Tired of having to rewatch Frozen for the twentieth time? I mean, there are only so many times you can sing “Let It Go” before you go crazy! For your next family movie night, try something a bit different. While Walt Disney Studios has created classic children’s movies for over a century now, it’s time to step away from the House of the Mouse. It’s time to venture out into the vast cinematic universe to discover some other fantastic family-friendly movies you may never have heard of before! Here are five amazing family night movies that don’t have the Disney label, but will equally charm you with their creativity, whimsy, and compelling stories.
1. Paddington (2014)
The lovable bear from Darkest Peru has been a beloved figure in children’s literature for decades. StudioCanal’s Paddington has beautifully translated the charm and whimsy of the original stories to the big screen. Since its release, it has become an absolute classic and holds very dear to the hearts of many.
This film strikes a perfect balance of comedy, action, and heart - making it an ideal family watch. The adorable CGI bear, voiced by Ben Whishaw, navigates the bustling city of London, meeting a delightful array of characters and inevitably getting into good-natured mischief. Parents will absolutely love the movie’s central theme of acceptance and kindness, a wonderful message to teach their kids. This is one movie that can easily be enjoyed by EVERYONE in the family.
2. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Po, the goofy, food-loving panda who dreams of becoming a martial arts master, stole hearts when DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda first hit the theatres. This film, with its stunning animation, top-notch voice acting, and hilarious script, makes for a fun-filled family movie night. Your kids will definitely enjoy watching all the cute-looking animals do some pretty neat tricks.
But despite its humorous surface, Kung Fu Panda contains substantial themes of self-acceptance and perseverance, an important lesson for any child. The film teaches kids that anyone can become a hero, no matter who they are or where they come from. The engaging storyline, coupled with dynamic action sequences, will keep viewers of all ages completely engrossed with the movie. And hey, maybe it’ll even interest your kid in taking up kung fu!
3. The Iron Giant (1999)
Thanks to the fantastic direction of director Brad Bird, he was able to give us the touching tale of The Iron Giant. Released many years back, there’s a good chance this is a beloved character your children have never heard of or seen before.
This Warner Bros. film blends Cold War era history with a science fiction narrative about a boy named Hogarth Hughes who befriends a giant robot from outer space. This film stands out for its compelling storytelling, distinctive animation style, and strong emotional core. It’s a poignant exploration of fear, prejudice, and friendship, offering a deeply beautiful and meaningful message about choosing your own destiny.
4. Song of the Sea (2014)
This Irish animated film from Cartoon Saloon will mesmerize you with its stunning visuals. Inspired by Celtic mythology, Song of the Sea weaves a magical tale of Ben and his little sister Saoirse. Saorise is a selkie who must find her voice and free all the supernatural creatures trapped behind the spell of a Celtic goddess.
The enchanting animation, heartfelt storytelling, and hauntingly beautiful soundtrack make this an unforgettable cinematic experience to witness with your family. This is definitely more of a contemplative film, perfect for a quiet family evening.
5. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
If you love a great underdog story, How To Train Your Dragon will be right up your alley. Another DreamWorks Animation triumph, this film takes viewers to the mythical world of Vikings and dragons. The story follows the unlikely friendship between a young Viking named Hiccup and a rare dragon he calls Toothless. The catch? Vikings and dragons are supposed to be sworn enemies.
This movie expertly balances action, comedy, and emotion, creating a rich, visually immersive world that captivates audiences. Paired with an unbelievably beautiful soundtrack, you’ll be amazed by how fantastic this movie is. Themes of courage, friendship, and embracing differences resonate throughout the film, making it not just an exciting adventure, but also a thoughtful exploration of growing up and becoming who you are.
While Disney movies are always a great go-to, the world of family-friendly cinema is a lot bigger than you may have imagined. There’s a variety of fantastic movies from studios all over the world! So the next time you plan a family movie night, don’t forget to consider these non-Disney delights - they might just become your new favourites!