Nothing is harder than selecting one movie that will keep older kids and adults entertained, and yet not terrify or totally baffle the very young. Ever since Walt Disney practically invented the ‘family film’, covering both ends of the age spectrum has become a tightrope-walk for film producers dreaming of huge dividends. Unfortunately the youngest viewers often get the short end of this stick, as too many of these movies are overflowing with clever cultural references that only their parents will appreciate, and scenes of terror and violence aimed squarely at their teenage brothers.
In general, you will always do well with Pixar flicks, as they are all so intelligently done that they are sure to delight everyone. In fact Pixar occupies 3 spots out of my list of 5 below. Some of the Pixar films, however, are a little more violent and aimed a little older – I’ve picked the best titles for youngsters below.
Here are my picks for pleasing every age group. Click on titles to read full reviews.
1. Wall-E (2008) – age 4 to adult
Little ones will adore Wall-E himself; teens will guffaw at the dystopian vision; parents will appreciate the environmental message.
2. Finding Nemo (2003) – age (brave) 4 to adult
Little ones will love the characters and strange sea creatures; teens will like the scares and dentist humour; parents have a message aimed at them – let your child have adventures and don’t worry so much. Plan a trip to an aquarium afterward.
3. Yellow Submarine (1968) – age 5 to adult
Little ones will find it bizarre and funny; teens will pick out the deadpan puns delivered by the way too-cool Beatles and enjoy the music, which still holds up (in my opinion anyway); parents will love the nostalgia factor and 60s art design. Looks and sounds like no other movie.
4. Toy Story (1995) / Toy Story 2 (1999) – age 5 to adult
Little ones will love the walking talking toys; teens will enjoy the smartassed dialogue; parents will find the themes of abandonment and existential dilemmas strangely moving.
5. The Iron Giant (1999) – age 6 to adult
Little ones will love the friendship between boy and robot; teens will love the beatnik, the outsider angle, the bathroom humour, as well as the destruction and battle scenes; parents can ponder the paranoia of the Cold War era and and cry over the ending… no, everyone will cry over the ending and then get a happy surprise at the very, very end.