12 Movies to Watch With Your Dog or Cat

The perfect movies to watch on the couch with your pet.
By: Dorri Olds
Movies to watch with your pet

Cooler temps and shorter days provide the perfect opportunity for indoor bonding activities you can do with your pet. Here are 12 movies you can watch with your cat or dog.

Here is a list of 12 movies that we recommend. Some are animated, some have animal stars, and others will crack you up. A few will even make you break out the hankies and hold each other tight. Either way, these tails… er … tales will keep you and your pet engaged for hours.

Hotel for Dogs

Two sneaky sibs (Emma Roberts and Justin T. Austin) befriend a scene-stealing Jack Russell Terrier. Their oblivious foster parents (Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon) are self-involved wannabe rock stars who have no idea that the kids are spending their time setting up an unofficial dog shelter in an abandoned hotel. Don Cheadle plays a social worker with a soft spot. Seventy dogs were used to play strays—and a lot of them were real life rescues.

Wall-e

WALL-E

Pixar animated a world of wonder 700 years into the future. WALL-E is the only “living” creature left on earth. He’s a solar powered robot who gets scooped up by a spaceship that transports him to another planet where pudgy people are transported by remote in full service hovercrafts equipped with food and supersize beverages. The brightly colored animation, strange sounds, and heartwarming plot will hypnotize both you and your pet.

The Artist

This black and white jewel took home five Oscars in 2012. It stars Jean Dujardin who won for best actor but it is Uggie, a Jack Russell Terrier, who steals the show. Uggie went from real life rags to starry riches, which he detailed in his post-movie memoir, “Uggie—My Story.” The rescued Uggie writes, “At sixteen pounds, it was joked that I weighed slightly more than the average Hollywood actress.” We give our guarantee that this feisty and furry actor will amaze you. Be prepared to cuddle for comfort during parts of this moving saga.

Beginners

In this film that is part comedy and part drama, the main character Oliver (Ewan McGregor) reflects on the life and death of his gay father Hal (played by Christopher Plummer) while opening his life up to a new romance with a French actress (Mélanie Laurent). Oliver inherits Hal’s dog, an adorable Jack Russell Terrier named Arthur, who becomes the man’s much needed confidant during a hard time. Arthur is played in the film by Cosmo, who also appeared in a starring role in “Hotel for Dogs.” This film will have both you and your pet reflecting on the nuisances, difficulties, and enduring love that is part of the parent-child (or pet-parent and pet) relationship. 

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen created a character out of a city and added his touches of magic. Think “Purple Rose of Cairo” where a leading man stepped out of a movie screen to romance a depression-era Mia Farrow, or when “Zelig” appeared on the nightly news with the Pope and Calvin Coolidge. Owen Wilson plays the lead character, Gil, modeled after the younger Allen. Gil is idealistic, romantic and neurotic yet so fun to watch. Gil romanticizes Paris the way Allen does Manhattan. It’s an all-star cast but your kitty or pooch will spend the movie entertained by the wonderment on your face.

Seven Psychopaths

A deliciously dark comedy about a drunken screenwriter Marty (Colin Farrell) who is late with his screenplay. All he has is the title. Marty’s writer’s block is catastrophic, but his wackadoo dognapping friends Hans (Christopher Walken) and Billy (Sam Rockwell) want to help. With help like that… Oy! Unintentionally, Hans and Billy create Marty’s plot. You know, that whole “truth is stranger than fiction” thing. They kidnap the wrong dog. Bonny the Shih Tzu belongs to a dangerous man (Woody Harrelson). Now nobody’s safe. Men with guns abound. Writer and director Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) has succeeded in creating a hilarious Quentin Tarrantino-ish film with cartoonish over-the-top violence and humor so dark you almost feel guilty laughing. You and your pet will fall for Bonny the Shih Tzu though. It’s unavoidable.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Dame Judi Dench stars with Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel and Bill Nighy and they are all in top form in this film. India itself is a strong character with its scenery richly displayed by the film’s high production value. The plot centers on a group of British retirees manipulated by a Photoshopped brochure of the “newly restored” Marigold Hotel. Upon arrival the guests are shocked and dismayed by the dilapidated state of the hotel. Some handle it with grace, while others with everything but. This one is a charmer. You’ll never forget the hotel manager saying, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right then it is not the end.”

Monsters Inc.

This Academy Award-winning animated comedy adventure brought us Sulley (John Goodman) and his wisecracking best friend, a little green one-eyed yet expressive character named Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal). Monsters, Inc. is a factory for scream processing. Children are strictly forbidden. Boo (Mary Gibbs) is a little girl who follows Sulley into Monstropolis and chaos ensues. Other voiced characters include Steve Buscemi, James Coburn and Jennifer Tilly.

A Royal Affair

There’s no money for social programs; rich folks don’t want to pay taxes, foreigners are given the heave-ho, the military budget’s in jeopardy, the poor don’t have a prayer, and religion can’t be bothered with facts. No, we’re not talking about the evening news. “A Royal Affair” takes place in 1768 when things were rotten in Denmark and people weren’t who they seemed. Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Følsgaard) is King, but in name only. His focus is on large-breasted prostitutes, alcohol, and his beloved dog. Disillusioned and neglected, his wife, English-born Queen Caroline Mathilde (Alicia Vikander), falls into the hunky arms of the King’s royal physician, German Count Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). Ooh, hold onto your corset because it’s a delicious hot mess. One caveat—this film has subtitles, so you’ll have to read everything to your pet.

Marley & Me

It wouldn’t be a pet-centric movie list if I didn’t include this li’l winner. It’s based on the bestselling book written about the true story of John and Jennifer Grogan (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) who adopt an adorable four-pound puppy who grows into the most boisterous and badly behaved 100-pound Labrador Retriever you’ve ever seen. He’s a lovable wrecking crew. You’ll need to explain to your pets that Marley is not a role model.

Robot & Frank

Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option; against the old man’s wishes he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places. “Robot & Frank” features an award-winning cast including Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, James Marsden and Liv Tyler. Your pet will get a kick out of the robot.

Darling Companion

Diane Keaton’s character Beth falls in love with an abandoned dog found by the side of the road. She aptly names him Freeway. Meanwhile, her marriage to Joseph, a distracted, irritable doctor (Kevin Kline), is strained. Joseph’s sister Penny (Diane Wiest) is also distracted but for her that’s a good thing. She’s in the throws of budding love with happy-go-lucky Russell (Richard Jenkins). There are plenty more love and companionship subplots that develop while everyone pulls together to hunt for Keaton’s lost dog Freeway after he sprinted after an animal into the woods and goes missing for three weeks. It’s based on the writer’s true story of driving down a Detroit freeway, spotting a neglected dog, pulling over and heroically dashing up an embankment to rescue him. Freeway is played by Kasey, a multi-colored Collie mix who’d been abandoned and mistreated and still bears the scar from a too-tightly-tied rope that had been embedded in his neck. Kasey and his understudy, Kuma, an Australian Cattle Dog mix, are both rescued dogs adopted from L.A. shelters and are now seasoned actors.