Best animated kids movies that don't "pander"

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  1. Have you ever watched an animated children's movie, and found that you didn't care whatsoever about the plot or characters, but were moderately diverted by the zany antics of the A-list comedians hired to voice the animals, while the kids laughed whenever the animations "hurt themselves"?
  2. This was originally a great innovation in the early 90's: kids movies that, while banal, cliche, and boring in plot, diverted children due to their inexperience in film, and diverted adults due to the nonstop barrage of pop culture references. Of course, this utterly destroyed the illusion of these whymsical fantasy worlds, as these references essentially break the 4th wall. Imagine watching a version of Lord of the Rings where Gandalf quotes Family Guy, Frodo has a "Matrix-parody" fight scene, and Saruman shouts "WHASSSSUUUUUPPPPP!!!!" into the wind, all set to a mainstream hip-hop/RnB soundtrack guaranteed to sell huge numbers of copies. (It goes without saying what a miserable failure said movie would be).
  3. So...why does the same thing pass as alright if it's a "kids movie"?
  4. Granted...it can make for a good movie sometimes. When the directors don't take it too far (ie Aladdin), or they purposely work the entire plot of the movie around it (ie: Shrek), it works. Most of the time, it doesn't (ie Madagascar, Shark Tale).
  5. On top of that, when you make a kids movie that inserts pop culture jokes that kids will miss and adults will laugh at, you're insulting the intelligence of children. In directing a movie like that, you're saying that kids only enjoy boring, banal garbage, and the only way adult can endure the torture of a kids movie is to add "adult-jokes" to get them through. You're not actually watching a movie that's "fun for the whole family," you're watching 2 entirely different movies: a banal, stupid movie for the kids (who are CLEARLY so stupid they'll watch anything you put on the screen, as long as its animated and has animals, of course), and a sub-par blanket parody a la Scary Movie minus all dirty jokes, for the adults.
  6. So, I've decided to make a list of great kids movies that don't pander to adults with stupid pop culture in-jokes, and can actually be enjoyed by all on the merits of the movie alone (in order of my favorites). This won't be a long list.
  7. Spirited Away
  8. With its gorgeous and whymsical imagery, eccentric characters and plot, its heaps of quirky, humourous detail, and avoidance of all cliche, this movie gets best children's animated film of all time. I've never seen such a fantastic, lovely, surreal, and overall original world in any movie, book, or TV show, excepting maybe Lord of the Rings when it was first written.
  9. The Nightmare Before Christmas
  10. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit
  11. Monsters Inc.
  12. The Lion King
  13. Howl's Moving Castle
  14. Chicken Run (although this is a multilayered satire [of Nazi Germany] that kids will miss, it doesn't really "pander")
  15. Finding Nemo
  16. Princess Mononoke
  17. Toy Story
  18. My Neighbor Totoro
  19. Ratatouille
  20. The Incredibles
  21. Alice in Wonderland (critical hate or no, I actually like this one a lot)
  22. A Bug's Life
  23. Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind
  24. Corpse Bride
  25. Toy Story 2
  26. Kiki's Delivery Service
  27. Laputa: Castle in the Sky
  28. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  29. The Cat Returns
  30. The Little Mermaid
  31. The Secret of Nimh
  32. 101 Dalmatians
  33. The Great Mouse Detective
  34. The Black Cauldron

I totally agree with your list
I especially agree with putting Winnie the Pooh movie there. I even wrote a dissertion explaining what imo are the merits of winnie the pooh (a microcosmos in which Christopher find evasion from the cold streets of London) It's beautifully antiquate ... belonging to an old sensitivity we should recover nowadays

I also agree about Alice. It's one of the most genuinely imaginative movie ever. And Spirited Away clearly is inspired by it (Miyazaki is a fan of the early disney movies)

I can't see though how so many disney movies are missing from your list !

Bambi?
It's the animated features with the smallest amount of dialogues. A movie need to be a superbly directed masterpiece to remain interesting even if 60% of it is just immersed in music or silence

The Little Mermaid?
This is another thoughtful movie. So good in not talking down to younger one that instead of sinking into ageist stereoypes show teens that they can make their choice, have their freedom even if that means fighting against parents, institutions and rules

The secret of nihm?
A great fantasy animated feature which never once is paternalistic or prudish. Death, life, love and hate are all described without tabus and the music is always poignantly dark. Nothing in the movie says "we can't do that, there are young kids watching!" because the phylosophy behind it is "the hell with paternalistic nonsense! Young kids have brains too ... often better ones than ours!"

and also 101 dalmatians, The Great Mouse Detective, The Black Cauldron (another great fantasy) ?

You're right. You're definitely right.

I've added a bunch that you recommended, with the exception of Bambi (which I've never liked that much - you say it needs to be a suberbly directed masterpiece to remain interesting with all the silence...but I find it doesn't, it just feels "padded" out to a full-length feature). Those others are fantastic though, and should've really been added before.

THANK YOU!!! I've been looking for a list like this for the last few years.

Wow.
I see we have a Hayao Miyazaki fan in the house.
I love it.
Miyazaki is simply amazing.
Simple message, but pointful.

Agreed.
And all of Studio Ghibli, for that matter.

I like what I see. I would have enjoyed seeing Laputa a little higher up, though. I think its the best Ghibli film. Glad to see Pooh and Nimh there too. Have you ever watched Balto? I think that would be on my list.

I've seen it, but I don't remember it. If I run into it again and like it, I'll add it.

Have you watched Takahata's The Cat Returns?

I fell inlove with it the first time I watched it.

That's a great movie.

These two are worth checking out:

The Adventures of Mark Twain (claymation)
The Last Unicorn

Sure, I'll watch them at some point.