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25 Best Cartoon Movies for Family Movie Night

Pop the popcorn! It's time to snuggle up on the couch for family movie night with the greatest cartoon movies of all time!

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cloudy with a chance of meatballsSony Pictures Animation/Kobal/Shutterstock

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

One of the best-animated movies was adapted from a 1978 children’s book about a town where food falls from the sky. In the cartoon movie version, a young scientist invents a machine that causes clouds to rain cheeseburgers. Soon his invention goes awry and food storms abound. Families will love this movie’s wry humor and absurdly delightful visuals.

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How to Train Your Dragon

This Dreamworks Animation film adapted from the first book in Cressida Cowell’s series, and spawned a franchise. Vibrant animation makes this story about a young Viking boy, Hiccup, a highly watchable adventure. Hiccup is supposed to become a dragon slayer, but instead empathizes with the mystical creatures and forms a bond with the one he names “Toothless.” Make it a double feature with these 16 great family movies to watch in the backyard.

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Spirited Away

This is the perfect cartoon movie for families in the mood for a whimsical, thought-provoking film with stirring visuals and an original story. Hayao Miyazaki created this moving, dreamlike movie about a young girl separated from her parents (a witch turns them into pigs) who is spirited away to a dreamlike world filled with arresting beauty and challenging adventures. It’s one of the best-animated films of all time and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film.

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101 Dalmatians

Get ready for the fearless villainy of iconic Cruella De Vil! She’s a meanie the whole family will have a great time rooting against. She wants the hides of some of the most adorable puppies in cinema. This classic cartoon movie from 1961 features two romantic love stories between two sets of couples (dogs and humans) and a soundtrack to hum along to, including the song about Cruella, “if she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will!” Don’t miss the number of spots that actually appear in the movie, plus other surprising facts about your favorite Disney characters.

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Sleeping Beauty

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty remains one of the most beautiful cartoon movies of all time. Produced in 1959, it captures gorgeous artistic style that used bright pastel colors and shot compositions that express a painterly style evident in the widescreen photography. Your family will love the story of the evil but charismatic Maleficient and the girl she curses, Aurora. It’s a great movie to watch before the live-action updates starring Angelina Jolie as the stunning and powerful witch.

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ponyoMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock


Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, and Liam Neeson lend their voices to the American release of Hayao Miyazaki’s brilliant anime adventure about a little fish creature who longs to be human. When she encounters a young boy, they go on a series of adventures that are quirky, whimsical, and moving. Your kids will fall in love with this lovely, beautifully animated tale about family and the bonds between young friends.

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Beauty and the Beast

You may have watched this animated film over and over again on your VCR. It’s still a fantastic cartoon movie to watch with the whole family. The classic fairy tale has something for everyone including humor, a great soundtrack, and inspiring themes. The movie asks “who could ever learn to love a beast,” and you’ll find yourself rooting for the cranky monster prince to find love with the quirky, headstrong Belle.

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Ice Age

Get ready for a romp through a prehistoric tundra in this animated movie comedy that follows three primeval creatures determined to help a human baby find his clan. The CGI animation brings the ancient world to life with plenty of humor the whole family will enjoy. Check out 16 more funny movies perfect to watch with your kids.

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The LEGO Movie

Spread a blanket in front of the TV screen and spread out some Legos for the kids to play with while they watch. The Lego characters in the movie and their brightly colored set pieces will inspire the family to get creative with their favorite toy. The movie boasts a witty script and unforgettable characters.

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fantasiaMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock


This Disney classic celebrates the animation artistry of Disney Studios. The beautiful cartoons come to life in between live-action footage of an orchestra tuning their instruments to provide the sweeping score by Beethoven, Bach, and other classical music titans. Youngsters will be lulled by the lovely animated vignettes featuring fairies, dinosaurs, spirits, and centaurs. Everyone will love the iconic sequence when sorcerer Mickey goes a little too far with magic while he’s still just an apprentice. Fantasia’s a cartoon movie to make you swoon.

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The Lion King

If your family loves the live-action or stage renditions of this powerhouse Disney story, they’ll love to screen the cartoon movie version during family movie night. It’s the kind of cartoon movie that’ll leave tears in your eyes, filled with sweeping animation and one of the best songs in a Disney film. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” won the Oscar for Best Song. There’s a reason it’s a favorite film among many ’90s kids, after all. Here are the 15 best songs in Disney movies—see how your favorite ranks.

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Kung Fu Panda

If you’ve always wanted a martial arts cartoon movie, then Kung Fu Panda is here for you. Jack Black voices the hilarious panda Po whose been chosen by fate to save the day. Problem is, he doesn’t have the greatest Kung Fu skills yet, so he’s going to need some training. Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, and Angelina Jolie round out the star-packed cast in this fun comedy from Dreamworks Animation.

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Your kids will love this whimsical delight about friendship—especially if there are sci-fi lovers in the family. The story follows Tip and Oh, a young girl and the eccentric alien who befriends her, buddy comedy about a road trip in a flying car. The animation is vibrant and this is the perfect cartoon movie to delight little ones.

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The Iron Giant

You’ll find this story about a giant robot and the young boy, Hogarth, who befriends him oddly moving. The story takes on themes around friendship and prejudice in a cartoon movie with a deep take on the humanity of artificial intelligence. Action star Vin Diesel voices the enormous robot, with Jennifer Aniston as Hogarth’s mom.

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The lovably cranky green ogre Shrek, from the Dreamworks Animation team, always captures hearts. This is wonderful film to return to for family movie night due to its brightly colored palette and innovative CGI style. The voice talent of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy give this fairy tale redux a hilarious charm, as they help out Princess Fiona, voiced by Cameron Diaz, who might just fall for the green guy.

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the red turtleMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock

The Red Turtle

This is the perfect anime film to watch if your family’s looking for a movie that’s beautiful and thought-provoking. From the riveting first moments, you’ll be caught up in this haunting story of a shipwrecked man and the large red turtle who befriends him. If you’re still looking for a film to move your heartstrings here are the most romantic movies of all time.

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One of the best cartoon movies of all time has to be Frozen–even if you’ve seen it before, and if you have a young girl of a certain age, you may have seen it hundreds of times! Frozen became an unforgettable hit due to its powerful theme song. Idina Menzel sings the Oscar-winning “Let it Go,” that perfectly showcases her powerhouse vocals. Your family will love singing along with sisters Anna and Elsa and their adorable snowman pal, Olaf. Can you imagine if Frozen had turned out to be a totally different movie? It almost did!

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The Secret World of Arrietty

In this delightful animated movie from Studio Ghibli, you’ll meet the Clock family, tiny people, just a few inches high, who secretly live in a house where they steal items from humans to survive. When a human boy discovers them he tries to befriend the family’s daughter, and despite the size difference the two, they become friends. The story’s based on Mary Norton’s children’s book The Borrowers.

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Yellow Submarine

Take a blast to the past on family movie night with this delightfully trippy Beatles movie based on the group’s titular hit song. The surreal and electrifying animation recalls the psychedelic style of the late sixties. The score filled with classic Beatles tunes to keep heads bopping, while the Blue Meanies keep the action going.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

Though Tim Burton’s surrealist holiday tale was created with stop motion animation it has the look and feel of a painting or children’s book illustrations that’s come to life with shadowy, expressionistic imagery. The film explores what happens when holidays clash together, instead of keeping in their own universes. The charmingly creepy Jack Skellington from Halloween Town finds a portal to Christmas Town and tries to take over.

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You’ll need to remember the tissues when you set-up for family movie night with this sweet tale about a widower and the young boy scout who befriends him. It’s impossible to make it through the opening sequence without crying. The two go on an adventure in a house carried by brightly colored balloons in this delightful cartoon movie from Pixar.

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Finding Nemo

If you’re watching with little ones be forewarned this sentimental quest movie set in the ocean starts off a little scary. But soon, you’ll fall in love with Nemo, a clownfish just old enough to go to school. When Nemo doesn’t listen to his Dad, he gets into deep trouble. Even if you’ve seen it before, the whole family will enjoy this sweet tale about the bond between father and son.

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song of the seaThe Moviestore Collection Ltd/Shutterstock

Song of the Sea

Screen this lush and gorgeous animated Irish film when you want to add magic and wonder to family movie night. In the age of CGI, this mythological story was hand-drawn by animators giving it rich detail and a stirringly beautiful cartoon style. The story follows a brother and his sister, who happens to be a selkie, as they contend with an Owl Witch and search for their missing mother.

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zootopia Moviestore/Shutterstock


The whole family will love this smart and funny cartoon movie for kids that still satisfies the grown-ups watching with them. Jason Bateman voices a con artist fox who teams up with rabbit cop played by Ginnifer Goodwin to investigate a missing animals case. Zootopia’s often acclaimed for its topnotch animation style and for tackling serious themes around prejudice in an accessible way.

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aladdinMoviestore Collection/Shutterstock


Kids love this classic cartoon movie where Robin Williams gives voice to the inimitable blue genie. The story follows the young Aladdin after a magic lamp falls into his hands, and he uses it to get Princess Jasmine to fall in love with him. Get swept away (and sing along!) with the Academy Award-winning song, “A Whole New World,” while watching stellar animation of a thrilling magic carpet ride. It’s also pretty darn funny—so are these 100 funniest movies.

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Molly Pennington, PhD
Molly is a writer and collage artist with a PhD in film and cultural studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional astrology services and artwork are available at Baroque Moon Astrology. She covers the zodiac, books, movies, TV and culture for Reader’s Digest, and loves to talk about all the ways we make meaning.