Parental Guidance

Early Man and Three More Stop-Motion Animated Movies Your Kids Will Love

by | February 16, 2018 | Comments

Black Panther is clearly going to be the primary draw at the cinema this weekend — and with that in mind, Christy offers a take on how kid-friendly the Marvel movie is. However, the clearer choice for families is Early Man, the latest offering from stop-motion treat from Aardman Animations, and if that’s your bag, Christy also has three other lovely recommendations. Read on for the full list.


Black Panther (2018) 96%

Rating: PG-13, for prolonged sequences of action violence and brief rude gesture.

Believe the hype: Black Panther is a game-changer. Beautifully crafted and powerfully acted, director Ryan Coogler’s film thrillingly combines blockbuster visuals with indie character sensibilities. It’s a breath of fresh air and a much-needed moment of representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it’s also quite intense and violent, which might make it unsuitable for some younger viewers. The great Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, heir to the throne of the fictional African country of Wakanda following the death of his father, the king (which we saw in Captain America: Civil War). But when he dons his high-tech suit, he becomes the powerful warrior Black Panther. And he’ll need to fight to protect both his position and his nation when another possible heir emerges in the driven and muscular Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan, star of Coogler’s Fruitvale Station and Creed). There’s a ton of action here: fight scenes that are both intimate and massive. T’Challa must withstand a series of challenges to his authority: brutal and bloody sequences of hand-to-hand combat. There are also giant battle scenes featuring armies fighting with spears and swords, as well as a couple of elaborate car chases. But Black Panther is notable not only for its cast of strong actors of color, but also for the prominence of its female characters, including T’Challa’s brilliant scientist sister (Letitia Wright) and Wakanda’s fearless general (Danai Gurira). My 8-year-old son didn’t find anything disturbing – he actually turned to me halfway through the screening and whispered, “I love it!” – but he’s also seen pretty much every Marvel movie. Black Panther is indeed great, but it might be too much to handle on the big screen for kids younger than about 7.

Early Man (2018) 80%

Rating: PG, for rude humor and some action.

It’s not a peak offering from the prolific Aardman Animation, but it’s consistently entertaining fun. The latest stop-motion comedy from Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park traces not only the evolution of man but also the origins of soccer – or football, as they call it in the rest of the world. Eddie Redmayne provides the voice of Dug, a caveman who dares to lead his tribe in a soccer match against the greatest team of the Bronze Age in hopes of reclaiming their land from the evil Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). The humor is cheeky, punny and self-referential throughout. Word play and visual gags abound. But while Early Man pokes fun at our current society, there’s a gentle nature to its comedy that makes it timeless. Dug’s sidekick is a goofy boar named Hognob, and the catalyst for his team’s transformation into a contender is a talented, spirited woman named Goona (Maisie Williams). There’s a bit of harmless potty humor. Themes of teamwork, bravery and perseverance are worthwhile. Plus, the Aardman clay character design is, as always, adorable in an off-kilter way. Overall, this is a fine choice for viewers of all ages.


Early Man may not represent the height of Aardman’s creative possibilities, but if you liked the look and feel of it, here are some great examples of the kind of work the stop-motion animation house has done so well for so long. You could start with the classic Wallace & Gromit shorts like A Grand Day Out or The Wrong Trousers, about the adventures of a mild-mannered, cheese-loving inventor and his trusty dog pal, or you could plunge into any of these movies:

Chicken Run (2000) 97%

Rating: G

Park and his longtime collaborator Peter Lord co-directed this cheeky, animated take on The Great Escape. The first feature-length Aardman movie features Mel Gibson providing the voice of a cocky circus rooster named Rocky. When he accidentally arrives at an English chicken farm, he informs his new feathered friends of their fate as food, which horrifies them. He and the brave Ginger (Julia Sawalha) figure out a way to teach their fellow chickens to fly to freedom, with plenty of starts and stops along the way. The possibility of chicken death may be a bit disturbing for the very littlest kids. The chicken pie-making machine may seem ominous and the farmers might come off as a little scary. But the character design is super cute, and – as in Early Man – the idea of a ragtag band of underdog characters coming together to achieve something greater than they ever could have imagined is worthwhile. Fine for pretty much all ages.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 95%

Rating: G

Park also directed this film, which won the Academy Award for best animated feature. It’s sort of a Halloween movie and sort of an Easter movie, but it’s also extremely enjoyable year-round. I showed it at a movie night at my son’s school last spring and it was a big hit. This time, Wallace and Gromit run a pest control service to help their neighbors keep bunnies and rodents out of their gardens. But one of Wallace’s experiments goes horribly wrong, resulting in a giant were-rabbit that ravages the town. The bunny’s transformation into a werewolf-type monster might be slightly disturbing for the absolute youngest viewers, but he’s also oddly cute. The townspeople chase after the creature and try to hunt it down in classic monster-movie style, but it’s played for laughs. But overall, Were-Rabbit has great energy and is chock full of clever details. This is another great choice for all ages.

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) 99%

Rating: PG, for some rude humor.

I am still so dazzled by this movie, even though it couldn’t be more understated. It’s pretty much totally wordless – animal and human characters alike communicate through grunts and gestures – yet this world is rich, full, and vibrant. And as always, the character design is irresistibly adorable. This feature-film version of the Shaun the Sheep TV series was nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature. On a farm in the English countryside, a tiny sheep named Shaun is tired of the rigid schedule the farmer imposes on the animals every day. He devises an elaborate plan to make the farmer sleepy and give everyone a day off but – as is so often the case in Aardman stories – things don’t quite go as he expected. The animals wind up in the Big City in hopes of making things right and wind up in one misadventure after another. This includes some danger in the form of the mean animal control officer, whose tactics might seem cruel. There’s also a bit of potty humor and the humorous suggestion of nudity. But in general, Shaun the Sheep Movie has a wonderful sweetness about it and an infectious energy. The whole family will love it.

Tag Cloud

Character Guide Turner Drama a nightmare on elm street dogs TIFF teaser Hear Us Out cancelled TV shows mission: impossible remakes Sundance TV news TCA blockbuster documentary joker History NYCC toronto twilight cinemax GoT Food Network Holiday 2020 Sneak Peek Shondaland Epix based on movie Rocky medical drama Showtime HBO Max dceu science fiction HBO Go Universal Nat Geo spain Country talk show Academy Awards Crunchyroll stop motion Watching Series indie animated travel USA Syfy CNN reviews Tumblr DGA 007 RT21 universal monsters The Arrangement 20th Century Fox sag awards zombie Cartoon Network DirecTV nfl Thanksgiving DC Universe Comic Book Dark Horse Comics series laika Certified Fresh boxoffice Comedy Central Mary Tyler Moore See It Skip It TCA 2017 National Geographic dark VOD Horror Mary Poppins Returns Film Quiz The Walking Dead 4/20 BET Awards FXX cancelled television binge diversity Pride Month spinoff cops justice league unscripted Spike critics sequel Oscars ghosts scorecard politics TV renewals FX on Hulu ITV psychological thriller game show Adult Swim emmy awards kids supernatural die hard E3 dragons stand-up comedy Comedy TBS San Diego Comic-Con Apple TV Plus political drama Ghostbusters Extras Black History Month 21st Century Fox Heroines robots festivals ESPN Captain marvel space Cannes franchise PaleyFest films scary movies MCU Family Hallmark worst Sundance The Purge Baby Yoda vampires Marvel romance CBS All Access video Superheroes harry potter Red Carpet SDCC Mary poppins movie E! Logo Elton John directors foreign Marvel Television Box Office psycho rotten doctor who adventure 24 frames Ellie Kemper Cosplay crime drama CW Seed Acorn TV singing competition cartoon Black Mirror Film Festival BET Creative Arts Emmys FOX Election superhero name the review parents Holidays Funimation Disney Channel historical drama sequels Kids & Family Sundance Now A24 MTV social media screenings Lifetime Christmas movies YouTube Trailer spider-man LGBTQ IFC 71st Emmy Awards Netflix dramedy Vudu PlayStation mockumentary adaptation transformers TV Super Bowl Infographic children's TV cancelled TV series all-time IFC Films concert First Look Christmas comic cancelled stoner 2016 toy story latino TCM hist 2015 crime venice Pop TV Warner Bros. zero dark thirty Premiere Dates indiana jones free movies comedies Toys OWN First Reviews BBC canceled 72 Emmy Awards President Tomatazos Paramount Network independent Photos anthology cooking TruTV police drama Hallmark Christmas movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina christmas movies Lionsgate Mudbound hispanic south america Hulu anime Fantasy crime thriller zombies Television Critics Association Polls and Games SundanceTV Starz Awards Video Games movies Awards Tour book CBS sports Opinion WGN SXSW TV Land docudrama Columbia Pictures Esquire war Avengers GLAAD Podcast video on demand Chernobyl revenge Western aliens football Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt VICE Fox News Spring TV game of thrones Disney Plus American Society of Cinematographers WarnerMedia Apple Rocketman Song of Ice and Fire composers ABC Family Discovery Channel serial killer biography MSNBC cats Rock TLC best Winter TV Schedule cars BAFTA Marathons elevated horror 2018 2019 Superheroe Masterpiece facebook television New York Comic Con worst movies sitcom comiccon TCA Awards tv talk streaming APB Sci-Fi obituary ratings RT History Nickelodeon Star Wars fast and furious Pirates Tubi Bravo TNT The CW Paramount Apple TV+ halloween Rom-Com Binge Guide Mindy Kaling YouTube Premium Disney nbcuniversal Lucasfilm DC streaming service versus Amazon Prime Video Anna Paquin casting AMC Winners 2017 A&E Musical Star Trek Trophy Talk Travel Channel werewolf true crime Netflix Christmas movies Peacock spy thriller Lifetime blaxploitation Shudder HBO rotten movies we love Crackle jamie lee curtis technology Martial Arts breaking bad Disney+ Disney Plus what to watch quibi Ovation Fall TV BBC America Set visit witnail nature Trivia Television Academy mutant miniseries child's play thriller Teen green book FX Interview Marvel Studios satire Freeform Pet Sematary golden globes Nominations criterion Writers Guild of America chucky documentaries richard e. Grant Reality Pop Reality Competition Stephen King NBC reboot batman award winner discovery Countdown dc Arrowverse Disney streaming service Amazon Prime screen actors guild Walt Disney Pictures El Rey Music Emmys Amazon Studios strong female leads classics Action Grammys LGBT Endgame theme song The Witch BBC One slashers renewed TV shows 45 Summer romantic comedy ABC Emmy Nominations Sony Pictures Best and Worst Pixar finale YA Tarantino Brie Larson Comics on TV crossover YouTube Red DC Comics Classic Film Spectrum Originals comics natural history Britbox VH1 X-Men GIFs Biopics hollywood OneApp period drama Amazon TCA Winter 2020 Calendar asian-american canceled TV shows spanish language Year in Review Valentine's Day disaster Animation Musicals cults Turner Classic Movies USA Network Mystery PBS CMT Women's History Month festival