2015 Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Movie for Kids

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All this week we’re announcing the nominees for the Plugged In Movie Awards in the categories of Best Movie for KidsBest Movie for TeensBest Movie for Adults and Best Christian Movie.

These films represent what we consider to be the best of what got released in 2014, and not just artistically speaking, but morally and content-wise, too. Our selection isn’t a stamp of approval, of course, so link to our full reviews and read them carefully before deciding to see anything we’ve listed here.

In February we’ll pick our winners. But you can do it right now! To voice your thoughts and vote for your favorite nominee for the Reader’s Choice award in each category, post a comment on this blog or on our Facebook page.

BEST MOVIE FOR KIDS (NOMINEES)

PIMA-2015-Kids-Big-Hero-6-blogBig Hero 6 (PG): Hiro Hamada is a pretty smart kid. He’s only 14 and already a high school graduate. But Hiro still hasn’t really been living up to his full potential. After his big brother Tadashi was killed in a fiery accident, the devastated Hiro has been wallowing in his grief. But it’s his brother’s invention—an inflatable, balloon-like, health care robot called Baymax—that eventually pulls the boy back. What’s more, Baymax indirectly helps prove that Tadashi’s death wasn’t so much an accident as the result of a nefarious plot. And that spurs the 14-year-old megabrain kid into action. He starts out by giving Baymax some crime-fighting upgrades. Then he gathers together some of Tadashi’s former science whiz-kid friends for heroic backup. Before you can say “bim-bam-kapow” a brand-new superhero team is born. So even though the movie’s trailers may have given you the impression that this is primarily a Disney-ish tale about an action-crazed kid and his balloon stand-in robot pal, there’s lots more to it than that.

PIMA-2015-Kids-LEGO-Movie-blogThe LEGO Movie (PG): This movie is not just the longest and most entertaining LEGO commercial you’ve ever seen. Blocky plastic guy Emmet is an average LEGO nobody. In fact, he’s probably the most average interconnecting doodad dude you’d ever meet. But then one day Emmet encounters an incredibly un-average girl named Wyldstyle who, for some reason, mistakes him for someone she calls “The Special.” Then, when she introduces Emmet to this wizard-like guy, he thinks Emmet is the prophesized Special, too. Now, Emmet realizes that all the stories they’re telling him can’t really be about him. But for the first time in his very square life there are people who think he might be more than simply mediocre. And if they want him to be special, then he’ll do whatever his very average brain can come up with to make that true.

PIMA-2015-Kids-Muppets-Most-Wanted-blogMuppets Most Wanted (PG): The felt-covered Muppets are at loose ends until a shrewd businessman named Dominic Badguy approaches Kermit and suggests he take his friends out on a world tour. It’s perfect! The puppety pals can take their act on the road and deliver their Muppet Magic directly to John and Jane Q. Public all around the globe. Little do those fleecy (and fleeceable) friends realize, however, that Dominic is a notorious villain. And he just happens to be the sidekick of an even notoriouser frog villain named Constantine—a dastardly amphibian mastermind who looks exactly like Kermit. As their nefarious plot unfolds, Constantine replaces Kermit as our favorite green guy is snatched up and sent to a Siberian gulag. And then thefts start happening wherever the Muppets travel. Can Miss Piggy come to realize that the, uh, wool has been pulled over their eyes? Whether she does or not, it’s all fun enough that you won’t much care that this crime caper/prison break story is little more than a wireframe placeholder for knee-slapping guffaws paired with hilarious musical romps, well-timed setups, clever payoffs and enough celebrity cameos to fill a dozen remakes of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

PIMA-2015-Kids-Night-at-the-Museum-3-blogNight at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (PG): Larry Daley has risen from being a frowned-upon night guard at the famous New York American Museum of Natural History to almost being in charge of the place. And it’s all thanks to the magical Tablet of Akmenrah—a long-ago unearthed artifact that can somehow bring statues, figurines and T.rex bones to life every night. Something, however, is majorly amiss. Again! That supernatural tablet is beginning to corrode for some reason, and those animated objects are losing their zip. So it’s off to the British Museum of Natural History, home of Akmenrah’s mummified parents, to find some answers. This third franchise installment is a Teddy-Roosevelt-meets-Sir-Lancelot-meets-Attila-the-Hun clash of “history” in a cartwheeling CGI-packed splash of silliness.

PIMA-2015-Kids-Dolphin-Tale-2-blogDolphin Tale 2 (PG): One heartwarming story about dolphin survival deserves another, it seems, which is exactly what we get in this sequel. Back in 2011, moviegoers were introduced to Winter, a dolphin whose tail had to be amputated. Winter got a snazzy new prosthetic one and learned how to use it in that film. Dolphin Tale 2 picks up with Winter’s true-life story after the animal’s longtime tankmate dies. Dolphin depression sets in, and the crew at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium try to introduce Winter to a newly rescued marine mammal named Hope. But Hope’s not crazy about Winter’s artificial tail. It’s a dramatic and very wet conflict that propels Dolphin Tale 2 to its ultimately hope-filled conclusion—one that offers a few other important lessons about growing up along the way.

A Movie Nights discussion guide is available for Big Hero 6 and Dolphin Tale 2.

Movie summaries written by Plugged In reviewers Bob Hoose and Adam Holz.

Who wrote this?

Steven Isaac served as editor for Plugged In’s NRB- and EPA-award-winning website for more than a decade, orchestrating, managing, scheduling, shaping and tweaking at least 750 reviews and articles annually. He’s a husband and a father of a teenager.


Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Michelle Heumann More than 1 year ago
I didn't see any of these, but I WANTED to see Night at the Museum and never got a chance. Penguins of Madagascar was my top kid's movie of the year, if not the decade. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The LEGO Movie!


Gretchen Childress More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie! 
Andrew Miller More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie!
Anna_Rose_M More than 1 year ago
Easily Big Hero 6 was the best children's movie of the year if not one of the very best out of all the films.
dasibertauthor More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie was amazing from top to bottom. Fun, great voice-acting, and a really good message in there about creativity. Muppets Most Wanted was, in my humble opinion, the funniest of the bunch (but that probably stems from my being a life-long Muppet fan). Those two are tied for first by a good margin, but Big Hero 6 was also really, really good. Loved all the unique, lovable characters in 6, while what another commenter said about gender issues is also very true: Big Hero 6 handled those quite well. Honestly, I'd be happy if any of these one. All three are fabulous films!
Nate Warrick More than 1 year ago
Big Hero 6 was hands down the best movie Disney has made in a long time. It was better than Frozen and Tangled. It gets my vote
Wesley Javorsky More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie, uncontested
Marcy Thompson More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry Dolphin Tale 2. It's a close one, but I'm going to have to vote for Muppets Most Wanted. It's fun, it's hilarious, and it has the Muppets in it. It's hard to beat that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy choice... Big Hero 6. So refreshing to have an engaging story for all ages, employing creativity, wit, solid messages on revenge and forgiveness... that doesn't contain the (grotesquely overused trope of) romance that almost every other animated movie seems to lean on. There was also respectful representation of both genders, as opposed to the very irritating 'sex appeal' gimmick for the only significant speaking-female role in The Lego Movie.
I don't understand why so many are bashing How To Train Your Dragon 2. I found plenty of things to applaud in that film.
Mahala Crann More than 1 year ago
My vote is a tie between The Lego Movie and Muppets Most Wanted
Gloober Manup More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie, no question.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I vote the Lego Movie because "Everything is Awesome!"
Rebecca Greer More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie, hands down! The best animated movie I've seen in several years.
AAML_believer More than 1 year ago
I vote Lego movie!

I am kind of surprised HTTYD 2 isn't here, especially since I think you could argue it has less problematic content than Night at the Museum 3, but I wouldn;t have voted for it if it was here.  I thought it was extremely disappointing in comparison to the original and even the TV show.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed The Lego Movie, but I think Big Hero 6 was one of the most underrated films of the year.  In fact, I would say it's one of Disney's greatest efforts as of late.  The best since Tangled.  I think it excelled in storytelling, artistic presentation, and positive messages.  In my opinion, it was the best kids movie of the year, and one of the best overall. 
Elizabeth Davis More than 1 year ago
Lego Movie!
Joses Tirtabudi More than 1 year ago
The Lego Movie!
Scott Jamison More than 1 year ago
While LEGO Movie is hard to beat, Big Hero Six did better on gender issues, so I'm going with that one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thank you for pointing that out! I couldn't agree more.
Carlton DeLéon More than 1 year ago
Lego Movie should win, the best one by far.  I'm glad How to Train Your Dragon 2 wasn't included, It was one of the worst movies I saw this year.  Highly Overrated. 
Jin Kim More than 1 year ago
What happened to How to Train Your Dragon 2?!?! That was the best animated film of 2014! :(
Jonathan Langford More than 1 year ago
And does anyone know how i change my username?
Jonathan Langford More than 1 year ago
I guess I'd go with the Lego Movie, but where is How to Train Your Dragon 2? Great movie
The Nabster More than 1 year ago
To me, each movie deserves to win on different fronts. Big Hero 6 had a really endearing cast, plus stellar animation and some messages that really stick with you about revenge, the healing power of friendship, and self-sacrificial love. Lego Movie is, hands-down, the best-animated film of the year, with lots of fun visuals and lines, as well as some good messages about being special and creativity. Muppets Most Wanted was, I think, the mosy enjoyable movie overall for both kids and parents. Fun-filled song-and-dance numbers and good messages about acceptance of others different from you and friendship permeate the film. The other two (Night at the Museum 3 and Dolphin Tale 2) I found to be lackluster and "just-OK" movies.
TheTrueEDU More than 1 year ago
Where Is How To Train Your Dragon 2?!?!?! That was the best family film all year, and one of the best films in general all year as well!