Whether you’re young or old, innocent or jaded, this was a pretty good year for the types of family films that don’t rely on horrifyingly catchy songs that will get played over and over again until you want to kill yourself. Sure, there’s a song or two in the films on this list, but in just about every case, our favorite family films this year are tales of adventure, love, learning, and excitement that focus on likeable characters and scary villains without becoming too preoccupied with soundtrack sales. So without further ado, here are our Top Five Favorite Family Films of 2014! Big Hero 6 2014 was filled with plenty of great animated movies and while most were great, one that really stood out was Big Hero 6. This is an endearing and emotional tale featuring characters first developed in Marvel comics. Genius young inventor, Hero, joins forces with his robotic best friend and a team of young superheroes to save San Fransokyo from being wiped out by a mysterious villain. Pretty much everything about this movie was fantastic. You don’t see big names on the cast list, but the voice acting was flawless. The jokes were hilarious with several adult-oriented jokes that younger kids probably wouldn’t get. One scene shows our robot hero, Baymax, with a low battery having the same behavioral characteristics of an obliterated drunk. The animation was beautiful as this technology keeps getting better and better in the animation industry. The one thing that I never tend to really let bring movies down in my eyes is the plot. While it’s not stellar, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a kid’s movie that had an amazing plot with an insane twist. Their tiny brains just can’t handle it! So with everything else, I gave it a 5 out of 5. I will definitely look into finding more adventures from the Big Hero 6 team in the Marvel comics. — David Basile The Boxtrolls The Boxtrolls was, in many ways, formulaic. Our hero is a misunderstood underdog, the villain is cartoonish and over the top, and the adults are all blind to the mischief happening under their very noses. It’s a story that’s been told a million times before. But, the story isn’t what makes The Boxtrolls such an enjoyable film. It’s merely a familiar framework for Laika to do what they do best, and what they do is produce amazing stop motion animation. It’s a feat that is doubly impressive in a time when computer animation rules the box office and hand drawn art is considered a thing of the past. The animation in the film is brilliant. The box trolls, with their quasi-steampunk aesthetic, are absolutely a blast to watch on screen. I imagine it would have been relatively easy for Laika to produce a single mold and just roll out a few hundred copies that they could use interchangeably. But, somehow, they managed to make each troll an individual character. Each strange head popping out of a box, with limited vocal abilities, quickly became recognizable as a unique character. I was also pleasantly surprised by how quickly I found myself connecting with the trolls, and feeling sympathy for their plight. Everything about the story was formulaic, and I knew how it would end within the first few minutes. In spite of that, I still felt myself drawn to the trolls and cheering when the villain, Archibald Snatcher, get his comeuppance. The Boxtrolls didn’t break any new ground with regards to story, but it did prove that there is more to animation than pixels. I’m a fan of any story that Laika wants to tell, so long as they continue to turn clay into heartwarming characters. — Sean Reid How to Train Your Dragon 2 There’s a very simple litmus for gauging my feelings about a film; a great movie usually triggers an insatiable need to acquire some kind of movie memorabilia. With animated films, this usually means that I go on a hunt for a new toy. As I write this, I have a Funko Pop “Toothless” sitting on my desk. He was bought within minutes of the credits rolling for How to Train Your Dragon 2. After watching the movie, I lamented that it was overshadowed by Disney and a certain toy company from Denmark. I was certain that the movie going public, and the parents of the targeted demographic specifically, would be weary after seeing Frozen a million times since 2013 and then being hit by the onslaught that was The Lego Movie. However, it would seem that the box office, the recent Golden Globes victory for Best Animated Feature and subsequent Oscar Nomination would prove me both wrong and somewhat myopic. In my opinion, the accolades are all very deserved. I thought it far surpassed both Frozen and The Lego Movie, both of which I enjoyed very much (but didn’t compel me to purchase any toys). Dean DeBlois, co-writer of the first film, wrote and directed the sequel as the second part of a trilogy. In interviews he discussed crafting the trilogy and notes that he drew inspiration from classic films like My Neighbor Totoro and The Empire Strikes Back. The inspiration is evident and the story benefits from it greatly. How to Train Your Dragon 2 expands on the worlds, the characters, the threats and the mythology of the first film without sacrificing any of its the charm. It’s clearly a sequel, but nothing about the story feels recycled. Even with its roots in generations of epic tales that came before it, the story of Hiccup, the protagonist, and Toothless, his dragon, is fresh, engaging and exciting. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a spectacular addition to the franchise, and I can’t wait for part three. — Sean Reid The Lego Movie “Everything is Awesome!” If you’ve seen the movie, that song is probably still stuck in your head. And, if you’re like me, you don’t mind at all! There have been Lego movies in the past, usually tied to a particular building set or video game. The Ninjago TV series comes to mind as well as the feature length Batman 2: DC Super Heroes video game tie in. While these other ventures have their own charm, they are a loose representation of the Lego product. The minifigs bend in ways that the hard plastic would not allow and many of the structures are made of material other than Lego bricks. Where The Lego Movie gets it so right is EVERYTHING is made of Legos. Every piece of scenery, every object, every special effect is constructed of Lego bricks. Even motion blur is created using Legos and the representation is a breathtaking, immersive experience. The voice talent is immense, featuring Liam Neeson, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett and Charlie Day. Pratt, as the largely incompetent hero, Emmett, carries the movie. As always, his charm flows right out of the screen and he presents us with a relatable, likeable main character. Elizabeth Banks as Wyld Style is extremely funny and begins as a capable, independent character but devolves into a codependent creature only defined by her boyfriend. That is the only misstep in the movie, which is a shame because Elizabeth Banks did a wonderful job. The story is the classic argument of freeform creation versus building by the rules. Anyone who has ever played with Legos knows that dilemma. The Lego Movie personifies that struggle as a fight between good and evil but branches away from such a simple dichotomy. Both disciplines have their merit and everyone can be special no matter their method. I loved it! Great message surrounded by incredible animation. The fact that the film is computer animated is forgivable because it was only a tool to celebrate the “realness” of Lego. If you haven’t seen this movie then go buy it, it’s that good. Indeed, “Everything is Awesome.” I hope there’s a sequel. — Dave Hearn Muppets Most Wanted Muppets Most Wanted is not only a great addition to the Muppet franchise, it is overall a wonderful family film. Muppet fans were finally vindicated for the first time since Muppet Christmas Carol with 2011’s The Muppets. Was it a fluke? Luckily for Muppet fans and the Muppets, it was not. The Muppets were back in action with their 8th movie, 7th sequel to The Muppet Movie, and 1st movie to serve as a direct sequel to a Muppet film by mentioning the movie and discussing events that had taken place in it. History lesson aside, this entry to Muppet filmography would have made Henson proud. It was smart of the writers to follow the continuity of The Muppets. Although they are entertaining, we really did not need to see yet another version of “how the Muppets met each other.” I am still not completely sold on the Walter character. He just seems like a bland version of Kermit. I am not sure how long his character will work. Muppets Most Wanted is packed full of cameos, jokes, music, explosions, and a complete lack of respect and regard for the fourth wall…everything that made the classic Muppet movies so entertaining and, well, classic! Mix in the talents of Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ray Liotta, and a laundry list of other stars and the Muppets could not lose! 30- and 40- something year old parents who grew up during the golden age of the Muppets, enjoyed seeing the Muppets return to their roots. The Muppets spoke and appealed to “kids today” just as they had when I was a child through their jokes, puns, songs, and bright abstract design. Regardless of how great the film was, it was worth the movie ticket just to see what Kermit and Miss Piggy’s children would look like. For the first time in years I cannot wait to see what is next for the Muppets instead of sitting down to a movie waiting for the impending disappointment. — Jessica Sowards So what films did we miss? Be sure to log in below and sound off about your favorites! And tune in on Friday for our Top Ten Favorite Science Fiction Films of 2014! There are gonna be some shockers! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response Top Ten Favorite 2014 Best of the Rest Films - Psycho Drive-In February 2, 2015 […] far as 2014 films go, we’ve already given you our Top Five Family Films, our Top Ten Sci-Fi Films, Top Ten Horror Films, and Top Ten Crime Thrillers. To round it all out, […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.