The Animated Movies of 2014

New and Upcoming Animated Films for Kids and Families

What exciting animated worlds will we be transported to in 2014? Among some exciting sequels, there are a couple of new ideas that could, I hope, be really great. I mean, is anyone else as curious as I am about The Boxtrolls? We have upcoming animated movies for kids as young as preschoolers, and even a PG-13 traditionally animated film that could really inspire tweens and teens.

What you may notice as you look these movies over is a striking lack of Pixar. The upcoming Pixar movie The Good Dinosaur was postponed to 2015. We'll all miss the traditional Pixar offering, but we still have quite a few animated movies coming up that kids and parents can enjoy together.

Ratings, reviews and other information will be updated as it becomes available.

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The Nut Job (January 17, 2D/3D)

The Nut Job
Photo © Open Road Films

Surly the squirrel (voice of Will Arnett) plans the heist of the century in this animated flick. He's the brains behind the operation, and he leads his fellow bandits with confidence.  Their mark is the biggest nut shop in town, where Surly and his gang hope to haul off with enough nuts to feed them for the winter and beyond.

The Nut Job features colorful animation, a high dose of comedy and a host of talking animals, which are usually a hit with kids and not so much with parents. We'll see if this one is clever enough to score with audiences of all ages. (PG, for mild action and rude humor)

If your family likes The Nut Job, check out Furry Vengence, a live action family comedy with similar animal vs. human conflict.

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The Lego Movie (February 7, 2D/3D)

The Lego Movie
Photo © Warner Bros.

The original 3D computer animated story follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared. (PG, for mild action and rude humor)

The classic LEGO toys inspire creativity in kids and help kids hone problem solving and even engineering skills. Who would have thought these little building block toys would so prolifically infiltrate the world of movies and video games? Kids are likely to beg to see this movie, and hopefully they will be inspired to go home and come up with their own LEGO world and stories. And of course, there is also a line of LEGO sets based on the movie.

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The Wind Rises (February 28, 2D)

Photo © Disney/Studio Ghibli

This substantive Hayao Miyazaki film tells the story of Jiro, a young man who dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes. Nearsighted and unable to be a pilot, he becomes one of the world’s most accomplished airplane designers, experiencing key historical events in an epic tale of love, perseverance and the challenges of living and making choices in a turbulent world.

Many people love and revere the animated masterpieces by Hayao Miyazaki. To others, especially those not from Japan, they may seem strange. But you can always count on a Miyazaki film to be gorgeously animated and tell a story that is very unique and different from what we're used to.

This particular film also contains substantial historical content and encompasses interesting themes that would be great for older children to discuss and contemplate. Though an animated movie, this film is PG-13, for some disturbing images and smoking.

Experience more Miyazaki films and help kids discuss how they are different from or similar to other animated movies they've seen:

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Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7, 2D/3D)

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Photo © 20th Century Fox

The characters Mr. Peabody & Sherman are from the cartoon segment Peabody's Improbable History, which was part of the 1960s variety cartoon series The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. In the cartoon, the genius dog Mr. Peabody has adopted an orphan boy, Sherman. He builds a time machine and he and Sherman go on silly time travel adventures.

The movie brings Peabody and Sherman into this century with updated, CG animation and a bold new adventure. When Sherman shows off the time machine to his friend Penny and accidentally rips a hole in the space-time continuum, Peabody must help them fix history and set the world back on the right course. This adventure promises to be both fun and, with all the animated glimpses into history, possibly a little educational as well.

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Rio 2 (April, 112D/3D)

Rio 2
Photo © 20th Century Fox

Our favorite birdies Blu and Jewel are back in this bold and flavorful sequel, and now they have three kids! In the first Rio movie, we took a trip to Brazil and watched as Blu flew (eventually) around Sugar Loaf Mountain and explored the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro. This time, we get to travel along with Blu and Jewel to the wilds of the Amazon. Hopefully this sequel will be just as festive and immersive as the original.

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Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (May 9, 2D/3D)

Dorothy's Return
Photo © Clarius Entertainment

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return is a 3D-animated musical based on the adventure books by Roger Stanton Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum. A continuation of one of the world’s most popular and beloved fairy tales, Legends of Oz finds Dorothy waking to post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends

The original Oz books and the adventures written by Roger S. Baum are great for kids to read prior to the movie or as read-alouds for younger kids. There are also several Oz movies and spinoffs/reimaginings of the story and characters. Explore the different works based on Oz and help kids compare them with the new movie. Here are links to more on Oz literature and movies:

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13, 2D/3D)

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Photo © DreamWorks Animation

When we last saw Hiccup and his dragon pal Toothless, they had just united vikings and dragons on the island of Berk. Now we join Hiccup for an all new adventure as he explores new worlds and discovers a secret ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider.

The first How to Train Your Dragon is one of the few movies that is hands down better in 3D, so if you're on the fence about whether or not to spend the extra cash, this one will likely be worth it. Soaring through the skies with Hiccup on his fearless dragon makes these movies so thrilling, and the 3D enhances both the action and the majestic setting of the movies.

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Planes: Fire & Rescue (July 18, 2D/3D)

Planes Fire & Rescue
Photo © Disney

Last year, the beloved world of Cars expanded into the skies with Disney's Planes. In this sequel to to Planes, our friend Dusty has had some engine trouble, but he is still able to lend his services as an aerial firefighter and learn what it takes to become a true hero. Kids will meet some exciting new Planes characters in this movie, like the rescue helicopter Blade Ranger.

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The Boxtrolls (September 26, 2D/3D)

The Boxtrolls
Photo © Focus Features

Stop-motion is such an intriguing storytelling method, and this year, The Boxtrolls (a stop-motion and CG animation hybrid) is the only stop-motion on the calendar. The movie tells a story about The Boxtrolls, an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells.

The Boxtrolls come to us from the same filmmakers who did Coraline. What does that mean? Well, this movie is likely to be unique and interesting with a well-developed, multi-layered story we can really sink our teeth into. And if it's anything like their other movies, it might also be a little edgy and a good one to preview before taking very young children. Check back for more info on this movie's content as the release date gets close.

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Big Hero 6 (November 7, 2D/3D)

Big Hero 6
Photo © Disney

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents Big Hero 6, an action comedy adventure about brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo (yes, the city is an imaginative combination of San Francisco and Tokyo).

With the help of his closest companion—a robot named Baymax—Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city.

The movie is based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name. You can check out the comic books on the Marvel website. If you have a kid who is into comics, check out the series and compare it to the movie when it comes out. Some of the characters are likely to be a little different, and the story is geared toward kids and families, so Disney promises it will have both humor and heart.