2018 was actually a damn good year to take your kid to the movies, full of some films that were genuinely entertaining for both children and adults. Yeah, there were some clunkers - I’m looking at YOU, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms — and some utter disasters - hi there, Sherlock Gnomes aka the only movie my six year-old has ever asked me to turn off — overall, it was a solid year for the wee ones. So, here’s a quick little roundup of the ten best movies that aren’t just for kids, but for kids and adults.
10) Smallfoot is a movie that I fully expected to go full “meh” on, but damn if it wasn’t unexpectedly fun. The musical numbers were forgettable, but great voice work, solid animation and a charming story with a surprisingly positive message made it a pleasant surprise.
9) The Grinch is a contentious pick to be sure, given the number of purists out there. But this one is beautiful to look at and cute and fun, and while it takes a couple liberties with the Seuss original, it does so for smart narrative reasons and ultimately ends up being a heartwarming little masterpiece.
8) Ant-Man & The Wasp is easily the most kiddie-friendly of the current slate of Marvel movies, a breezy, fun, self-contained little adventure that ignores much of the larger, more ominous goings-on in the MCU. Rudd and Lilly are a terrific pair, and the trio of comic relief sidekicks led by Michael Pena give it an extra dose of comedy. Clever special effects and a story with a villain who isn’t nearly as villainous as you think make it a great entry.
7) Aquaman is - as crazy as it sounds - a solid contender for best DCU movie. I still give Wonder Woman the edge, but there’s a case to be made for Momma’s raggedy, brawny wild man who can bust heads and talk to fish. But it’s a weird bonkers world that James Wan created, filled with bright colors and goofy costumes and a cast that is into it. It works its ass off to charm you and while it misses more than a few marks, it hits enough to keep it fun.
6) Peter Rabbit is another unexpected hit, a legitimately hilarious, lovely tale of two worlds learning to live with and love each other. It’s sweet and breathlessly paced and surprisingly exciting, and so adorable you want to throw up, but in a good way.
5) The Incredibles 2 not being ranked higher isn’t a criticism of Bird’s sequel, but rather a testament to how strong the other contenders are. Yes, yes, there are people who are going to tell you that this isn’t actually a kid’s movie. Hell, Brad Bird has said as much. I don’t care though. It’s a slightly darker tale than its predecessor, but it’s a bracing family adventure that puts an emphasis on family, filled with growing pains and lessons learned, but also balls-out action and some utterly fantastic animation.
4) Ralph Breaks the Internet made me cry. There, I said it. Right there in the theater with a confused kiddo next to me. It’s such a great, moving monstrosity of a movie, a din of light and sound and barely constrained chaos. But John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are so good together, as wonderful, pure a pair of best friends as you’ll ever see, and their emotional roller coaster of a journey is so wonderful that I fall in love with this movie all over again. Yes, it also features stunning animation and jokes and some of the best racing sequences you’ll ever see, but it also teaches you that sometimes the best thing you can do for your friends is to let them go, and that lesson is pure, wondrous heartache.
3) Bumblebee — a freaking Transformers movie - even being on this list tells you what a weird ride 2018 has been. But here we are. You take the reins away from Michael Bay and give them to the fella that made Kubo and the Two Strings and you get something totally different. Bumblebee is the Transformers movie I’ve been waiting for - a fun, exciting charmer of a film with great characters and an actual plot. It’s about friendship and discovery and fear of the unknown, and it’s all tied together so wonderfully that it’s hard to believe that you’re watching a movie that takes place in the same universe as Revenge of the Fallen. Fortunately, it also feels a bit like a soft reboot so with any hope, it’s the beginning of a whole new take on the franchise.
2) Paddington 2 should come as no surprise, given how breathtaking and endearing the first one was. But still, my god, what a wonder this movie is, full of charm and hope and teetering right on the very edge of two sweet, but somehow, miraculously, never tipping over. Instead, it’s practically perfect, with an adorable, mishap-plagued little bear who just wants to make the world better and a loving family that stands by his every misstep as he tries.
1) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse isn’t just the best kid’s movie of the year, it may well be the best genre movie I’ve seen this year, full stop. Hell, it might be the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen. I feel like I’m going to need to rematch this and Black Panther a few times to accurately make that choice, but either way I’m winning. Fuck this movie is great, featuring real heroes making difficult choices, a truly spectacular animation style like nothing we’ve seen before, and a story that races along while both breaking your heart and making it soar. Add a top-notch voice cast and some terrific bits of humor and you’ve got one of the best movies of 2018.
What. Really? I reallly must do this? OK FINE.
Dishonorable Mention: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, a movie that I despised but that too many people that I otherwise like and trust enjoyed. I don’t get it, but my kid loved it and Tori threatened to beat me if I left it off.
Header Image Source: StudioCanal