There are a lot of great kids movies to watch, whether you’re looking for something to show your children, niece/nephews, classroom, etc. – or you’re just looking to reconnect with your childhood. We’re going to rank the best kids movies of all time based on three criteria: visuals, creativity, and moral/insightful message. 

Note: we tried to make the picks on this list as varied as possible by picking from different eras, genres and styles of film. With that note out of the way, let’s jump into our list of the best kids movies of all time!

Good Kids Movies

25. Spy Kids (2001)

Best Children’s Movies  •  Spy Kids Trailer

Robert Rodriguez bucked the trend of directing “hard rated-R” movies like Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn with Spy Kids — an appropriately-titled spy thriller about two kids who must engage in espionage to save their parents.

Spy Kids features a great cast that includes Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alexa PenaVega, Daryl Sabara, Alan Cumming and Tony Shalhoub — as well as some outdated, yet hilarious CGI.

70%
visuals
90%
creativity
70%
moral
77%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Some Solid Practical FX
  • Fun Plot
  • Creative Villain
  • No Big Life Lesson
  • Outdated
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies of All Time

Conclusion

Spy Kids may not be as moralistic or insightful as some of the other best kids movies of all time, but it is a breezy and fun spy story.

Great Children Movies

24. Like Mike (2002)

Great Kids Movies  •  Like Mike Trailer

At one point or another, most kids dream about becoming something extraordinary — an astronaut, a five-star chef, or even a professional athlete. In the case of Like Mike, the dreams of a young kid named Calvin come true when he’s granted magical basketball powers from a pair of Jordans.

Like Mike isn’t just a good basketball movie though, it’s a good movie for anybody interested in the oft-unexplored setting of orphanages. It’s also a good movie for the Jordan brand (but that’s neither here nor there).

70%
visuals
90%
creativity
80%
moral
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Use of NBA Brand
  • Pursuing Dreams Theme
  • Some Serious Elements
  • Over-Sentimental
  • Heavy NBA Focus
  • N/A

Classic Kids Movies

Conclusion

Like Mike is a fun and exciting kids/sports movie that has just enough heart to rank on this list.

Best Movies to Watch With Kids

23. A Christmas Story (1983)

All Kids Movies Ranked  •  A Christmas Story

Is A Christmas Story a perfect movie? No, absolutely not. Are there aspects of A Christmas Story that kids won’t understand? Yeah, plenty. So why is A Christmas Story considered a classic kids movie?

Well, perhaps better than any other Christmas movie, it perfectly shows the season through the eyes of a kid.

A Christmas Story is also an insightful commentary on the consumerist obsession of Christmas — which is something that’s better learned for kids sooner rather than later.

Ultimately, it’s one of the best Christmas movies of all-time.

80%
visuals
80%
creativity
80%
moral
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Iconic Story
  • “Leg Lamp”
  • Quotable
  • Pacing
  • Kind of Sad
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies of All Time

Conclusion

A Christmas Story is an iconic kids movie that pervades cable television every yuletide season.

Popular Kids Movies

22. The Muppets (2011)

Kid Friendly Movies  •  The Muppets Trailer

When the world’s biggest muppets fan learns that the Muppet Theater is going to be demolished, the gang back together to raise enough money to save it. 

The Muppets is a franchise with so many great kids movies that it’s hard to pick just one (spoilers: that’s why we didn’t). Although you can’t go wrong with any of them, we’re going to rank the 2011 The Muppets here for its great lead performances from Jason Segel and Amy Adams — and its catchy music. To quote the chorus: “life’s a happy song.”

80%
visuals
80%
creativity
80%
moral
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Awesome Soundtrack
  • Segel and Adams
  • Muppets!
  • Contrived Plot
  • Better Suited for Stage
  • N/A

Classic Kids Movies

Conclusion

You won’t be able to get the Muppets soundtrack out of your head after watching this great kids movie.

Top Kids Movies

21. Meatballs (1979)

Top Children’s Movies  •  Meatballs Clip

To quote the late great film-critic Roger Ebert, “Meatballs is better than watching dragonflies fly around on a Saturday afternoon.” Perhaps that’s selling Ebert’s review short — he did say Meatballs was a great success with young audiences and suggested it was better than the Disney films of the era.

Bill Murray made his “leading-role” feature debut in Meatballs as camp counselor Tripper — and he gave an all-time iconic performance. 

70%
visuals
80%
creativity
90%
moral
80%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Bill Murray
  • Camp Setting
  • Inclusive Moral
  • Some Aged Elements
  • Borderline PG-13
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Meatballs isn’t a perfect movie, and it isn’t perfect for younger kids — but perhaps better than any movie before or since, it perfectly encapsulates the turning point of becoming a teenager.

Good Kids Movies

20. The Princess Bride (1987)

Best Children’s Movies  •  The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is the perfect cinematic introduction to the world of fantasy – sorry The Hobbit, your movies just aren’t very good. In many ways, The Princess Bride is very Tolkien-esque, but it differs in how foreign the setting may seem for newcomers to the genre.

Millions of kids have grown up watching The Princess Bride which has made it a family-favorite in many households. And there’s no doubt about it: The Princess Bride script is playful and energetic throughout. 

85%
visuals
80%
creativity
85%
moral
83%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Great Script
  • Whimsical Tone
  • Awesome Cast
  • Formulaic Main Plot
  • So-So Prod. Design
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies of All Time

Conclusion

The Princess Bride instills a sense of romance and adventure in the hearts of nearly all who watch it.

Great Children Movies

19. Coco (2017)

Great Kids Movies  •  Coco

Pixar’s 2017 hit Coco is a visually splendorous voyage in the afterlife. The film follows the story of a young boy named Miguel who dreams of being a musician. The only problem is that his family forbids the profession.

The Coco script deftly balances complex themes with light-hearted jokes. All in all, it’s a great story with a great message — oh, and the visuals are nearly impossible to beat.

Ultimately, Coco is one of the best Pixar movies in recent memory.

95%
visuals
80%
creativity
80%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Stunning Visuals
  • Oft-Unexplored Setting
  • Fun Story
  • Music Heavy
  • N/A
  • N/A

Classic Kids Movies

Conclusion

Coco is proof that cinematic representation matters. Cheers to more stories of underexplored settings.

Best Movies to Watch With Kids

18. Kicking and Screaming (2005)

Kid Friendly Movies  •  Kicking and Screaming

How could anybody hate the classic 2005 Will Ferrell movie Kicking and Screaming? Sure, it was somewhat maligned by critics upon release and, yes, it may not be host to Robert Duvall’s best performance — but it’s truly a funny kids movie. 

Kicking and Screaming follows a young man (Will Ferrell) who finds himself embroiled in a patricidal crisis against his malicious father (Robert Duvall), metaphorized within a kids soccer league. 

There’s commentary on caffeine addiction, Mike Ditka co-stars an assistant coach and who could forget the scene where all of the kids get pet finches?

75%
visuals
95%
creativity
85%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Will Ferrell
  • “Documentary Camera”
  • Caffeine Creativity
  • Can Be Cheesy
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Kicking and Screaming is a kids movie that perfectly symbolizes mid-2000s “all ages” cinema. 

Popular Kids Movies

17. Monsters, Inc. (2001)

All Kids Movies Ranked  •  Monsters, Inc.

Pixar understands better than most that kids love nothing more than monsters… wait, no that’s not right — Pixar really made an endearing kids movie about monsters? 

Of course, Monsters, Inc. — the 2001 classic that takes a look at the sensitive side of the creatures of fright. Monsters, Inc. is a great kids movie because it subverts our fear of monsters and replaces it with a love for laughter.

85%
visuals
85%
creativity
85%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Creative Plot
  • Subversive Moral
  • Big Leap in Animation
  • Sometimes Drags
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies of All Time

Conclusion

Monsters, Inc. is proof that non-literal storytelling is often the best form for kids movies.

Top Kids Movies

16. Time Bandits (1981)

Top Children’s Movies  •  Costumes and Sets of Time Bandits

Terry Gilliam is one of the most creative filmmakers of all-time, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his 1981 film Time Bandits is boundlessly innovative. 

Most of Terry Gilliam’s best movies aren’t appropriate for kids, but if there’s one that is, it’s Time Bandits. The imaginative film follows the story of a young boy who adventures through time and space en route to discovering some secrets of the universe.

90%
visuals
100%
creativity
65%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Prod. Design
  • Gilliam’s Creativity
  • Awesome Cast
  • Maybe Too Existential
  • N/A
  • N/A

Classic Kids Movies

Conclusion

At its core, Time Bandits is about the spirit of childhood whimsy and adventure — just be mindful that Gilliam sprinkles in some existential themes as well.

Good Kids Movies

15. The Parent Trap (1961)

Best Children’s Movies  •  The Parent Trap

Ah yes, the good ol’ days when movies told us that with enough deception and trickery, we could reunite our fractured families. The Parent Trap might not have the best moralistic message, but its heart is in the right place.

The Parent Trap was a breakthrough technical achievement in film for its pioneering use of Disney’s proprietary sodium vapor process. It’s also an iconic story about two estranged sisters, who through a novel switcheroo, learn more about the other side of their family. 

95%
visuals
90%
creativity
70%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Colorful Visuals
  • Creative Plot
  • Classic Hayley Mills
  • Questionable Morals
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

The Parent Trap was remade in 1998 with Lindsay Lohan taking over Mills’ dual-role.

Great Children Movies

14. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Great Kids Movies  •  Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

Consumerism meets candy in this 1971 musical film, based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory features great direction from Mel Stuart and an undeniably-iconic performance from Gene Wilder; a performance so iconic that actors can still learn comedy from it today.

Life changes forever for Charlie Bucket — an impoverished youth — when he finds a golden ticket to Wonka’s chocolate factory. Of course, he doesn’t find what he expects; but that’s just part of the magic that makes the story unique.

95%
visuals
95%
creativity
65%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Set Design
  • Creative Costumes
  • Gene Wilder
  • Questionable Morals
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory remains the definitive film adaptation of Dahl’s classic story.

Best Movies to Watch With Kids

13. Star Wars ‘Skywalker Saga’ (1977-2019)

Star Wars All Kids Movies Ranked  •  Lightsaber Duels  •  Subscribe on YouTube

For three generations, Star Wars movies have inspired kids to look to the stars in pursuit of intergalactic adventure — to a place of Sith and Jedi, lightsabers and blasters, and war and peace. In our list of the best Sci-Fi movies of all-time, the original Star Wars took the top honor.

Each generation of Star Wars movies has one or more standout films — the prequels have Revenge of the Sith, the most recent trilogy has The Force Awakens and the originals have two: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. That's why we couldn't choose just one, and neither should you.

80%
visuals
95%
creativity
80%
moral
85%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Imaginative World
  • Bold Visuals
  • Unforgettable Characters
  • Can Get Violent
  • Questionable Arc
  • N/A

Classic Kids Movies

Conclusion

The Star Wars “Skywalker Saga” may end on a weak note, but that doesn’t preclude it from remaining the perfect introductory series to the world of science-fiction for kids. 

Popular Kids Movies

12. The Lion King (1994)

Great Children Movies  •  The Lion King

The Lion King may very well be the most revered of all of Disney’s animated movies — and for good reason: the film contains a great story full of awesome music and has aged better than many of the company’s early 3D pictures.

Ever since its release, critics have hailed The Lion King as “Shakespeare for kids.” The comparisons are certainly apt — you’ll find plenty of fratricide in the film and Shakespeare’s works.

95%
visuals
80%
creativity
90%
moral
88%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Circle of Life Moral
  • Beautifully Aged Visuals
  • Incredible Music
  • A Bit Unoriginal
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

The Lion King will have kids young and old singing “Oh, I just can’t wait to be king.”

Top Kids Movies

11. Harry Potter Movies (2001-2011)

Top Children’s Movies  •  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Most Harry Potter purists will tell you that the books are the best way to consume the story, but for my money’s worth, I’ll take the movies. Off the screen, the Harry Potter movies feature some serious talent, including direction from Alfonso Cuaron and David Yates, as well as music from composers John Williams and Alexandre Desplat. 

Harry Potter made children all over the globe believe they were going to be invited to Hogwarts on their 11th birthday; which is an achievement in and of itself. Again, you can't go wrong if watch the entire series.

90%
visuals
90%
creativity
85%
moral
88%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Visual Splendor
  • Creative Setting
  • Growing Up With Characters
  • Contrived Ending
  • A Little “PG-13”
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

As a series, the Harry Potter movies aren’t always consistent, but the good far outweighs the bad.

Good Kids Movies

10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Iconic Best Kids Movies of All Time  •  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Did E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial give you nightmares as a kid or were you normal? I jest — but let’s be real: E.T. is a little freaky. I suppose he had a right to be, considering he was an alien from three million light years away.

This Steven Spielberg classic is rooted in a deep reverence for science fiction. It also teaches kids to never abandon their sense of wonderment. Could the film have been done with a different alien creature? Almost certainly — but it wouldn’t have been the same.

80%
visuals
95%
creativity
90%
moral
88%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Iconic Character Design
  • Spielberg’s Direction
  • Endearing Moral
  • E.T. is Scary to Some
  • A Bit Aged
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

E.T. changed the course of cinema and pop-culture history when its eponymous creature “phoned home.” 

Great Children Movies

9. The Muppet Movie (1979)

Kid Friendly Movies  •  The Muppet Movie

The Muppets are a group that have appeared in more than a few critically acclaimed films, but their very first picture, The Muppet Movie, is still widely regarded as their best feature to date. 

The Muppet Movie follows Kermit the Frog and company as they attempt to “make it big” in Hollywood. Of course, conflict ensues — but that doesn’t stop the gang from putting on an iconic musical performance.

85%
visuals
100%
creativity
85%
moral
90%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Singular Style
  • Great Music
  • Strong Moral
  • Formulaic Narrative
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

The Muppet Movie speaks to a generation of kids and moviegoers — and it’s just as relevant today as it was in 1979.

Best Movies to Watch With Kids

8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

All Kids Movies Ranked  •  The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz may be most famous to filmmakers as the movie that introduced Technicolor to the masses, but it was a classic kids story too. Judy Garland stars in this 1939 surrealist film as a young girl who just wants to find her way home. 

Make no mistakes about it: The Wizard of Oz is a trip. Simultaneously hard to love and hard to ignore, The Wizard of Oz is one of a kind. If you’re looking to take a portal into a kids movie’s past, look no further than The Wizard of Oz

100%
visuals
90%
creativity
80%
moral
90%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Technicolor
  • Signaturely Strange
  • Iconic Costume Designs
  • A Bit Trippy for Kids
  • Scary Munchkins
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Because of its widespread appeal, The Wizard of Oz was one of the first American films to popularize the cinema experience with kids.

Popular Kids Movies

7. Pinocchio (1940)

Great Children Movies  •  Pinocchio

Disney wasn’t messing around with their second animated feature film Pinocchio — the story is serious and the moral is clear: don’t lie or bad things will happen. Disney movies were initially inspired by the fables of yore — which explains why the film’s morals were rather… diametric.

Pinocchio follows the story of a marionette of the same name who’s animated to life by a puppeteer named Gepetto. We follow Pinocchio’s journey across land and sea as he attempts to become a “real boy.”

100%
visuals
90%
creativity
90%
moral
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Serious Moral
  • Pioneering Animation
  • Classic Story
  • A Little Dark
  • Adapted, Not Original
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Pinocchio isn’t so much of a “fun” movie as it is a cinematic lesson for why kids shouldn’t lie.

Top Kids Movies

6. Toy Story (1995)

Top Children’s Movies  •  Toy Story Video Essay

Toy Story is the definitive kids movie — not just because of its popularity, but because of its subtextual brilliance as well. There’s serious commentary on consumerism, autonomy, and family units that pervade the entire story. 

The video above hits the nail on the head by bringing up the importance of the “fear of abandonment” theme in Toy Story. It’s for this very reason that Toy Story succeeds to such a great degree. Toy Story may be about the story of “toys come to life” but it’s undoubtedly more than that too.

80%
visuals
100%
creativity
100%
moral
93%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Great Moral
  • Creative Narrative
  • Nostalgia-Driven
  • Outdated Visuals
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Toy Story is a great kids movie that helped pioneer computer generated effects in animation. 

Good Kids Movies

5. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Best Kids Movies of All Time  •  My Neighbor Totoro Video Essay

Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro is arguably the best Studio Ghibli kids movie. That’s saying something too — Miyazaki is a filmmaker who is obsessed with capturing the magic of youthful imagination; which we see in films like Spirited Away and Castle in the Sky.

But My Neighbor Totoro finds a rare, deft balance in the story of two young girls grieving the illness of their mother — not to mention that the film is filled with surreal and imaginative imagery throughout. 

95%
visuals
100%
creativity
90%
moral
95%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Beautiful Animation
  • “One of a Kind”
  • Somber Yet Magical
  • Subjective Moral
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

My Neighbor Totoro is a kids movie that isn’t as popular with Western audiences as most of Pixar’s and Dreamworks’ films, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be. 

Great Children Movies

4. Inside Out (2015)

Top Children’s Movies  •  Inside Out Video Essay

It’s never too early to embrace your emotions – a point proven by Pixar’s surprisingly nuanced 2015 film Inside Out. A lot of great kids movies have a moralistic lesson in the vein of a fable, but Inside Out goes deeper than that by showing us the inner machinations of a young girl’s mind. 

Inside Out teaches us, young or old, that sadness is a vital aspect of a harmonious emotional balance.

As the saying goes, “don’t keep it all in your head.”

90%
visuals
100%
creativity
100%
moral
97%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Endlessly Creative
  • Voice Acting
  • Important Message
  • Bland Animation Style
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Inside Out is one of Pixar’s very best kids movies of all time.

Best Movies to Watch With Kids

3. The Lego Movie (2014)

All Kids Movies Ranked  •  The Lego Movie Appreciation Video

First and foremost, let’s give it up to writers Chris Miller and Phil Lord for taking Lego product placement and turning it into a genuinely funny movie. 

The Lego Movie follows an “average” Lego-man named Emmett (Chris Pratt) as he attempts to save the world from its maniacal ruler, Lord Business (Will Ferrell). That plot may sound contrived — but clever jokes and insane settings keep things from ever feeling stale.

95%
visuals
100%
creativity
95%
moral
97%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Voice Cast
  • Use of Brand
  • Sharp Script
  • Some Choppy Visuals
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

The Lego Movie is 100 minutes of non-stop fun that connects us to our inner creative-side.

Popular Kids Movies

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

Great Children Movies  •  How Animators Created the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a movie that’s bursting to the seams with creativity, both in a narrative and visual sense. It’s not hard to see why the movie was so acclaimed — so much love and care was poured into creating the film’s singular visual style.

But perhaps more than anything else, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse succeeds due to its profound moralistic message — anybody can be Spider-man, and Spider-man can be anybody.

100%
visuals
100%
creativity
100%
moral
100%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Comic Book Aesthetic
  • Adaptation of Source Material
  • Visually Creative
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse suggests that we can all be heroes, regardless of race, religion, color or creed.

Top Kids Movies of All Time

1. Paddington 2 (2017)

The Best Kids Movies of All Time  •  Paddington 2

Paddington 2 isn’t just one of the best kids movies ever made, I’d argue it’s one of the best movie sequels and best animated movies of all-time. Don’t just take my word for it — it is one of the only movies on Rotten Tomatoes to have a perfect 100% score, with 241 out of 241 critics giving it a “fresh” rating.

Paddington 2 features a lot of the same great cast from the original, including Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins, but it adds Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson to the mix as well. 

The film elevates the comedy and drama of the original by sending Paddington to prison. Yes, you read that correctly: Paddington bear goes to prison. But that doesn’t mean Paddington 2 is a dark movie. Quite the contrary, Paddington 2 is bright and bold, like a pink prison jumpsuit.

100%
visuals
100%
creativity
100%
moral
100%
OVERALL SCORE
  • Educative and Insightful
  • Full of Heart
  • Brilliant Visuals
  • N/A
  • N/A
  • N/A

Best Kids Movies

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a movie that’s as visually expressive as it is emotionally endearing, then don’t miss Paddington 2.

UP NEXT

Best Animated Movies of All Time

A lot of the best kids movies of all time are animated, but that doesn’t mean we covered all of the best animated movies. In fact, we barely scratched the surface! Up next, we rank the greatest animated movies ever made; many of which are great kids movies, and some of which are aimed more at adults. By the end, you’ll hopefully find the perfect new animated movie to watch!

Up Next: Best Animated Movies →
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