In honor of The Lego Batman Movie coming out this week, I thought I’d run down other great movies that are toy-centric. Note that there are plenty straight up horror movies that could have made this list, but I haven’t seen them. So here are some films that are pretty much kid-friendly to. Also excluding The Lego Movie, despite the fact that I could likely always find more to say about The Lego Movie.
5. The Indian in the Cupboard (dir. Frank Oz, 1995)
Basically a fable about growing up and not messing with things you don’t understand, this is a film that never failed to affect me as a child. And layered onto it is a story about how kids learn real history, the suffering of a people, and realizing how little they know about the world. Surprisingly nuanced and wonderful craft on display.
4. Small Soldiers (dir. Joe Dante, 1998)
Some day I’ll have to do a deep dive on Joe Dante movies, because his filmography is crazy. But if there’s one thing that is trademark Dante, it is the blending of child-friendly concepts with a sense of anarchist mayhem. And Small Soldiers delivers on that front, with a great implementation of mixing puppetry and CGI and a fun twist on the classic Gremlins formula.
3. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (dir. Michael Bay, 2011)
Despite living and breathing Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and G.I. Joe growing up, I never really got into Transformers, so this isn’t a nostalgia pick for me. It’s no secret that I love Michael Bay and Dark of the Moon is still the best Transformers film. It has a crazy conspiracy storyline, the most coherent action of the franchise, and the battle of Chicago is one of the best action scenes of the decade.
2. Clue (dir. Jonathan Lynn, 1985)
Board games are toys, right? This was Jonathan Lynn’s first film, which is kind of incredible. A rich cast including Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Marin Mull, and the perfect Madeline Kahn. It’s one of my favorite films ever, as farce is near and dear to my heart. It brings in the concepts from the game but isn’t beholden to them, and of course has three endings. A frequent revisit for me.
1. Toy Story (dir. John Lasseter, 1995)
What else is there to say about Toy Story? It is practically a flawless film, building an interesting world within our own, and telling a story that is entirely character driven. There is a ton of humor and heart in the film, and is still the “most Pixar” movie to date. Everything they’ve done more or less has its origins here. And the film features a great mix of real and fictional toys, and how well they help capture the imagination of children.
Author: Ryan Silberstein
Ryan has been writing thoughtful film reviews and pop culture commentary on and off for over a decade. He spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area. His other interests include comic books, coffee, experimental beer, discovering new music, and books.