While parents can barely suffer through many recent animated kids’ movies, there are some classics that you can enjoy with your kids, for their witty dialogue and beautiful messaging.
How to Train Your Dragon
Some of DreamWorks’ best movies, arguably, are the How to Train Your Dragon films. The plots are good, the writing clever, and the music … breathtaking. Best of all, however, is the growth depicted in the characters.
The trilogy chronicles the village misfit, Hiccup, as he goes from a scrawny, rebellious teen to a leader in his own right, bringing his village to prosperity and peace.
Without revealing too many spoilers, the series is full of themes of true masculine leadership, family, and sacrificial love. Available on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
The Iron Giant
From one of the most fun ages of animation, Warner Bros’ The Iron Giant is a beautiful film about a boy who makes friends with a huge robot from outer space.
A government agent seeking to hunt out and destroy the robot pursues the duo, and the film depicts how their friendship grows beautifully while they try to escape. The robot also brings the boy together with a father figure and helps the two learn how to love each other.
The film explores themes of loss, sacrificial love, and making the difficult-but-right choice. Find it on Amazon, YouTube, or Netflix.
Treasure Planet & The Emperor's New Groove
Old Disney created some incredibly imaginative films, including Treasure Planet and The Emperor’s New Groove.
Both inspired by old stories, they tackle themes of family and friendship in hilarious and sweet ways.
Treasure Planet is loosely based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and shows how a troublemaking teen boy grows up in his quest for treasure with a curmudgeonly father-figure (and space pirate).
Set on crazy distant planets, the animated characters are both hilarious and incredibly visually designed.
The Emperor’s New Groove features Kuzco, the obnoxious teenage emperor of ancient Peru, who is turned into a llama by his administrator and usurper, Yzma.
He begrudgingly accepts the help of a no-nonsense family man, Pacha, and the two of them set off on a mission full of crazy antics to kick Yzma off the throne.
Beyond the hilariously tongue-in-cheek dialogue, Kuzco learns how to love from the example of Pacha and his family.
It’s a great movie for discussions about selfishness and the joy that can result from a loving family life, and it has one of the most fun depictions of a pregnant woman, Pacha’s wife, that I’ve ever seen. Both are available on Disney+ and Prime Video.
Prince of Egypt
DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt is perhaps most well-known for its incredible soundtrack, but it’s also a very beautifully human depiction of the story of Moses.
The movie lets the viewer enter into the personal life and joys of Moses, as well as his relatable struggle of answering God’s call when people you love are set against it.
The animation is old but well-composed, and the characters are fun while being close to the original Biblical narrative. Find it on YouTube or Amazon Prime.
BONUS FILM: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Among the new animated offerings is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, on Peacock. It’s the second full-length film featuring the swashbuckling, Spanish-speaking outlaw feline, a fairytale character originally introduced in Shrek 2.
In the new film, Puss loses number eight of his nine cat lives and finds himself pursued by a wolfish assassin. After temporarily succumbing to the fear of losing his last life (and growing a rather un-cat-like beard), he’s thrust into a new adventure.
With help from Perrito, a goggle-eyed Chihuahua posing as a cat, and Puss' former love, thief Kitty Softpaws, the sword-wielding cat must face down other fairytale characters to find a Wishing Star and regain his nine lives.
There’s some swordplay and other frenetic action, some mildly crude language, and some imbibing, but the film offers fun for older kids and up -– and parents -- and some warm life lessons about family, friendship and courage.
And, apparently, Puss is a Catholic cat, since he had planned to marry Kitty in church, priest and all.
Image: Hamara / Shutterstock.com
Sophia Sariego is a Los Angeles native working in the pro-life movement. She loves Eucharistic Adoration, making music, and hitting the beaches in her spare time.