Seven Timeless Kids Movies

Favorite flicks for your kids (and the kid in you).

Kids at the Science Museum of Minnesota / photo by Eliesa Johnson
Photo by Eliesa Johnson
Everyone has his or her favorite children’s movie. And for me, at least, it’s the first movie I ever saw, Beauty and the Beast. The Disney classic had me at the opening credits, and it wasn’t long before my gold kiddie-sized Belle gown (complete with a matching headband, of course) became my at-home wardrobe staple. If that wasn’t enough, during shopping trips with Mom, I didn’t hesitate to tell strangers that “Beast is a man!”

Seriously, the movie stuck to me.

From Disney to Pixar to live action, the landscape of kids movies is constantly evolving, with new franchises – and toy lines – popping up annually. While they might not seem like they’d strike your adult fancy, that doesn’t mean you can’t bond with them.

No matter your age, here’re seven flicks that’ll bring you back to a simpler time:

7. Toy Story 2 (1999), One of the few sequels to top the original, this installment has Woody separated from the gang in beloved Andy’s room. Despite several obstacles (ripped limbs, baggage claim systems, and a deranged toy named Stinky Pete), Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang find their way back to their lost friend.

6. The Wizard of Oz (1939): The timeless tale of Dorothy and her pals Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion taught us there’s no place like home.

5. Finding Nemo (2003): If your kid gets “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” or “shark bait, hoo ha ha” stuck in their head, it’s not the worst thing ever. A wonderful story about a father’s unwavering love for his son and his quest to reunite with him. Ellen DeGeneres as the lovable but absent-minded Dory makes for a great travel companion, too.

4. The Sandlot (1993): A definite favorite for the young tykes. It’s a coming-of-age tale of Scotty Smalls, who joins the neighborhood baseball team to fit in. Lots of growing pains and triumphs take place in their sandlot.

3. Beauty and the Beast (1991): You already know I’m a big fan, but you should be, too. This movie wasn’t just a hit with the little ones; it was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture.

2. The Lion King (1994): An animated Sahara twist on Hamlet, it tells the story of Simba, the heir to the Pride Lands of Africa. He grows up believing he killed his father and runs away from home, only to return to glory in an epic, musical fashion. An absolute Disney classic!

1. Up (2009): If the opening scene of this movie doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, you need to check your pulse. Watching Carl and Ellie fall in love and grow up is the greatest love story told in 10 minutes. After that, the movie itself is fantastic. Old man Carl and little Wilderness Explorer Russell sail away to Paradise Falls via Carl’s house (with millions of balloons attached to fly). On their journey, they face an evil famous explorer and a pack of wild dogs. But it's a Pixar movie—it has a feel-good ending. The film earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Honorable mentions: The Little Mermaid, Space Jam, My Dog Skip, Pocahontas, The Princess Bride, Big, Cinderella, Shrek, Tangled, Homeward Bound, The Incredibles, Winnie the Pooh, Air Bud.

Love it? Hate it? Do tell, what did we miss?
Kids at the Walker Art Center / photo by Eliesa Johnson

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