CATEGORIES Movie NewsFor many families, the next two weeks signal Spring Break, which means you're either lucky enough to go on vacation or -- if you're like my husband and me -- you're trying to entertain your brood with a combination of movies, day trips, play dates, and an overnight mini holiday you stumbled across on Groupon last week.
Regardless of how you spend Spring Break, one thing's for sure: Your kids will want more screen time than usual. So here are some short and sweet suggestions for family movie watching -- especially if you're roadtripping and need a break from the constant calls of "Are we there yet?" Happy Spring!
G Pick - Sister Power: "Secret of the Wings" (2012, 75 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes
Kids Will Love: Although parents might assume that Tinker Bell only appeals to girls, little boys will also enjoy this story about Tink and her long-lost fairy "twin" Periwinkle (they were born of the same laugh). There's magic and music and colorful visuals of the various fairy habitats.
Parents Will Love: OK, it's not the same caliber of masterpiece as a Disney classic, but there's a sweet story line that encourages teamwork and enough of a plot to keep parents entertained. But hey, if fairies aren't your thing, this can be a short and sweet pick for the car or the tablet.
Did You Know? The movie's theme song "The Great Divide" is appropriately sung by the McClain Sisters -- China Anne McClain (star of Disney's hit show "A.N.T. Farm") and her two older sisters. Check out the video.
PG Pick - Page to Screen: "Jumanji" (1995, 105 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes Kids Will Love: This is a great action-adventure that kids will be enthralled by -- particularly when the four characters start playing the game. It's like "Jurassic Park" light, with animals coming to life and the kids and two adults having to overcome dangerous obstacles to move forward on the Jumanji board. But be careful -- the action might be a bit too much for kids under 8. Parents Will Love: It's an adaptation, so if your kids are into the movie, they'll be interested in the book. Plus, Robin Williams and Bonnie Hunt are great as the two adults who must resume a game that forever changed their lives. There's also a sweet message about unresolved issues between parents and kids that could lead to a great post-movie conversation with older kids.
Did You Know? The film is based on Chris Van Allsburg's Caldecott Medal-winning picture book by the same name. The esteemed author-illustrator's other Caldecott-winning book, "The Polar Express," was also turned into a movie -- a Christmas animated adventure.
PG-13 Pick - Superhero Worship: "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011, 124 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes
Teens Will Love: Also from Joe Johnston, the director of "Jumanji," is "Captain America," the only Avenger story to take place during World War II. Chris Evans's transformation from the courageous but weak-bodied Steve Rogers to the bulked-up super soldier Captain America is the stuff of kids' dreams: morphing into the best version of you possible. Of course, the fact Evans and his on-screen love interest, Hayley Atwell, are ridiculously attractive will be much appreciated, too.
Parents Will Love: Captain America is quite possibly the chastest of the superheroes. He's not snarky or brooding or a big brute; he's an earnest patriot who just wants to do the right thing. He's the perfect foil to Tony Stark's delicious narcissism. If your family has seen "The Avengers" but not "Captain America," it's time to see how this Marvel superhero came to be.
Did You Know? Originally, the movie was going to include cameos by mutants Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr and Wolverine/Logan Howlett, both of whom did cross paths with Captain America in the Marvel Universe. Ultimately, the studio couldn't get the rights to include the characters.