Animated movies have had a long and rich history of entertaining children and parents alike, and continue to do so with ever-more impressive graphics and stories blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Here’s our list of recommendations of top animated movies for family screening at home.
The Lion King (1994)
A movie for all ages, this classic Disney tale of the young cub Simba and his transformation into the eponymous Lion King, is an infectious and humorous musical extravaganza with memorable characters and dialogues. The Lion King is unusually profound for an animated movie with themes about love, loss, and redemption in the ‘circle of life’ (Incidentally, the name of the Oscar-nominated soundtrack of the movie sung by Elton John). As heart-warming as it is amusing, this is one movie that can be watched multiple times, and still manages to leave its audience with a feel-good factor.
- Dumbo (1941)
One of the earliest animated movies by Disney which was released during World War II, Dumbo stands out as an utterly endearing story about an adorable baby elephant named Jumbo Junior. Jumbo Jr. is nicknamed Dumbo and mocked by all in the travelling circus that his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, owns, because of his enormous ears. Over the course of the movie, Dumbo finds himself torn away from his mother and isolated because of his unconventional features and supposed inability to fit in. Armed with the unflappable optimism and unwavering support of his friend, a plucky mouse named Timothy, Dumbo realizes his potential and discovers the power of flight.
This is a movie that will resonate with practically anyone who watches it, which at its core is a simple but powerful story about an ostracized, differently abled-child and his bond with his mother, who overcomes the odds against him and learns to find strength in his perceived deformity.
Toy Story (1995)
This is the first in the iconic trilogy featuring the iconic characters of Woody, a wooden cowboy doll and Buzz Lightyear, an astronaut action figure, along with a host of other toys belonging to a schoolboy named Andy. The wit, sophistication and gentle humour with which this movie has been executed makes it a must-watch for parents and children. The underlying themes are many and may be subjective to the viewer, but the initial rivalry between Woody and Buzz and the subsequent forging of their friendship is something that will touch a chord with many viewers.
The adults in the audience are likely to feel a sense of nostalgia about their childhood and the world of make-pretend, whereas the children have yet another world of imagination to escape into with lovable characters. Either way, this is a movie which deserves to be watched and enjoyed together by everyone in the family as a celebration of childhood.
- Inside Out (2015)
This is a coming-of-age tale of young girl named Riley as seen through the personification of her emotions Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust. In a failed attempt to keep Riley happy, they end up putting her through a literal emotional rollercoaster, which ultimately allows Riley to mature as a person. The beauty of Inside Out lies in Pixar’s inventiveness and crafting of what is technically an emotionally intense theme into an entertaining and yet relatable film about the travails of childhood and growing up.
- WALL-E (2008)
WALL-E is arguably one of the greatest animation movies ever made, and should be watched by anyone who has an appreciation for good cinema. This is probably not a movie that younger children under the age of ten would be able to appreciate fully, but it is worth a watch nonetheless, irrespective of the age of the viewer. A stunning film set in the year 2805, in a dystopian future where Earth has been reduced to a contaminated, uninhabitable terrain of garbage, this is the story of WALL-E, the eponymous robot who moves around the planet recycling trash as a lone figure accompanied only by a pet cockroach. WALL-E encounters a far more advanced female robot called EVE one day, who has been sent to Earth to look for any signs of life, and falls in love with her instantly.
WALL-E’s attempts to woo Eve, and his dogged persistence in trying to win her over leads him on a journey through space, into a spaceship which serves as home to the remnants of humanity. The movie mirrors the eerie possibility of a future where the human race has become utterly dependent on technology for its survival, to the extent that it has lost its ability to reason and think for itself. The consequences of environmental degradation due to uncontrolled industrialization is also an underlying theme throughout the movie, as is the message of hope and redemption despite dire circumstances. WALL-E is a movie with heart, one capable of making even cynics pause and think about where our planet is headed, and the future of our civilization. It is a wonderfully quirky and thoroughly enjoyable, animated parable for children, and a reflection of an all too plausible reality of the not too distant future for the adults who watch it.