Movies featuring animals have charmed audiences for years. All the way back in 1918, Charlie Chaplin made A Dog’s Life, featuring one of the earliest canine performances. Since then, audiences have enjoyed various performances from dogs, cats, elephants, lions, tigers, and bears.
While several live-action films boasted animal companions — whether real, CGI animated, or an actor in costume — few cast an animal into the starring role. While some animal films have had troubled productions, others became classics for entertaining audiences of all ages. Whether for the animals’ adorable role or the film’s heartwarming plot, many viewers smile when remembering these films.
10 Flipper Is A Legacy Animal Movie
Since its initial debut, the pinball franchise graced the silver screen and the television screen. Beginning in 1963 with pinball, audiences followed a twelve-year-old boy who befriended an injured dolphin. The story continued with Flipper’s New Adventure and the television program pinball in 1964.
Fans of dolphin cinema had plenty of content to enjoy, thanks to pinball. Revived in 1995 with another television program, pinball ran for four seasons. While this television program was on the air, an unconnected feature film remake released in 1996, also titled pinball.
9 Andre Is A Seal, A Dog, And A Heartwarming Tale
Based on a real life story, Andre was a film from 1994 which followed a family from Maine who attempted to nurse a young seal back to health. However, the factual story concerning Andre the Seal was less family-focused and more a story of an individual man learning to care for a seal.
at the core, Andre is a dog movie about a seal who thinks it is a dog. Knowing it’s based on an endearing story and that it’s rare to discover a film starring a seal, audiences will want to give this film a shot.
8 Babe Was Nominated For Various Awards
The 90s classic babe followed a little pig on a farm who tries to find their place in the world. While it would’ve been easy to rely on an animation or live-action hybrid approach, the filmmakers chose to keep the film as practical as possible.
babe received nominations for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Animal films getting nominated at the Oscars are rare, which made the accomplishment even more impressive. babe would go on to receive a sequel, directed by Mad Max director George Miller.
7 Air Bud Will Always Be A Classic
Air Bud follows a golden retriever who’s good at every sport known to exist. The almost DC Super-Pet-like dog plays basketball in the original film but soon tackles baseball, soccer, football, and more. Boasting over twenty films in its library, the massive franchise has no shortage of content for viewers to enjoy.
whatseparates Air Bud from the dog films that came before it is the inclusion of sports. In a creative blend of themes, Air Bud brings animal lovers and sports fans together for a family-friendly flick.
6 Matilda Is A Real Knock Out
For classic cinema fans, Matilda is an animal movie often overlooked thanks to its wild and ridiculous plot. During the film, Elliott Gould plays a down-on-his-luck talent agent who decides his next boxing star client will be a kangaroo.
Combination sports and kangaroos, Matilda went done in history. The absurdity continued as audiences witnessed a giant Donnie Darko-esque kangaroo suit used to portray the titular animal in an Academy Award-worthy performance. fans of Kangaroo Jack will love Matilda, for mixing concepts later portrayed in Real Steel with a kangaroo underdog.
5 MVP Features A Primate With Legendary Skills
While technically in the Air Bud Cinematic Universethe movie MVP: Most Valuable Primate stands on its own. The film follows Jack the Monkey, who escapes from captivity and joins a hockey team. The heartwarming tale of friendship includes some shockingly emotional scenes that incorporate sign language.
The fun continues as Jack’s story progresses into the MVP trilogy. The sequels include MVP 2: Most Vertical Primatewhich portrays Jack becoming a talented skateboarder, and MXP: Most Xtreme Primatewhere Jack trades his skateboard for an XTREME snowboard.
4 Paulie Learns To Speak And Fly
For fans of their feathered friends, Paulie was a 1998 film that followed Paulie the Parrot as he made his way through various owners, changing all their lives. Jay Mohr voiced Paulie, a bird who didn’t seem to care about his caretakers until he learned to love them for who they were.
Birds rarely become a movie’s cuddly and adorable lead, but Paulie soars onto the scene. While Jay Mohr’s Paulie may not be everyone’s epitome of a cuddly protagonist, fans can’t help but root for the talkative parrot to learn how to fly.
3 The Amazing Panda Adventure Is An Adventure
The Amazing Panda Adventure is a China-set adventure film that revolves around ten-year-old Ryan Tyler, who attempts to rescue a baby panda from poachers. While the film feels lacking in some areas, the constant presence of an adorable panda is a plus.
Panda films have been rare given the animal’s history as an endangered animal, so despite the flaws that come with The Amazing Panda Adventure, the movie is worth checking out. If viewers are lucky, they’ll be treated to more panda films in the future.
2 Homeward Bound Is A VHS Classic
The Incredible Journey was a Disney production released in 1963, following two dogs and a cat who make a long and treacherous journey back to their homes. Producers remade the film in 1993 with a similar plot, titled Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.
Both films became classics in children’s eyes and cemented themselves as part of the official canon of animal movies. Any movie fan who was a kid in the 1990s probably got a lot of use out of their VHS copy for Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. For movie fans who haven’t seen it yet, the adventure is so to tug at their heartstrings.
1 Two Brothers Will Break Your Heart
Two Brothers is a 2004 tiger-based film following two tiger cubs separated at birth. Reunited later in life, the tiger siblings attempt to return home and find their mother. The movie can be a hard watch sometimes, thanks to it Bambi-esque moments. However, including the two tiger cubs, both often real-life tigers as opposed to CGI characters, makes the tears worth it.
Despite the digital cinematography heavily aging the film, Two Brothers is a lovable film that will capture the hearts of audiences young and old. Stirring the viewers’ emotions throughout the film, the tiger cubs truly steal the spotlight.
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