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.


Peter Rabbit (2018) 64%

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.


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) 95%

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) 54%

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

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