if you haven’t figured it out, Cedar’s a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. Totoro is his favorite, but I’d guess that Kiki comes in second, which you wouldn’t expect because Cedar is very into “boy” stuff and Kiki is all girl – a little witch girl, but still. Kiki is an excellent movie for kids in my opinion, encouraging adventure, independence and smart choices about how we interact with others. In fact, I’ve discussed Miyazaki movies often with people and there are always debates about which are good, which aren’t, etc. But, everyone I’ve met likes Kiki. It’s seemingly universally enjoyed. Cedar also really likes Castle in the Sky and Howl’s Moving Castle but he watches Kiki and Totoro more.

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Treasure Planet: Hated by some, loved by others. This is an odd kids movie. Cedar LOVES it. I actually like it too even though the animation could be better. It’s a science fiction take on Treasure Island but has decent music, lots of humor and some great lessons for kids in it. It’s one of the few non-Miyazaki animated movies that I’m okay watching over and over (I get sick of cartoons). However, really, some people HATE this movie, so I’d rent or check it out at the library before you up and buy it.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: I was skeptical of this film and so was Cedar. We both loved it. There’s nothing overly amazing about it, although we think it’s very funny, but it’s just a nice, simple film with a wacky premise. There are some lessons hidden within, but nothing to write home about. This is mostly a fun and cute movie.

How to Train Your Dragon: I could say this movie encourages you to be yourself and to stick with stuff when it’s hard, but overall, I think Cedar mainly loves this movie for the dragons. I like it too because it’s adult enough to entertain, without being too adult for kids.

Best movies for young children:

When Cedar was very young, I was way more picky about the stuff he watched. Beyond Totoro, there were a few movies I felt were good for young kids, that Cedar enjoyed enough to re-watch over and over, which include…

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Where the Wild Things Are and Other Maurice Sendak Stories: No one seems to know this DVD exisits and yet it’s one of the best ever for little kids I think. Cedar loved Sendax stories as a child, and this DVD brings them to life without taking away from the original charm of the books. The DVD includes short stories that are the perfect length for young children, great music and have a soothing effect on most kids I’ve met. On the DVD are Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen (Cedar’s favorite). Plus this DVD also includes The Nutshell Kid stories (which I remember watching as a child), including poems set to music and singing –  Alligators All Around, Pierre, One Was Johnny and Chicken Soup With Rice. I love this DVD and highly recommend it.

There’s a new Nick Jr Little Bear series, but the older and much more charming series of cartoons was better in my opinion. DVDs like Little Bear at Home and Little Bear – Outdoor Fun encourage outdoor play, niceness and family. Plus, these DVDs are super relaxing for little kids not full of bling and noise. Cedar used to watch these all the time.

Harold and the Purple Crayon – The Complete Series was one of Cedar’s favorites for a long time when he was little. There’s also an older version, Harold and the Purple Crayon… and More Stories to Spark the Imagination, but Cedar liked the new ones. I’m a fan of the older one although there’s nothing inherently wrong with the new series. I like that these stories encourage imagination and kid-minded themes that are fun and meaningful.

Pixar movies we enjoy:

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Pixar is weird. They make some very good movies in my opinion and others that aren’t as great. As a younger kid, Cedar would watch A Bug’s Life over and over. He also liked Cars, but not a ton and Monsters, Inc., which was maybe my favorite. Now I’d guess that Cedar’s favorite Pixar movie is Up - good news because Up is entirely charming and fun for me too. Of all the Pixar movies Cedar’s seen, the only one that seems to have stuck with him his entire life is Finding Nemo. He liked it as a toddler and still asks to watch it now. Overall, in our house we don’t watch much Pixar though.

Movies I had to force Cedar to watch – that he actually liked:

I don’t know about you, but I get sooooooooo sick of cartoons. When I say, “Hey, let’s watch a movie together,” Cedar always suggests animation. There are times I can’t take one more second of animation. So, then I try to convince him to watch something with actual humans in it. In part this is tricky, because you can’t pull out your favorite adult movie with real people, so you have to think back to more kid-minded, but still not cartoon films.

In any case, sometimes I overrule the cartoon vote and pull out something old and cool and make Cedar watch it. He usually hates this plan, and argues about it. Still, once in a while I luck out. Below are movies Cedar said he,”Would HATE” that he ended up liking…

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Although Cedar swore these movies above would ruin his life, especially The Princess Bride, he ended up liking them all. Good for me, because I got a cartoon break and good for him because he was exposed to something new and adventurous. All of the movies above are totally appropriate for kids too.

Possible extras:

If you’re looking for a few other choices, you may want to consider the movies below…

Harry Potter: Cedar likes Harry Potter movies to a point. He’s not a huge fan, but does like them. I like that this series shows kids being kids (okay magic kids) but they’re not always hovered over by adults and they spend a lot of time planning and thinking for themselves.  I also like that these films encourage imagination and are great for adults too.

Across the Universe: I personally love Across the Universe, but I don’t think it’s very kid-minded. That said, in yes, my kid is weird news, he loves this movie. He likes the Beatles and thinks the imagery in this movie is great. Honestly, there are some very adult themes in this movie but nothing a ten-year-old can’t handle. Cedar actually watched this when he was eight and liked it, but I’d watch it first before showing your kids, because there’s some questionable stuff. Note though that Cedar’s never mentioned the weird stuff he’s just enjoyed the music and this brought up some good discussions about war.

The Last Unicorn: This was my favorite movie as a kid. Obviously I thought Cedar would love it too. Nope. He hates this movie. He says, and I quote, “This is a total girl movie and I hate it.” I swear I’ve tried to raise him gender neutral too, he just flat out doesn’t like this film. I still think it’s a great movie for most kids though. It’s beautiful, imaginative, full of great music and actually has a decent plot. The fact that my own child hates it, is so depressing. Maybe your child will like it.

Now tell me… What kid movies are your child’s favorites? What movies do you recommend for young and older kids?

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Comments

  1. stephanie says

    Excellent list. There are several movies I’m not familiar with and we will try to watch them soon.
    Our favorites are: Anything Miyazaki, Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep (fun for all ages), The Secret of Kells, Speed Racer (we prefer the movie than the old cartoons), Kirikou and the Sorceress.

  2. Jay says

    Over The Hedge and Wall-E are my two favorites that come to mind. Both have the over consumerism overtones, so they are also good films to teach green living to children.

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