I love traditions. If you’re new to the blog, you can read a bit about my love of traditions here and here. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite traditions was our weekly family movie night. It never mattered much to me what movie we were watching, but cartoon movies were my favorite, of course.
We ordered pizza, had dinner together and gathered around to spend quality time. I was allowed to stay up late, Dad didn’t channel surf, and no one was distracted with other projects. True, there wasn’t a lot of conversation during this time, but there was a certain level of sharing and connection that happened anyway.
We each watched movies that may not have been our first choice, pushing ourselves a little more out of our personal comfort zone each time. We laughed together, cried together (though I don’t know that Dad ever cried during a movie night) and discussed the movie a little at the end.
Now that I’m an adult, I still love watching a weekly movie and cartoon movies are still often my first choice. Movie night is a great way to wind down and relax from a long or stressful week. And it’s still a wonderful way to connect with my family. Right now, it’s just Andy and I that enjoy the movie nights. But when Zach is old enough to be able to sit and watch one with us, you can be sure it will become a tradition for our whole family.
Why I love cartoon movies
It can be difficult to find movies to accommodate a large range of family ages and tastes. Some people love documentaries and war movies (like my husband). Others like romance and drama. And others love horror. Myself, I prefer simple comedy.
Cartoon movies are a great choice because they are an option that generally doesn’t include the drama, fear, or stress that can come with other kinds of movies. Life is so intense, I don’t want that intensity in my movies. Cartoon movies are feel-good. They are relaxing. And they allow us to get away from the world for a bit. No matter what your personal movie preference is, cartoon movies are something everyone can agree are enjoyable.
Cartoon movies appeal to an adult sense of humor as well as a child’s. They include antics and goofiness as well as deep emotion. Additionally, they’re wholesome and promote family, love, adventure, and morals.
Cartoon movies don’t have to be childish and lame. Sure, there are a lot of those out there but there are so many good ones with compelling stories. A good one can make me laugh, make me think, prompt a discussion, all while being whimsically entertaining.
22 cartoon movies your family will love
Below is a list of 22 great cartoon movies that I personally love. Because I prefer movies without depressing or negative story lines, this list is almost exclusively joyful and uplifting (sorry, no Fox and the Hound on this list!). There are a few exceptions, but it’s because the quality of the movie itself makes up for the momentary sadness.
(In this context, sad or negative refers to anything overly dark and sinister or involving death, disease or trauma for the characters. All movies have a negative component of some kind…otherwise, it would make for a very boring movie! The movies that do have some of these components are noted with an asterisk.)
- Moana– Beautiful story, with amazing music, about the importance of finding who you are and following where life is trying to tell you where to go.
- Inside Out– Pixar nails it every time, but this is truly one of their best.
- Sing– Aside from some great songs and talented singers, this is another one that really advocates for finding your voice and being true to yourself.
- Lilo & Stitch– A great movie for bringing out the importance of family, accepting each other, and being there for each other.
- Shrek– Wonderful humor for the adults, childlike antics for the kids. With an amazing voice cast, good music, and another story about being comfortable as you are, this is one you’ll want to watch over and over.
- Tangled– By far my favorite Disney princess movie (and I grew up LOVING The Little Mermaid). This twist on the traditional Rapunzel story is fantastically done and has made Tangled one of the favorites in our household.
- Brave– A young girl fights for her independence while learning the importance of family and compromise. Beautiful Scottish music and a unique storyline!
- Ratatouille– I wouldn’t have expected a movie about cooking rats to be this good, but it is!
- The Incredibles– The importance and purpose of a family are the basis for this one.
- Despicable Me– Incredibly goofy, but charming nonetheless. A lovable villain finds meaning in a family.
- Zootopia– Cute, spunky, lovable characters all just trying to find their place and be who they were born to be in a world that tries to fit them into predetermined boxes.
- Mulan– A strong woman takes a tremendous risk, with the help of her ancestral animal sidekick to save her father’s life, and in the process, all of China.
- Megamind– Another one about a lovable villain that you can’t help but root for.
- Wreck-It–Ralph– A bad guy video game character learns that he’s more than just the bad guy.
- Toy Story– I don’t think I need to explain this one. Who hasn’t heard about the toys who love their boy?
- Up!*– This one has short but quite intense, sad storyline at the beginning, but it sets the stage for the rest of the film. And the rest of the film is amazing.
- Hotel Transylvania– Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg are the two leading male voices in this quirky film. Together, they show us love transcends all things, including a relationship between a human and a monster.
- The Lorax*– Dr. Suess and a great message about caring for our planet and being part of something greater than ourselves.
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs– Just a fun, goofy movie with a great message about being true to yourself, even when others might not understand it.
- A Goofy Movie– Classic characters demonstrating the importance of spending time together and being honest with one another. And that you can always rely on family to help when you need it.
- Balto*– This one is a little sad, but not enough to knock it off the list! Based on a true story about a sled dog that helped save children’s lives by bringing medicine to a remote town in Alaska.
- Charlotte’s Web*– This one is also a little sad, as anyone who read the book is already aware. But it’s also a great tale about the value of ourselves, friendship, and never underestimating someone’s abilities.
These 22 cartoon movies are well-loved in our household. Several of these are movies we have watched over and over and will continue to watch for years to come. Even when Zach chooses a cartoon movie to watch, it’s often one of these.
For your next family movie night, make or get a dinner that is a treat for your family, not something you have regularly. Then snuggle up with your loved ones and one of the above cartoon movies. I guarantee everyone will have a great time. And maybe family movie night will become the next family tradition in your house!