Summer Superlatives ’09: Best family films

2009 was a pretty good summer in the way of family/kids entertainment. With kids out of school and day camps not for everyone in this economy, even the films not on this top five list cough“G-Force”cough raked in serious money. In fact, only one film on this list didn’t cream the box office (for understandable reasons).

I saw a majority of these films and based on the performance of the other two at the box office and their reviews, I fit them in appropriately. Interestingly, I had just enough to put together a top five. No other honorable mentions.



 5. “Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian”

 I was a big fan of the original, but I couldn’t force myself in a busy month of May to entertain the sequel and the reviews didn’t give me enough cause either. I’m sure it was fun and Amy Adams was indeed the highlight, but a lot better family-friendly fare passed through theaters this summer. Part of me also has to wag the finger at Hollywood overworking the formula and giving us more than we can handle with characters and stars and Jonah Hill.



4.  “Ponyo”

There wasn’t a more age-appropriate animated film to come out this year than Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s “Ponyo.” Although this film was more child-oriented that his last couple efforts, “Ponyo” still charmed every cell of my body that still dawdles in childhood fantasy. Imaginative, creative and an easy watch, “Ponyo” didn’t need furry creatures or artillery weapons to entertain me or anyone’s kids for 90 minutes.



 3. “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”


I passed on the second movie and I passed on this one. I enjoyed “Ice Age” but I don’t support overkill, no matter how damn cute or into mischief that crazy squirrel gets in those trailers. The rest of the world, however, spoke up with words of great approval. With a $192 million intake to this point, “Ice Age” tres lands at No. 5 on the total gross list for this summer. You can’t argue with that, nor can you with the additional 600-some million dollars overseas, making it No. 1 on that list. Looks like we’ll be getting more squirrel antics.



 2. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Normally I’d be the first to deem a Harry Potter movie not a family film, but with its PG rating, “Half-Blood Prince” undeniably falls into this category (and there wasn’t enough action to put it in my action movie top five). This sixth HP installment was in my opinion the best made Potter movie yet in terms of visual storytelling. It lacked the action and emotional impact I wanted, but it was so cohesive and full of so much quality that it easily belongs as the second-best family film on this list and was one of the top five films of the summer.



1.  “Up”

Pixar does it again. Nothing in my mind will touch the classic that is “WALL*E,” but “Up” was yet another special story that challenged the norms of animated filmmaking. It was funny, touching and had something for all ages from talking dogs to an old man discovering something about himself despite being stubborn in his old age. And the montage in the beginning? Breaks my heart. Pixar made the one huge hit this summer that deserved every dollar it earned.





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