A parental guide to film watching as a family.
Cast Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, and Gwen Stefani. MPAA Rating PG Opens November 4
Plot After the Trolls make a daredevil escape from the Troll-eating Bergens, this story picks up some 20 years later. Princess Poppy throws a party inadvertently reviving the terrible Bergens who believe that noshing on Trolls can bring happiness. Poppy feels responsible and enlists the disagreeable Branch to help her save Troll Town.
Parenting Points Not void of potty humor, this family film casts an agreeable net over kids of all ages. While some points will resonate with only older kids, the bright colors and playful tunes will captivate the attention of the little ones. Making right of wrongs, and doing the best thing in spite of fears, are easy discussion points for parents at movies end.
Cast Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Michael Stuhlbarg MPAA Rating PG-13 Opens November 4
Plot This Marvel Studios adaptation introduces a relatively egotistical doctor who turns derelict after the piercing post-accident loss of the sense of touch. In the midst of failing modern medicine, he turns to a man with healing power in the Himalayas and taps into a psychic power in order to ward off evildoers.
Parenting Points Much of the action scenes are sorcery and mysticism; a bit dark for younger audiences, but the theme of selflessness is always a great direction for the moral compass of our offspring. This movie doesn’t have the action and “POW!” of typical Marvel movies and appeals to the darker side of evil. It may be too challenging for the intellect of those still in middle school.
Cast Dwayne Johnson and Auli’I Cravalho, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk MPAA Rating PG Opens November 23
Plot A young Polynesian princess named Moana is ready to prove herself, intrigued by a mystical island with hidden secrets. Determined to finish a failed quest by her ancestors, Moana meets a formerly mighty demi-god named Maui. Together they overcome impossible odds in this open ocean adventure.
Parenting Points This film resonates with adventure seekers, bent on beating the odds to succeed. The story of friendship highlights the fact that people are better together. Disney’s catchy tunes and emotion-evoking storyline will hold the attention of all ages.
Cast Felicity Jones, James Earl Jones, Genevieve O’Reilly, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits MPAA Rating Not Yet Rated, thought to be PG13 Opens December 16
Plot Set between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope, this film brings together some questionable heroes, on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star.
Parenting Points Where the typical Star Wars movies rely heavily on Jedi combat talents or The Force to fight their battles, this film take common people set on a mission to do extraordinary things. Relying on each other is key to the success of the crew.
Cast Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C Reilly, Rhea Perlman, Jennifer Hudson MPAA Rating PG Opens December 21
Plot A handsome koala named Buster Moon, will do anything to preserve his failing theatre. Seeking to produce the funds necessary to restore his jewel to brilliance, he enlists the help of some friends to conduct a singing competition.
Parenting Points With such gems as Despicable Me and Secret Life of Pets, this Illumination Entertainment film will keep parents humming along to the more than 85 classic music tracks. Audience giggles and grooves are inevitable as each animal contestant attempts to sing their way to the number one spot in this animated “American Idol”.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Cast Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight. MPAA Rating PG Opens November 18
Plot Technically a prequel to Harry Potter, this story finds Newt Scamander returning from an excursion with recently rescued and recovered magical creatures. Set in the 1920’s Newt’s trip to New York takes a turn when he encounters a No-Maj (American for “Muggle”) named Jacob, who has recently allowed a smattering of beasts loose. This could transcend into trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
Parenting Points The Harry Potteresque draw looms with seduction, as it should, and this version highlights quirky fun episodes like giggling wizards on airborne brooms as opposed to those darker in theme. As well as embracing diversity, as in the other Harry Potter flicks, by movie’s end the main character realizes the importance of relationships and begins to feel more comfortable in the presences of other people as opposed to being alone with his beasts.
By Linda Vujnov