Top Movies for Kids 2011 | Tony Van Zeyl

kids-movies materThere are a ton of crappy kids movies and TV out there. If you have small children (six and under), you know what I mean.


Sometimes you can stumble onto something that becomes an enjoyable social viewing experience for everyone. Here are the hits for our family from 2011.

Tony’s Favorite Screens with the Kids

1. Mater’s Tall Tales (Disney/Pixar, 2010)

A series of shorts featuring Mater of Pixar’s Cars (incidentally, my son’s favorite movie of the year) in which he tells some (possibly?) exaggerated stories about his exploits. I found this 30-minute collection of shorts to be exponentially better that Cars 2.

2. The Muppet Show (TV series 1976-1981) (Walt Disney Video, 2008)

Thanks to the new movie and thanks to a friend for letting us borrow their DVDs, we are immersed in Muppetness. Still entertaining—and hearing my kids belly laugh at the vaudeville humor of this show is priceless.

3) Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (20th Century Fox, 1977)

They didn’t understand why (spoiler alert) Luke didn’t know that Darth Vader was his father and Leia was his sister. But there were cool aliens and robots! Space ships and lasers!

4. Rugrats (TV series 1991-2004) (Nickelodeon, 2011)

I never watched it until my kids wanted to check it out. I was impressed with the clever writing and surprising sophistication while still maintaining a connection with both of my kids (ages six and three).

5. Robots (20th Century Fox, 2005)

Not the greatest plot in the world, but the animation is visually impressive and inventive. Plus, the closing scene’s use of James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing” is inspired.

6. Wild Kratts – Creature Adventures (TV series 2011) (PBS Direct, 2011)

The guys from the kids’ nature show Zooboomafoo are a little older now…so they decided to animate themselves into action heroes who get genetically altered into the animals they are investigating and teaching us about. If I could be animated into an action hero, I would.

7. Mighty Machines (TV series 1995/2004/2008) (NCircle Entertainment, 2007)

I actually learned about machines that are used in an underground salt mine and steel mill from this cheesy Canadian show which features human voiceovers of actual trucks, planes, boats, and even a printing press doing the mighty things they were built to do. If you have a boy who loves trucks, check this out.

8. Spiderman – The ’67 Collection (Walt Disney Video, 2004)

Just being able to sing the theme song over and over again made it worth it. When my daughter pointed out that Spidey was always swinging past the same spots in the city over and over, well, that was just icing on the cake. The battle with Electro in which Peter defeats him by lacing his web fluid with asbestos was the chocolate ice cream on the side.

9. Free Willy (Warner Bros., 1993)

I couldn’t believe that I was swept up in this cheesefest. My daughter and I were looking up pictures of whales on the internet and discussing injustice and animal cruelty.

10. Benji (Good Times Video, 1974)

What a weird movie. One man (director, writer, and producer Joe Camp) unwittingly changed the face of kids’ movies forever (see: 1997’s Air Bud or 2008’s Snow Buddies, and many others….actually, don’t. They are horrible). Why did I like this again? Oh yeah, that is one charismatic pooch! And unlike those horrific movies that I just mentioned, this movie has the animal telling the story without the voiceovers. Pretty impressive.

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