We know it's hard to get a family of four or more to the movies, especially in the winter, when there are such few family friendly movies in theaters. So skip the multiplex and have your own featured presentation at home. These days, thanks to Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, and VOD, you don't even have leave your house to make your selection.
Here's one G, one PG and one PG-13 pick to keep your kids, tweens, or teens happy on Family Movie Night.
Kids Will Love: The adorable talking animals -- kids can't resist them. At least they're cute and animated and not that tiresome hybrid of CGI and live action (sorry, Alvin, Simon, and Theodore). Tots will particularly be drawn to the three kittens who tease and prod each other like real siblings. Plus, despite the disturbing framing story (a greedy butler tries to abandon his rich mistress's cats so they can't inherit her fortune), the cats get their happily ever after.
Parents Will Love: The hep alley cats swinging to the movie's showstopper, "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat"; the hilarious supporting characters, like the street cats and the gossiping geese; the fact that Disney always makes kids smile. One warning: Please, do not, I repeat, do NOT get "The AristoCATS" confused with "The AristoCRATS."
Did You Know? Scat Cat was created specifically for jazz legend Louis Armstrong to voice (down to the way he plays the trumpet), but Armstrong quit the film (presumably for health reasons), and the part went to actor-singer-composer Scatman Crothers, who is best known for playing the clairvoyant groundskeeper in "The Shining."
Kids Will Love: Plucky orphans are such easy protagonists for audiences (especially kids) to root for, and Hugo and Isabelle's adventure through the Paris train station is nothing short of magical. There are more heroes than villains in this story, and kids will actually learn as they're entertained -- about Paris, the 1930s, and cinemagician Georges Melies.
Parents Will Love: Martin Scorsese directed a friggin' family film. How can you not see it? Featuring a fabulous cast both young (Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz) and old (Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Stuhlbarg), and a sophisticated story that explores deep issues from finding a place to belong to the very meaning of filmmaking, this is not just a kid's flick, it's a must-see for everyone.
Did You Know? This movie is based on the Caldecott Medal-winning children's book, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," by author-illustrator extraordinaire Brian Selznick. It's such a compelling read, you'll fight over it with your third or fourth grader, so better to just make it a bedtime tale you can enjoy together. In fact, it's our go-to 9th birthday present.
Kids Will Love: Young Pai dreams of becoming chief of her Maori tribe, like her beloved grandfather, but that privilege is reserved for firstborn male descendants. This independent drama is full of girl power, Polynesian folklore, fabulous acting, and heartbreaking moments that show how deserving this extraordinary 12-year-old girl is to lead.
Parents Will Love: It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire editorial department of Moviefone wept big fat tears when we saw a screening of "Whale Rider" in 2003. If a movie can make a group of film junkies -- including a 23-year-old DJ -- cry, it's gotta be good. It's a coming of age story about fulfilling your destiny and honoring your ancestors. Family movies don't get any better than this.
Did You Know? Until this year's Academy Award nominations (when 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated for "Beasts of the Southern Wild") Maori actress Keisha Castle-Hughes was the youngest actress ever nominated for a Best Actress Award. She was only 11 when she made the film and 13 when she entered the Oscar record books with her nomination.