Howl's Moving Castle
(Parents, different films will be appropriate for different ages. We recommend commonsensemedia.org as a helpful resource in determing what's right for your child.)
Sophie is an 18-year-old girl who toils in the hat shop opened years ago by her late father. Often teased by the local boys, one day Sophie is unexpectedly befriended by Howl, a strange but flamboyant wizard whose large home can travel under its own power. The Witch of the Waste, however, is displeased with Sophie and Howl's budding friendship, and turns the pretty young woman into an ugly and aged hag.
Sophie takes shelter in Howl's castle, and attempts to find a way to reverse the witch's spell with the help of Calcifer, a subdued but powerful demon who exists in the form of fire, and Markl, who protects the four-way door which can instantly take visitors to other lands and dimensions.
Director Hayao Miyazaki. 119 mins. Rated PG, from 2004. Dubbed in English.
"Sophie, in both her incarnations, joins an impressive sisterhood of Miyazaki heroines, whose version of girl power presents a potent alternative to the mini-machismo that dominates American juvenile entertainment." A.O. Scott. A New York Times Critics' Pick!