Struggling to find something to see with your littl’uns or don’t fancy the trek to the cinema? With Sky Cinema’s deal covering most major studios, its collection of family films is hard to beat – not least because it’s the only place outside of DisneyLife that you can find Disney films to stream in the UK. We round up the best kids’ movies available. Don’t have Sky Cinema? You can also stream them all on NOW TV, as part of a £9.99 monthly subscription.
“The best Pixar films have always had an element of autobiography about them, and Inside Out reads practically like a manifesto for Pixar’s output – heck, it’s practically a tour of the studio. Gather a bunch of diverse personalities together and let them work the controls in order to inspire outrageous flights of imagination, devastating heartbreak and cinematic joy. It was only a matter of time before Pixar made the logical leap and actually made a film from the viewpoint of the emotions they have so effortlessly mined over the past 20 years.” (Our full review)
Kubo and the Two Strings
Thriving on tales of heroes but respectful of his mother’s wish to keep him close, young storyteller Kubo (Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson) suddenly finds himself on a magical quest to save them both from the vengeful Moon King (Ralph Fiennes). Accompanied by a no-nonsense monkey (Charlize Theron) and a fearless samurai beetle (Matthew McConaughey), Kubo discovers secrets about his family that will steer him towards his own heroic destiny. The stop-motion wizards behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls score another fantastical hit with this triumphant blend of epic storytelling and spellbinding adventure.
Pixar’s animated gem may look like a story about an archer versus a bear but emerges as a sweet and simple tale of one daughter and her relationship with her mother.
Young fish Nemo gets taken from his dad, Marlin, by fishermen in Disney’s animated comedy. From the beautifully rendered ocean to Marlin’s hilarious sidekick Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), Finding Nemo is sweet, stunning and gloriously silly.
This surprisingly charming animated comedy is funny, frothy, frantically silly stuff.
This uplifting tale of a young woman writing her own life story is brimming with music and imagination.
Just keep swimming!
Old wood carver Mr Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these are just stories until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley), a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. Charming family entertainment.
Disney’s comedy takes place in a world where talking animals have put aside their natural differences in the circle of life to coexist peacefully. A positive political message in a family animation? It’s done so wittily, subtly and amusingly that this is one of the best animations of the year.
The Jungle Book
A live-action remake sounds like a terrible idea, until you actually see what Jon Favreau has made: a thrilling, adorable flick that combines old songs with a renewed sense of peril. Ideal family viewing.
Big Hero 6
Meet Baymax, a sort of inflatable healthcare robot that, when kitted out with the latest tech by his owner Hiro, becomes a crime fighting machine. Watch this – then get ready to rush out and buy a toy one on Boxing Day.
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
The quaintness of this genuine, old-fashioned kids’ movie won’t trouble hipsters like Pixar, and even its bucolic meta-textuality is refreshingly wholesome.
Before Kubo and the Two Strings and ParaNorman, the animation gurus at Laika studios gave us this gloriously dark story about a daughter who thinks she’s happier in another world – until her Other Mother starts to plot to keep her there forever. Directed by The Nightmare before Christmas’ Henry Selick and based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, this is a twisted treat.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
You may have seen meteor showers, but we bet you’ve never seen a MEATIER shower. Bumbling inventor Flynn creates a machine that turns water into food in this barmy animated comedy. What starts out as a cute, romantic tale of following your dreams soon descends into a nightmarish, surreal world of sentient pizza, overweight citizens and giant, evil roast chickens. It’s a smart, food-pun-filled festival of visual gags – and the perfect introduction to the brains of The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The tale of Count Olaf and his attempts to get his hands on his orphan nephew and nieces’ inherited treasure is an enjoyably dark modern classic. Before the Netflix TV version came this equally impressive film adaptation, with Jim Carrey turning the “odd” dial all the way up to 11.
Horton Hears a Who!
If looking for a perfectly fun time to spend,
with a brother or cousin or even a friend,
this viewtiful fest of rhyme and laughter,
with picture-book morals, is what you are after.
Arguably Pixar’s best film to date, The Incredibles combines family drama, superhero silliness and a genuine sense of peril.
Lilo & Stitch
The galaxy’s most wanted alien crash-lands in Hawaii, where he makes friends with a young, lonely girl. The result is a timeless tale of love and loyalty that has emotional nuance in buckets, despite its deceptively simple animated style. Adorable.
Muppets from Space
Before the 2011 revival, this was the only modern Muppets movie for fans to enjoy – and it’s an underrated gem, from Jeffrey Tambor’s head of a sinister intelligence agency to the discovery that, duh, of course Gonzo is from space.
Michael Jordan teams up with the Looney Tunes to defeat aliens at basketball. What’s not to like?
Board games are enjoying something of a renaissance at the moment, but back in 1995, the idea of someone playing something other than Monopoly was breathtaking. What happens when Jumanji gets into full swing – CGI monsters, shouting children, general pandemonium – is equally so. The script may not hold up to much scrutiny, but pre-Captain America Joe Johnston’s sense of adventure and spectacle keep you transfixed.
The Lion King
The Lion King, aka. Hamlet with a happy ending, is arguably Disney’s finest animation.
The Mighty Ducks
Who says kids can’t have sports movies? This underdog tale of children playing ice hockey is proof that sports flicks don’t need animals in them to appeal to all ages.
Steven Spielberg’s take on Peter Pan, which sees the young boy all grown up, remains as divisive as ever, but if you can embrace your inner child, there is much to admire here. From Robin Williams’ superb performance as the increasingly jovial grown-up to the Goonies-style child-friendly combat, Hook is a sweet blockbuster that has just enough Hollywood clout to avoid being sickly. If Bob Hoskins as Smee doesn’t make you chuckle, you’ll be wowed by Dustin Hoffman’s unrecognisable transformation into the scene-stealing villain: Spielberg’s take on Peter Pan may not be for everyone, but it certainly gave us the definitive Captain Hook.
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
This 1993 remake of the original 1963 film of the same name is an enjoyable family adventure about three animals, who race to catch up with their owners when the family moves home and appears to have left them behind. Michael J. Fox and Sally Field provide charming vocals as an excitable pup and snooty, sarcastic cat.
The Nightmare before Christmas
Henry Selick’s stop-motion animation manages that rare feat of being spooky and silly all at the same time. Funny, sweet and featuring a whole host of perfect Danny Elfman songs, this Halloween-Christmas mash-up is a masterpiece of Gothic fantasy that’s so good you get to watch it twice a year.
Are monsters more terrified of us than we are of them? That’s the cute starting point for Pixar’s fluffy flick, which sees John Goodman and Billy Crystal play a double-act of scarers, whose job is to make enough kids scream to provide power for the city. A beautiful piece of world-building and a cute slice of emotion make this a charming Disney adventure that’s definitely not terrifying.
The only reason most children will even know what a St. Bernard is, this 1992 family comedy about a dog who runs riot when adopted by a picture-perfect family in the suburbs is wonderfully cheesy, unabashedly sentimental stuff.
Beauty and the Beast
Tale as old as time… If you weren’t a fan of the remake, or even if you were, the animated original – about a woman who falls in love with a princess cursed to look like a hairy beast – is irresistibly sweet.
No, you’re crying at the opening scene.
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