- INSIDER picked the top kids’ movies of 2018 to watch.
- If you’re looking for something to watch with the family, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” “Paddington 2,” and “Bumblebee” are our top picks.
It’s been a very good year for animated movies, sequels, and kids’ movies and INSIDER has picked the best of them.
We consider a kids’ movie to include both animated releases and live-action films that can be watched with families (i.e.: “Christopher Robin”).
From an excellent “Paddington 2” to a few Disney sequels, and even a “Transformers” spin-off, here are the movies we recommend the most this year for families and little ones.
12. “Peter Rabbit”
This adaptation of the Beatrix Potter books may have flown under the radar earlier this year, but it was a big hit in the UK and a sequel is coming in 2020.
The movie follows Peter Rabbit and his three sisters as they go to war with a new tenant (Domhnall Gleeson) who isn’t fond of the furry rodents and their friends raiding his garden. Some of the jokes may not fly with parents. (There was quite a controversy around one scene where the rabbits preyed on Gleeson’s character for an allergic reaction he had to blackberries.) But overall, the movie is cute and if you’re a fan of Gleeson (“Ex Machina,” “The Force Awakens”) you’ll enjoy his war with the rabbits here.
Where to watch it:
Did we need a second movie based on “The Jungle Book” after Disney’s 2016 adaptation grossed nearly $US1 billion? Probably not, and that very well may be part of the reason Warner Bros. sold its mammoth movie toNetflix.
It’s easy to see why “Mowgli” wasn’t a theatrical release from the moment it starts. Disney’s more realistic CG of its characters is superior to Warner Bros. However, the magic here is in the riveting performances from Rohan Chand (“Bad Words”) as the man cub who grows up in the jungle and Benedict Cumberbatch as a menacing Shere Khan trying to hunt him down.
I would have watched a full 90 minutes of Shere Khan chasing Mowgli around on screen. While some berated the film for its darker take on the Rudyard Kipling source material, I appreciated the film takes kids seriously enough to not tone things down. Plus, it didn’t have that silly King Louie number that’s in the Disney version.
If you have Netflix, it’s definitely worth a watch over the holidays with the family.
10. “The Grinch”
Universal’s reboot of the curmudgeon who hates Christmas may not be completely necessary, but it is a heartwarming update to the original animated Chuck Jones special that gives the Grinch a somber origin story.
If you’re a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, he charms not only as the grumpy green guy, but in his ability to make you empathise with a grown man who, underneath his grinchy exterior, is really an isolated, lonely hermit who desperately needs a hug (or, at the least, a Christmas present).
You can read our review here.
9. “Christopher Robin”
If you grew up with Winnie the Pooh, this movie will make you feel like a kid again. Jim Cummings returns to voice Pooh bear, there are scenes recreated from A.A. Milne’s original stories, and the real plush used on set of the movie will make you instantly want a stuffed animal of Pooh and his friends.
As our Kim Renfro noted in her review, anyone who grew up with the “Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” will feel “instantly transported” to the Hundred Acre Woods. You may even get a bit weepy.
Read her review here.
8. “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies”
While Warner Bros. may be struggling with its live-action movies on screen, it’s nailing DC animated picture after animated picture (see also: “The LEGO Batman Movie”).
The movie gives some extra attention to Robin and his group of misfit sidekicks, the Teen Titans, who aren’t taken seriously by A-list superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. Robin’s purely known as Batman’s sidekick.
“Teen Titans GO!” gives audiences who may not have been aware of the rambunctious group of young teen superheroes a reason to fall in love with them. Fans of the long-running animated series were gifted with a bonus scene hinting at the return of the grittier, original CW “Teen Titans Go!” series, something voice actress Tara Strong said would happen if the movie performed well at theatres. It made slightly over $US51 million worldwide. Not gangbusters.
The film also has Nicolas Cage voicing Superman, which is fantastic if you know he almost played the Man of Steel in a scrapped Tim Burton movie.
7. “Ready Player One”
As the world is suffering from an energy crisis in the year 2045, most people in “Ready Player One” spend their time in a virtual reality world called the OASIS. When the creator, James Halliday, dies, it triggers a contest where the first person to successfully complete each task will earn his $US500 billion fortune.
Steven Spielberg’s movie delivers on every level fans hoped. Many of the finer details of the book – from the challenges themselves to a giant heist near the end – are changed on screen, but the heart of the source material is still very much intact. It may even be better than its sometimes problematic source material.
You can read our review here.
6. “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
It may not make you as emotional as the first “Wreck-It Ralph” film, but it’s a must-see for the amount of Disney and gaming cameos it includes, two fun end-credits scenes, and plenty of well-earned laughs for both kids and adults.
“Ralph Breaks the Internet” would have been higher on our list if it wasn’t for a strange third act that felt a bit like a horror movie. Overall, the sequel is worth a watch for the addition of a scene-stealing Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, and that much-teased Disney princess scene everyone has been talking about.
Read our review here.
If you haven’t heard of “Mirai,” it was nominated for best-animated picture at the 2019 Golden Globes. John Cho and Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost”) lend their voices to this hand-drawn animation about a young boy, Kun, who becomes jealous when everyone starts giving all their attention to his newborn sister, Mirai, a Japanese word meaning future.
Kun gets greeted by a version of his sister from the future who takes him on a spiritual journey to meet relatives from different time periods so he can fully appreciate the family he has and become the reliable big brother Mirai needs.
4. “Incredibles 2”
Disney was two for two in 2018 with animated sequels. “Incredibles 2” is just as good, if not better, than the original. That may have something to do with original director Brad Bird returning for the sequel. This time around, Mrs. Incredible gets to take charge as the primary working superhero of the family as Mr. Incredible tries to juggle the responsibilities of a stay-at-home parent.
The sequel, 14 years after the original, will please parents who can relate to the teenager who complains their parents are ruining their lives, and the kid who yearns to be noticed by their hero.
You can read our review here.
“Bumblebee” isn’t just great, it’s one of the best “Transformers” movies made. And that may be because Michael Bay has very little to do with it.
Instead, Steven Spielberg executive produces this movie from director Travis Knight (“Kubo and the Two Strings”), and it plays very much like a Spielberg coming-of-age tale. “Bumblebee” acts as a prequel to the entire franchise, following the popular yellow bot as he lands on Earth in 1987 and then proceeds to lose his memory.
He gets found by a young girl (an excellent Hailee Steinfeld) who’s having a tough time adjusting after the loss of her father. This sets the movie up for a sweet story between a young girl and her robot friend. It may even make you get a bit emotional.
“Bumblebee” is in theatres Friday, December 21. You can read our review here.
2. “Paddington 2”
There’s a reason the movie about the kind-hearted bear from Peru has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. If the 100% score isn’t impressive enough for you, “Paddington 2” broke the record for the best-reviewed movie on the site of all time. 214 critics can’t be wrong.
The sequel follows Paddington as he gets sent to jail after getting framed for stealing a book.
1. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
If you see one movie this holiday, make it this one. “Spider-Verse” is a comic-book come to life. Sony’s vibrant, hilarious superhero movie is gorgeous to look at, is incredibly self-aware, and has a Stan Lee cameo that will hit you right in the feels. It also delivers an important message that anyone, no matter what they look like, can be the person behind Spidey’s mask.
Make sure you stay until the very end for one of the best end-credits scenes you’ll ever see in a superhero movie.
“Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” is in theatres now. You can read our review of the movie here.
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