Best Films of 2022: Part 1
Families with children are big winners this year with lots of animated movies to choose from for their kids. Most of them aren’t suited to the pre-school crowd, but there’s a lot here for kids (and even their older siblings) to enjoy. Best of all, most of these films will entertain adults too.
A happy surprise for our newest critic, Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (PG, Grade: A) is a delightful, musically effervescent story of an unexpected friendship. When the Primm family move into a New York brownstone, they are astonished to discover a singing crocodile living in the attic. Young son Josh befriends the rocking reptile and the whole family comes together to save him from being sent to the zoo. With an infectious soundtrack, age-appropriate humor, and an appealing story, this movie is a win for family audiences.
One of our editor’s favorite films of the year, Turning Red (PG: Grade: A-)is the story of a Chinese-Canadian tween who discovers a startling family legacy: she transforms into a giant red panda when she feels strong emotion. Fun, clever, action-packed, and filled with heartfelt emotion and believable family relationships, this is a movie that will draw gasps of recognition from viewers of all ages.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (PG, Grade: B+) does what the Shrek franchise has always done best - layer on two levels of storytelling; one for adults and one for kids. For young viewers, this is a quest film. Puss in Boots has used up his eighth life and he’s seeking the Wishing Star so he can gain more lives. For adults, this movie is a meditation on identity and mortality, told with humor and warmth. The animation is great, the jokes are funny, and the story is exciting enough to keep everyone engaged.
The heist movie genre comes to kid level in The Bad Guys (PG, Grade: A), a charming story about a group of criminals who get caught and are forced to prove that they can reform. As they begrudgingly take “goodness lessons”, the crooks start to learn that doing good might actually feel better in the long run. Packed with sold lessons about making good choices, this movie avoids being preachy and provides a clever, exciting heist flick, with appealing characters, clever jokes, and genuinely surprising plot twists.
After an argument with his mother, Elmer runs off and finds himself swept away to the magical Wild Island where he winds up helping a dragon save the island from sinking into the ocean. My Father’s Dragon (PG, Grade: A)is a visually stunning film with stylized, visually rich animation and outstanding design work. The story carries positive messages about self-confidence and friendship and gives kids struggling with anxiety some useful coping mechanisms. This is a solid, affirming film for kids and although it’s less exciting for adults, it’s still a fine choice for family viewing.
Samantha has terrible luck – that is, until she finds a magical penny left behind by an enigmatic black cat. Determined to use the penny to help a young fellow orphan, Sam is appalled to lose it and goes hunting for another one. Her search takes her to the Land of Luck where she meets leprechauns, magical swine, and a CEO dragon. The movie’s animation is just adequate but Luck (G, Grade: A) provides a surprisingly deep message about the power of adverse circumstances to foster empathy, resilience, and adaptability. This story can make kids think – and that’s a bonus.
One of the biggest surprises of the year was Chip’n Dale: Rescue Rangers (PG, Grade: A-). We expected it to be barely watchable but our reviewer had a blast with the 90s nostalgia, meta jokes, and pop culture references. The plot – Chip and Dale reunite to find a friend who has disappeared – is unremarkable but there’s enough action to keep kids focused while their parents laugh at the jokes.
We hope these movies will inspire you to make some popcorn, clear off the couch, and call the kids together for a fun family movie night. Happy viewing!