Do you know that children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? It's the one with that terrible little houseguest of a mouse who just can't stop asking for things. If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk, etc.
When it comes to movies, kids are exactly the opposite of that mouse. If you give a kid a movie, they're going to ask for that exact same movie approximately 200 more times. It's enough to make you wish that movies were cookies just in the hope that the kid would eventually fall into a sugar coma.
The point is, you have to proceed with caution when introducing a child to any new movie. If they like it (which they will, because children seem to love literally any combination of sound and flashing colors), you'll be stuck watching it over and over and over until Disney releases Frozen 2 or you accidentally-on-purpose run over the DVD with the vacuum cleaner (no judgment — you gotta do what you gotta do). So here are 20 movies guaranteed to please kids without making you hate all of cinema.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, Up is pretty much universally-loved. Sure, the first six minutes will make you sob like a baby, but if the kids are young enough, with any luck, that whole sequence might go over their heads.
Up might have been nominated for Best Picture, but Beauty and the Beast blazed that trail way back in 1992. The Disney classic is animated, but it plays out like a truly epic love story. Plus, singing and dancing cutlery.
Wizard of Oz is a classic. It might be the classic kids movie. And unlike like many movies from your childhood, this one totally holds up. Plus, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" might just be the only song capable of capping the endless stream of "Let It Go."
WARNING: This is another one that might end in tears for the adults in the room (Toy Story 3, I'm looking at you). On the bright side, everyone loves the aliens, no matter how old or young you are.
For me, How to Train Your Dragon was the highlight of animated movies in 2010 (sorry, Toy Story 3). Why kids will like it: DRAGONS. Why adults will like it: Great characters, awesome visuals and… DRAGONS.
Finding Nemo is one of those children's movies that has as many jokes and characters for adults as it does for kids. The neurotic, weird collective of fish in the dentist's office tank are funny when you're 10 but hilarious when you're in your 20s. That goes double for the stoner/surfer turtles and the shark support group.
Mary Poppins is another classic from your childhood that will totally hold up as an adult. You'll find yourself yearning more than ever for the ability to clean your house with the snap of a finger, and you'll finally stop fast forwarding through the "Sister Suffragette" sequence.
The LEGO Movie gets it. I saw this one in theaters, and I'm not sure who laughed out loud more, the kids or their parents. A lot of the references will go over kids' heads, but adults will appreciate the nods.
Another great one from Pixar, The Incredibles plays with and pokes fun at every superhero story ever… and the idea that we sometimes hold special people back because we don't know what to make of them. It's a fun family romp and a budding college thesis, all in one.
This gem was released in 1999 and directed by a pre-Pixar Brad Bird. The story is set during the Cold War, so there's a lot of really interesting Americana, but more importantly, it stars a giant, friendly robot, which is fun for all ages.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was one of my favorite movies as a kid, even though I was only interested when the cartoons were on screen (I practically wore out the VHS going back to the Baby Herman cartoon at the beginning, over and over). As an adult, I love the movie even more because now I understand the noir references and appreciate the awesomeness of Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse sharing screen time.
Before it got the Tim Burton treatment, Roald Dahl's classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was brought to life by Gene Wilder and pure imagination. Kids will always love the songs and concept (CANDY), and adults will appreciate the nostalgia (and making fun of how bratty the kids are).
Pixar is great at making films that are truly for the entire family. Monsters Inc. is laugh-out-loud funny, and you'll start to wonder how much of that was in the script and how much Billy Crystal and John Goodman improvised.
The Nightmare Before Christmas might not be a great choice for the really little ones, but for the middle school crowd, there's not much cooler. Plus, the amazing stop motion animation and creepy story will keep adults entertained, too.
Coraline comes from the director of Nightmare Before Christmas and is just as creepy, but a little more subtle and, ultimately, a little scarier. Again, this is one for older kids, but it's a really fun ride for anyone not too antsy.
I know, I've given Frozen a little hate during this list, but let's face it: There's a reason the whole world has been singing "Let It Go" for the better part of a year.
Shrek set the bar for self-referential, anti-Disney animated features. The schtick might feel a little dated today, only because so many movies have jumped on its tonal bandwagon, but the first Shrek movie is still a ton of fun for kids and adults alike.
The Emperor's New Groove is one of the weirdest but most amazing Disney movies of all time. It doesn't even feel like it comes from the same studio as serious epic animated features like Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame . If you're up for a cartoon with a leading man who breaks the fourth wall, isn't particularly attractive, and never gets the girl (100% by choice), this one's for you.
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