The chin-strokers will tell you that you should bathe in the wonder of Fantasia, or Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, or The Wizard of Oz, or something pretentious like Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid. But the truth is that, while adult cinema has slumped in the wake of TV’s golden era, children’s cinema is getting better and better. So, forget the so-called “classics”, this is what you should be watching…
An Oscar winner, no less, Zootopia works on numerous levels. It’s a parable about tolerance and acceptance, it’s a police procedural drama, it’s a LOLZy comedy, it’s a love story between a rabbit and a fox. It’s also got the world-famous weed smoker Tommy Chong playing a talking yak, so everyone wins.
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Following the tradition set by The Godfather and the original Star Wars trilogy, Despicable Me 2 was the real jewel in the crown. Also like The Godfather, this originally starred Al Pacino (as El Macho), only word has it he flounced off citing “creative differences”. It features a splendid soundtrack from Pharrell “do you like my massive hat?” Williams.
If you haven’t seen this yet, we suggest you calmly pack up your things, make your excuses, leave the office, and remedy that immediately. It’s got everything – a young boy journeying to the other side, wisecracking skeletons, and an ending that will play wild air guitar on your heartstrings. Especially recommended for people who like weeping incoherently as they exit a cinema.
The ultimate singalong, there’s not a person alive who doesn’t leap up and punch the sky during Let It Go. Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you actually have, because it’s everywhere. It’s in your bones, whether you like it or not, don’t fight it. Don’t hide it away, don’t be such an Elsa.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
After Toy Story 2, we all thought children’s cinema couldn’t get any better, then along came Toy Story 3 with bigger conkers, and an even deeper message about not putting away all of your childish things. About holding onto the parts of yourself that still believe in magic. It’s also got an incinerator scene which might be one of the best ever, in any film.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
It’s easy to forget that, after it’s mid-century heyday, the 70s and 80s weren’t a great time for Disney animations – and then along swam the Little Mermaid to give the whole business the kiss of life. If you like crabs singing cod reggae, this will be right up your street.
Paddington 2 (2017)
We should probably point out that this list isn’t necessarily in order, because if it was, this would be much nearer the top. As visually pleasing as a Wes Anderson movie without the cloying affectation, it also features Hugh Grant’s best ever performance. Now the yardstick for all British kid’s movies. And yes, we are counting it as an animation. No, you shut up.
Spirited Away (2001)
Full disclosure, this list could probably have featured a small handful of Studio Ghibli classics – particularly Hayao Miyazaki’s masterworks like My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle. But, the one that always stands out is the dreamlike tale of a 10-year-old girl in a spooky spirit world. His best. Arguably.
The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (2012)
This didn’t get the props it deserved when it first came out, but for our money, this is the best Aardman movie yet. It also features Hugh Grant’s best ever screen performance. No, wait, hang on, we already said that for Paddington 2. We didn’t think this through. Oh god.
The Iron Giant (1999)
Based on The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, this finds a young boy teaching a robot how to love, set against the backdrop of the Cold War. It’s essentially King Kong, or Robocop, only more child friendly, and probably better. It’s also Vin Diesel’s best movie, and that includes all of the ones where he drives around in cool cars.