When most people think of robots, they think of technologically advanced, high-performing marvels of the future. In truth, though, robots – or at least the idea of them in popular culture – have been around since the 1920’s when Czech playwright Karel Capek made them a feature of his play R.U.R., short for Rossum’s Universal Robots. Ever since, people have been fascinated by the idea of robots.
This is especially true of children. There’s just something about robots that’s exciting, interesting and a little bit scary. When kids watch robot movies, they can connect with the robots because they have such humanoid personalities.
Whether they’re good or bad robots, they still have very human desires, drives and characteristics. Perhaps we see a little of ourselves in these cinematic machines, and that’s why robot movies are so popular.
Here we’ve compiled a list of the best robot movies for kids of all ages:
Robot Movies for Little Kids (5-7)
This animated movie about a robot who goes off to follow his dreams is still one of my all-time favorite robot cartoons to this very day. It came out the year my son was born. He discovered a couple of years later, and I know we must have watched it at least two dozen times.
There’s some light potty humor, including an extended scene about passing gas, but everything is done with pure intentions, and the few “adult jokes” thrown in are clever enough to make you crack up while sailing right over your kid’s head.
Although this movie has a bit of a slow start, at least for younger kids who are usually more restless and prone to distraction, the action soon picks up and has plenty of flash and bang to hold your toddler’s attention.
ALL-E is actually a very sweet, insightful movie about all the damage human beings are doing to the planet and what could happen if we don’t act now to turn it around. It also features an adorable robot romance that’ll make even the biggest cynic say “Awwwwww.”
Cody the Robosapien (Alternate Title: Robosapien: Rebooted) (2013)
Although this movie wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed, it was quite the hit at my niece’s sixth birthday sleepover.
It’s a sweet, somewhat low-key story of a robot who was created to be a weapon for the military. His creator, not wanting that on his conscience, helped the robot escape.
During the escape, the robot is damaged, but he’s later found by a little boy who names him Cody and becomes his best friend.
The action picks up a little when the company that owns Cody tries to get him back, but all in all, this is one you’ll probably want to let your kiddo watch solo.
The Iron Giant (1999)
If you only watch one robot movie with your child this year, make sure it’s The Iron Giant. The movie has a great voice cast, including Vin Diesel as the Iron Giant, as well as Jennifer Anniston, Harry Connick Jr. and Christopher McDonald.
Set after the Cold War, a little boy (Hogarth) finds a giant alien robot that’s found its way to Earth. The two develop a strong, lovely friendship, but the giant is constantly in danger of being destroyed by the government.
This movie will make you smile, laugh and shed plenty of tears, but it’s absolutely the best robot movie for little kids there is.
The Backyardigans: Robot Repairman (2009)
I’m going to go on record as saying I don’t like the Backyardigans. I know; I know. They’re fun, sweet, clean and all that other good stuff, but truthfully, they just annoy me. However, when my son was little, he absolutely adored them.
If you have kids that love them just as much, they’ll love this movie, which takes the Backyardigans to a huge city in the future and puts Austin in the role of robot repairman.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)
Although Jimmy Neutron was only ever supposed to appear on the small screen, Nickelodeon loved the character so much, they decided to make him into a movie as well.
If you’ve ever seen the show, you pretty much know what the movie is about. It has a lot of flashy fight scenes, explosions, over-the-top monsters and more.
It doesn’t have a super great plot, but the action and amazing animation style make it favorite for most young children.
Astro Boy (2009)
Astro Boy actually began as a manga series called Mighty Atom in the 1960’s, with this 2009 movie coming much later.
It features an all-star cast of voice actors including Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy, Samuel L. Jackson, Donald Sutherland and more, so if you watch this flick, you’re definitely going to recognize some voices.
Astro Boy was built by a scientist and given extraordinary abilities like x-ray vision, super strength and the ability to fly. He’s forced to use his abilities to save the city and the people he loves.
Be aware that there’s some slightly dark stuff in this movie, including death, war and a lot of cartoon violence. It may not be suitable for very young children.
The Adventure of A.R.I.: My Robot Friend (2020)
The newest movie on our list, this film actually reminded me a lot of Cody the Robosapien. The plot is much the same: A wealthy, greedy, violent man wants to capture the main robot of the story and turn it into a weapon of war that he can sell to the highest bidder.
A teenager happens across the robot by chance and tries to help hide it from the man. It’s mostly live action with a little bit of CGI and special effects thrown in for good measure.
Also like Cody the Robosapien, it wasn’t one that I liked too much, but the silly humor and flashy special effects make it something most kids enjoy.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Even though my son is now 15, this is still one of his all-time favorite movies. Although a little darker than most Disney movies tend to be, the underlying themes of how to effectively deal with grief and loss make it a worthwhile movie for any child (or adult for that matter).
In it, a young boy loses his brother and turns to his brother’s creation – a giant, over-sized droid named Baymax – to help him deal with his loss and feel connected to his brother.
Eventually, in true Disney form, a big bad appears, and the young boy must teach the gentle giant Baymax and some of his other friends to fight the evil before it destroys them.
The Incredibles (2004)
In this popular Pixar film, the robots are the bad guys. Kids love this movie because of the insane action sequences, the witty one-liners and of course, the super powers.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a family of superheroes who live in a world that not only despises superheroes but has actually made using superpowers illegal. When a bunch of robots attack the city, though, the Incredibles are the only ones who can help.
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Although this isn’t one of Disney’s most well-known flicks, it’s one of its best. To this day, I’m still not sure why more people haven’t watched (and loved) this movie.
It has great characters that are absolutely, hilariously nuts. Plus, underneath all the wackiness, futuristic settings and robots, it also has a seriously strong message that reminds the watcher to let go of yesterday; it’s already past. Figure out how to make your future brighter instead.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
It goes without saying that the Star Wars movies are great movies for kids who love robots, but A New Hope is probably the very best. In this “episode,” the bumbly, lovable C-3PO and his compact sidekick R2-D2 totally steal the show.
Even today, they’re arguably two of cinema’s most well-loved robots of all time. It’s easy to forget that C-3PO is a robot rather than human, despite his super shiny, golden body, and R2-D2 is just adorable.
Sid the Science Kid: The Movie (2013)
Although I wouldn’t recommend this one for family movie night (because it’s not super appealing to most adults) it’s a great robot movie for kids to watch solo.
It rates high on lists for “positive messages for kids” and “educational value” and has absolutely nothing that might be considered objectionable, so you can allow them to watch it alone in confidence.
In it, Sid and his friend visit a cool science museum, only to discover the robots have run amok, and Sid has to stop them.
Robot Movies for Big Kids (8-9)
Next Gen (2018)
This is a fun, flashy and exciting movie that actually has much deeper, more adult themes running just underneath the surface.
Based on a fairly well-known Chinese comic, the movie follows the story of Mai Su, a lonely teenage girl who’s pretty much angry at the whole world.
She meets an oversized A.I. named 7723, and the two of them team up to save the world from a really bad guy.
The movie explores themes of grief, abandonment, friendship and relationships, teenage emotions, evil and justice. It’s one of the few movies for little kids that I’ve actually enjoyed in a long while.
I’m not sure if it’s my extreme love of animals, dogs in particular, that drew me to this movie, but I loved it.
It’s a relatively new movie, only a couple of years old, about a boy who meets a robot dog called A.X.L. who was created to help soldiers in war zones.
The teenage boy, Miles, and a friend of his, Sara, try to keep A.X.L. safe from the hands of the military, who want him back.
It’s actually a movie that made me tear up a little, and my niece was sobbing, but ultimately, the ending isn’t as sad as it first seems to be.
Short Circuit 2 (1988)
This sequel didn’t do nearly as good at the box office as the original, and I didn’t like it nearly as much either.
Still, it’s definitely worth a watch, and it does provide a nice, tidy ending for the first film, so if you and your child are going to watch the first movie, you might as well finish up with this one too.
Transformers Prime Beast Hunters: Predacons Rising (2013)
If you think the Transformers are cool but couldn’t really get into the movie – which is fair, it isn’t for everyone – you might try watching this animated version with your kids instead.
This movie acted as a “wrap up” for the Transformers television show, and as far as animated shows go, it isn’t that bad. It’s the typical transform, smash, blow things up type of cartoon. Little boys, especially, will love it.
Treasure Planet (2002)
This is another Disney movie that often gets overlooked in the Disney repertoire. Basically, it’s an animated, sci-fi version of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and it’s pretty awesome.
It features some pretty big-name voices, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Martin Short, Laurie Metcalf and Emma Thompson.
The film didn’t do great in the theaters, but if either you or your child are a big Disney fan, you won’t want to pass this one up.
The Adventures of RoboRex (2014)
This one isn’t super fun for parents, but there’s an overload of doggie cuteness, so kids seem to love it.
11-year-old James is kind of an outsider who doesn’t have a lot of friends. What he does have is an awesome pet dog that he loves more than just about anything in the world.
This, of course, makes him the perfect person to help an alien who comes to Earth in the form of a robot dog named RoboRex.
It’s a little silly and a little kiddish, but it’s not a bad flick overall.
Forbidden Planet (1956)
This is a 1950’s classic that both you and your kids can enjoy together. Despite it’s obviously old appearance, your kids will still love the story of Robby the Robot, Morbius and his family.
A space mission is sent to another planet to find out what happened to the scientists that were living there.
The group quickly meets Robby, who takes them to Morbius, and they find out that he, his family and the robot are the last living survivors of a planetary force that wiped out everyone else.
Robot Movies for Tweens (10-12)
Short Circuit (1986)
Although this old-school, sci-fi classic from the 80’s doesn’t have the flashy graphics and big explosions like some of the newer movies on this list, it’s still amazing.
I actually remember watching this for the first time as a child. I laughed, cried and rooted for Number 5 (the robot) so much that my mom had to tell me to calm down.
In this movie, Number 5, a military robot, gets struck by lightning and develops a human conscience. He suddenly knows about love, pain and death, and he knows he doesn’t want to die or to kill.
He escapes the military installation and meets a woman who helps him evade recapture. Be aware that there’s some pretty bad language in this flick, but it’s so good, you’ll barely notice.
Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
Although this movie actually tanked at the box office, it received quite a bit of critical acclaim and happens to be a favorite at my house.
It has an amazing cast, including such popular names as Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Josh Hutcherson and the always amazing Tim Robbins, and the story is actually pretty good.
It’s kind of a sci-fi version of Jumanji; two brothers get sucked into an intergalactic world courtesy of the board game they’re playing.
There, they encounter all kinds of crazy sci-fi things, including robots. The story is good; the cast is great; the special effects are amazing. This is a must-see for any robot-loving family.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
With this 2015 flick, Star Wars made a whole new generation of kids fall in love with robots with the adorable new addition of BB-8. I, myself, am not a huge fan of the force, but my son loves it, so I dutifully went with him to the theater to see The Force Awakens.
Honestly, I couldn’t tell you a thing about what happened in that movie, but I can tell you that my son loved it, and I loved the little orange and white robot so much that I went out and bought a plushie pillow of him the next day.
Every time a movie becomes super popular, it seems like a parody of that movie gets released soon after.
Spaceballs was one of the very first of these parodies, and it was released soon after Star Wars gained such unexpected popularity.
It stars all the 1980’s funny men, including John Candy, Mel Brooks, Rick Moranis, Bill Pullman and even one 1980’s funny gal, Joan Rivers.
It’s an absolutely hilarious parody of Star Wars that’ll have your kid belly laughing so hard, he won’t even notice the cheesy 1980’s special effects and ridiculous costume choices.
Pacific Rim (2013)
If your kid was a fan of Transformers because of the action, explosions and huge robots, s/he’ll also love Pacific Rim.
In a world overrun with monsters, humans create giant, human-controlled robots to fight them, but will it be enough to stop the terrifying creatures from the deep?
This movie has a lot of action and a lot of drama. Teenagers tend to love it, but it’s sometimes pretty hit or miss for adults.
It does star Idris Elba and Charlie Hunman, though, so there are some pretty faces to look at if the action doesn’t excite you.
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)
This sequel to the original Pacific Rim is actually a lot like the original, only with a newer, younger cast. John Boyega stars as the son of Stacker Pentacost (Idris Elba’s character in the original).
He teams back up with one of the original cast members from the first movie (Rinko Kikuchi as Mako Mori) to pilot new giant robots against the new threat of monsters attacking the world.
The plot is quite similar, and the movie is still driven by its incredible action sequences, insane CGI and special effects and a whole lot of explosions.
Real Steel (2011)
Starring Hugh Jackman, Real Steel appeals to younger viewers because of all the action and cool fight scenes. It did surprisingly well at the box office for a film about robots and is still a hit with kids today.
I was not a huge fan of the movie because I felt it lacked a cohesive plot, but my son absolutely loved it when it came out. He still pops it in the Blu-ray every now and then.
It’s about a former boxer who decides to “get back in the ring” by entering a robot into the highly popular world of robot boxing.
Robot Movies for Teens (13+)
Okay, okay. I know what you’re going to say. Every other parent I know absolutely despises this movie, but I’m not going to lie, I kind of love it.
I’m not sure if it’s because when my son was little, the only two things he loved more than he loved me were Spiderman and the Transformers or because the robots in this movie just look so amazing, but this movie gives me some serious nostalgia.
The acting isn’t super great, and Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf had some of the most awful on-screen chemistry I’ve ever seen, but I still say this is one of the best robot movies ever.
At the time this movie came out, the amazing way the transformers looked and the fluidity with which they transformed from automobile to robot was breathtaking.
Kids absolutely love this movie both for the cool robots and the over-the-top action and explosions.
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
A collaboration between two powerhouses like Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg was bound to be a hit, and although many Kubrick fans felt Spielberg didn’t do justice to the film after Kubrick died, A.I. still has a huge cult following today.
Starring Haley Joel Osment as the first robot ever programmed to love, this is one robot movie that will have both you and your child in tears and ready to adopt the sweet robot boy just so you can bring him home for a hug.
I, Robot (2004)
If your teenager likes movies that incorporate both action and a little bit of scariness into them, I, Robot is a great choice.
Will Smith plays a robot-hating detective who lives in a future version of America where most menial jobs have been taken over by robots. He comes to suspect that a robot has committed murder, but while investigating, he comes across something much larger and much more terrifying.
This movie is actually one of the few movies about robots that creeps me out a little bit, so it certainly isn’t for your younger children.
Robot & Frank (2012)
This isn’t a movie that a younger child is likely to understand, but if you have older teens, this is a good one to share with them.
They’ll enjoy it for its humor, which is sometimes crass and mostly hilarious. You’ll enjoy it for the unique plot and Frank Langella’s spot-on portrayal of Frank. You both may end up crying at the end.
Frank, once a successful con artist and now an aging man experiencing some trouble with his mind, is given a robot “caretaker” by his son.
At first Frank wants nothing to do with it, but then he realizes he can teach it to pick locks and perform acts of petty theft and sees he might have a use for it after all.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
If you’re a fan of sci-fi and/or robots and you haven’t heard of Ghost in the Shell, I don’t know where you’ve been hiding for the past several years.
First an incredibly popular manga, which was then turned into an amazing tv adaptation, this 2017 version of the story was done on the big screen and stars Scarlett Johannson and Pilou Asbæk. (If you don’t know him, look him up. He’s an amazing actor who doesn’t get nearly enough credit.)
Johannson’s character plays a human-turned-cyborg who dedicates her life to catching the worst of the worst.
Despite what you may be thinking, RoboCop didn’t make the list because of RoboCop, who is technically a cyborg, not a robot. No, RoboCop made the list because of ED-209, the enforcement droid.
These guys terrified me when I watched the original as a kid, and they scared the mess out of my son when we watched this remake a couple decades later.
This movie about an injured cop turned cyborg is full of action, lots of awesomely choreographed fighting and shooting scenes, and it just looks really cool. Your teenagers, especially your teenage boys, will love it.
The Terminator (1984)
There have been tons of Terminator movies over the years, but the original with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton is by far the best.
If you want to share a Terminator movie with your teen, make sure it’s this one. This robot movie, more than any other one out there, is the one that first truly scared humans.
What if robots could evolve? And what if they didn’t like humans very much once they did? This movie is action-packed and, at times, terrifying. Teens will love it.
Blade Runner (1982)
While this movie may be a little too sophisticated for younger children, it’s actually a really great movie for you to share with your teenagers.
It consistently ranks near the top of “Best Science Fiction Movies” lists as well as “Best Robot Movies” lists.
All star blade runner Deckard, played by a young, handsome Harrison Ford, is tasked, like all blade runners, with tracking down and ridding the world of “replicants” (basically highly evolved robots).
The replicants look just like humans, and the only way to tell them apart is by asking them questions that, in humans, would evoke an emotional response but in replicants evoke no emotion.
The longer you watch, though, you start to wonder who’s on the right side of history – the humans or the replicants?
The Star Wars Franchise
Star Wars really needs no description, so I won’t bother giving one.
We all know exactly what it is, even if we’ve never seen any of the movies. (Seriously, though, who do you know who hasn’t seen at least one Star Wars movie?)
If your children are into science fiction and robots, you have to let them watch these movies, even if you’re not a fan of the force yourself.
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
- Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
- Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
- Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker