Plugged In Movie Awards: Best Movies for Kids

PIMA's kids 2019

Oscars, schmoscars.

For more than 90 years, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has handed out awards for what it considers to be the “best” movies of the year. But as we all know, what Hollywood thinks of as great doesn’t necessarily coincide with what we love, like or even think is appropriate.

Listen, we all love quality movies. We all love aesthetically great films. But we like to be inspired, too—to watch flicks that reflect our values and timeless truths. And it’s nice when we can watch these movies together. As a family.

It’s in that spirit that we unveil the nominees for this year’s Plugged In Movie Awards. Today we’ll talk about the movies we consider to be 2018’s Best Movies for Kids. Those will be followed later this week by Best Movies for Teens, Best Movies for Adults and, on Friday, Best Christian Movies.

But these aren’t just top-down movie awards, dear reader. We’re asking for your input, too. We’re asking you to applaud those movies that you found the best, most worthy movies of the year. Pick your favorite among our nominees or, if you think we whiffed on one, choose your own. Let us know your own choices down below, on our Facebook page or on Twitter, if you’re so inclined. You’ll have until Feb. 15 to vote. Winners will be announced Feb. 22.

So with that preamble out of the way, let’s begin with the nominees for Best Movie for Kids.

Christopher Robin: We all have to grow up sometime, even if we’re named Christopher Robin. Now a middle manager at a luggage company, poor ol’ Chris has left the 100-Acre Wood far behind—and he’s slowly losing sight of his real-world family, too. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s in need of rescue. And, after he spent a childhood saving Eyeore and Piglet and especially Winnie-the-Pooh, it’s time for his animal friends to return the favor. This delightful Disney “sequel” to A.A. Milne’s fabled fables (and, of course, Disney’s beloved cartoons) balances the inevitable need to grow up with the importance of retaining a childlike sense of wonder and imagination. And it’s a lot of fun to boot. Definitely a film worth the bother.

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch: This holiday tale focuses in on a gripey guy covered in garish green fur who lives in a cave just outside the delightfully charming and picturesque town of Whoville. Well, it’s delightful for everybody but this fellow, that is. From his perspective the Whoville residents are hideously happy and cloyingly cheery—particularly around the holidays. So the grumbling Grinch makes a plan to steal away all their Christmas joy. Probably even the littlest Cindy Lou Whos in our families likely know this tale by heart, and some might grinchily grouse that this movie makes some changes to Dr. Seuss’ well-worn tale. But it’s all good. The lesson of friendship is sweet, the colorful story is fun, and this version even ties musical references to the baby Jesus’ birth into its Whoville celebrations.

Incredibles 2: Heroism can take many forms on the big screen. Sometimes it means using one’s superpowers to foil a dastardly villain. Other times, it involves stuff that may seem anything but heroic—like changing diapers and helping with homework. That’s the storytelling paradox that Incredibles 2 unpacks. This time around, supermom Helen Parr—aka Elastagirl—is in the spotlight as she snaps into action against the nefarious Screen Slaver. Meanwhile, her huge hunk of a hubby, Bob, is holding down the home front. Helen’s frequent absences mean that he’s often functionally a single dad raising teen Violet, tween Dash and baby Jack-Jack. Both roles involve, um, stretching. Elastagirl does so in a more literal sense, obviously. Meanwhile, Bob confronts some surprisingly deep—but no less heroic—inner obstacles as he struggles to be a good dad. Onscreen super-battle action can get a bit intense for younger or sensitive viewers. We also hear a couple of very un-Pixar-like mild profanities. But those caveats are relatively small ones in a movie that celebrates the heroic nature of battling evil … and the equally noble task of being a super parent.

Paddington 2: Oscar may have denied this talking-bear movie a Best Picture Oscar nom. But the adorable sequel arguably accomplished something more remarkable: being Rotten Tomatoes best-reviewed movie of 2018. It takes a special kind of movie to please every churlish critic. Paddington 2 did exactly that. Here, our titular talking teddy gets cruelly framed for a crime he didn’t commit—sending the poor little bear to prison! But take heart: Even in the “big house,” Paddington treats others well, quietly embodying his beloved Aunt Lucy’s homespun wisdom: “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” Indeed. As Paddington’s kindness and character transform the hardened convicts he meets, his family and friends labor to find out who really committed the crime for which he’s been blamed. Content caveats in this PG-rated kids movie are light: some mildly perilous hijinks and a few bits of even milder innuendo. Mostly, though, this is the kind of gentle, delightful, and quietly virtue-filled kids’ movie that we just don’t see very often anymore.

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies:  The Teen Titans—made up of Robin the Boy Wonder, the half human/half robot Cyborg, the shapeshifting Beast Boy, the magic-casting girl Raven and an innocent but super-powered alien princess named Starfire—are doing their usual bang-up job as a powered-up teen team. Robin, however, longs for more public attention. Will a baddie named Slade be able to lure the young heroes into a fame trap? This rollicking super-spoof adventure is packed to the brim with chuckle-worthy mega-winks at everything DC comics-related. And, unfortunately, it also has a mega-dollop of toilet humor in its laughs. But families who choose to cope with those inane gags will find some solid messages for kids in this social media age.

(All movie capsules written by Adam Holz, Bob Hoose, Kristin Smith and Paul Asay).

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous 5 months ago
3 for Christopher Robin, 1 for The Grinch, and 1 for Paddington 2
Anonymous 5 months ago
Posted by First Comment Guy

Incredibles II
Anonymous 5 months ago
Incredibles 2
Jacqui Torena 6 months ago
Christopher Robin
Lydia Snow 6 months ago
Paddington 2. It’s one of the best family movies of the decade, in my opinion. SO underrated!
Teal Neighbors 6 months ago
Incredibles 2.
Maya J. Toman 6 months ago
I love Christopher Robin returns.
Veronica Pyle 6 months ago
I guess I'll vote for Incredibles 2, since it's the only one I've seen. That's not to say it wasn't good, but I guess it kind of wins by default for me. :P
Christine MacLachlan 6 months ago
Eva Schon 6 months ago
Incredibles 2
Cj lastrue 6 months ago
Nomination: Christopher Robin
Rocketshipper 6 months ago
My post disappeared :(

Hey, where is Ralph Breaks the Internet!?   Another Snub :( (I remember Wreck it Ralph wasn’t nominated by you guys either).    

Of the options I vote Teen Titans.   The animation was excellent (2D beats 3D nearly any day) lots of funny self referential humor, and it had an upbeat inspirational song about life!!! (Featuring Michael Bolton)
Tim Page 7 months ago
Christopher Robin made this 22 year old who grew up loving the characters almost turn into a puddle of tears on multiple occasions. I loved it. That'd be my vote.  
Anonymous 7 months ago
I only watched Incredibles 2 and Hotel Transylvania 3, and out of the two I would choose Incredibles 2. I was hoping to see the Grinch before I had to vote, but since I haven't so, Incredibles 2 it is.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I adore the cartoon series from the 80s, the original Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh movie, loved the series The Book of Pooh that was in the 90s, and absolutely love The Tigger Movie too, but this new Christopher Robin film is just a dud pure and simple.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Apparently I'm the only person on here that was bothered by how bad my beloved Pooh characters looked in the film, especially poor washed out faded Tigger, and frankly thought the storyline just wasn't all that great either. Madeline was cute as Christopher Robin's daughter, but that's about the only positive thing I can say about the movie.
Tim Page 7 months ago
I liked the idea that they actually looked like real stuffed animals and if Christopher Robin is an adult of course they're going to be a little worn and faded. 
It personally didn't bother me, but I get it. 
Anonymous 6 months ago
I get it too, since I've got tons of stuffed animals too that sleep with me on my bed and some of them have definitely seen better days as well, but since it was a Hollywood movie played on a big screen I guess I just expected everyone to look better, regardless of authenticity. I mean Paddington and Peter Rabbit from last year were also technically stuffed animal like too, but because of the way they were presented on the screen they looked a lot better yet still retained that lifelike quality to them that made them seem real to me.
Jamey Perrigin 7 months ago
Out of this list, I think Christopher Robin is easily the best choice.

About the whole spider-verse thing, I'm really counting on it showing up in another category, because definitely deserves a win.
William Burke 7 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
I would like everyone to know that as of right now Incredibles 2 is on Netflix.

Posted By A-Non-Mouse
Lostariel Bronwethiel 7 months ago
My vote definitely goes towards Paddington 2... Incredibles 2 was good, but I hated that it contained a bit of language (very minor, I know, but for an animation aimed at kids it was upsetting for me). 
seraph_unsung 7 months ago
I also thought that was a questionable design choice, so you're not alone. What bothered me more were the intense flashing lights that prompted numerous photosensitivity warnings.
Zach's Gaming And Stop Motions 7 months ago
Christopher Robin, with no competition. It truly encapsulated the heart of Winnie the Pooh. Though Grinch was a close second place. It, too, was a masterpiece! Thanks for all you guys do at Plugged In! I appreciate and pray for you all! God Bless!

Julienne Dy 7 months ago
Crud!  The only one of these movies that I've watched is Incredibles 2.  Ooooh!  I really wanted to watch Christopher Robin and The Grinch this year too.  "Sigh"  Incredibles 2 it is then.  "total resignation"
Lyn Chartowich 7 months ago
I honestly don't think Teen Titans Go! Movie should win: They're too obsessed with bodily humor. I wish the original Teen Titans would come back! That was a good show.
I've only heard good things about Paddington 2 and plan to watch it sometime, and I liked Incredibles 2. I can't decide, it would be easier if I could watch them all.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I saw the trailer and it looked ok.I like self-aware humor. But yeah, the original TT was fantastic
-David the Clown
Lyn Chartowich 7 months ago
Eh, I'm not a huge fan (of that type of humor). But, yes, that show was great.
charitysplace 7 months ago
The Grinch and Christopher Robin.

Chill, people. The Spiderverse movie will no doubt be in the teen category.
Anonymous 7 months ago
It's rated PG and has little to no objectionable content, why should it be in the teen category? Incredibles 2 has worse content.
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
That movie also deals with death, coming of age, and self-doubt.  The content may not be as objectionable, but the message definitely would sail over the heads of most kids.
Anonymous 7 months ago
So what? Young kids don't deserve to watch an awesome, complex movie that doesn't pander to them? Is that what you are saying? I disagree with that completely. 
Anonymous 7 months ago
Yeah, several of my younger siblings went with me to see it. It was certainly more mild then most of the live action Marvel movies (all of which they have seen)
So yeah, not sure why it's not in the Best Movies for Kids category  
David the Clown
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
"frustrated sigh"  If you want to take your kids to see this, you can, and I certainly won't fault you for doing so.  I'm just saying that they probably won't understand how Miles felt as well as a teenager would.  I mean, kids normally don't struggle with wanting to be great but doubting if they really are.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I don't really get what is frustrating about it. Sure, it is true that a 5 year old might not be able to grasp the story as well as a 15 year old. But that is pretty much true for 90% of movies. At least ones that aren't directly marketed at kids.Which is fine. It doesn't even mean that kids won't like it any less then teens. They just might like it for different reasons. Like I've stated before, my younger siblings (ages 9-15) all laughed hysterically at it. It's a genuine "family movie" in the sense that it has things that all members of your family can enjoy. 

The Lego Movie is very similar in my opinion.
-David the Clown 
Julienne Dy 7 months ago
The frustrated sigh was for the commenter before you.  Besides, PluggedIn has a lot to consider when nominating and categorizing these movies.  Not only do the nominees have to be relatively well-made and have as few objectionable content as possible, but PluggedIn also has to decide which audience group would be most inspired by the nominee's messages.
Zach's Gaming And Stop Motions 7 months ago
You and I had the same exact choices! LOL! They were really the best, without competition.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Without competition? You chose the worst two. Are you kidding?
[removed] 7 months ago
This comment has been deleted
Anonymous 7 months ago
Ohhhhhhh I see......
-David the Clown
Anonymous 7 months ago
My vote is for Christopher Robin. I really enjoyed the story, emotion, acting, and message that movie brought forth.

-some guy