The 10 best kids' movies of 2020

best kid animated movies 2020
You may have seen the "Trolls" sequel, but have you watched "Jingle Jangle," "Wolfwalkers," and "A Whisker Away"?
Netflix, Apple, Universal, Netflix
  • Insider is rounding up the best kids' movies of 2020.
  • We consider a kids' film an animated or live-action movie that can be watched with family.
  • The "Trolls" sequel, "Mulan," "Jingle Jangle," and "Scoob!" are among the year's best family-friendly offerings of 2019.
  • The best animated movie of the year is likely one you haven't even heard of called "Wolfwalkers," which is about a young girl who can transform into a wolf.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

2020 may have sidelined many theatrical film releases, but that didn't stop animated and family-friendly films from being released on streaming services or video on demand.

If you're looking for something you can watch together with the family over the holidays, we've rounded up the best offerings you can watch from the comfort of your home.

From big Disney and Warner Bros.' releases to a few films that may not have been made widely available if it weren't for the pandemic, these are the best movies to watch with your family from 2020. 

"Trolls: World Tour" is an unexpectedly timely sequel with a strong message about acceptance and unity.

trolls world tour universal
Rachel Bloom joins the sequel as Barb, a troll who wants to rid the world of all music except rock.
Universal

Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) return in a colorful, bright sequel that's about far more than the adorable troll gang having fun. "Trolls: World Tour" delivers a strong message about accepting others' differences as Poppy sets out to unite six kingdoms that were broken long ago in order to live in harmony.

Initially, the young queen believes a perfect world would consist of one where everyone looks and sounds the same, enjoying pop music. After meeting other trolls in foreign kingdoms, she learns real harmony takes many different voices existing together and comes to the harsh realization that history is often written from the winning perspective.

Grownups could learn a thing or two from the lovable, colorful trolls, especially now.

You can read our review here.

Where to watch: Hulu and Peacock

"Mulan" is Disney's best live-action adaptation to date due to the addition of a female foil for its lead.

mulan 2020
Yifei Liu stars as the titular character in Disney's live-action adaptation.
Walt Disney Studios

The live-action "Mulan" is far from a shot-for-shot remake of the Disney classic. While the film pays homage to the original, it feels more like a superhero movie about a young woman embracing her power than a film about a Disney princess. 

If you're upset the remake isn't a musical, you'll be happy to learn the film still incorporates some of the original's iconic music. No one breaks out into song, but the music for "Reflection" and "Honor to Us All" is used cleverly and should satisfy any '90s kids who grew up with the film.

The film's biggest improvement is the addition of a female adversary and foil for Mulan, Xianniang (Gong Li). Her heartbreaking backstory made her a fan-favorite.

The biggest shortcoming is that if you're not seeing this in theaters, you may not feel the emotional weight of at least one big scene. If you're still hesitant, the animated film's original co-director, Tony Bancroft, gave it his stamp approval. Plus, there's one very special cameo you won't want to miss

You can read our review here.

Where to watch: Disney Plus

"Jingle Jangle" reminds you that sometimes you just need a spark of inspiration to bring you back when the magic in you is lost.

jingle jangle netflix
"Jingle Jangle" is a heartwarming, magical musical that reminds you anything's possible when you believe in someone.
Gareth Gatrell/Netflix

Netflix 's latest holiday film centers around a struggling inventor, Jeronicus Jangle, with huge dreams. When he finally builds a magical toy that comes to life, the sentient matador convinces the inventor's assistant to steal his master's book of inventions to become the richest toymaker in the world.

Heartbroken by his misfortune, Jangle loses his will to believe in magic and becomes a hermit, unable to invent again for decades until his granddaughter, Journey — a young, aspiring inventor — delivers the spark he needs to believe in himself again.

If you've been spending quarantine in sweats, the vibrant, colorful costumes will make you want to get dressed up. Filled with catchy tunes right from the start, Anika Noni Rose ("The Princess and the Frog") stars in the film alongside Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. Madalen Mills, the young actress who plays Journey, will be one to watch for her vocal performance. 

"Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey" serves as a reminder that, sometimes, we all need some help to find our way and there's nothing wrong with that. More importantly, it's never too late to repair a broken family bond. 

Where to watch: Netflix

 

 

"Wolfwalkers" is the best animated movie of the year.

wolfwalkers Mebh robyn
Apple TV Plus' investment in old-school animation makes "Wolfwalkers" stand out.
Apple

In 1650 Ireland, a group of townspeople are at odds with a pack of wolves. Robyn is an aspiring wolf hunter, like her father (Sean Bean), who is tasked with removing every last wolf from the nearby village. 

But when Robyn wanders into the forest alone, a chance encounter with a Wolfwalker — people who can transform into wolves with magical healing powers — forms an unlikely friendship and unbreakable bond between two girls who were raised to be enemies.

If you enjoy Disney's "Fox and the Hound" and "Beauty and the Beast," you'll like this film.

"Wolfwalkers" is a beautifully animated movie about understanding and accepting other's differences, which everyone could stand to watch right now.

Norwegian singer-songwriter Aurora adds a beautiful new rendition of her song "Running With the Wolves" which plays during a pivotal moment of the film.

Where to watch: Apple TV+

"Scoob!" can be enjoyed by new and old fans of the mystery-solving canine and those meddling kids.

dick dastardly scoob movie
"Scoob!" offers a refreshing, unexpected twist by combining other characters from the Hannah-Barbera lineup like Dick Dastardly.
Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros.' updated take on "Scooby Doo" surprised fans by giving us something more than just the Great Dane and his crime-solving crew, trying to crack a tired old mystery about ghosts and ghouls. 

Instead, the revamp was made to be enjoyed by multiple generations of Mystery Inc. fans by making nods and references to cases past, while setting up a larger cinematic universe. Though young viewers may not recognize the villain, longtime Hannah Barbera fans who grew up watching "Wacky Races" may get excited to see Dick Dastardly reinterpreted for a new audience.

The sinister, lonely man with a dog for a sidekick winds up being the perfect foil to Shaggy and his own four-legged best friend.

Where to watch: HBO Max

"A Whisker Away" is a story about confidence and young love for cat enthusiasts.

a whisker away poster netflix
The Studio Colorido film is a gem you may have overlooked.
Netflix

If you need some cat content in your life, "A Whisker Away" may have the most adorable wide-eyed animated kitten you've ever seen on film. 

The animated feature follows a young girl, Miyo. Unhappy with her life, Miyo comes across a mysterious man who gives her a magical cat mask, which allows her to transform into a feline whenever she pleases. She uses her time as a cat to get to know her school crush.

Things get dicey when the mysterious person asks Miyo if she would like to permanently remain a cat that receives all of her crush's attention, something she never believes she'll receive in real life.

The film captures the genuine experience and emotions of a young girl going through the ups and downs of a first crush and working through the pains of a complicated family life.

If it weren't for the pandemic, the anime film likely wouldn't be easily available on Netflix. Originally set for theatrical release in Japan, the film was sold to the streaming service amid the rise in COVID-19.

Where to watch: Netflix

 

"The Croods: A New Age" will remind you not to be afraid of letting others into your tribe.

the croods 2
Despite being seven years out from the original film, "The Croods: A New Age" is still a rather enjoyable family romp.
DreamWorks Animation/Universal

Seven years after the first film, the caveman family returns in search of a new home.

On their journey, the leader of the tribe Grug (Nicolas Cage) fears he's losing his oldest daughter, Eep (Emma Stone), to her new boyfriend, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), whom she met at the end of the first film.

When they find a new family, the aptly named Bettermans, in a lush oasis that seems too good to be true, some of them start to question if they need to change their ways in order to fit in. Grug wonders if it's the perfect opportunity to ditch Guy to keep a hold on his baby girl.

"The Croods" sequel explores the definition of family and seeing past other's differences in order to overcome adversity together. By the end of the 95-minute film, little girls will be crying out "thunder sisters" in pure glee. You'll also be won over by two adorable sloth pets. 

Where to watch: In theaters now. Will be available on video on demand on December 18.

"Sonic the Hedgehog" may have broken the video game movie curse.

Sonic the Hedgehog (movie)
It's almost difficult to remember that "Sonic the Hedgehog" came out this year, but it was likely one of the last films you saw in theaters.
Paramount/Sega

Who says a video game adaptation can't be good? Paramount's overhaul of Sonic's design before the film's release may have saved the movie from harsh criticism. 

"Sonic the Hedgehog" is a zanier "E.T." with a rambunctious, but lovable hedgehog voiced by Ben Schwartz, who is just trying to find his way back home.

Sonic's foe, Robotnik, gave Jim Carrey the perfect vehicle for his beloved over-the-top performances of the '90s. "Sonic" may even make you nostalgic to seek out some of the actor's earlier work.

You can read our review here.

Where to watch: Available to stream with a DirecTV subscription and to buy on YouTube.

"Over the Moon" is a sweet story about grief, acceptance, and moving forward.

over the moon fei fei family
Fei Fei builds a rocket to go to the moon in this twist on "The Wizard of Oz."
Netflix

The film, from legendary Disney animator Glen Keane, follows Fei Fei, (Cathy Ang) a 12-year-old girl who struggles with the idea of her father remarrying after the loss of her mother.

If you've lost someone close to you, or have grown up with a single parent, "Over the Moon" perfectly captures the hesitation one may experience in allowing new love into your life.

You'll have at least one tune — "Rocket to the Moon" — stuck in your head long after its over.

You can read our review here.

Where to watch: Netflix

"Onward" is a deeply personal love letter to anyone who has grown up without a parent.

onward
Pixar's "Onward" will hit you right in the feels.
Pixar

On Ian's (Tom Holland) 16th birthday, he and his brother Barley (Chris Pratt) are gifted with a staff and spell from their late father, which will allow them to bring him back to life for one day. When the spell doesn't go as planned, the brothers are stuck with half of their dad.

Though the premise may sound a bit silly, Pixar delivers a story about loss, growing from it, and moving forward. If you grew up without a father or were raised by a single parent, this film will resonate with you the most. 

At its core, "Onward" is a love letter to those you've lost too early in life and the bond between close siblings. In true Pixar fashion, make sure to have some tissues on hand. 

You can read our review here.

Where to watch: Disney Plus

Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

SEE ALSO: The best movies of 2020 you need to see

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