Even a cursory glance through the Netflix Children & Family section will reveal a plethora of bright colors and flashing lights, but as any weary parent or baby sitter can attest, a movie that holds a child's attention is not even remotely the same thing as a good children's movie. If you want to spend some quality TV time with a young person, do yourself a favor and watch something you'll both enjoy.
This refreshing adaptation of Beatrix Potter's novels revive Peter Rabbit for the younger set, by injecting the character with a bit of mischief. Yes, while that decision upset those tied to Potter's original work, the film doesn't come across as mean or insincere. A couple of warnings, though: a human character dies relatively early, so this might not be a perfect movie for the super-young set. Also a minor ruckus was raised over a scene where a child allergic to blueberries was pelted by blueberries, which forced him to use his Epipen.
Credit: Columbia Pictures
The Incredibles was such an instant classic that many were worried that even an OK sequel would tarnish its legacy. Fortunately, this sequel packs enough pizzazz and heart to sit side-by-side with its predecessor. Vibrating with a wonderful jazzy soundtrack and inventive visuals, The Incredibles 2 is a joy to watch. Story-wise, everybody's favorite super-powered family is back, and dealing with the immediate aftermath of the original film: a society that wants to ban their abilities. Scenes featuring Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) dealing with the uber-powered Jack Jack steal the show, and function as fantastic centerpieces.
If you're looking for a new twist on solid tropes, check out this film from Academy Award nominee Hiromasa Yonebayashi, whose credits include Studio Ghibli masterpieces Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. This animated film centers around a young girl named Mary who finds herself surrounded by the utterly fantastic: a magic flower that grants magical powers, a broomstick that she flies above the clouds, and the magic university of Endor College (no, there aren't any Ewoks). Features voice acting by Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent.
Credit: Studio Ponoc
Ava Duvernay's adaptation of the Madeleine L'Engle classic may have rubbed some critics the wrong way, but most agree that this is a great flick for kids. As long as you watch the film with a child-like sense of awe and wonder, so you can enjoy the movie's gorgeous special effects and not blanche at its wholesome demeanor. Its focus, a depressed 13-year-old named Meg — whose misery is linked to her dad's mysterious disappearance — who goes on a mystical journal that will answer her biggest questions.
Parents who loved the Pokemon games and anime can use this film (which breaks from conventions) to introduce it to their kids. If you can believe it, this is the 20th Pokemon movie in the series, which is so storied and complicated that the franchise began to run itself into the ground of predictability. This chapter, though, thrives by breaking the rules. Sure, some fans were incensed by the decision to have Pikachu speak any words that aren't their own name, but that's one of a handful of choices that - in the end - made the movie better. Younger viewers will hopefully not be so attached to the Pokemon franchise that they'll feel betrayed by the absence of Brock and Misty.
Parents and kids will get a kick out of The Boss Baby, an animated feature that stars Alex Baldwin in the lead role as a little tyrant who disrupts the life of 7-year-old Tim after his arrival. Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow also lend their voices as Dad and Mom. The precocious corporate shtick wears thin at times, but there are lessons in here about being welcoming to new family members and sibling rivalries.
Credit: Dreamworks Animation
After the uninspired Cars 2, many had written Pixar's automotive franchise off as a lemon, but this third chapter restored the faith. While the film is filled with the eye-popping animation and gear-head glory that everyone expected, its story tapped into real human feelings, exploring fears of aging and dealing with the upcoming generation that's nipping at your tailpipe. The uninformed may scoff at the idea of watching a Cars sequel, but they'll change their tune once you turn on the ignition.
Credit: Disney Pixar