10 Movies For Kids To Watch On A Long Car Drive

By Robert Scucci | Updated

When you’re on a road trip with the kids, sometimes the radio isn’t enough to keep them occupied. Between all the bickering, and repeatedly being asked, “Are we there yet?” sometimes you need to lean into the entertainment that you have at your disposal. That’s to make sure your time crammed up in the coupe is at least somewhat pleasant. And that’s the purpose of this kid movies list; to arm you with information!

With that being said, we’re here to give you a list of 10 amazing kid movies that are not only brilliantly animated and written, but also some movies that you may fondly remember watching you were just a kid yourself. So if you’ve got an older car, you better get ready to bust out the trusty portable DVD player, and some duct tape, and get ready for the ride of your life!

Cars (2006)

Cars is a 2006 film involving highly competitive anthropomorphic vehicles that are competing in the Dinoco 400, the final race of the Piston Cup.

After a three-way tie between seven-time champion, Strip “The King” Weathers, the ruthless runner-up Chick Hicks, and arrogant and cocksure Lightning McQueen, a tie-breaker race is scheduled a week out to determine the true champion. 

But during this week, through many trials and tribulations, Lightning McQueen finds himself in Radiator Springs, a small town off U.S. Route 66. He has to repair the roads he inadvertently destroyed on his trip to California.

It’s during his stay in Radiator Springs that McQueen learns about community, teamwork, and putting your best foot (read: wheel) forward; a life lesson that ultimately determines the outcome of the upcoming race. 

Not only is Cars a highly entertaining kids’ movie, but it also has a positive message that you want your kids to be exposed to. And that message is that sometimes winning is great, but good sportsmanship, and being a team player will always prevail.

In other words, a trophy doesn’t really matter all that much, if you burn every single bridge trying to win it. 

The Incredibles (2004)

2004’s The Incredibles is a kid movie about Bob (Mr. Incredible) and Helen Parr (Elastigirl) living a mundane life in suburbia with their children, Violet, Dash, and Baby Jack-Jack.

Growing bored with his white-collar job, Bob gets an itch to fight crime once again. But this comes with a high risk because of the Superhero Relocation Program, an initiative that forbids superheroes to fight crime because of all the collateral damage that they tend to cause. 

After losing his job, Bob finds a mysterious message from a woman named Mirage, who offers him a job under the caveat that he becomes Mr. Incredible again.

But when his cover is blown, his whole family gets sucked into an elaborate plot to take on a villain named Syndrome, a disgruntled, and former aspiring superhero himself who has it out for Bob. In the true nature of a kid movie, we see powers manifest in Violet, Dash, and Baby Jack-Jack, and at the end of the day, the forces of good ultimately prevail. 

The Incredibles is not only a fantastic film that highlights the inner workings of a superhero family, but also shows us the importance of being yourself, and not hiding behind a facade. Kids could learn a lot from this movie because the underlying message is about the importance of being yourself and leaning into your natural talents for the better good of humanity. 

Despicable Me (2010)

kid movies

Now, if you’re on a particularly long drive with your kids, then Despicable Me is the movie for you. Not only does 2010’s Despicable Me have a positive message that even former supervillains can reform themselves and contribute to the better good of society, but there are so many installments!

So if you’re driving from coast to coast with a DVD player strapped to the back of the headrest, you’ll be able to cover some serious miles. 

Despicable Me follows the story of Gru (Steve Carell), a former supervillain turned spy who leaves his villainous past behind to care for his three adopted daughters. And it wouldn’t be a kids’ movie without a bunch of boisterous yellow henchmen that are known as Minions. And the Minions truly steal the show, while winning kids over in droves. 

With three sequels, two prequels, and 16 short films in the catalog, there is so much ground to cover, and Despicable Me was the kids’ movie that started it all. Just err on the side of caution. While the Minions are cute as heck, your kids will be quoting their babbling for months, or even years to come! 

Wall-E (2008)

kid movies

Pixar’s Wall-E is a cautionary tale about the misuse of technology and the devastating effects this could have on our planet. Standing for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, Wall-E is the last robot left on Earth, and he’s been tidying up the planet by disposing of trash. But Wall-E becomes sentient and realizes how lonely he has been for the last 700 years. 

His loneliness comes to an end when he meets a new kind of robot named, EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), who helps him plant a seed that will ultimately help them revive the planet Earth.

Though this kids’ movie has some staggering environmental implications, it shows us that even if a tremendous amount of damage is done, it can always be reversed if your heart is in the right place, and you find friends who are willing to help you along the way. 

Frozen (2013)

kid movies

Sometimes you’ve just got to “let it go,” and watch Frozen. Frozen is a kid movie that teaches your kids that fear can be your greatest enemy. After years of concealing her powers, Elsa accidentally freezes the kingdom of Arendelle before going into hiding in her own secluded ice kingdom, making the already apparent rift between herself and her sister, Anna, stronger than ever. 

But Anna doesn’t give up on Elsa, and searches for her with an ice harvester named Kristoff, and his faithful reindeer companion, Sven. A talking snowman named Olaf tags along, and they seek out Elsa to bring her back to Arendelle to restore order. 

Frozen does an excellent job in highlighting the importance of family and friendship while showing your kids that they can make new friendships that will last a lifetime during their adventures. And for a kids’ movie, there are so many absolute bangers on the soundtrack. 

Moana (2016)

kid movies

Moana is a coming-of-age tale that stresses the importance of finding your own identity. This movie is great for kids, because not only does it empower them to overcome extraordinary odds that they may encounter in their own real life (like when you run out of Pop Tarts), but it also shows them the power of community, perseverance, and believing in yourself. 

And it’s always a good thing when a kids’ movie highlights the power of faith, persistence, and friendship. In this film, we see Moana on her mission to recover the heart of Te Fiti, which was stolen by a shape-shifting demigod named Maui, who becomes an unlikely ally. In order to restore order to Moana’s island of Motunui the heart of Te Fiti must be located, and secured, but not before Moana learns a thing or two about herself. 

Up (2009)

kid movies

Though 2009’s Up is a kids’ movie at its heart, it’s also a poignant story about grieving loss while also seeking out adventure. And the message behind the film is a powerful one: while you’re losing sight of your loved ones in an attempt to seek out adventure, the real adventure in life comes in the form of building relationships with those you love, and those who haven’t met yet. 

And we see this message play out beautifully on the screen as widower Carl Fredricksen attaches balloons to his house so he could travel to Paradise Falls to fulfill a promise to his late wife, Ellie.

But after a storm, he ends up in South America with a young boy named Russell. Though Russell only wanted to help Carl at first so he could get a merit badge for assisting the elderly, the two become fast friends and embark on the adventure of a lifetime. 

Toy Story (1995)

kid movies

There’s not much we can say about Toy Story that hasn’t already been said, but it’s truly an iconic film that stands the test of time. The adventures of Woody, Mr. Potatohead, Buzz Lightyear, and co. shows us the power of imagination, but also makes us wonder what all of our toys are doing when we’re not around. 

If you’re an Elder Millennial, and you have young kids, Toy Story is the perfect kids movie to pass down through generations because it shows us humility. In this film, we see Woody and Buzz Lightyear at odds with each other, because Buzz is the new toy on the block, which makes Woody jealous.

As they encounter obstacles such as the menacing, and sadistic neighbor boy, Sid, they learn that they’re better off as friends instead of enemies. 

The Lion King (1994)

kid movies

If you just can’t wait to be king, then The Lion King is the movie for you. Though the subject matter is quite deep for a kids’ movie, it teaches kids (and adults) a valuable lesson about doing the right thing and sticking up for yourself. And even though it sometimes takes us years to come around to gain this perspective, those dark times we experience should not be considered a total loss. 

When Simba’s father Mufasa is killed by his uncle Scar, Simba flees the kingdom in shame, thinking it’s his fault. But when he befriends a Meerkat named Timon, and a Warthog named Poomba, he learns the importance of staying true to himself and looks adversity straight in the eye.

Though Simba’s emotional arc is not without struggle and pain, it’s the fact that he becomes a mighty lion in his own right and returns home to right what has been wronged that is the important takeaway. 

Finding Nemo (2003)

kid movies

Finding Nemo is a classic “fish out of water” story in every sense of the phrase. Finding Nemo is a great kids movie because it shows us how your world doesn’t have to be so small if you put your mind to finding bigger and better things. Our titular character, Nemo, is stuck in a fish tank at a Dentist’s office after being captured by a diver, and it all seems so hopeless until his father makes a daring rescue attempt to save him. 

In an arduous journey to rescue Nemo, his father, Marlin, traverses the ocean with the aid of Dory, a fish with the worst short-term memory you’ve ever seen. And despite all of the obstacles that come in the form of jellyfish, sharks, and riptides, they defy all odds and make their way to the Dentist’s office. 

And it goes without saying, if you’re on a road trip that’s particularly land-locked, then Finding Nemo is the perfect change of scenery your kids will need until you gas up, and grab some McDonald’s.