CATEGORIES Movie NewsExcept for "The Croods," there's not a ton for families to see together in theaters right now. Parents with teens may want to check out the new Jackie Robinson biopic "42" or "Jurassic Park 3D," but those with younger kids at home are better off keeping their family movie night at home until "Epic" comes out next month.
This week we've put together a list of two page-to-screen adaptations and one big-budget action franchise. These selections should please everyone, from preschoolers to teens -- not to mention parents who won't have to pretend to like a movie with these picks.
Rated G Pick - "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008, 94 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes
Kids Will Love: Talking animals! A trapped princess! This is an epic adventure following a plucky mouse Despereaux (Matthew Broderick) in the kingdom of Dor, where mice have been banished to live in Mouseland. After Despereaux talks to Princess Pea (Emma Watson) he's exiled to a rat underworld, where he finds the courage to save the princess from imminent threat. This is a thrilling story for kids.
Parents Will Love: Not only is it a sweet hero's tale, but the movie is also based on a Newbery Medal-winning book by best-selling children's author Kate DiCamillo -- a perfect adventure for readers 7-10 you can buy or check out from the library. Plus, the animated adventure is directed by Gary Ross and features a stellar voice cast, including Dustin Hoffman, Tracey Ullman, and Kevin Kline.
Did You Know? Playing the part of Princess Pea is Emma Watson. The role was her first Hollywood gig outside of her iconic portrayal of Hermione Granger. But her first live-action role outside of the Potter wasn't for another three years -- in 2011's "My Week With Marilyn."
Rated PG Pick - "James and the Giant Peach" (PG, 1996, 79 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes
Kids Will Love: Even if they haven't read Roald Dahl's books, kids will love the story of James, a sad orphan who lives in the English countryside with his two awful aunts. James's miserable existence takes an unexpected turn when an old man gives him magical crocodile tongues that turn a peach into a mobile home of sorts and its inhabitant insects (a Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybug, Spider and Earthworm) a giant-size home. Everyone will root for James.
Parents Will Love: Last week I recommended "Nightmare Before Christmas," and it got me thinking about Harry Selick's other works, including this adaptation of Roald Dahl's trippy tale. Relive your childhood memories of Dahl's classic stories and enjoy the brilliant mix of live action and stop-action animation.
Did You Know? It took 12 years to get the book turned into a movie. Dahl didn't think it would ever make it to the screen. And if you pay close attention, you'll see Jack Skellington make a cameo as a pirate captain.
Rated PG-13 Pick - "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" (PG-13, 2011, 133 minutes) Netflix Amazon Instant iTunes
Teens Will Love: There's loads of jaw-dropping action (see Tom Cruise climb up the tallest building in the world!), an attractive and funny cast, and a spy story that's got enough twists to keep teens on their toes but not so many that they're left confused (like "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"). This is the kind of action flick that will prove sequels can be just as good as their predecessors.
Parents Will Love: It would be easy to dismiss this installment in the "Mission: Impossible" franchise as just another sequel, but Tom Cruise is in top form, and the addition of Jeremy Renner injects the thriller with an extra layer of intensity. Plus, gorgeous Paula Patton and hilarious Simon Pegg are perfect as Hunt's inner circle.
Did You Know? This was acclaimed animator Brad Bird's live action directorial debut. He's best known for his Pixar films "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille," as well as "The Iron Giant." Unlike fellow Pixar director Andrew Stanton's first live action adventure "John Carter," which was a box-office flop, "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" made nearly $700 million worldwide.