Family Film Reviews Children’s Movie Reviews

  • Mirror Mirror

    Mirror Mirror

    You’ve heard Snow White’s story before. But you may not have heard the Wicked Queen’s. As Clementianna (Julia Roberts) tells her version at the beginning of Mirror Mirror, animated figures act out an increasingly dark tale, wherein Snow White’s mother dies in childbirth and her father disappears into the woods one night — after he takes a moment to marry Clementianna, who is left behind to care for her stepdaughter. Afraid the child will grow up to become “the fairest of them all,” the evil queen keeps her locked inside the castle, while she visits regularly with the source…

  • The Hunger Games

    The Hunger Games

    In the mornings, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) heads out to hunt. She makes her way out of the cottage she shares with her mother (Paula Malcomson) and little sister Primrose (Willow Shields), past the fence marking the “District Boundary,” into the woods where she shoots squirrels and birds. A determined provider for her family, she still finds time to imagine another sort of future with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), where they might live somewhere else and not feel so burdened day by day.

  • Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

    Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

    “I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees.” So says the Lorax (voiced by Danny DeVito) at the start of the animated movie named for him. As he speaks, the trees are only a memory in Thneed-Ville, a town where everything is artificial, from cars and flowers to houses and trees. Even fresh air is packaged and sold in plastic bottles, as O’Hare Air.

  • The Secret World of Arrietty

    The Secret World of Arrietty

    Arriving at his grandmother’s home, Shawn (voiced in this US translation by David Henrie) looks tired. He’s been sick, and what’s more, his parents are divorcing, which can only mean life at home has been difficult. At his grandmother’s place in the country, he’s supposed to rest and prepare himself for an upcoming heart surgery.

  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

    Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

    Some four years after his last journey, Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is now a full-fledged movie teenager, complete with an attitude. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island explains this in cursory (hackneyed) fashion: as you learned in 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, his father has disappeared and now in the new film, his uncle (Brendan Fraser) is gone too. This means Sean’s in need of a father figure.

  • Big Miracle

    Big Miracle

    During his last few days on assignment in teeny tiny Barrow, Alaska, ambitious TV reporter Adam (John Krasinski) takes a ride to the icy coastline. This because he’s promised a local kid, Nathan (Ahmaogak Sweeney), that he’ll check out his cousin’s awesome ski-doo tricks. With his camera on his shoulder, Adam is distracted by the unexpected sight and sound of a whale’s blow.

  • Beauty and the Beast 3D

    Beauty and the Beast 3D

    “Look, there she goes, a girl who’s strange but special,” sing the townsfolk at the start of Beauty and the Beast. “It’s a pity and a sin, / She doesn’t quite fit in, / ‘Cause she really is a funny girl.” Even as this gossip swirls — vibrantly and melodically — all around her, Belle (Paige O’Hara) makes plain her own ideas about her neighbors. “Little town, / Full of little people,” she sings, “There goes the baker with his tray, like always, / The same old bread and rolls to sell, / Ev’ry morning just the same.”

  • We Bought a Zoo

    We Bought a Zoo

    “My dad is a writer who specializes in adventure,” announces seven-year-old Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) at the beginning of We Bought a Zoo. The movie underlines her pride in her father with shots of him at work, interviewing dictators and flying through hurricanes (even as it also makes a little fun of him, as his interviews include questions like, “What’s your favorite movie?”). At the same time, these early scenes reveal that Benjamin doesn’t spend much time at home, a habit that changes when his wife, Katherine (Stephanie Szostak) dies of cancer.

  • The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

    The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

    For some of us, the most delightful star of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will be Snowy, a most faithful and clever fox terrier. True, he belongs to the titular star, Tintin (acted by Jamie Bell and motion-captured), and true as well that he does mostly do as he's told. But unlike so many loyal canines companions in the movies — ever eager to please and always good for a reaction shot — Snowy has a distinct personality, inquisitive and brave, and occasionally even taking off on his own, such that he’s an altogether engaging character unto himself.

  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

    Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

    At last, in the third movie, the Alvin (speedy-voiced by Justin Long) and the Chipmunks are established pop stars, as are the Chipettes. No longer struggling just to “put on a show,” now they’re reaping the fruits of their stardom, that is, taking a cruise ship to get to the International Music Awards, where they might even perform alongside some of the oh-so-trendy artists they cover habitually — Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, maybe Beyonce. En route, they wreak havoc on the ship, drive Dave (Jason Lee) “crazy,” and oh yes, accidentally leave the ship altogether, landing on a tropical…