Movies for a 7-year-old boy who likes innocent, silly and childish movie
July 12, 2013 11:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for recommendations for movies for a 7-year-old boy who likes 'em innocent, silly and childish. My son takes it to heart when the atmosphere is dark or a character is in jeopardy, so he hasn't much liked the kids' films I gravitate toward, like "Brave" and "How to Train Your Dragon." He's loved the entire series of Beethoven movies (yes, 1-5 inclusive, and we're going to watch 6 tonight!), and, to my amazement, he really enjoyed the 1994 "Little Rascals" movie. I would do anything to hear him giggle, even sit through dross like this. So what else in this vein can you recommend?

Not looking for anything too realistic, or anything that has "realistic" bullies (eg, Diary of a Wimpy Kid). The movies he likes, if they have villains, have really obvious ones that get humiliating, but harmless, comeuppances. Ridiculous chase scenes/wacky scenes of destruction seem to delight him. Cars and animals are particular favorites.

What else might he love? Don't care if it's good or bad, old or new, as long as it's innocent, childlike, not cynical, and not modern-day Disney (though old stuff like "Mary Poppins" is fine). It shouldn't feature people in apparent real danger, or apparently really getting hurt. I never much liked movies like this, so I don't have much idea where to start!
posted by ROTFL to Media & Arts (65 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I used to love love love old Warner Brothers cartoons. I had all these VHS tapes of old Bugs Bunny cartoons and would watch them obsessively. I could probably recite that one with Elmer Fudd as a Mountie from memory (you're a disgrace to the wegiment!) They're got the wacky chases and lack of real villains, plus they're still fun for adults to watch.

I might go home and watch some today, now that you've reminded me, and I'm in my 20s...
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2013

Can you go into why no modern Disney? Because The Emperor's New Groove is a complete bullseye for what you're looking for. It's ridiculously silly and definitely has wacky destruction.
posted by selfnoise at 11:20 AM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

Emperor's New Groove is glorious and delightful and a mefi favourite.
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

So this is gonna sound off the wall, but I was totally that kid (Aladdin at daycare was a Thing).

I loved the shit out of Blues Brothers. Super cartoony, I'd argue actually quite innocent and childlike, and massive wacky destruction. Find a TV edit if profanity's a concern.
posted by PMdixon at 11:25 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Around the World in 80 Days is funny and very silly. It also has some relationship stuff that he may or may not like, but is very well done, and this adult thought the female protagonist was especially well-written/acted. There are also ridiculous experiments and chase scenes galore!
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2013

He sounds very similar to my 7-year-old daughter, who loves Looney Tunes (most of which are available on YouTube). She also likes Shaun the Sheep. Maybe try some of the Wallace & Gromit or other Aardman movies if you want a longer format?
posted by mogget at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2013

The movies he likes, if they have villains, have really obvious ones that get humiliating, but harmless, comeuppances.

That sounds like "Home Alone" to me, although it might be a little too rough in places.

How about the Wallace & Gromit films? All of the Muppet movies? Dennis the Menace (the Walter Matthau one)? The Flintstones (the live action one with John Goodman)? Mousehunt? Stuart Little?
posted by jbickers at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

My Neighbour Totoro, maybe some other Miyazaki?
posted by catch as catch can at 11:27 AM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

In the vein of the Blues Brothers, the Pink Panther movies were my absolute favorite as a young kid (the original Sellers ones). I think there is some very, very light sexuality at times, but I can't quite remember... that would be my only concern.
posted by selfnoise at 11:28 AM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh YES WALLACE AND GROMMIT! And also Chicken Run, for that matter.
posted by selfnoise at 11:29 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Space Jam
posted by 6ATR at 11:31 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are some minor angsty scenes but when I was this age and of a very similar disposition I loved George of the Jungle.
posted by capricorn at 11:33 AM on July 12, 2013

One of my favorite movies was Baby's Day Out. There's quite a bit of slapstick on the bad guys, so they don't ever seem "scary." It seems like exactly what you are describing - silly, goofy, funny situations, cute. Watch the Trailer.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:33 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wacky distruction? Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. There's some very minor peril of the "Oh no a giant hamburger is going to roll over me!" variety but it's incredibly silly.

Stuart Little is light and cute.

Shorter media: I end up recommending Shawn the Sheep in just about every kid's media thread and will 2nd/3rd it. It's silly and happy, lots of physical humor. Pixar shorts are lighter than the movies.

My Neighbor Totoro is an interesting movie in that it reads a lot darker for adults than it seems to for kids. It may or may not work for your son depending on how much he'll catch of the fact that a very ill parent drives the whole plot. Kiki's Delivery Service and Ponyo are lighter Miyazaki; I'd start with them.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:35 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic (my 9 year old son is a secret fan)
Muppet Movies
Word Girl
Martha Speaks
posted by Malla at 11:36 AM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: The Looney Tunes suggestions are spot on -- we have a 6-volume collection and have already watched it to death! So y'all are totally getting what I'm looking for.

(Re: the latter-day Disney: It's just Mommy's virulent and irrational anti-Disney prejudice. I always just seem to hate their new stuff. However, I did notice that Emperor's New Groove had a different "look" and a different cast, so don't let my irrational prejudice deter you from recommending something, as long as it does not feature Robin Williams as a wisecracking lemur, or golem, or coelocanth, or, really, anything.)

Loving these suggestions so far. Please keep 'em coming.
posted by ROTFL at 11:36 AM on July 12, 2013

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Mary Poppins
The Sound of Music
Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Black Beauty
The Great Race
Modern Times
Night at the Opera
The Absent-minded Professor
posted by thinkpiece at 11:38 AM on July 12, 2013

Has he seen Lilo and Stitch? I love Lilo and Stitch.
posted by mmmbacon at 11:39 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Love Bug from 1968 with Dean Jones, Michelle Lee and Buddy Hackett. The whole movie is essentially a giant chase scene and the villain is very over the top in a silly sort of way.

Pete's Dragon - This one was my childhood favorite and I saw it at about five or six. Live action and animation, cute little songs and the villains are not seriously scary. I still love watching this one today. :-)
posted by BrianJ at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2013

Musicals from years gone by always enchanted me when I was a kid:
Bye Bye Birdie
Show Boat
Babes in Toyland
Everybody Sing
Li'l Abner
Rock 'n Roll High School

Be sure to check out some of the Hanna Barbara gems, like Top Cat, Augie Doggy/Doggy Daddy, Yogi Bear, etc.
posted by juniperesque at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

old live action disney.

that darn cat!
(not the remake) and the cat from outer space were two fun ones.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:42 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh and my favorite comedy of all time totally fits the bill: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. There are some slight adult themes but they will be over the head of a 7 year old.
posted by capricorn at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Marx Brothers, particularly Monkey Business and Duck Soup. I loved them when I was little; plenty of slapstick that still makes me laugh... and even though most of his zingers went right over my head when I was a kid, Groucho was still very funny (if your son likes Bugs Bunny, he'll probably like Groucho!)
posted by usonian at 11:43 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Just remembered another one - The Shaggy D.A., also with Dean Jones.

Seconding The Cat From Outer Space as well. LOVE that movie.
posted by BrianJ at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2013

okay, yeah, any old live action disney with dean jones in it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:45 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Despite the lack of Disney love, there are a ton of live-action Disney comedies from the 1960s and 1970s that are just, well, silly and might appeal if your son likes broad, slapstick humor. I'm thinking of titles like The Apple Dumpling Gang, The [original] Shaggy Dog, The Love Bug, The Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit, etc.

Another vein to tap would be the Muppet movies (and seriously, how can you hate on the Muppet Movies even if they're produced by Disney?). If he likes one, there are plenty more.
posted by drlith at 11:48 AM on July 12, 2013

If he likes Looney Tunes, he'd probably enjoy Animaniacs
posted by belladonna at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was a very sensitive kid, and anything dark (including Bambi) bothered me. My favorite movies as a kid were Home Alone and Mary Poppins. I also loved Beethoven (although I had no idea there were so many sequels!).

On preview, I don't remember watching Blues Brothers as a kid but I watched it recently and enjoyed it and I bet I would have liked it at his age. I bet he would like Ghostbusters too. I got into Muppets later but they're really fun.

When I was younger I loved all the classic TV on Nick at Nite. What about some Mr. Ed marathons? Get Smart was one of my favorite shows as well. I mean it has "villains" but they're really comical. Lassie kinda freaked me out because I was always worried about Timmy in the well!
posted by radioamy at 12:06 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Scooby Doo! And a lot of UK shows for kids are a bit gentler, too. Aardman Animations are a great example of that style, I think.
posted by pammeke at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2013

Air Bud!
posted by Night_owl at 12:07 PM on July 12, 2013

Tiny Toons
Parent Trap (Original Haley Mills version)
Muppet Babies
The Muppet Show
posted by MayNicholas at 12:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Clifford. (With Martin Short).
posted by themanwho at 12:14 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Has he seen Wreck It Ralph? He might like it.
posted by bleep at 12:17 PM on July 12, 2013

Here to second Lilo and Stitch. It has some dark parts, but a 7 year old isn't necessarily going to pick up on the more 'adult' themes of the movie, such as the meetings with the social worker.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:18 PM on July 12, 2013

I think Lilo and Stitch could be okay. A teeny tiny bit of it is dark and sad, but most of it isn't. You could always watch it first. (Sorry --- it's Disney, but it's one of my favorite all time movies ever.)
posted by zizzle at 12:35 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

My Neighbour Totoro, maybe some other Miyazaki?

My Neighbour Totoro has some strange and scary parts, FYI.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 12:54 PM on July 12, 2013

How about some Buster Keaton? If he like Loony Tunes, that should be a great fit, and it doesn't get much more childlike than Keaton's character. Start with Sherlock Jr..
posted by Emanuel at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2013

Abbott and Costello
posted by rhizome at 1:01 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (not the TV series, though he'd probably like that too) has a lot of what you're looking for... Silly humor, harmless villain comeuppance, a zany chase.

And I don't think there are any moments of jeopardy that would induce anxiety.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2013

My son (who turns 7 in a couple weeks) likes this sort of thing too so our netflix history actually has created a category called "Goofy Family Comedies" for us. Selections include:

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (and sequels)
Alvin and the Chipmunks (and sequels)
Twisted Whiskers (this is a TV series)
Air Bud (and sequels)
Spooky Buddies (Air Bud's puppies solve mysteries - I kid you not)
My Friend Bernard
Jock the Hero Dog
Vampire Dog
G-Force (guniea pigs! or possibly hamsters! they fight crime!)

If you have netflix and watch one of these movies it will suggest a zillion others in the same genre. Seriously, I had no idea it was such a THING. His older brother (age 10) will get sucked into them too occasionally.
posted by selfmedicating at 1:19 PM on July 12, 2013

Anything with the Backyardigans
Curious George
How about a little Fraggle Rock?
Winnie the Pooh (the last 15 minutes I consider to be a modern equivalent of Who's On First - from 'the pit' onward)
Bed-knobs and broomsticks
Despicable Me isn't really a villain movie - he might like it.
Ratatoulie isn't particularly vilianous either
Rio is very good
The Sword in the Stone
posted by Nanukthedog at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: zOMG, you guys, these suggestions are all fabulous and there are so many wonderful things I never would have thought of myself! (Blues Brothers! Pink Panther! Abbott and Costello! Old musicals! Post-70s Disney films I might not hate!) Y'all are brilliant.
posted by ROTFL at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2013

Any of the Muppet Movies! The new one is so great.

Nthing Emperor's New Groove.

Home Alone (s)... isn't there also a Home Alone type movie with a baby?

Strangely enough as a young child both me and my brother were obsessed with Ferris Bueller's Day Off and 80's movies of the like.

GOONIES! Is Goonies too dark? It may be a little dark.

Seconding Air Bud! Maybe Homeward Bound? I also loved Milo and Otis as a kid.

Also nthing Rio, it is great.

I personally LOOOVE Megamind, but I don't know if the villian is too villainous for his taste. There are a couple of moments in which the main characters lives are in peril.

Is Monsters Inc too "new disney"?
posted by Quincy at 1:43 PM on July 12, 2013

A favorite for silly 7's in my house was Singin in the Rain. Be prepared to re-play "Moses Supposes his Toeses are Roses" a zillion times.

BTW: If you haven't yet shown Mary Poppins or Sound of Music: in our house and in the houses of other friends where kids hated anything scary or chase-y in films, we'd show the first half of both these movies over and over, but the second halves proved to be, well, scary and chase-y and the kids never wanted to see those parts again.In both those movies, the light silliness goes into characters running away and hiding in fear from Nazis and scary bankers -- made the second half of both these films Not Fun til about age 9.
posted by third rail at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2013

Elf is the perfect good-natured and silly movie.
posted by emumimic at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2013


Bedknobs and Broomsticks!!!
posted by zizzle at 3:22 PM on July 12, 2013

My son sounds a lot like yours but a bit younger (almost 6).

We love:

Emperors New Groove
Monsters inc - but only because they had a story book first so they got used to it.
The old Disney animated Robin Hood movie
Muppet Show -I don't think he "gets" 80% of it, but muppets are funny
We also have dvd's of Pixar shorts are some of them are perfect! My kids love "Presto!"

Be very careful with Lilo and Stitch. My son is sensitive to "sad" more than "scary", and there is a lot of "sad" in that movie and lots of characters yelling at each other. We don't watch that movie anymore.
posted by heybearica at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2013

Please don't give him Milo and Otis to watch. It's a horribly sad movie (I can't really remember much other than its about a kitten and puppy in a box on a river but I do know I used to get upset watching it.)
My suggestion is the Mr Bean t.v. series although probably not the movies.
posted by poxandplague at 4:17 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try The Point (youtube link).

Some of the older series might be ok for him, like the Monkees tv series.
posted by gudrun at 4:31 PM on July 12, 2013

I meant to go more into detail with my last comment but then life intruded and burritos happened and whatevs.

Anyway, I recommend Emperor's New Groove to everyone who dislikes the last ~20 years or so (or longer) of Disney films not just because the movie itself is hilarious and delightful, but because it is the sole Disney movie ever made that features PoC characters without being racist.
posted by elizardbits at 5:09 PM on July 12, 2013

The Goofy movies might be a go - silly and slapstick and the second has a pretty awesome female Beat poet.

Emperor's New Groove is AWESOME.

My Neighbour Totoro can make me cry, and Wreck-It Ralph made my daughter sob her heart out (the scene with Ralph and Vannelope and the car when he's trying to 'help' her).
posted by geek anachronism at 5:19 PM on July 12, 2013

Silly older movies...

'What's Up, Doc?' (Barbra Striesand, Ryan O'Neal).

'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' (Phil Silvers, Dick Shawn, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, etc).
posted by rochrobbb at 6:18 PM on July 12, 2013

Just in case you've forgotten, there are at least twenty uses of "fuck" in the Blues Brothers, and a good number of other swear words. (I know cause we did not get to see it when it premiered, because although Mom agreed with Dad that it was awesome, she felt it was about 19 too many uses of the word for us to see and we were older then 7).
posted by crush-onastick at 7:19 PM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: For folks who are following this thread, we just watched Beethoven's 6th, aka Beethoven's Big Break, and it was a very good example of this genre. Good cast, too, including Rhea Perlman and Steven Tobolowski as a ridiculous bad guy. Very light, predictable, "zany," etc. It was a big hit -- much giggling from my boy throughout.

Looks like it's unanimous: "Emperor's New Groove" for movie night next week, and I probably have a year's worth of excellent leads for future movie nights based on the answers so far. I also really appreciate the posts about the nuances of curses, sad themes, etc, since I don't know most of these movies and probably won't have time to preview them before we watch them.
posted by ROTFL at 7:42 PM on July 12, 2013

the Look Who's Talking movies, if you can stand them.

Similarly, though for different reasons, Drop Dead Fred.

(Murphy's) Dr. Dolittle.

Maybe the Back to the Future movies, if that isn't too much peril.

re Disney -- Animated Robin Hood.

Maybe Twins, or Big? I can't remember what age I saw those.

Similarly, Short Circuit. Not really that scary. Short Circuit 2 was actually a bit darker.

He may be too young, but he sounds like the kind of kid who'd appreciate Amazing Grace and Chuck.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:39 PM on July 12, 2013

Oh my god YES to the animated Robin Hood - make sure you get the nicely remastered version but it's a really lovely movie and remained one of my rewatchable favourites from the time I first saw it, through my teen years and all.

Kiki's Delivery Service is a little less heart-rending than My Neighbour Totoro for me.
posted by geek anachronism at 12:54 AM on July 13, 2013

Wind In The Willows. The stop motion version.
posted by ian1977 at 5:20 AM on July 13, 2013

The Aristocats is a big favorite at our house! It is available on Netflix. It has cute kitties being ridiculous and singing. All of the above are great ideas. My 6.5 yo son is precisely the same way regarding conflict and villains. It's Disney but from the 70s, I think.

He also loves Scooby Doo--slapstick humor and no REAL ghosts, monsters, etc. Though it might prejudice him against real-estate developers.
posted by birdseye at 6:12 AM on July 13, 2013

Yeah, the 5 y.o. boy in my life seems to enjoy Scooby for the same reason. The scares are gentle, the characters aren't mocked for being scared, and the ghost is always debunked.

Nor is there anything wrong with a little healthy caution towards real-estate developers. And tribal burial grounds.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:57 AM on July 13, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, he and I have had many discussions about the abuses of eminent domain and the perils of crony capitalism/overdevelopment! I never really thought about that theme of "Scooby Doo," but hey, lessons are where you find them. And he's seen a few "Scooby Doo" episodes and really liked them.

Interestingly, though he has seen several Miyazaki films, they utterly fail to grab him in any way. I think he prefers more "obvious" entertainments, if you get my drift. But some of those 70s Disney live-action films would probably really hit the spot.

Since he loves wacky animals, I bet he would enjoy the Rex Harrison Dr Doolittle; I like Murphy but his work has never struck me as innocent. Would you say the Murphy "Doolittle" is open-hearted and not cynical?
posted by ROTFL at 10:53 AM on July 13, 2013

Try "Pete's Dragon" on the 70s Disney angle. I liked it quite a bit, and it has some good old-school talent that I think is good for kids to know about (Mickey Rooney is even still alive!).
posted by rhizome at 12:06 PM on July 13, 2013

Would you say the Murphy "Doolittle" is open-hearted and not cynical?

The character development in Murphy's is all about a modern family learning to become more open-hearted and stop being jaded. But you might want to watch it yourself first. It's definitely not like The Nutty Professor or The Klumps, if that's what you're thinking.

Also, I'd suggest being careful about both Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and The Neverending Story. Both of them scared the bejeezus out of me some time around that age.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:20 PM on July 13, 2013

ParaNorman - it's adorable and features destruction.
Brave - Disney but so not the average Disney. They bastardized the character and made her look like a princess AFTER the movie came out, making the author and many others mad, but the actual movie is still very good.
posted by Neekee at 6:16 PM on July 13, 2013

Since you encouraged notes on possible downsides, and someone above mentioned Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: I don't recall anything concrete that happened in that movie besides a car flying, but when I saw the title right here on the green I experienced a brief shiver of vague fear and unhappiness. I was also this kind of sensitive movie consumer as a child so I'm pretty sure that something about that movie upset me. Sorry I can't recall what, but I would proceed with caution!
posted by ootandaboot at 8:33 PM on July 14, 2013

Er, yeah, don't watch The Neverending Story under any circumstances. I love that movie to death, but the Swamp of Sadness scene with the horse pretty much scarred me for life. Just thinking about it makes me tear up even now, and I'm 34!
posted by ashirys at 10:14 AM on July 15, 2013

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