A parental guide to film watching as a family.
Big Hero 6
Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr. and Maya Rudolph.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Plot: This adaptation of a Marvel comic book brings main character Hiro Hamada, a 14-year-old technical prodigy, to screens near you. Set in the fictional city of San Fransokyo, it takes on a futuristic feel of Tokyo while maintaining the Victorian atmosphere of San Francisco. After Hiro’s brother Tadashi is killed in an accident, Hiro befriends Baymax, an inflatable nurse robot that Tadashi created. Once he finds out his brother’s death was no accident at all, Hiro upgrades Baymax with crime-fighting technology. Hiro and some friends—Go Go Tomago, Wasabi, Honey Lemon and Fred—team up with Baymax to form the “Big Hero 6” to find the culprit. Catch the story of Hiro and Baymax in 3D as well.
Parenting Points: This Disney flick is a mix of action, adventure and comedy that defies gender conventions in an attempt to appeal to all members of the family. Much as Frozen broke the barriers about who “should” like a movie with a main character who happened to be a princess, so will girls and boys alike be inspired by the heroism exhibited by Hiro, Baymax and friends.
Penguins of Madagascar
Cast: Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong and John Malkovich.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Plot: The Penguins of Madagascar are back in this film that picks up after “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”. Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private go undercover as they join a secret agency known as “North Wind” where they take on Bond-esque missions to protect animals. Agent Classified, a cocky timber wolf played by actor Benedict Cumberbatch, leads the team. Their nemesis in the flick is an evil octopus named Dr. Octavius Brine, who disguises himself as a human in an attempt to destroy the world. Your family will enjoy the goofiness that comes along with the espionage theme as you revisit the lovable penguins from past DreamWorks films as they try to stop Dr. Brine from ruining the world as we know it.
Parenting Points: From their first appearance in the Madagascar movies, to their spinoff television show, one of the biggest appeals of this crew of feathered friends is the wit which makes it a fun film for the entire family to enjoy together. Teamwork remains a consistent theme, one you might remind the kids of during that long Thanksgiving drive to grandma’s house.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland.
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Plot: The beloved Hunger Games saga returns with “Mockingjay – Part 1”, the first of the series’ final two movies. Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen and she must make a decision that could affect the fate of the entire nation of Panem. After the 75th Quarter Quell, Katniss ends up in the subterranean civilization of District 13, an area thought to have been destroyed by the Capitol. After having shattered the Hunger Games in the previously film, she draws up even more courage to save Peeta. She has the help of her friends along the way as well as the advice of Commander Coin, played by Julianne Moore.
Parenting Points: Although the details of this movie are wrapped up tighter than that gift you’re not supposed to open until the holiday, fans of previous Hunger Games movies and the Suzanne Collins books will enjoy another episode with their favorite characters. It’s important to note that parents should respect the recommended ratings and potential mature themes, as a child’s experience of reading a book where they can easily self-censor is different from being a captive member of a movie theater audience.
By Ashley Ryan and Sascha Zuger