Family Film Reviews Children’s Movie Reviews

  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins

    As a boy, Tom Popper (Dylan Clark Marshall) misses his dad. Forever away on adventures in places like Samoa and Papua New Guinea, Mr. Popper sometimes brings back gifts, but mostly keeps in touch by short-wave radio. When Tommy grows up (and is played by Jim Carrey), he’s deeply affected by his father’s longtime absence: he wants to be a good dad himself, but he’s so busy with work that he’s lost touch with his own kids, Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton), not to mention his wife, Amanda (Carla Gugino).

  • Super 8

    Super 8

    As Super 8 begins, it’s 1979, and Joe (Joel Courtney) has just lost his mother. Neighbors watch him seated on a swing, in the snowy backyard of his home, where they’ve assembled for the wake. As they look through the window, they worry that the quiet, polite 14-year-old will find it hard to live on alone with his father, Jack (Kyle Chandler), a hardworking deputy in their small Ohio town. Yes, the neighbors murmur, it will be hard.

  • Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

    Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer

    Third grader Judy Moody (Jordana Beatty) has great plans for summer. She means to have fun, and lots of it. “I have a plan,” she tells her cat named Mouse, “for the most super-duper not bummer summer ever.” When at last the last class on the last day of school ends, Judy gathers together her three best friends to reveal her big idea: she’s got a chart, and they’ll all compete for Thrill Points, the winner being the first to earn 100.

  • X-Men: First Class

    X-Men: First Class

    Whether you call it a prequel or a reboot, X-Men: First Class reintroduces characters most viewers know already. You’re reminded of this immediately, as the film opens on a scene that appeared in the franchise’s first entry, X-Men: as young Erik Lehnsherr (Bill Milner) and his mother are separated by monstrous Nazis, the boy’s rage and pain fuel his mutant power (magnetism): he bends the iron gate, stunning his captors, who proceed to knock him unconscious and drag him off to meet the man Erik will come to call his “creator,” odious Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon).

  • Kung Fu Panda 2

    Kung Fu Panda 2

    “Long ago,” Kung Fu Panda 2 begins, a young peacock found himself rejected by his royal parents. His story might have been sad, except that he reacts badly — angry and vengeful, he leaves his parents’ castle full of venom, suggesting that his parents were right to kick him out.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

    An early scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides showcases its best idea: two Captain Jack Sparrows. When the real one (Johnny Depp) learns that someone’s pretending to be him in order to recruit a crew, he sets out to reclaim his not-exactly-good name and finds the culprit: they dash about and fall down and fight a bit, and then, as they mimic one another’s gestures, stroking their chins and mincing, he discovers what you already know. The imposter is Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who asks, just a little slyly, “Are you impressed?”

  • Thor

    Thor

    What do you do when your car is slammed by a plummeting superhero? If you’re Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), an astrophysicist looking for evidence of a wormhole, you’re jangled, but just for a moment. A second later, she’s clambering from the vehicle in the middle of the New Mexico desert, followed by her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Erik (Stellan Skarsgård), all rushing to check the damage done to the stranger lying splat on the sand before her.

  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

    Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil

    Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil begins without Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere, replacing Anne Hathaway from 2005’s Hoodwinked). She’s away at a secret mountaintop retreat, learning martial arts and baking skills with the Sisters of the Hood. At the same time, her granny (Glenn Close) (a longtime Sister of the Hood) and other agents from Happily Ever After (HEA) are on a mission. They mean to rescue Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), who have been kidnapped by an evil, masked witch. The mission goes very wrong: the witch gets away and kidnaps Granny along with the children.

  • African Cats

    African Cats

    The start of African Cats, another Disneynature documentary opening on Earth Day, is grand. The camera shows wide, dry plains in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve as Samuel Jackson narrates, “Every day in the heart of Africa, amazing true stories happen that no one ever sees.” While you may be anticipating that what you’re about to see will be new, in fact, the film shapes a “story of two mothers” to fit a formula.

  • Rio

    Rio

    Kidnapped from his jungle home as a baby macaw, Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is rescued by a very nice little girl named Linda (Leslie Mann). Together, they grow up in snowy Minnesota: she becomes a bookstore owner with a particular affection for her bird, and he becomes her constant companion, grateful for the hot chocolate and cookies she serves him every afternoon. Their lives are turned upside down when a Brazilian ornithologist named Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) informs them that Blu is the last of his kind, then urges them to fly with him to Rio de Janeiro. Here, he hopes Blu will mate with the last female blue…