2016 Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Movie for Kids

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Oscars, schmoscars. Since nobody’s actually paying much attention to all that manufactured buzz about the likes of The Revenant and Mad Max, we’ll move right along with our own set of moviedom honors. It’s time once again for our Plugged In Movie Awards, wherein we select the movies we feel best nourish both the mind and soul. (But make sure to read our full reviews before deciding whether you or your family should see any of these!)

As is our practice, we’ll unveil our picks for our four categories (Kids, Teens, Adults and Christian movies) all through this week. We’d love for you to chime in, either here or on Facebook, and vote for your favorites. Then, in a few weeks, Jake Roberson and Paul Asay will unveil the winners—both our “official” selections and the top popular vote-getters—on our Plugged In Vodcast.

BEST MOVIE FOR KIDS (NOMINEES)

0126CinderellaCinderella: Tampering with nostalgia is dicey business. (Just ask George Lucas.) But with Cinderella, Disney has worked its old-fashioned magic in ways that would make Uncle Walt smile. This reboot reimagines his cherished animated classic as a live-action fairy tale, imbuing it with thematic additions that arguably make it a better story than the original. That’s because the new version focuses as much on inner character as outward beauty. One example: Cinderella’s dying mother tells her daughter “a great secret that will see you through all the trials life has to offer: Have courage and be kind.”  

0126GoodDinosaurThe Good Dinosaur: This prehistoric Pixar pic starts with a series of  big What Ifs. What if the massive meteor that scientists say hit the Earth and killed off the dinosaur population … missed? And what if, millions of years later, dinosaurs somehow evolved into a talking, farming and family-raising dominant species? Then, what if a fearful runt of a dinosaur named Arlo were to be accidentally separated from his family? He may have to take up with a pet human boy named Spot. And together they might set off on a voyage of self-discovery—all in hopes of finding a way back home. Those willing to step into this animated alternate reality of ifs and I wonders will find a bit of toilet humor and several scenes of peril, but a number of fun kid-focused lessons on the importance of facing your fears, and the value of family and friends.

0126InsideOutInside Out: It’s not like Pixar has ever been one to rest on its cartoonish laurels. Ever since Toy Story first charmed audiences more than 20 years ago, Disney’s animated adjunct has been known not just for its digital artistry, but for its rich, complex storytelling. But even for Pixar, Inside Out is a masterpiece. It gives us Riley, an 11-year-old girl recently uprooted from her Minnesota home, and it takes us inside the sometimes quarrelsome emotions roiling in her brain. It dares suggest that, while being happy is great and all, sadness has its place, too. Inside Out plumbs the depths of the human mind and forces us to care about an imaginary creature that cries candy. We might’ve cried a little during the movie, too—but that doesn’t stop Inside Out from being a movie filled with, quite literally, Joy.

0126PeanutsThe Peanuts Movie: Good ol’ Charlie Brown—the lovable kid next door in a zigzag shirt—is once again struggling with feelings of inadequacy. When a new kid moves into town, Charlie thinks he might just make a new friend—one who doesn’t know of his emotional baggage. But good grief! Wouldn’t you know it, the new neighbor is a cute Little Red-Haired Girl who sends Charlie into a heart-thumping tizzy. Why, he can barely look her in the eye, much less talk to her. He’ll just have to come up with something that he’s good at if he ever hopes to have her glance in his direction! This latest gathering of the Peanuts gang has been updated with 3-D images and new voices. But it’s still pretty much the perfect representation of a half-century of Charles Schulz comic strips—condensed down to a single, feel-good family flick.

0126ShauntheSheepShaun the Sheep Movie: Life is pretty good at Mossy Bottom Farm, but the workaday schedule can get a tad tedious. So a little sheep named Shaun puts his noggin to the task of getting he and his wooly pals a day off. Of course, as silly ewe plans often do, this one goes awry—leaving the Farmer wandering around in the city without his memory and a bunch of sheep wondering how to set things right. Based on a kids’ TV series, this Claymation pic is packed with crazy circumstances and nutty nonsense. And, in a way, the wooly yarn is something of a silent movie since there’s not a discernable word to be heard. The only drawback is that some of this flick’s nonverbal antics rely on potty humor for a punchline. But it’s all pretty sheepy—er, peachy other than that.

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

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.

catchthecat More than 1 year ago
As much as I enjoyed Cinderella, I would have to say that the Peanuts Movie was the best. Took me right back to watching the holiday Peanuts specials at my Grandma's.
Lydia Grace More than 1 year ago
Cinderella gets my vote. I really enjoyed the Pixar ones and I plan to see the other two, but Cinderella was absolutely beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cinderella and The Peanuts Movie get my vote. 
Caleb Brink More than 1 year ago
Oh that's so hard!!!!  Either Cinderella Or Inside Out!!!  But they were both so good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely Inside Out 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely Inside Out; it's officially my #1 favorite kids movie
Cj .J .R. More than 1 year ago
>>>>> Good choices for the year >>  The peanuts movie or any of these are the top picks 
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally agree with you about The Incredibles. It's at the bottom of my list along with Brave (I'm sorry, but Brave was so awful I had to question whether Pixar was responsible for that mess) and Inside Out. Since Brave and Inside Out, I'm completely done with Pixar. Disney doesn't fair much better with my "doneness", but I did like Cinderella even taking into account that terrible CGI (lizard people!). 
ezra_guerra More than 1 year ago
Excellent choices. I didn't make it to Shaun the Sheep or Peanuts, but my top 3 picks would probably be:
1: Cinderella - Incredible cast, beautiful cinematography, the outfits were superb, and the general Disney magical feel just made you feel like you had entered Disney World. Loved every minute of it.

2: Inside Out - Probably one of the best, most relatable animated films I've ever seen. While it's not the 'greatest' of animation, the story is the heart of this movie. I love that Pixar took a kid's toy and directed it towards adults. Cause sometimes (as some of you need to understand), all we need to do is grow up.

3: The Good Dinosaur. - Possibly the best animation I've ever seen in an animated film. The landscapes, the creatures, even the story made this film a must see. I highly recommend it.
Nolan Ryan More than 1 year ago
I loved Inside Out, and I'm sure most people will go with that, but I felt Cinderella had the more relevant story for today. The film was great and so needed for a culture where young girls are taught outward beauty is more important than anything else.
Chels More than 1 year ago
1. Peanuts (picking oneself back up and persevering despite a history of failed attempts and no hope of succeeding is a story anyone can learn from)
2. Inside Out (great teaching experience on how emotions are tied to our decisions, and how all emotions are important not just happiness, all wrapped-up in a very emotional, heartwarming story)
3. Cinderella (um, the story/effects/cinematography was excellent, but can the necklines be higher next time?)
ezra_guerra More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why Cinderella (one of 2015's best films) is getting so much hate because of the amount of cleavage in the movie. seriously? cleavage? might as well not let your kid's visit the mall anymore. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Regarding Cinderella, I'd say know your audience. If more-or-less period dress offends your audince, then I'd say just skip it.

Helpfully, though, the camera never seemed to leer at anyone -- a fault that even some Christian films are guilty of --and, of course, the behavior onscreen generally very moral, and inspiring.
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Caleb Van Nice More than 1 year ago
I'm sorry, you accidentally put one of the greatest films of all time at 14th place. And anther at 16th place. I just thought you should know.
Caleb Van Nice More than 1 year ago
For what it's worth, here's my (loose, with very little thought put into it) rankings for PIXAR
1. UP
2. Incredibles
3. Toy Story 2
4. Toy Story 3
5. Wall-E
6. Toy Story
7. Inside Out
8. Ratatoullie
9. Finding Nemo
10. Monster's Inc
11. Good Dinosaur
12. A Bug's Life
13. Monster's University
14. Brave
15. Cars
16. Cars 2

And keep in mind, I'm fond of all of them, and VERY fond of 1-12.
Ethan Tang More than 1 year ago
Great list! *thumbs out* UP is my favorite of Pixar too
ezra_guerra More than 1 year ago
1: Toy Story 3
2: Up
3: Inside Out
4: The Incredibles
5: Cars
6: Finding Nemo
7: Toy Story 
8: Toy Story 2
9: A Bug's Life
10: The Good Dinosaur
11: Wall-E
12: Ratatoullie
13: Monsters University
14: Brave
15: Monsters Inc.
16: Cars 2. (cause we all know cars 2 sucked.)
bobed More than 1 year ago
What?! The Incredibles and the Toy Story movies at the bottom, with Brave at the top?! Insanity! Who in their right mind hates The Incredibles? 
Stephen Barbee More than 1 year ago
1. peanuts 2. cinderella
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1. Inside Out 2. Peanuts
Elaine Meehan More than 1 year ago
1. Inside Out 2. Cinderella
CBelleque More than 1 year ago
I would have to say Inside Out. I know that the hype is pretty wild, but let me tell you why I would choose it. I have a 6 year old granddaughter who struggles with sensory processing disorder. This makes things very hard for her to understand what is going on in a social setting, and makes it hard to talk to her about her feelings and why she is struggling. Inside Out (her favorite movie) has made it possible to have conversations with her about her Joy and Sadness and how they fit together. About how fear is a real part of her feelings and that it is okay to be sad about things that don't go her way. Inside Out is well written and I hope that it has allowed other parents to have the opportunity to talk with their children  the way we have had opportunities to talk with ours.
I also loved Shaun the Sheep, because he is so cute!
bobed More than 1 year ago
I don't think Inside Out is a kids' movie. I mean, what kid understands, or wants to watch a movie about, the nuances of depression? Heck, I don't want to watch that, either. Pixar has always impressed me with their ability to make films appropriate for children that are also nuanced and complex, like Ratatouille and The Incredibles. But at the same time I also like Pixar because they make uplifting films that leave me smiling when I walk out of the theater. Inside Out didn't do that - it was a downer throughout and left me down in the dumps as I left. I noticed my kids were blue for the rest of the day, too. I was disappointed with it, and I won't watch it again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If it actually dealt with the concept of depression, it would have actually been a compelling story. I thought for a moment while watching that Joy was going to "die" in the Memory Dump and Riley was going to have to learn to find joy through sadness or something along those lines. Of course, my suggestion would not help in making the movie appropriate for children, but at least it would have been a good movie. I actually thought Sadness was the most enjoyable, relatable, amusing, and compelling part of that movie until her character was destroyed at the end.
Rocketshipper More than 1 year ago
Only saw two of these movies and I'm going with Inside Out.  But honestly I am getting kind of tired of hearing the praise for that movie ^^;;  It's like the new "Frozen" everyone is raving about how amazing it is.  It was good, but it wouldn;t break my top 5 Pixars, probably.  
Isaac_Trenti More than 1 year ago

I only saw two of the movies on this list (Inside Out and Peanuts), and I thought both of them were good. While Inside Out was well-written, I was more impressed with Blue Sky’s ability to retain the moral integrity of Peanuts. One vote for Charlie Brown!

Kaleb Haman More than 1 year ago
Inside Out...hands down!
AryandilMithian More than 1 year ago
Inside Out was definitely the best family movie for this year. Cinderella is a close second, but I cast my vote for IO.
Debbie Miller More than 1 year ago
1. Inside Out
2. Cinderella
I loved the Peanuts but I think it's more for our generation, who grew up with them.
Abigail Falanga More than 1 year ago
"Inside Out" - though "Cinderella" and "Inside Out" are the only ones I've seen (I don't like Peanuts movies, thought "Shaun the Sheep" looked weird, and didn't make it to "The Good Dinosaur"). "Inside Out" was funny, sweet, and profound, and a good meditation on the importance of sadness!
bobed More than 1 year ago
Hmm, I don't see what looks so "weird" about Shaun the Sheep Movie. 
Caleb Van Nice More than 1 year ago
I've not yet seen the Shaun the Sheep Movie, but the other four are all brilliant. (Peanuts, Good Dinosaur, and Inside Out are all in my Top 7 favorite movies of the year, and Cinderella is waaay better than it had any right to be)
Anyway, my pick of them, if I had to pick one, is Inside Out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Smith.

I'm admittedly a bit behind, having only seen Inside Out and Cinderella, both of which I loved -- though I would have to go with Inside Out as the better of the two.