Holiday Movie Preview 2012: Animation & Family

For younger families, it’s slightly slim pickings this holidays season. Only one kids’ movie comes out after Thanksgiving, so the chances you’ll see at least two of these if you live with or spend lots of time with children is very high.


Rise of the Guardians (Nov. 21)

Directed by Peter Ramsey
Written by David Lindsay-Abaire, William Joyce (book)
Starring: (voices) Alec Baldwin, Chris Pine, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman

Summary: The “guardians of childhood” (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy) call upon young Jack Frost (Pine) to help them save the world (and the innocence of children) from the evil spirit Pitch, a.k.a. the Boogeyman.

The Word: Joyce has done a lot of good for the world of children’s entertainment, and the timing could not be better for “Guardians” when you consider the Hollywood trend toward super teams, or at the least pooling together lots of characters into one group. Lindsay-Abaire, a Pultizer winner, makes for quite the interesting screenwriting choice and it’s a rarity that only one person has a writing credit on an animated film. Director Ramsey is the most amateur, as he’s mostly been a storyboard artist and only directed the “Monsters vs. Aliens” Halloween short.

My Thoughts: I’m still not sure how I feel about Alec Baldwin’s Russian Santa Claus, or really the entire animated style behind the film, but DreamWorks has been pretty solid of late and the story definitely gives us something different.


Life of Pi (Nov. 21)

Directed by Ang Lee
Written by David Magee, Yann Martel (novel)
Starring: Surraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall

Summary: Pi Patel (Sharma), a zookeeper’s son, is en route to Canada on a freighter when a horrible storm leaves his shipwrecked and fighting for survival — with a ferocious bengal tiger.

The Word: Martell’s prized novel comes to life at the hands of Oscar winner Ang Lee, who returns to Academy Award-caliber filmmaking after erotic romance “Lust, Caution” and comedy “Taking Woodstock” were his unremarkable follow-ups to “Brokeback Mountain.” Lee has gone for visual splendor with this film and it has garnered the film many favorable reviews thus far. The consensus is its use of 3D is rather astonishing.

My Thoughts: I have to confess to never reading the book, so I really don’t know much about “Pi,” but what I do know is that Lee is at his best with free creative reign over the visuals and that’s the predominant vibe the film gives off. I know it might not be considered a family film at over two hours, but its PG rating and story of survival earned its appearance in this cateogry.


Monsters, Inc. 3D (Dec. 19)

Directed by Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich
Written by Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston (story), Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson (screenplay)
Starring: (voices) John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn

Summary: Renowned professional scare-monsters Sully and Mike are best pals who help collect the screams needed to power their city, but when a little girl accidentally finds her way into the monster world, things get out of hand.

The Word: “Finding Nemo” did just okay in 3D at the box office in September, but “Monsters, Inc.” will test whether a busy time of year can yield good results for rerelease when the film re-arrives smack in the middle of the Holiday rush. Disney no doubt wants to try and build some buzz for “Monsters University,” which comes out this summer.

My Thoughts: I would’ve maybe seen “Nemo” in 3D, but after that there’s no reason to go watch Pixar movies on the big screen again. I have only good things to say about “Monsters, Inc.,” but this is not the time of year I would ever consider spending money on something I’ve seen before, even with an extra dimension.


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