Movies for Parents and Children
Family Movie Nights
10 Movies to Enjoy with Your Kids
There are no shortage of full length animated feature films. Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks Studios churn out some of the best films out there and most appeal to kids of all ages. But the great thing about the more contemporary movies is that the brilliant animation appeals to the children, while the subtle and not so subtle humor is not lost on the adults, even though some of it may be lost on the kids. The following are some of my favorite animated films. Many of them I watched only because the kids wanted to see them. I had no interest whatsoever. As it turns out, we now own each one of them and I love watching them as much as the kids do. So if you think that kids’ movies are not for you, think again. Keep an open mind, cuddle up to your favorite little people, and enjoy!
With Ray Romano, Dennis Leary, and John Leguizamo playing the main characters, you know you’re in for big laughs. 20th Century Fox released this film in 2002. It was so successful, that it spawned two sequels, one of which is also on my list. While all of the characters are really funny, it is John Leguizamo’s voice over of the wacky and hysterically dimwitted sloth, Sid, that steals the show. Follow this unlikely herd (Mammoth Manny, Sid the Sloth and Sabre Tooth Tiger Diego) as they travel south to escape the effects of the Ice Age. Along the way, they rescue a baby whose mother was separated from her human tribe during a Smilodon attack, and they set out to return the baby to its family. Sid makes an hilarious maternal figure. A secondary character that has become garnered an almost cult like following, is Scrat, the squirrel that tirelessly chase after his prized acorn.
Ice Age 2 - The Meltdown
The goofy herd are at it again in this 2006 sequel. In Ice Age 2 – The Meltdown, Manny, Diego and Sid are joined by a new mammoth, Ellie, voiced by Queen Latifah, who believes that she is, in fact, an opossum and her two wacky opossum brothers. This time, the Ice Age is coming to an end, and the valley in which the animals are now living, is in danger of flooding as the glaciers melt. Meanwhile, Manny and Ellie are falling love, though they seem to be the last to know. Scrat shows up again in the sequel, still in pursuit of the ever-elusive acorn.
The Emporer's New Groove
A spoiled Emperor (David Spade), reviled by everyone in his kingdom for his childlike, selfish indulgences, plans to build a new water park on a hilltop that is currently home to a peasant, voiced by John Goodman, and his young family. The Emperor’s administrator, Izma (Eartha Kitt) and her dimwitted side-kick/ boy toy, Krank, plot the Emperor’s demise, but as fate would have it, instead of killing him, he is turned into a llama! When, on his way to see the Emperor about building his water park on a different hillside, Pacha encounters the llama Kuzko, and must find a way to return him to his kingdom and turn him back into a human. In return, Kuzko may just let him keep his home. There are lessons to be learned here about the consequences of our actions and the choices we make, but this movie is anything but preachy. The humor is fresh and funny. The main characters may have the big names, but it is clearly the sidekicks, Izma and Krank, that steal the show!
The Road to El Dorado
Dreamworks studios released this film in 2000. It is the tale of two petty grifters, Tulio and Miguel, who set out to find the fabled city of Gold. El Dorado is ruled by a kindly Chief who is undermined at every turn by the evil, power-starved witch-doctor, Tzekel-Kan. Tulio and Miguel are mistaken for gods and escorted through the secret portal into the city where they become beloved fixtures and bask in the glow of the golden city. But when Tzekel-Kan discovers that they are not gods after all, he plots to destroy them and secure his place as the leader of the city of gold. The plot may sound heavy, but there is plenty of good humor and a wonderful soundtrack by Elton John. It is a feel good movie with a lesson about how true wealth is found in the relationships we forge with others and our own personal integrity. This is particularly apropos in our touch economic times.
When four animals escape from the central park zoo in New York, the laughs abound! This is one of the greatest animated movies ever, and one of the funniest movies in general! Dreamworks Studios released this gem in 2005. Ben Stiller headlines as the showman Lion, Alex. Chris Rock voices the charming zebra Marty, whose dream it is to see the continent of Africa for himself. David Schwimmer plays the hypochondriac Giraffe, Melman. Lively hippo, Gloria is voiced by Jada Pinkett-Smith. Sacha Baron Cohen provides the greatest comedy in the film by voicing Julian, King of the Lemurs. He is an egotistical, yet completely dense animal that moves through life with the innocence of a child, ruling over his seriously zany kingdom. The four friends unwittingly assisted by several escaped penguins who think they’re on their way to Antarctica, find themselves in Madagascar. The movie shows how friendships can be tested under duress, and how, when we put our faith and trust the people we call friends and family, we can persevere.
Madagasgar 2: Escape 2 Africa
So funny the first time, a sequel was inevitable! This time the crew finds itself in mainland Africa, Alex is reunited with his birth family. Of course his dancing ways are not exactly viewed by the pride as “king of the jungle” material. Melman, who believes that he is dying of melanoma (what else could those brown spots mean?) decides to reveal his love for Gloria before sacrificing himself by jumping into a volcano for the good of the community. Once again, King Julian completely steals the show.
By now, surely everyone is acquainted with the lovable ogre, Shrek. See how it all began in this 2001 Dreamworks release. Mike Myers voices Shrek and his lovable sidekick “Donkey” is played by Eddie Murphy. All Shrek wants is to live in isolated peace in his swamp, but unfortunately, the diminutive Lord Farquad has just banished all fairy tale creatures to the swamp. In order to reclaim his land for himself, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona from the dragon-guarded tower and return her Dulock to marry Lord Farquad. Along the way Fiona and Shrek fall in love and in the end, Fiona’s true self is revealed. See if true love really does conquer all in this lovable family friendly film. While I have not included them in my list, Shrek has also spawned three sequels.
In 2003, Disney/ Pixar released Finding Nemo, the story of a clown fish who sets out across the open ocean in search of his lost son, Nemo, who was fish-napped by a scuba diving dentist from Sydney Australia Madcap characters include Dory, a blue fish with virtually no short term memory, Crush, a surfer-dude type turtle who cruises the east Australian current and three sharks who are part of a 12 step program for former meat lovers! This movie weaves a great story of just how far loving parents will go to protect their beloved children, and how children eventually come to appreciate and admire the moms and dads. It’s a sweet, adorable, and funny flick that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
One of my favorite movies, Up is so bittersweet that if you don’t find yourself tearing up, I’d be surprised! After losing his wife, who had also been his best childhood friend, this crusty but lovable elderly man is at risk of losing their home to developers. In order to avoid being placed in a convalescent home, Carl Fredrickson ties countless balloons to his chimney and achieves lift off, hoping to find the South American wilderness. He didn’t bank on being accompanied by a young wilderness scout who was still on his porch when the house floated away. This is a sweet story about a lonely man that finds friendship in an unlikely place, and that comes to realize the importance of following one’s dreams, no matter what your age.
Kung Fu Panda
This was another movie that I wasn’t initially interested in, but I was pleasantly surprised when it became one of my favorites. Laugh out loud funny, Po the Panda is voiced by the hysterically funny Jack Black. Po, finds himself unwittingly cast as the Dragon Warrior, which is unlikely given his obesity and lack of martial arts skills. Never-the-less, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) agrees to train him to prepare him to defeat the evil Tai Lung. He is assisted by the Furious Five, a band of martial arts heros that Po has long worshipped. They are voiced by Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen and Lucy Lui. The real action takes place when Tai Lung escapes from a maximum security prison and returns to the city in search of the Dragon Scroll. Po must put his newly acquired training to good use in order to preserve the scroll and save the town. Don’t miss this film. You don’t have to appreciate martial arts to love a good belly laugh, and this film is sure to have you in stitches.
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