The Best Movies for Kids Based Around the World

I’ve come up with this list of kids movies based in other countries to bring some education and entertainment into our home! There are plenty of times I try to enlighten my children as to how other people live around the world.

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Whether it’s about different languages or living conditions, I want them to understand that everywhere in the world doesn’t look like our little town (for better or worse). I found that showing them kids movies based in other countries are a great way for them to actually visualize what other parts of the world look like. I love them learning about other cultures, conditions, and historical situations from far away places.

Read on for my reviews of these kids movies based around the world (and what my kids thought about each).

You’ll find a section with animated movies as well as non-animated movies.

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Best Animated Movies Based in Other Countries

Moana- Based in the Polynesian Islands

Moana movies around the world

Many assume Moana is based in Samoa, but it’s a generalized idea that their island is among the Polynesian Islands.

Moana is a fictitious tale of a girl who has to live within the rules of the island and is destined to be its next great leader. But something about the ocean is calling her to go beyond. She breaks her father’s trust in order to try and save the island from the consequences of the past coming to life as she sails to restore the heart of Te Fiti.

This movie is entertaining and shows a lot of that island beauty. The characters are fun, strong, and evolving.

This is one of my little girl’s favorites and all of us enjoy the music.

Purchase Moana

Coco- Based in Mexico

Coco movies around the world

This was one of our favorite kids movies based in another country for a while!

Miguel is part of a big, loving family in Mexico who has disowned one of their uncles who has passed away. Miguel assumes his uncle is one of the biggest musicians in Mexico’s history and goes to find him. In order to do so, he has to pass into the land of the deceased during Día De los Muertos.

Coco is a great kids movie that teaches the tradition and belief about Dia de los Muertos and the importance of family.

My kids loved this movie and it is full of catchy music.

Purchase Coco

Luca- Based in Italy

Luca movies around the world

Luca takes place in what appears to be Cinque Terre, on the coast of Italy.

This fun movie is about a boy who is actually a “sea monster,” who discovers he can be just like the boys on land if he just gets out of the water!

Him and two new friends journey to win the Portorosso Cup in order to finally defeat the annoying and prideful Ercole who wins every year.

While there isn’t a ton of cultural education about Italy, the movie has fun scenes that make you feel like you’ve escaped to Italy, a few Italian lines, and a great story of strengthening friendships and sticking together.

Purchase Luca

Mulan (animated version)- Based in China

Mulan

Mulan is a fictitious story based on real historical events in China’s history. But the legend of Mulan is widely known.

Mulan is a brave girl who finds out her father is on his way to fight against the Hun leader. He is in a fragile state of health, so she disguises herself as a man and goes in his place. She is a fierce warrior who helps save her people from defeat.

There are a lot of great themes in this movie, specifically courage, honor, and love.

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Encanto- Based in Colombia

Encanto movies around the world

I’m sure just about everyone has heard of Encanto. I even heard “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” played on a major radio station recently.

Encanto is the story of a magical house that provides safety and joy to the Madrigal family.

While a magical house that decorates itself may not be true, the story behind Encanto and what brought them there is real. Colombia has been entrenched in civil wars for over 100 years and hundreds of thousands of Colombians have died or been displaced over it.

Encanto begins with a Disney-certified glimpse of those wars and the Madrigal family being driven from their home. That is when they are brought to La Casita, a place of safety for themselves and their village.

This has easily been one of the favorite movies of the year in our home with music playing non-stop on repeat. If you haven’t seen Encanto…well, you should.

Purchase Encanto

Raya and the Last Dragon- Based in southeast Asia

Raya and the last dragon

Raya and the Last Dragon is not based in a specific country, but rather the fictitious land of Kumandra which is supposed to be located in southeast Asia somewhere.

Raya is another brave Disney warrior, ready to do what she needs to do to save her village and her father. Many years before, the evil Druun swept thru the land and rather than killing the people, the dragons sacrificed themselves.

Centuries later, Raya and her village are once again threatened by the Druun monsters. They turn everyone to stone, including her father. But right before he is attacked, her father throws her over the side of the wall, down into the water where he knows the Druun can’t get to her, thus saving her.

Now it is up to Raya to find the last dragon that remains and fight off the Druun for good.

The whole story is not based off true events, but Disney did their research into southeast Asian culture and spread it throughout the film.

There are also customs throughout that represent the culture as well.

My kids really love this movie. There are a lot of funny parts that entertain them, and it’s a good overall story.

Purchase Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Non-Animated Kids Movies Based in other Countries

The Queen of Katwe- Based in Uganda

Our whole family really loved this movie!

Phiona, her mom and siblings live in the slums of Uganda. One day she peeks her head into an empty sanctuary where she sees kids being served free porridge…and learning the game of chess. The chess coach invites her in and she begins her journey into the world of chess.

Her natural instincts, talent, and ability to look ahead make her the new chess club champ. She continues to see how far her skills can get her in local, national, and international championships.

The Queen of Katwe shows life in Uganda and how different it can be than in the US.

This movie helped my kids gain an appreciation for the things and opportunities we have. For instance, the movie shows kids walking a ways and waiting in line to fill their plastic tanks with water everyday. The family eventually gets kicked onto the street to live. The sister chooses to go away with a richer man to find herself a better life. (While adults will know what interest the man has in her and she eventually becomes pregnant, it is not explained enough for young kids to have to deal with that concept).

I highly recommend this movie for families! Despite the poverty and hardships, it had some very uplifting and funny moments that the kids loved.

Purchase the Queen of Katwe

Cool Runnings- Based in Jamaica (and Canada)

This is a classic movie I remember hearing about from my youth, though I never actually watched it until now.

Cool Runnings is the story of a few motivated guys in Jamaica who lost their chance at the Olympics for the 100 meter from an unfortunate accident.

But they still want to go to the Olympics.

So against all odds, they find a bobsled coach and convince him to train them for this cold-weather sport…in Jamaica!

This movie is funny, inspiring, and fun. It’s great to see the island and sense of community there. And then you get a glimpse of the pressure the Olympics has on people.

Parental Warning: This movie does have a few curse words in it. One guy says another guy is an a**, one guy uses a motivational mantra with the word bada**, and “D” word is used once or twice.

Purchase Cool Runnings

The Sound of Music- Based in Austria

The Sound of Music is set in Salzburg Austria, and is based on the true story of the Von Trapp family.

The Von Trapps are a family made of a widowed naval capitan and 7 children. Maria becomes the house governess and grows their love of music. They become a popular music group who often performs and loves their governess as one of their own family members.

The story is set in the time of WWII.

My kids love this movie and find themselves singing along.

Purchase The Sound of Music

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Based in Peru

Dora the Explorer movies around the world

I thought I would be rolling my eyes during this whole movie, but it was actually pretty good.

Dora grew up in the jungle, but now her parents are going to search for Parapata, the ancient Inca city of gold. That means she is sent of California to live with her cousin Diego and attend (gulp) high school! Bright-eyed Dora doesn’t quite fit in and nobody likes her.

One day on a field trip, she and a few school kids are kidnapped and flown to Peru where her capturer hopes Dora can lead them to her parents so he can find the gold for himself.

This movie is not intense as far as the kidnapping goes. I don’t remember hearing any curse words (they do say “stupid” and “shut up” a couple times). You do see a gun a couple times very briefly, and nothing is done with it at all.

My kids loved this movie. It was pretty funny for adults as well. The beginning mimics the cartoon with her asking the viewers to repeat a Spanish word, but it’s used in humor as her parents look at each other and wonder “who is she talking to?” (That only happens once.)

Purchase Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Pelé – Based in Brazil

Pele movies around the world

Our whole family loved this inspiring movie about the famous soccer player Pelé.

The movie begins in a humble town in Brazil where the boys practice Ginga style soccer in the streets. They compete against other local teams who are much more well off and teased endlessly for their lack of money.

When his friend dies, he gives up on soccer and goes to help his dad at his janitorial job, where he learns he hates scrubbing toilets. His mother sees him practicing soccer moves with a mango and calls a man to come observe and recruit him.

Pelé is chosen for higher level teams, eventually making it to the World Cup with coaches who endlessly tell him to stop his Ginga-style of soccer and just play like everyone else.

But Pelé’s father, once a soccer star himself, inspires him to always remember who he is and where his roots are.

I loved showing my kids, yet again, another part of the world where things look different. It’s a great underdog story of someone rising up and staying true to themselves.

Parental Warning: This show was very clean overall. Towards the beginning someone says “hell” and as he makes an upper team someone says “I’ll be d****d”, but the accent for the speaker is heavier so I think it went right past my kids.

Also, Pelé has a friend who dies in a flood/mudslide where they carry his little body out (not graphic though). It’s short, but impactful to the story.

Purchase Pelé

Family Movies Based Around the World

These are the movies based around the world we have watched recently, and enjoyed! I’ll add to the list as we find more fun, family movies based in other countries. I’d love to hear if you’ve seen any of them!

Have you seen any of these? Is there one I missed (and HAVE to watch?) Comment below!

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9 thoughts on “The Best Movies for Kids Based Around the World”

  1. Such a fun read! I’ve actually never seen Cool Runnings, but I’m a big fan of John Candy. So now I definitely plan to check it out. Sound of Music is one of my all-time favorites too!

    Reply
  2. These are great suggestions; I haven’t heard of most of them. Our kids are well-travelled, but we need some entertainment for wintertime. Before “baby shark doodoodoodoodoodoo” drives me crazy.

    Reply
  3. I love this idea! I think it’s great to introduce kids to other cultures from a young age, and sometimes movies are a much more attainable way of doing so than traveling.

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  4. It is great to use movies to help the whole family discover new places. And to see how great it is to venture out of your comfort zone. I love the mix of movies you chose that also show so much about other cultures.

    Reply
  5. I love this idea! You get family fun and accidentally the kids will get to learn about the world!! 🙂

    If you’d like some more, Totoro (by studio Ghibli) is a lovely introduction to Japanese culture. Spirited away and Ponyo are also great (but have some scary moments for little uns.)

    Reply
  6. What a fun post! When my kiddo was little, we would watch movies about a place we were going to visit to get him excited (Paddington for London for example). This is a fun list for families getting ready to travel.

    Reply

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