7. Cars 2 (2011)
Critics’ Rating: 39%
Kids’ Rating: 82%
While it was panned by critics, Cars 2 was mostly beloved among our children, who declared that it was even “better than Cars” (Lizey, 9). Our youngest critics loved it most, noting “I love racing things!” (Graham, 7), “Race cars are funny” (Wilson, 4), and, “Because there’s bad guys, and Mater, and Lightning McQueen, and SPIES!” (Max, 5). Noa, 12, provided a counterpoint: “The thing about the Cars movies is that they are geared to a specific audience and that audience does not include 12-year-old girls.”
8. Ratatouille (2007)
Critics’ Rating: 96%
Kids’ Rating: 79%
The most controversial issue with Ratatouille, universally acclaimed by professional critics, was the rats. Miriam, 10, “liked that it was about a rat that could cook,” while Elliot, 4, disagreed, saying, “I didn’t like it, because it has rats, and I don’t like rats.” Noa, 12, explained, “I like how it is symbolic of real life. And I like rats.”
9. Toy Story 2 (1999)
Critics’ Rating: 100%
Kids’ Rating: 71%
Toy Story 2 earned a rare perfect rating from Rotten Tomatoes, but younger viewers were all over the map. Nell, 12, liked “how it is sad” and appreciated the theme of “the cycle of toys and the loss they felt.” Eli, who’s the same age, dismissed the movie as “pointless.” “A bunch of people appeared and disappeared in 90 minutes, maybe less.” Max, 5, said it was one of his favorites, “Because Evil Emperor Zurg!”
10. WALL-E (2008)
Critics’ Rating: 96%
Kids’ Rating: 71%
Many children loved WALL-E, often naming the scene where WALL-E floats in particular. But a few disagreed. Nell, 12, offered the harshest take: “I don’t get it. I don’t think it is clever. There is no narrative. I don’t like the eco-ness of it. I thought it was boring.” 5-year-old Alex listed it among his favorites: “Wall-E floats in space and he meets a best friend. I love meeting best friends.” His twin, Max, agreed: “Wall-E can float! And he makes square stuff come out of his belly.”
11. Brave (2012)
Critics’ Rating: 78%
Kids’ Rating: 67%
Fans of Brave really liked the scene “when the bear was naked” (Franny, 8, and Gideon, 4). Jacob, 10, also “liked the Brave’s bravery.” But twins Max and Alex, 5, numbered it among their least favorites, explaining that they didn’t like the scary witch and “the very scary bear, MULDOON.” (His actual name is Mor’du.) At least one kid agreed with many critics, celebrating the fact that “for once the story has a female heroine” (Pearl, 9).
12. Finding Nemo (2003)
Critics’ Rating: 99%
Kids’ Rating: 57%
Nearly half of our child critics disliked Finding Nemo, complaining that it was “overhyped” and “very predictable” (Noa, 12), “a little weird” (Lizey, 9), and “went overboard with fantasy” (Jacob, 10). Nemo’s fans, on the other hand, explained that they liked it “because there’s a turtle that’s so funny, it swims away” (Lily, 6), and because they “liked the fish” (Franny, 8).
13. Cars (2006)
Critics’ Rating: 74%
Kids’ Rating: 54%
As with Ratatouille, the most controversial aspect of Cars was the subject matter. Pearl, 9, said, “Talking cars don’t appeal to me.” Jacob, 10, agreed: “Too many cars.” Some younger viewers took the opposite view, giving high ratings because “race cars are funny” (Wilson, 4), and “because they race” (Gideon, 4). Nell, 12, got to the heart of the matter: “They were just trying to appeal to a younger audience.”
14. A Bug’s Life (1998)
Critics’ Rating: 92%
Kids’ Rating: 43%
For those who remembered it—and many didn’t—A Bug’s Life seems to have aged poorly. While some liked it, praising its “good story” (Pearl, 9), another complained that it was “too scary” (Max, 5). Lizey, 9, gave it her lowest rating: “It was kind of stupid that they made a movie about insects.”
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