Parental Guidance

Peter Rabbit and Three More Talking Animal Movies Your Kids Will Love

by | February 9, 2018 | Comments

The only big release this week that’s appropriate for children is, of course, Peter Rabbit, and if you’re headed to the theater to see it, critics say it’s not great, but it’s not terrible either. On the other hand, if you’d rather stay home, but still want to watch a light-hearted romp full of talking animals, Christy Lemire offers three alternatives, including another Rotten selection that still might delight your kids. Read on for the full list.


THE MOVIE

Peter Rabbit (2018) 63%

Rating: PG, for some rude humor and action.

This live-action version of the beloved Beatrix Potter novels features a menagerie of talking animals plotting various ways to invade Mr. McGregor’s garden. But it’s not nearly as mild-mannered as the source material might suggest. The cast is solid, though. James Corden provides the voice of the daring, devil-may-care Peter; Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, and Sia are among the supporting players. When the mean, old McGregor dies suddenly (a moment that’s played for laughs), his great nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) arrives to take over the property and restore order. Madcap hilarity ensues as Peter and Thomas ratchet up their attacks on each other. This includes a ton of slapsticky physical humor, clever visual gags, and word play, as well as painful traps and massive explosions. There’s also a teensy bit of flirting and kissing between Thomas and his neighbor in the countryside (Rose Byrne), who’s long been a friend to Peter and his bunny buddies. Fine for viewers around 6 and older.


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

If Peter Rabbit has you thinking about other live-action talking-animal movies, as it has for me, here are a few suggestions for you to revisit with your kids or even watch for the first time:

Babe (1995) 97%

Rating: G

It is the gold standard, of course – and that’s still true more than two decades later. The original Babe was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture and director, and it won for its visual effects. Chris Noonan’s film is so sweet and so heartwarming, I want to cry just thinking about it. The late, veteran voiceover actress Christina Cavanaugh charmingly provides the voice of Babe, a plucky pig who dreams of herding sheep. When Farmer Hoggett (the Oscar-nominated James Cromwell) spares the piglet from becoming Christmas dinner, Babe becomes a part of things on the farm. His friendship with border collie Fly (Miriam Margolyes) inspires Babe to seek a higher purpose in his life: to become a competitive sheepherder. It seems unlikely, given that Babe is… well, he’s a pig. And the other animals aren’t always welcoming because they view him as different. But Babe is all about overcoming prejudices, finding common ground and achieving difficult goals. Its messages are important but never heavy-handed; they’re subtle but easy enough for even the youngest viewers to understand. There’s some possibly disturbing material in here about the fact that animals get turned into food. But otherwise, this is an excellent choice for the whole family.


The Jungle Book (2016) 94%

Rating: PG, for some sequences of scary action and peril.

Kids around 6 and older will love this live-action take on the Rudyard Kipling classic. They’ve probably already seen it – Jon Favreau’s film made nearly a billion dollars worldwide when it came out a couple years ago – but it’s definitely worth revisiting. The images are lush, vivid and immersive. But the movie as a whole is also just a ton of fun, with thrilling action sequences, delightful musical numbers and lively performances from a strong cast. You know the story by now: Man-cub Mowgli (played by excellent newcomer Neel Sethi) struggles to find his place in the world amid a variety of animals — wolves, panthers, bears, tigers, snakes — as he grows into a young man. The top-notch voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Idris Elba. But much of the action could be too intense for very young viewers, including the brutal brawls between the panther who protects Mowgli and the tiger who’s trying to kill him. Wildfires devastate much of the jungle. Mowgli is pretty much in constant peril. And there is a significant character death. My son was 6 ½ when I took him with me to a screening of “The Jungle Book” and he didn’t find anything frightening, but kids who are sensitive to that kind of intense danger might.


Cats & Dogs (2001) 53%

Rating: PG, for animal action and humor.

Sean Hayes voices a diabolical talking cat hell-bent on world domination who goes by the name of Mr. Tinkles. What more do you need to know? Cats & Dogs was considered pretty high-tech in its day, and the visual effects still look decent. It’s not important cinema, by any means, but it’s crazy, playful fun – especially if you have a dog, or a cat, or both in your house. And, like The Jungle Book, it features an all-star voice cast, which makes the dialogue better than it has a right to be. Besides Hayes, who’s the perfect choice to play a power-hungry Persian cat, there’s Tobey Maguire, Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon, Joe Pantoliano, Jon Lovitz, and the venerable Charlton Heston as “The Mastiff.” Basically, this action comedy pits cats against dogs for control of the world (or at least humans’ affections). Their antics get seriously over-the-top, and there’s quite a bit of potty humor including kitty litter and dog poop. It’s all silly stuff that little kids will love. And watching animals go about their day functioning like people is always amusing, simply because it looks so ridiculous. Fine for all ages.

Tag Cloud

vampires biography police drama kaiju Comedy Sundance Now politics name the review The Walt Disney Company spider-man game show The Witch Sony king kong worst movies Film rt archives Hallmark Christmas movies wonder woman Teen cooking Wes Anderson RT History Valentine's Day twilight 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Trailer versus zombie festival new star wars movies PBS ABC Signature leaderboard PaleyFest Universal Pictures Awards Tour independent 2021 USA Network Spring TV disaster satire stand-up comedy Warner Bros. ratings summer preview miniseries 2016 documentary historical drama Adult Swim TruTV mockumentary batman TV Land streamig Food Network South by Southwest Film Festival Mary Tyler Moore mission: impossible deadpool YA jamie lee curtis Pacific Islander remakes aapi TNT hispanic live action Marathons Family films godzilla E! 2018 BBC One screen actors guild Best and Worst Lifetime Reality Competition reviews crossover Premiere Dates Summer Television Critics Association Podcast BET comic book movies breaking bad Sneak Peek CMT sports Disney binge Sundance Paramount Network Disney+ Disney Plus social media spy thriller SDCC Quiz critic resources Kids & Family legend biopic Awards women HFPA Syfy SXSW blockbuster dogs CW Seed San Diego Comic-Con Emmys Legendary Apple TV+ Hulu Amazon Best Actress marvel cinematic universe Tags: Comedy Western DC Universe werewolf First Reviews Hallmark 45 laika mob slashers movies Shudder reboot hidden camera X-Men VOD japan finale jurassic park TV movies Paramount Plus Freeform video boxing Nickelodeon universal monsters travel black comedy Writers Guild of America spanish language justice league interviews Black History Month toronto Trivia Paramount Pictures dceu BAFTA Acorn TV 24 frames Chernobyl RT21 Marvel Television aliens foreign obi wan Trophy Talk zombies comedies Pirates Sundance TV MGM YouTube Red slasher cancelled television Showtime NYCC Star Wars Celebration zero dark thirty target Calendar BBC art house mutant Alien Masterpiece Classic Film Fargo Brie Larson Apple CBS scene in color series Geeked Week Polls and Games TV renewals discovery Apple TV Plus The Arrangement best sag awards halloween screenings Crunchyroll Ovation Britbox ABC cancelled TV series Film Festival Comics on TV Amazon Studios 94th Oscars 20th Century Fox Photos Pop TV Fall TV NBC Shondaland HBO Horror monster movies IFC Pride Month Rock medical drama festivals AMC Dark Horse Comics Grammys spinoff Cosplay 99% Bravo OWN Netflix directors adenture Focus Features Prime Video 007 Rocky fresh TCA Awards golden globe awards Extras crime Indigenous video on demand Cannes gangster romance worst 90s scorecard cancelled Country superhero Reality mcc Mudbound YouTube Premium First Look Disney Plus Starz Tokyo Olympics know your critic MCU TIFF Sony Pictures royal family unscripted feel good Biopics anthology adaptation The Purge 93rd Oscars TBS quibi dark hispanic heritage month ESPN Comic-Con@Home 2021 nbcuniversal a nightmare on elm street facebook free movies YouTube elevated horror Fox Searchlight space Star Wars 72 Emmy Awards FX razzies basketball E3 Neflix rotten movies we love scene in color film series dc dexter romantic comedy American Society of Cinematographers rotten Esquire trailers japanese crime drama summer TV preview broadcast canceled VICE indie Christmas Universal FX on Hulu concert doctor who Toys rt labs critics edition IFC Films AMC Plus Holidays Mindy Kaling NBA blockbusters transformers Academy Awards south america crime thriller Comic Book asian-american Ellie Kemper high school Travel Channel series popular Nat Geo FXX HBO Max 2020 documentaries VH1 Avengers diversity rom-coms psycho Tubi dragons sequels summer TV Marvel Studios 71st Emmy Awards FOX Rocketman Sci-Fi adventure green book debate streaming movies History comic books Holiday strong female leads docudrama Pop 2019 Vudu Fantasy Oscars Walt Disney Pictures Year in Review indiana jones Interview marvel comics scene in color award winner Binge Guide singing competition criterion james bond A&E new zealand french Stephen King rt labs venice Disney Channel book TCA 2017 Arrowverse Music Emmy Nominations Lucasfilm teaser ViacomCBS OneApp Amazon Prime Peacock Comedy Central Mystery renewed TV shows Turner Nominations Schedule Thanksgiving cops The Walking Dead MTV Mary Poppins Returns golden globes tv talk theme song CBS All Access animated President news Captain marvel lord of the rings 4/20 what to watch TCA USA television Spectrum Originals italian psychological thriller Tomatazos National Geographic sitcom war HBO Go TLC Best Actor game of thrones Crackle Lionsgate critics Discovery Channel natural history TCM 73rd Emmy Awards DC Comics archives Spike Best Picture nature cats docuseries Star Trek Elton John ABC Family franchise halloween tv Winners 79th Golden Globes Awards comic book movie Anna Paquin toy story Image Comics composers australia Countdown Turner Classic Movies thriller Creative Arts Emmys PlayStation latino SundanceTV Song of Ice and Fire casting Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Oscar Character Guide comics cults DC streaming service all-time DirecTV dramedy Hollywood Foreign Press Association Rom-Com boxoffice genre Set visit ghosts hist Super Bowl Martial Arts new york saw olympics political drama cartoon king arthur streaming A24 2017 Watching Series TCA Winter 2020 BBC America GIFs MSNBC football nfl serial killer SXSW 2022 cancelled TV shows WGN Tarantino supernatural spider-verse Tumblr obituary posters Opinion sequel scary Black Mirror cars Certified Fresh The Academy scary movies Drama Instagram Live book adaptation science fiction classics children's TV Amazon Prime Video vs. Pet Sematary action-comedy Winter TV Netflix Christmas movies spanish witnail Chilling Adventures of Sabrina CNN GoT The CW Infographic telelvision heist movie technology Native canceled TV shows LGBT harry potter Paramount 1990s dreamworks ID 21st Century Fox Action stoner period drama Hear Us Out true crime anime spain parents ITV Superheroes superman Box Office Red Carpet international christmas movies Cartoon Network Ghostbusters Television Academy LGBTQ richard e. Grant Funimation Fox News Women's History Month comic kong based on movie chucky DGA child's play prank kids Columbia Pictures suspense Disney streaming service TV One stop motion Epix blaxploitation target scene in color young adult BET Awards 2015 Exclusive Video El Rey Mary poppins Animation sopranos Logo movie Election fast and furious emmy awards robots New York Comic Con Musical GLAAD cinemax joker Best Director comiccon Musicals die hard hollywood Endgame APB WarnerMedia talk show IMDb TV Baby Yoda Video Games Pixar black Broadway pirates of the caribbean See It Skip It Lifetime Christmas movies TV Marvel Superheroe trophy live event revenge Heroines