Photo from A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)/Dreamworks
Can’t wait for the premiere of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children this September? Up the excitement and anticipation by watching these 12 weird and wondrous children’s movies. Most on the list are filled with fantasy and magic, others make you feel that way without the special effects, but they all feature unbelievably good storytelling that the whole family will enjoy.
1. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
After the Baudelaire siblings are left orphaned by a fire, Count Olaf (played by Jim Carrey), their nearest relative, takes them under his wing. Olaf, however, is a scheming, evil man who's only after their inheritance. The movie follows them escaping his clutches, uncovering the mystery unearthed by the fire and being transferred from one guardian to the next. The orphans regularly find themselves in life-or-death situations as the Count hunts them down, but their quick wits and creativity always save the day.
2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation film studio that's well-known all over the world for its beautifully animated and magical films. One of its most popular is My Neighbor Totoro. The trailer above is in Japanese but it's available in English audio as well. A new family has just moved into their new home in the countryside. It's old, and it's surrounded by trees, and that's where its beauty and mystery lie. It's here that they meet forest spirits and magical creatures called Totoros.
3. Coraline (2009)
Although a little too scary for toddlers, prescholers and up will find loads to love about this film's title character. Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her parents have just moved in to the Pink Palace, a huge house they share with other tenants. One day, Coraline finds a secret door that leads to a world that's just like her own but much better. Here, everything seems to be more vibrant, fun, and even magical. That is, until Other Mother tries to keep her there forever.
4. Wall-E (2008)
The film is set far into the future when the Earth is no longer habitable, and humans live in a massive ship in outerspace. All that's left on Earth are crumbling buildings, garbage, and an outdated robot named Wall-E. One day, Wall-E's life changes when he meets EVE, a high-tech robot sent to find organic life on Earth. Their mission to save the planet takes them on an exciting journey through space.
5. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
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Based on the classic children's book, a young boy named Max, feeling alone and misunderstood, runs off to a land across the sea inhabited by the Wild Things. After deciding they wouldn't eat him, Max proclaims himself as king of the Wild Things and promises to make everyone happy. He soon finds out that being king isn't as easy as he thought especially with creatures like the Wild Things.
6. Boxtrolls (2014)
In the city of Cheesebridge live the Boxtrolls. They try to live unobtrusive and simple lives underground, building odd and fantastic inventions. But the citizens of Cheesebridge are convinced they are a menace, thanks to villainous Archibald Snatcher. One by one, the Boxtrolls disappear, captured by Archibald's henchmen. Eggs, an orphan who was taken in by the Boxtrolls, finally decides he has had enough and goes out into the real world to stop Archibald.
7. Corpse Bride (2005)
Here's a movie with an odd plot. Directed by Tim Burton, the film follows a shy bachelor named Victor (voiced by Johnny Depp) who is about to be wed. While practicing his wedding vows in the forest, something strange happens. He unknowingly proposes to a corpse! The corpse, named Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), drags him into the colorful and lively world of the dead where Victor must find his way to the land of the living to stop his living bride, named Victoria, from marrying villainous Barkis Bittern.
8. Flipped (2010)
If you're looking for a quirky coming-of-age film about young love that the whole family can watch, this is it. Juli is convinced that it was love at first sight when she first saw Bryce. He isn't as certain, however, and dodges Juli whenever he can. Six years later and both in the clutches of adolescence, Juli finds that she no longer thinks of Bryce as the love of her life just when Bryce is starting to fall for her.
9. Hugo (2012)
Hugo Cabret is an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He tends to all of the station's clocks, using skills he has learned from his father who died in a fire. The only thing he has left of his beloved father is an automaton (a moving mechanical man) and a notebook. Hugo believes his father has left a message in the broken automaton, and his journey to uncover its mystery leads him to unexpected places. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards and winning five, this beautiful masterpiece by director Martin Scorsese is a must-see.
10. Spirited Away (2001)
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Also from Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away remains to be one of the most loved of their films. Ten-year-old Chihiro finds her parents transformed into pigs one day after unknowingly gorging on food meant for the spirits in a magical world. It’s now her job to transform them back into humans, but how? This beautiful Oscar-winning animated film tackles family, courage, and love in the most unusual circumstances.
11. Song of the Sea (2014)
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2015, Song of the Sea is no doubt a visual feast and the story it tells is just as magical. Irish boy and big brother Ben finds out that her mute sister Saoirse is the last of the selkies, women in Irish and Scottish legends who transform from seals into people. He follows her as she frees magical creatures from the spell of a Celtic goddess.