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The Best Children’s Movie

Last updated on August 20, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Children's Movies and dug through the reviews from 74 of the most popular review sites including Common Sense Media, Den of Geek, Inspiration Laboratories, Mom Knows It All, Roger Ebert, Empire and more. The result is a ranking of the best Children's Movies.

Best Childrens Movie

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Our Picks For The Top Children's Movies

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall
  The Best Value

Magic Light Pictures

Room on the Broom

Overall Take

This short yet sweet story earned a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. It's based on the book of the same name, and the adorable animation brings the tale's illustrations to life. It's a cute story about friendship that's also appropriate for all ages.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Common Sense Media, byucbmr, Huff Post, The Other Side of Animation. Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Pros
" Short and sweet adventure about a generous witch."
Cons
"The overall package is simple, but I do have some complaints. First off, why did the film need big-named actors like Gillian Anderson or Timothy Spall? I understand Simon Pegg, but for characters who don’t talk much, they got some..."

Walt Disney Pictures

Brave

Overall Take

Pixar's first film with a female lead knocked it out of the park. It brings the wild beauty of Scotland to life with breathtaking 3D animation. Merida's strong sense of self-worth is a welcome change of pace from the standard Disney Princess character.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Roger Ebert, The Guardian, Metacritic, The Hollywood Reporter, Empire, TV Guide and 2 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" This is a great-looking movie, much enlivened by the inspiration of giving Merida three small brothers, little redheaded triplets. The Scottish Highlands are thrillingly painted in astonishing detail, and some action shows Merida's archery more than equal in assorted emergencies."
Cons
"It looks as if their script has been reworked pretty often, though perhaps not quite often enough. It is eerily bland, with none of the zingingly funny lines and smart self-awareness we've come to expect from Pixar; yet it doesn't..."

Magic Light Pictures

The Gruffalo

Overall Take

This sweet, simple storyline is perfect for viewers of all ages. The movie also features beautiful animation. Though there are a few scenes that might worry very young children (like when a mouse fearfully imagines being eaten by a snake), it's nothing an extra hug can't fix.

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Common Sense Media, Inspiration Laboratories, Sippy Cup Mom, Mommy Enterprises. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Target.
Pros
" The Gruffalo movie stays true to The Gruffalo book. The animation is well done, and the lines are word for word from the book. The movie really brings to the life the book. You feel like you are in the..."

Disney - Pixar

Monsters Inc

Overall Take

This movie is several years old, but it's still engaging for kids and adults alike. It's quick, lively entertainment that promotes friendship and teamwork. A scene with a scary monster coming after Sulley and Mike might not be appropriate for very young children, but older kids will probably love this... Read More

Experts Included
DWYM Entertainment Experts plus Metacritic, Roger Ebert, Empire, Common Sense Media, Reel Views, Rotten Tomatoes and 7 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" 'Monsters, Inc.'' is cheerful, high-energy fun, and like the other Pixar movies, has a running supply of gags and references aimed at grownups (I liked the restaurant named Harryhausen's, after the animation pioneer). I also enjoyed the sly way that..."
Cons
"And, despite the monster menagerie on show, Mike and Sulley lack the fully-realised supporting characters — the something-for-everyone approach — that so ably assisted Woody and Buzz."
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17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the children's movies available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

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74

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Common Sense Media, Den of Geek, Inspiration Laboratories, Mom Knows It All, Roger Ebert.

3,144,489

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Children's Movies and also dug through the reviews from 74 of the most popular review sites including Common Sense Media, Den of Geek, Inspiration Laboratories, Mom Knows It All, Roger Ebert, Empire and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Children's Movies.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Magic Light Pictures Room on the Broom

Our Expert Score
8.5
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
8.6
5,454 user reviews
Our Take

This short yet sweet story earned a nomination for Best Animated Short Film at the 2014 Academy Awards. It's based on the book of the same name, and the adorable animation brings the tale's illustrations to life. It's a cute story about friendship that's also appropriate for all ages.

What other experts liked
Short and sweet adventure about a generous witch.
- Common Sense Media
The adorable animation in this movie is spot on in comparison to the book it was inspired by. Right down to the words used in the book, this movie includes animated pictures that look like the illustrations in the book....
- byucbmr
October 4, 2017 | Full review
This film is very funny and has great detailed animation.
- Huff Post
December 6, 2017 | Full review
For 27 minutes, the film’s mix of Claymation and CGI is done quite well. It’s bright, colorful, and the animation is expressive. There is a really nice calming atmosphere to the overall journey. It helps that Simon Pegg does a...
- The Other Side of Animation
October 29, 2015 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
The movie's content -- like the book -- is fine for younger audiences, but it does feature a scary dragon that wants to eat the witch. Of course, she's saved, but the moment of peril might be too much for...
- Common Sense Media
The overall package is simple, but I do have some complaints. First off, why did the film need big-named actors like Gillian Anderson or Timothy Spall? I understand Simon Pegg, but for characters who don’t talk much, they got some...
- The Other Side of Animation
October 29, 2015 | Full review

Overall Product Rankings

1. Magic Light Pictures Room on the Broom

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 6

2. Walt Disney Pictures Brave

Overall Score: 8.1
Reviews Included: 11

3. Magic Light Pictures The Gruffalo

Overall Score: 8.0
Reviews Included: 7

4. Disney – Pixar Monsters Inc

Overall Score: 7.9
Reviews Included: 16

5. Magic Light Pictures The Gruffalo’s Child

Overall Score: 7.8
Reviews Included: 7

6. PARAMOUNT PICTURES Charlotte’s Web

Overall Score: 6.9
Reviews Included: 11

7. Fox The Peanuts Movie

Overall Score: 6.7
Reviews Included: 12

8. Walt Disney Pictures Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

Overall Score: 6.3
Reviews Included: 10

9. Walt Disney Pictures A Goofy Movie

Overall Score: 6.0
Reviews Included: 10

10. Shout! Factory Maya The Bee

Overall Score: 5.8
Reviews Included: 13

Our Children's Movis Buying Guide

As a parent, you’ve got tons of choices to make about what your child listens to, watches and reads. Are they old enough to handle the language of that song? Will they get something worthwhile out of that book? Is this movie’s message something they’ll pick up on?

That’s enough to make anyone exhausted, especially in a time when you’ve got endless content to choose from. Luckily, a great movie can teach them a lot (and give you a little time to put your feet up).

Storytelling is inherently valuable. A great story teaches your children how to tell their own stories. It also encourages them to empathize with characters who are different from them and shows them that there are many different ways to look at and experience the world. Finding that perfect movie for this moment in your kid’s life is a gift for both you and your child. 

The best children’s movies combine a compelling plot with relatable characters and exciting visuals. We’ve done the research for you and picked the best kid flicks around. Take a look at our Tips & Advice for specific info on these fantastic films. 

DWYM Fun Fact

Many childhood favorites are fully animated, but early animated films bear little resemblance to the CGI-heavy flicks of today.  Many people think of the 1928 short “Steamboat Willie” when they think about early animation, but the first animated film was released two decades earlier. 

“Fantasmagorie” by French artist Émile Cohl was the first animated film. It debuted in 1908, and it was about a stick figure interacting with various objects that transformed before your eyes (like a flower stalk turning into an elephant’s trunk). The animator’s hands were purposely featured in several frames. It clocked in at a minute and 17 seconds, and it was part of the Silent Era of animated films.

Synchronized sound came about in animated films around 1924. This was the “Steamboat Willie” era, and most of the action in that short movie revolves around Willie making sounds. The steamboat sounds and Willie’s whistling made this flick stand out. 

Color was finally featured in animated films in 1930. Steamboat Willie was rebranded as Mickey Mouse. His universe rapidly expanded with the addition of Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck. Popeye, Betty Boop and Superman began dominating screens during this time, and Warner Bros. also launched Looney Tunes. 

Technology kept moving forward, improving the quality and realism of animated films.  “The Rescuers Down Under” was the first film that used digital ink and paint in 1990, and “Toy Story” made history in 1995 — it was the first feature film fully animated with computers. 

Today’s animated films can combine different styles, like cutouts, Claymation and old-fashioned hand drawings, to bring unforgettable stories to life. We’ve come a long way since stick figures and steamboats.

The Children's Movis Tips and Advice

  • The most obvious feature you’ll want in a children’s movie is an engaging story. There are plenty of kids’ movies that are just slapped together, but even young children can tell the difference between a movie with heart and a storyline that falls apart. “Room on the Broom” is only 30 minutes long, but the story about a generous witch who teams up with her friends to fight a dragon is bewitching. The movie was even nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 2014 Academy Awards.
  • Many kids’ movies are animated, and the best animated flicks are thoughtful about the medium and how it relates to the movie’s story. Great visuals add oomph to any kids’ movie. “The Gruffalo” uses a combination of Claymation and CGI to bring its story to life. It’s based on the children’s book of the same title, and the animation matches the book’s illustrations to help the story translate to the big screen. Pixar favorite “Monsters, Inc.” uses digital animation to capture every strand of Sulley’s teal fur. 
  • You can find a film with a great story and breathtaking animation, but it won’t matter if it’s not age-friendly for your kid. The length of the film, the complexity of the plot and the movie’s themes all play a role in determining whether it’s appropriate for your child’s age group. “Room on the Broom” and “The Gruffalo” are both ideal for the youngest viewers. They both have a runtime of 40 minutes or less, and the stories combine simple themes with novel animation to keep very young children (ages 5 and under) interested. Pixar’s “Brave” runs for an hour and 40 minutes. It has more complex themes, like promoting independence and standing up for your beliefs. (It’s also Pixar’s first film starring a female protagonist.) It’s rated PG, and it’s probably best for children ages 8 and up. 
  • Speaking of themes, movies can be a fun way to emphasize lessons you’re trying to teach your children in real life. It never hurts to have a fun movie with a great message in your home. “Room on the Broom”  speaks to the power of friendship in the face of adversity. “Monsters, Inc.” demonstrates how teamwork can get the job done, and it encourages the audience to give new people a chance. Seeing life lessons play out with fun characters can help kids connect with new ideas more easily.
  • No one knows your kid’s interests better than you. Many children love repetition, and they’ll watch the same film over and over again. If you’re going to invest in a movie to watch at home, you may as well get the most out of your money and make sure it’s something your little one will enjoy watching on repeat. “Monsters, Inc.” has a multilayered story with plenty of Pixar Easter eggs that make every viewing a little bit different. 
  • Obviously, your child will be the one watching their movie, but you’ll be around the house when the TV is on. It doesn’t hurt to pick a children’s film that you’ll also enjoy. You can watch it together for some family bonding time, and the movie won’t drive you crazy if you’re just trying to work at home. Pixar’s films, like “Brave” and “Monsters, Inc.” both include sly jokes for adults that will fly over younger children’s heads. “Room on the Broom” and “The Gruffalo” are both beautifully animated — it will feel like you’re watching art, not patiently waiting through a movie for kids. Plus, both of those films have famous adult actors as part of the cast (Helena Bonham Carter narrates “The Gruffalo” and Gillian Anderson’s voice makes a cameo in “Room on the Broom”).

About The Author

Abby Stassen
Abby Stassen 

Abby Stassen is a professional content writer, copywriter and journalist. You can find her work on Salon, Entrepreneur, the Huffington Post, Verywell, the Chicago Tribune, the Orlando Weekly and more. She's also an award-winning comedy writer and Second City graduate with nine years of experience under her belt. She's a proud University of Michigan graduate, a cat owner, a crossword puzzle enthusiast and a huge ABBA fan.