Movies of any genre can be excellent or terrible, but movies aimed at kids seem to hit the extremes to a much greater degree.
Any parent knows the joy of watching something truly wondrous and entertaining with their children. They also know the frustration of having to endure some soul-crushing movie that bores the little ones halfway to tears. Even if you're not a parent, you doubtlessly recall the childhood feeling of being swept away by a great film that captured your imagination or left antsy by one that just seemed stupid.
We're going to look at those extremes here. For help, we're turning to Rotten Tomatoes, the popular movie review aggregate site. Their "Tomatometer" gives every movie an approval rating, based on the number of critics who liked it. Of course, it's just a simple percentage, yet the Tomatometer has revolutionized the way people rely on film criticism. From looking at the score, you can get a quick snapshot of whether a film is critically acclaimed or reviled.
Half the movies on this list have perfect 100% ratings, meaning every review posted to Rotten Tomatoes was positive. The others have an imperfect 0% rating, meaning all the reviews were negative. Both scores are rare because, of course, it's uncommon for everyone to agree on anything, especially movies. That's what makes these examples so fascinating -- they go against the grain. In each case, we'll tell you what the critics loved or hated about it and what led to its score.
Here are 13 Kids’ Movies With 100% On Rotten Tomatoes (And 12 That Are Stuck With 0%).
Toy Story was the first feature-length computer-animated movie, and it set the bar extremely high. The charming tale of a little boy's feuding cowboy doll and astronaut action figure earned raves for its innovation.
At a time when traditional hand-drawn animation was the norm, it was astonishing to see characters that looked like real toys come to life. They even had visible texture.
Excellent vocal performances from Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, coupled with a story that meaningfully explores the bond between children and their toys, led to a perfect rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
Max Steel is the story of teenager Max McGrath (Ben Winchell) who develops the ability to generate energy with his body. He combines the energy with that of an alien named Steel, and together they form the superhero named in the movie's title.
Critics were not kind to Max Steel.
The film is based on a line of action figures that were introduced in the late '90s, which really didn't provide much substance other than a cool name and a semi-intriguing look. Reviews, which were unanimously negative, declared it brainless and boring.
Nicolas Roeg is best-known for directing edgy, adult-oriented films like Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth. That made it a bit surprising when he delivered a movie for kids in 1990.
The Witches is about a boy and his grandmother trying to stop a coven of witches from carrying out their plan of turning children into mice.
Critics loved the way Roeg adapted Roald Dahl's book. Because he wasn't afraid to push boundaries, The Witches was a little darker than most movies aimed at kids. That set it apart, to universal acclaim.
The holiday comedy All I Want For Christmas follows a little girl named Hallie (Thora Birch) and her brother Ethan (Ethan Embry) as they try to get their divorced parents to fall in love again. They get some help from a department store Santa Claus (Leslie Nielsen).
There is not a single good review of this movie on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics found it to be heavy-handed in its story about the effects of divorce on children.
The humor, meanwhile, was deemed forced and unfunny.
With many other yuletide comedies from which to choose, critics encouraged viewers to skip this one.
The word "movie" in the title The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie is a bit misleading. This isn't really a movie in the traditional sense. Instead, it's a feature-length compilation of previously-released Looney Tunes shorts featuring the two beloved characters that just happened to play in theaters. A couple new sequences bridge them all together.
Despite being an unconventional release, Bugs and pals have a perfect Rotten Tomatoes score.
Accounting for this isn't difficult: the Looney Tunes shorts are classics. You really can't go wrong with them, and critics didn't mind sitting through 100 minutes of them.
The John Travolta/Kirstie Alley comedy Look Who's Talking was a surprise hit in 1989. Two subpar sequels followed, the worst of which was 1993's Look Who's Talking Now. Whereas the gimmick of the first two movies was that viewers could hear human babies "talk," this one featured talking pets instead.
Critics rightly pointed out that this was a complete abandonment of the original premise.
Since there are dozens of talking animal movies, there was no need for yet another.
Look Who's Talking Now has a great big goose egg at Rotten Tomatoes.
Old Yeller is the legendary Disney tearjerker about a stray dog who becomes a beloved pet to a Texas family. He helps the eldest son run the farm while father is away on a cattle drive. By now, everyone knows that the story ends with that boy having to put the dog down. Tears will definitely flow.
Sometimes people accuse film critics of being heartless, but Old Yeller proves otherwise. Reviewers were every bit as susceptible to the movie's heart-tugging as anyone else. In fact, it's considered a classic family film, as evidenced by its perfect score.
Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour is barely a blip on the cinematic radar. The PG-rated movie opened in more than 1,100 theaters in 2007, played for two weeks, and still earned less than a million bucks.
It's the story of a teenage girl dealing with ghostly activity in her small town.
Part of the reason audiences ignored the movie was the barrage of negative reviews.
Everything about Sarah Landon was criticized -- the performances, the dialogue, the cinematography, the visual effects.
You name it and the critics panned it, resulting in a 0% rating.
A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories have been read by millions of children, but when you think of the character and his friends, the Disney animated versions probably come to mind. That's in large part because of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a landmark 1977 compilation of shorts featuring them.
It's hard not to fall in love with the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods, and critics definitely did. They cheered the faithfulness to Milne's work, as well as the sweet, good-natured messages imparted to the target audience of young children.
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is based on a series of stickers that were a fad in the '80s because they satirized the Cabbage Patch Kids. In the film, the titular characters -- who are all gross or bizarre in some way -- help a bullied boy learn how to stand up for himself.
Making a movie based on stickers was an idea with very little creative potential.
Reviews repeatedly mentioned the annoying over-emphasis on cheap gross-out humor, such as the character who often wets his pants.
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie not only has a 0% rating -- it's widely considered one of the worst films of the 1980s.
Searching for Bobby Fischer is a family movie, but it's a sophisticated one. This is the story of a young chess prodigy who receives training from a no-nonsense coach (Ben Kingsley).
The coach wants him to play in the ruthless style of the controversial real-life chess legend referenced in the film's title, which the kid resists.
All the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are positive for this one, which was roundly heralded for being a smart, engaging movie that doesn't talk to down to children.
In a time when many films aimed at kids are frivolous, critics appreciated that this one has real weight.
Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker is a yuletide classic. Director Andrei Konchalovsky’s The Nutcracker in 3D is not. The movie was one of 2010's worst-reviewed, with a grand total of zero critics giving it a positive review.
For starters, the film turns the famous Tchaikovsky music into a series of banal pop songs.
Worse, critics universally noticed some deeply uncomfortable imagery, courtesy of the villainous Rat King and his uniformed troops, who throw toys into furnaces and terrorize people. They deemed it inappropriate for a family movie.
The murky retrofitted 3D just added insult to injury.
One of the most highly-rated kids' movies ever stretches all the way back to 1944.
National Velvet made Elizabeth Taylor a star and became an eternal cinematic favorite for equine-loving children everywhere. Mickey Rooney plays an ex-jockey who helps Taylor prepare to race her horse in the Grand National Sweepstakes.
Critics recognize the film's classic status, pointing to its strong characterization and sensitive handling of the emotional subject matter. And, of course, they have appreciation for Taylor's terrific breakthrough performance, which showcased her extraordinary talent. National Velvet is certified fresh at 100%.
The entire premise of Ed practically screams "0% Rotten Tomatoes score!" Matt LeBlanc plays the pitcher for a minor league baseball team who becomes close friends with one of his teammates -- a chimpanzee.
Yes, this is a comedy about a chimp who plays baseball.
That concept alone was enough to earn critical groans, and indeed, many reviewers pointed out its preposterousness. The potty humor was another turn-off, as was the unconvincing chimpanzee, accomplished by putting two acrobats inside a specially-designed animatronic suit.
Ed was deemed children's entertainment at its worst.
The animated Only Yesterday was released in Japan in 1991. It didn't hit North America until 2016, though. When it did, critics practically had to invent new words to celebrate this Studio Ghibli production.
More atmospheric than plot-driven, the movie follows an unmarried 27-year-old woman (voiced by Daisy Ridley for the English-language version) as she reflects back on key childhood memories in Tokyo while traveling through the countryside on her way to visit relatives.
Only Yesterday was lauded for its emotional content, beautiful animation, and unhurried pace. Many consider it one of Studio Ghibli's finest.
Mulan II is one of those cheaply-made direct-to-video sequels that Disney has made way too many of. This time, Mulan and General Shang must escort three princesses to their respective weddings. Only when they complete this task can they get married themselves.
While the original Mulan enjoys an 86% approval rating, the follow-up scores exactly 86 points lower.
No one who reviewed Mulan II felt it could even begin to hold a candle to its predecessor, thanks to unimpressive animation and thin storytelling.
The lack of Eddie Murphy as Mushu the dragon was another detriment.
It's impressive when any movie scores 100% at Rotten Tomatoes. It's beyond impressive when a movie and its sequel both achieve that honor. In fact, it's virtually unheard of, outside of Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
Making a sequel to such a flawless film seemed foolhardy. Then critics got a look at it. Thanks to the addition of lovable new characters and a story that expands and builds upon the ideas introduced in the original, Toy Story 2 became the rare follow-up to be every bit as good as its predecessor.
Across the board, reviews were glowing.
If children were allowed to work as film critics, Fred: The Movie might have more than a 0% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film features YouTube star Lucas Cruikshank as Fred, a popular character he created in his videos.
He's intentionally annoying and immature, in a way designed to appeal to kids much more than adults.
The film details Fred's attempts to win the heart of a girl he likes, and to defeat a rival for her affections.
Adult critics found the entire experience grating. They hated the imbecilic humor and thought Fred was unpleasant to spend 80 minutes with.
Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers is different from every other movie on this list, in that it's a short film, running just 30 minutes. Despite that brevity, reviewers feel that a vast amount of awesomeness is packed into that half-hour.
The movie is universally admired.
The intentionally silly story, in which inventor Wallace and his dog Gromit become unwitting participants in a penguin's scheme to pull of a jewel theft, is packed with witty gags that had critics cracking up. The stop-motion animation used by Aardman, meanwhile, was cheered for its innovation.
Superbabies is a mind-blowingly terrible movie. Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 is somehow even worse. The rather flimsy premise of these pictures is that intellectually-advanced infants are capable not only of talking, but also of working as crimefighters.
The original scored a bleak 2%. The sequel managed to sink even lower, earning 0%.
Common criticisms of the movie were an annoying "cutesy" streak, wooden performances, and the laughably bad special effects used to make it seem like very young children are talking and doing other remarkable things.
Seeing Oscar-winner Jon Voight in Superbabies 2 made critics sad, too.
If you've seen Saving Mr. Banks, you know that Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers created a lot of drama during the making of the movie based on her work. Despite what that Emma Thompson/Tom Hanks picture might lead you to believe, the author hated the final product. She was just about the only one.
Mary Poppins has that desirable, perfectly positive Tomatometer score.
Audiences have made it an all-time family classic. Critics have celebrated Julie Andrews' marvelous performance as the title character, the memorable songs, and the sense of good cheer that pervades the entire enterprise.
Mac and Me exists for two reasons. First, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial had been a mammoth hit and some enterprising producers wanted to capitalize on its success by making something similar. Second, one of those producers cut a deal with McDonald's to feature the fast food restaurant prominently in a motion picture. The result is a movie with not one good review.
In virtually every instance, critics pointed out that the film was nothing more than a low-budget E.T. ripoff, minus the entertainment value.
The blatant product placement for McDonald's and Coke was similarly singled out for scorn, as it makes Mac and Me play like a 90-minute commercial.
Pinocchio was only Walt Disney's second animated feature, following Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but it was clear that he already had a winning formula figured out. Combine a great story, lovable characters, and a memorable song or two, and you've got a success.
Since Pinocchio has all those things, it's no surprise that it can brag about a 100% Tomatometer rating. Read the reviews and you'll notice a common theme -- the care and love that went into every aspect of it can be felt throughout.
This isn't just a movie, it's a work of art.
While Walt Disney's version of Pinocchio has a 100% rating, Roberto Benigni's version has the complete opposite. The writer/director/actor followed up his Oscar win for Life is Beautiful with a live-action take on the classic tale. In the process, he took one of the biggest falls from grace in cinema history.
The critics pounded this Pinocchio, saying that Benigni made a poor choice by casting himself in the title role.
Having actor Breckin Meyer dub his voice for the American release added a level of fakeness that proved distracting. Reviews called the movie a vanity project gone seriously wrong.
Paddington 2 is a movie about the joys of being nice to others. That message touched 100% of the critics who posted their reviews to Rotten Tomatoes. There are 199 of them, and every single one designates the movie as "fresh."
Many point out that the wholesome, positive message is a breath of fresh air in a cultural and political climate that can fairly be described as tense. Paddington the bear, critics believe, has something of value to say to anyone watching his movie. Kindness matters.
The sweet story and hilarious comedy are other frequent subjects of praise.
Do you think the critics at Rotten Tomatoes got these movies right? Tell us what you think in the comments.