Special Report

The Best G-Rated Movies Ever Made

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Since the launch of the MPAA ratings system in 1968, the “G” in G rating has stood for “General Audiences,” meaning viewers of all ages are welcome. Because it was retroactively applied to a number of older movies — most of which were crafted for adults — the rating breaks down informally into two categories. On one side are the legion of old movies that were wholesome by nature, but not necessarily aimed at children. On the flip side is contemporary G-rated fare, which often seems directly aimed at children or families and can be quite lucrative as a result. (See how many are among the biggest worldwide box office hits of the last 20 years.) 

Due to their ongoing association with such a young demographic, G-rated movies retain a certain stigma among modern audiences, and sometimes justly so. The worst examples conjure little more than a threadbare storyline with no semblance of complexity or depth (for proof, look no further than the worst G-rated movies ever made.)

However, the best G-rated films of all time offer a starkly different perspective, displaying no shortage of intelligence and emotion. The animated output of Pixar and Studio Ghibli, for instance, is typically no less sophisticated than the arthouse drama playing in the theater next door. 

Click here to see the best G-rated movies ever made

Jump further back in time and one discovers a whole host of G-rated cinematic classics, although some are probably the last thing a child would want to see (“2001: A Space Odyssey?”). Meanwhile, there’s no viewer too old for Charlie Chaplin, who commonly layered mature themes beneath a veneer of physical hijinks. Some of his best work also happens to be rated G. 

To identify the best R-rated movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and calculated an index of each movie’s rating on IMDb and its audience score and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes. IMdb is an online movie database owned by Amazon. Rotten Tomatoes is an online movie and TV review aggregator. Domestic box office figures came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, last updated in April 2021. Box office figures are not inflation adjusted. Casting and other supplemental data comes from IMDb.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

20. My Fair Lady
> Combined score: 2.67 — #408 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White
> Domestic box office: $72.0 million
> Genre: Drama, Family, Musical

In this Oscar-winning musical, an erudite professor (Rex Harrison) wagers that he can transform a lowly flower girl (Audrey Hepburn) into proper lady. It’s one of numerous adaptations of the George Bernard Shaw play “Pygmalion,” which first hit the stage in 1913.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

19. Ratatouille
> Combined score: 2.68 — #391 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Brad Garrett, Lou Romano, Patton Oswalt, Ian Holm
> Domestic box office: $206.4 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

A rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) possesses an incredible sniffer and some serious culinary skills in this Pixar hit. When he arrives in Paris, Remy secretly takes over cooking duties in the kitchen of a high-profile restaurant.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Distribution

18. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
> Combined score: 2.68 — #387 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Sebastian Cabot, Junius Matthews, Barbara Luddy, Howard Morris
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Follow beloved bear Winnie the Pooh through a series of misadventures in this animated anthology. In development for over a decade, it was the last film to involve Walt Disney himself.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

17. Captains Courageous
> Combined score: 2.68 — #385 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Spencer Tracy, Freddie Bartholomew, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family

A spoiled brat (Freddie Bartholomew) falls overboard and gets rescued by a fishing schooner in this high-seas adventure, based on a novel by Rudyard Kipling. Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his role as fisherman Manuel Fidello, who becomes a father figure to the young boy as the story progresses.

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Source: Courtesy of GKIDS

16. Kiki’s Delivery Service
> Combined score: 2.68 — #371 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Minami Takayama, Rei Sakuma, Kappei Yamaguchi
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama

Animation icon Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli — which he co-founded — are behind this beloved adventure. Utilizing her training, a young witch arrives in a new city and soon puts her magical skills to clever use.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
> Combined score: 2.69 — #310 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter
> Domestic box office: $59.9 million
> Genre: Adventure, Sci-Fi

Murderous apes and homicidal computers notwithstanding, Kubrick’s seminal space classic was rated G upon its release. Spanning eons, it suggests that the evolution of man may be the result of alien interference. Cinema itself was never quite the same.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

14. Toy Story 2
> Combined score: 2.70 — #272 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer
> Domestic box office: $245.9 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Originally conceived as a straight-to-video sequel, “Toy Story 2” ended up in theaters and even out-performed its predecessor at the box office. This time around, Woody and the gang square off against a maniacal toy collector.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

13. The Straight Story
> Combined score: 2.71 — #256 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz, Joseph A. Carpenter
> Domestic box office: $6.2 million
> Genre: Biography, Drama

Yes, that David Lynch helmed this G-rated drama, in which an old man (Richard Farnsworth) travels from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower. While a far cry from the director’s traditional output, the film does feature a bevy of quirky small-town characters.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

12. Beauty and the Beast
> Combined score: 2.71 — #251 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jesse Corti, Rex Everhart
> Domestic box office: $206.3 million
> Genre: Animation, Family, Fantasy

A Disney renaissance continued in full stride with the release of this fairy tale adaptation. Telling a tale as old as time, it centers on the unlikely relationship between a young woman and her beastly captor. While primarily hand-drawn, it also made early use of computer animation technology, most notably during the famous ballroom sequence.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

11. Finding Nemo
> Combined score: 2.71 — #249 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe
> Domestic box office: $380.5 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Most Pixar movies involve a physical journey of some sort and this one was no exception, taking the action undersea as a father fish searches for his missing son. It earned $867 million at the global box office and then an additional $53 million during a 3D re-release.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

10. Aladdin
> Combined score: 2.72 — #212 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman
> Domestic box office: $217.4 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Powered by Robin Williams (who voices the genie) and his high-energy antics, this Disney classic goes big on laughs and adventure alike. A young street hustler named Aladdin encounters a magic lamp and quickly puts his wishes to work. The film won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

9. Monsters, Inc.
> Combined score: 2.72 — #208 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi
> Domestic box office: $290.1 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

As it turns out, there is a monster in your closet and inciting children’s screams is basically his day job. When a little girl crosses into the monster world, it creates all sorts of havoc. This beloved Pixar outing was later followed by a prequel, “Monsters University.”

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

8. Toy Story 4
> Combined score: 2.72 — #201 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale
> Domestic box office: $434.0 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Woody and the gang are back and that means another coming-of-age adventure for toys and humans alike. Now owned by a young girl, Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) must contend with a handcrafted newcomer named Forky (voiced by Tony Hale). This remains the highest-grossing film of the franchise and the second-highest-grossing Pixar film to date.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

7. Limelight
> Combined score: 2.73 — #177 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Claire Bloom, Nigel Bruce, Buster Keaton
> Domestic box office: No data available
> Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

Chaplin’s final American film offers a sobering look at the nature of show business, chronicling the relationship between a washed-up comedian (Chaplin) and struggling ballet dancer. Heavily boycotted and critically overlooked at the time of its release, it was then re-released in 1972 to substantial acclaim. Fellow silent-era legend Buster Keaton appears in a supporting role.

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

6. Toy Story 3
> Combined score: 2.75 — #127 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty
> Domestic box office: $415.0 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Andy is heading off to college and leaving his toys behind in this third installment of the iconic franchise. Upon their arrival at a local daycare center, Woody and the gang grapple with unruly toddlers and a megalomaniac stuffed bear.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

5. The Lion King
> Combined score: 2.77 — #86 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones, Whoopi Goldberg
> Domestic box office: $421.8 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Drama

A guilt-ridden lion cub returns from exile in this animated adventure, which features one of the best soundtracks of all time. The film capped off a meteoric comeback run for Disney and snagged two Oscars in the process.

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

4. Toy Story
> Combined score: 2.80 — #47 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney
> Domestic box office: $192.5 million
> Genre: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

This epoch-making classic kicked open the doors for both Pixar Studios and the modern animation era at large. Replete with unforgettable characters, it depicts a group of toys who spring to life when humans aren’t around. Former Apple CEO and early Pixar financier Steve Jobs is credited as an executive producer.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

3. Singin’ in the Rain
> Combined score: 2.83 — #23 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen
> Domestic box office: $7.2 million
> Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance

Few musicals achieve the earnest comedy of this enduring masterpiece, in which a silent movie production company awkwardly transitions to the talkie era. Star Gene Kelly was famously battling a high fever during the movie’s most iconic song-and-dance sequence, making his performance all the more impressive.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

2. City Lights
> Combined score: 2.85 — #14 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers
> Domestic box office: $18 thousand
> Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

For the love of a blind flower girl, Chaplin’s Tramp goes to dangerous extremes in this treasured silent gem. Showcasing the many talents of its lead star, it combines deft physical comedy with quick-witted storytelling and genuine heart.

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1. Modern Times
> Combined score: 2.86 — #10 highest out of 17,276
> Starring: Al Ernest Garcia, Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Sandford, Chester Conklin, Hank Mann, Stanley Blystone
> Domestic box office: $163 thousand
> Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family

Chaplin stuck to his silent-era roots (more or less) when making this timeless comedy, which was released well into the talkie era. The story sends a young factory worker (Chaplin) through the gears of industry — literally — in its satirical exploration of the machine age. Its themes were prescient then and remain so to this day.

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