2011’s Best Kid’s Movies – Talking Cars, Pandas and Frogs
5 Kung Fu Panda 2
Jack Black and a cast of big name stars are back as Po and the Furious Five. Now that Po has proven himself and accomplished his dream of joining that team of Kung Fu masters, they are forced to do battle with an enemy who has a lot more firepower. This movie does especially well as a sequel and could even stand on its own since it hasn’t relied on the original’s message, plotline or gags to keep it going. The violence and the message are both a little bit harsher and more mature than in the first movie in a way that keeps pace nicely with the kids who have grown since the first movie was released.
Although Rango may be one of those movies that tries a little too hard to please the parents in the crowd, it still works for everyone. Johnny Depp voices a neurotic chameleon with delusions of grandeur who is having an identity crisis as he accidentally stumbles into a wild west type town that needs saving. Rango’s psychological development may be a story line that is tough for little kid’s to follow but older kids will understand enough to enjoy it when combined with some great action and gun-slinging scenes. The supporting characters are each equally quirky in their own way and the messages of community caring and “it’s ok to be a little weird” are ones that will justify parents who want an excuse to see this movie once they find out about the awesome Star Wars tribute scene that we just casually hinted at.
3 Cars 2
The lesson of Cars was to slow down a bit and enjoy the journey but the second Cars movie ignores that and instead is a James Bond spoof touting messages of being true to yourself and using ecologically friendly alternative fuels. While we’re not sure if that second message was really aimed at the kiddies, it’s a nice goal nonetheless. While this movie was significantly lower on our list of favorites than the original and than most other Pixar movies, it’s still a good choice for a family fun night. Think of it as a kid-friendly James Bond flick. As an additional perk however, fans of the first movie will be happy to hear that this one gives a lot more screen time to Lightning McQueen’s tow-truck best friend Mater. We challenge you to come up with a more lovable sidekick and we’re happy to let him steal the show.
Let’s start out noting that a member of Flight of the Conchords also appears in this movie. Jemaine Clement voices Nigel, a villainous parakeet. And his comedy is at its usual high level as he mixes the mundane and crass in with poetic language and a high class accent, at least in American ears.But now that we’ve revealed our love of that comedy band, we can confess that it’s not the main part of the story. Instead we follow the saga of Linda and her rare pet macaw, Blu, as they travel from a quiet town in Minnesota to Brazil, where a scientist is waiting to introduce Blu to the only other known blue macaw in hopes that they will mate and revive the species. When Linda and Blu meet Tulio and Jewel, they both learn to open themselves up a little bit and to find the wild side of themselves. Although the main plot line is cute and will entertain the little kids, the best part of the movie for adults and older kids will be the hysterical characters that the heroes meet along the way. There are enough of them to provide a range of humor so that kids of all ages can each find a favorite.
1 The Muppets
By far the most original movie, this will keep parents cracking up while the kids enjoy the usual lights, color and music of The Muppet Show. The story is of two brothers, one a puppet and one a human, who are big fans of The Muppets and go to track them down when they find out that the Muppet’s old theater is going to be destroyed by evil developers. The human brother (played by Jason Segel) eventually needs to let his brother go so he can focus on his human girlfriend, and the puppet brother needs to find his talent so that he can take his rightful place as one of The Muppets. Although the whole movie is great, the high point is the clever musical numbers written by Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords. The songs have that bands usual “I can’t quite tell if they’re kidding” quality and Jason Segel has the perfect smiley innocence to pull them off.
Did we skip your favorite sequel or spin-off? Let’s hear what you think!