Happy Earth Day! It’s that day that rolls around every year to remind us to be good to our mom — Mother Earth, that is.
But of course, Earth Day isn’t just for grownups. It’s never too soon to get kids thinking about ways to protect our planet, pick up the trash, and think organically. Here are five family-friendly movies to entertain, inspire and motivate kids to do the right thing.
1. Big Miracle. While on assignment in a small town in Alaska, a reporter spots three gray whales trapped in the ice and unable to reach open water. Pretty soon, scores of people show up to help, including his Greenpeace volunteer ex-girlfriend and a big tycoon who wants to drill for oil.
It sounds like a typical save-the-whales storyline, but this movie is smartly written, shows that people with opposing views can work together for the greater good, and takes a look at the culture of Alaskan natives. The adorable cast doesn’t hurt either.
Rated PG for language; 107 min; directed by Ken Kwapis; stars John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore, Tim Blake Nelson and Ted Danson. In theaters Feb. 3, 2012; on [amazon_link id=”B005LAIGQE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]DVD/blu-ray June 19, 2012[/amazon_link].
2. The Lorax. To win the affection of the girl of his dreams, 12-year-old Ted must track down the impossible in a city where everything is plastic – a real tree. But first, he must learn the story of the Lorax, a grumpy but charming creature who fights to protect the environment.
Sure, it’s a little ironic that the marketing of this movie based on the classic Dr. Seuss book included mass consumption at every turn (Truffula Chip Pancakes at IHOP!). Still, it touts a simple message that even little ones can grasp: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better, it’s not.”
Rated PG for brief mild language; 86 min.; directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda; features the voices of Ed Helms, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Betty White, and Zac Efron. In theaters March 2, 2012; available for [amazon_link id=”B005LAIH4A” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]pre-order[/amazon_link].
3. The Secret World of Arrietty. Based on Mary Norton’s classic book series The Borrowers, this movie follows the adventures of Arrietty, a tiny person who lives with her family under the floorboards of an old home in the country. But things get interesting when one of the human inhabitants, a boy who’s come there to rest up before surgery, spots Arrietty one night.
This is a perfect family movie for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Borrowers live in harmony with nature and their surroundings. It also features great storytelling and a gorgeous Celtic-inspired soundtrack from French-Brettone singer and harpist Cecile Corbel.
Rated G; 94 min.; directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi; features the voices of Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, David Henrie, Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett. In theaters Feb. 17, 2012; on DVD/blu-ray May 22, 2012.
4. Happy Feet Two. This sequel to 2006’s Happy Feet didn’t fare well at the box office, but the dancing penguins are sweet and the environmental message is thought provoking. Mumble and Gloria now have a son, Erik, who’s struggling to find his talents in the Emperor Penguin community. But when the penguins discover a new threat to their home — global warming — it’ll take everyone working together to save them.
Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril; 100 min.; directed by George Miller; features the voices of Elijah Wood, Alecia Moore, Robin Williams, Sofia Vergara, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. In theaters Nov. 18, 2011; on [amazon_link id=”B004EPZ0AM” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]DVD/blu-ray March 13, 2012[/amazon_link].
5. WALL-E. An oldie but a goody, no family movie has a better message about protecting our planet than WALL-E. And we’d better watch our step or we’ll end up just like the people in this movie — trapped in space with nary a green leaf or brown twig anywhere.
It’s up to WALL-E, an adorable trash-collecting robot, to pave the way for people to return to earth and clean up their mess. Along the way, he finds a little romance. Sweet and entertaining, WALL-E was a classic the moment it hit theaters.
Rated G; 98 min.; directed by Andrew Stanton; features the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight and Jeff Garlin. In theaters June 23, 2008; on [amazon_link id=”B001EOQWEO” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]DVD/blu-ray Nov. 18, 2008[/amazon_link].