Best movies for the young and young at heart

Sam’s top 10 children’s movies

By Sam Wildow -

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is one of critic Sam Wildow’s Top 10 children’s movies of all time.

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is one of critic Sam Wildow’s Top 10 children’s movies of all time.

A friend recently shared this quote from Yoko Ono on her Facebook page, “Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90 … time is a concept that humans created.”

It’s a quote that resonates with me in numerous ways, including how every time my friends wanted to actually go out somewhere while we were in college and I believed that I was secretly a stereotypical 80-year-old woman who just wanted to stay in and watch my shows, which were “The Vampire Diaries” at the time. I also prefer crocheting to clubs, I’m often tired and cranky, and I’m keeping Metamucil fiber drinks in business. Some days, I’m a little too weary-worn for being 26-years-old just after reading the national news.

On the flip-side, a good children’s movie warms my heart. It is possibly a sign that, underneath being a curmudgeon, I’m still a kid at heart.

As a kid at heart, here are my top 10 kid movies that are also good for the whole family:

10) “Up” (2009, PG)

Yes, the beginning five minutes or so of this movie can be a major bummer – it is like if the couple in “The Notebook” hadn’t died in each other’s arms and the husband lived long enough after his wife’s death to become bitter – but it’s that love of his late wife that drives him to be a little crazy. He ties an estimated bajillion balloons to his house in the ultimate act of sassiness and innovation. It’s a “screw you” to the real estate developers who wanted to demolish his house for more space for a mall, and it’s also a pursuit of the adventure his wife always sought.

Also, there’s a kid trying to earn merit badges and a talking dog who accidentally get brought along with the bitter old man. There’s also a really weird bird later on who tags along. Peppy characters interacting with a surly character is always a good mix.

9) “Finding Nemo” (2003, G)

Again, another bummer premise with Nemo being without a mother and Nemo getting stolen by humans, but this is all about his father Marlin going to save Nemo and meeting characters like Dory along the way.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to see its sequel “Finding Dory” because I can be as forgetful as Dory and I haven’t made it a priority when I’m near a Redbox. “Finding Dory” received a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes so it is needless to say that it also deserves a place on this list.

8) “Beauty and the Beast” (1991, G)

For the longest time, this was one of my favorite Disney movies. It features the strong, young woman Belle who does not need stupid Gaston or his inappropriately bulging muscles or his inappropriately bulging ego. It also helps that Belle loves to read.

A major flaw of this movie is DEFINITELY that she gets held captive by the Beast — a person who was cursed to be an ugly beast after he was shallow and stupid — with whom she falls in love. Both the Beast and Gaston presented controlling attitudes, but the Beast eventually realizes some errors in his ways. He also has a gigantic library.

7) “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000, G)

Speaking of arrogant characters, this features a couple characters who could be brought down a couple levels. Here, the Emperor Kuzco gets turned into a llama by an ex-employee Yzma, and hilarity ensues.

It also features some of the best quotes, like when the llama Kuzco and another character Pacha are tied to a rock and floating down the river when they’re faced with another interesting challenge:

Pacha: Uh-oh.

Kuzco: Don’t tell me. We’re about to go over a huge waterfall.

Pacha: Yep.

Kuzco: Sharp rocks at the bottom?

Pacha: Most likely.

Kuzco: Bring it on.

6) “Tangled” (2010, PG)

Speaking of women being held captive, this movie gets a better place on the list because Rapunzel’s man helps her get out of captivity —even though he doesn’t have the best intentions at first —and he is also one of the few Disney characters to question why everyone is singing.

5) “Zootopia” (2016, PG)

This movie about a bunny wanting to be a cop in the big city of Zootpoia was a surprise hit for me. The plot was much more developed than I thought it would be and the talking animals were hilarious and also dynamic.

4) “Inside Out” (2015, PG)

This movie is about the little people talking in our heads and how one of them sounds like a perky Amy Poehler and the other is a sad Phyllis Smith (hint: she was on “The Office”). They, and other characters, represent different emotions, and it’s all about the value of all emotions. Those two emotions, Joy and Sadness, also get lost together in a kid’s head.

3) “The LEGO Movie” (2014, PG) and “The LEGO Batman Movie” (2017, PG)

I recently discussed these movies in my review of “The LEGO Batman Movie,” and the first “LEGO Movie” is correct in it’s own assessment that “everything is awesome.”

I may have reached a bit for that joke, but — combining all of the scenes of animated action, the interactions between LEGO characters of Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell, the mocking of broody and trendy superheroes like Batman, the fact that Will Arnett gets to be Batman, the existential crisis in the first movie, and the vulnerability of Batman — the movies make for a great way to celebrate the beloved toy that we keep around for kids even though they make our feet want to die.

2) “Despicable Me” (2010, PG) and “Despicable Me 2” (2013, PG)

These movies I love because of Gru’s relationship with the three girls he later adopts. At first he uses them to get to back at another villain who bested Gru. Then, he grows to care for them, and his priorities as a villain begin to change. He may actually want to go to a dance recital more than steal the moon.

These movies also continue the trend of peppy characters getting my fellow curmudgeons to open up a little bit. Also the minions are, of course, a major plus and also get Gru to show a bit of his soft side.

1) “Cinderella” (2015, PG)

This is why I could not make this list about my favorite cartoon or animated movies because this is a live action version of the classic fairy tale. Usually Cinderella is a little too perfect for me after she endures multiple tragedies and is still not jaded — even though I get jaded just logging into Facebook sometimes — except that is also why I love this story and movie. It’s what I watch if I’m ever alone on New Year’s Eve or other holidays, and it is my go-to movie when I need a pick-me-up in general. Visually, it’s a very beautiful movie, especially with Cinderella’s very shimmery — and very heavy-looking — dress. I just hope that the new live action “Beauty and the Beast” coming out on March 17 will be just perfect.

Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is one of critic Sam Wildow’s Top 10 children’s movies of all time. Courtesy of Walt Disney Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is one of critic Sam Wildow’s Top 10 children’s movies of all time.
Sam’s top 10 children’s movies

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336