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Highlighting the Best Moms in Animation Ahead of the Migration Premiere

The impending release of Illumination's Migration brings to mind some other great animated moms worth watching. 

By Tara Bennett

Traditionally, animated film narratives have a tendency to sacrifice parent characters for the greater drama needs of the story. Time and time again, we've witnessed plenty of protagonists lose a parent which pushes them towards their eventual destiny. It's a tear-jerker every time, which is why it's worth celebrating the animated parental units that are woven into the main storylines, serving as shining examples of compassion and support. In particular, moms in animation deserve plenty of praise as they raise their kids (human or animal) to become the best they can be, usually in the weirdest of scenarios. 

RELATED: Everything To Know About Migration Before it Hits Theaters

In Illumination's upcoming original animated film, Migration (which opens in theaters on December 22), the Mallard family is set in their ways and comfortable in their small New England pond. However, their propensity to stay home gets challenged by the stories of a fellow duck visitor who speak of adventures to be had outside their regular winter plans. Anxious dad Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) is uncertain, but adventurous mom, Pam (Elizabeth Banks), thinks the family — including their growing ducklings Dax (Caspar Jennings) and Gwen (Tresi Gazal) — is ready to break out of their migratory rut. Pam is the rare animated movie mum who gets to not only inspire the adventurous plot, but participate too. 

The glory of Pam Mallard got us thinking of other animated moms who deserve their flowers, so we curated a list of just a few other examples worth watching in their respective films that are currently streaming on Peacock.

Ugga Crood, The Croods

The job of mom is rough in any era, but let's concede that trying to parent well in the prehistoric Pliocene era — or the Croodaceous Period — might be the worst. Now trying being the wife of change-phobic caveman, Grug Crood (Nicolas Cage) in The Croods. Ugga Crood (Catherine Keener) is his ever-patient partner who really loves her Crood brood of kids, Eep, Thunk, and Sandy. Unfortunately, she's got to try and encourage her inquisitive kids without freaking out her overprotective hubby. While Ugga certainly has her own fear issues, that doesn't take away that she's the model of a fierce momma. 

Valka Haddock, How to Train Your Dragon 2

A big part of Hiccup Haddock's (Jay Baruchel) mythology is that he was raised just by his father, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler), the stern chieftain of the Viking tribe of Berk. When Hiccup was young, his mother Valka (Cate Blanchett) was taken by dragons during a raid, and was never seen again. Always deeply haunted by that loss, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is all about Hiccup learning the truth behind her disappearance. He discovers that his dragon-loving mum is indeed alive and has dedicated her life to saving the species. Like mother, like son. And while her absence is tough for Hiccup to process, Valka makes it clear to her son that she never stopped loving him. She knew he would be OK and believes with all her heart that his destiny is to unite humans and dragons in harmony. That kind of absolute faith is new to Hiccup, and a big reason that he goes on to defeat Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou) and unites the various factions of dragons as their protector Alpha. 

Penny, Over the Hedge

An under-appreciated gem from 2006, Over the Hedge is DreamWorks Animation's adaptation of the comic strip of the same name by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. It's captures the wild animal's perspective of encroaching suburbia on their natural habitats. One of the animal families featured in the movie is Lou and Penny Porcupine (voiced by comedic legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara). They're salt of the Earth Midwestern critters raising their progeny to explore the world around them. An optimist through and through, Penny is a delightful mom who wants her kids to experience everything the suburbs have to offer them. She's also a fighter, and enlists her family to fight back against villainous Gladys Sharp, who considers all wild animals pests and wants them exterminated. Don't mess with Penny and her family!

Yocheved, The Prince of Egypt

A tale of the Old Testament, The Prince of Egypt (1998) opens with the dire moment in scripture when Egypt's Pharaoh Seti (Patrick Stewart) orders the murder of all newborn Hebrew boys to discourage any future uprisings. Desperate to protect her newborn son, Hebrew mother Yocheved (Ofra Haza) places him in a woven basket for protection and lets the Nile River take him away from his certain death. The ultimate example of motherly sacrifice, Yocheved sings the heartbreaking lullaby "Deliver Us" as she lets her son go, not knowing that he will be found by Seti's wife, Queen Tuya (Helen Mirren), named Moses and raised as one of her own. 

For more about Pam Mallard's super mom story, catch Migration in theaters on December 22, 2023.