Five animated movies to enjoy with family

Published 7:00 pm Friday, April 24, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Lately I’ve been pulling out my DVDs to watch some of my old favorite movies. I greatly enjoy writing movie reviews, so this week I’m simply sharing a few “mini” reviews for my top five animated films. I tried not to include the typical Disney and Pixar movies because they’re already well-known. If you haven’t seen these films before, perhaps now would be a good time to gather up the family (at a safe social distance) and check them out.

If you’re a regular reader of my column or know me well, you probably won’t be surprised by my picks. But I make no apologies for what I like. A good story is a good story!

Five: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

This 2016 movie, produced by Laika, features a stop-motion art style and storyline that immediately drew me in. The movie follows a young boy named Kubo who is on the run from the Moon King and his minions. It’s a classic adventure quest film with a dark twist, and it handles some serious emotions like grief very well. Additionally, Kubo carries a magical shamisen around with him, and the stringed-instrument is used to provide much of the movie’s beautiful music.

Four: “Tokyo Godfathers”

This is perhaps the only movie on my list here that’s not exactly suitable for younger children, but I think it’s totally fine for teens and adults. This movie, directed by Satoshi Kon, was originally released in 2003. I’d like to technically call it a Christmas movie, since the story kicks off on Christmas Eve when a trio of homeless people in Tokyo find an abandoned baby. They spend the rest of the movie trying to return the baby to her mother. The journey is nothing short of a wild ride from start to finish. There are plenty of moments of humor alongside some very moving moments as well.

Three: “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse”

I still contend that this was the best movie released in 2018. I’d also like to say this is probably the best Spiderman movie of all the Spiderman movies (and I like several of them). Instead of rebooting the story of Peter Parker for the millionth time, Spiderverse draws from other Marvel comics to bring us the story of Miles Morales, a teenager struggling under the weight of expectations. The animation here is some of the most gorgeous I’ve seen in a long time, and the humor is top-notch.

Two: “Nightmare before Christmas”

The oldest movie on my list, dating back to 1993, is this creepy classic produced (but not actually directed) by Tim Burton. Halloween and Christmas are my two favorite holidays, so how could I NOT like a film which combines them both? The story follows Jack Skellington who’s gotten a little bored with his home of Halloweentown and decides to put his own spin on Christmas. What really ties the whole film together, however, are the songs. They’re delightful little earworms which will stick in your brain for a long, long time.

One: “Howl’s Moving Castle”

My last film here is one from Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki. Though I probably could have written a whole list based entirely on the delightfully charming array of Ghibli films, this one from 2004 is my absolute favorite. Though based on a novel with the same name, this film diverges significantly from that plot. But the main characters are still Sophie, a young woman unfortunately cursed by a witch to look old, and Howl, the wizard with the aforementioned moving castle. I never get tired of watching this one over and over again. By the time the end credits begin to roll, I always have a smile on my face.

There are plenty of other films I could have put on this list, but these are the ones I think are the most fun. I think we all could use a few more fun things to watch these days, if only to just escape into a fantasy world for a few hours.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.