The end-of-year holidays are a perfect season to get caught up on the movies you missed at the theaters between school and work and sports and dance lessons. Being a late adopter in the movie segment gives you the benefit of many reviews to help you avoid the stinkers. So whether you’re snowed in or you’re letting the kids watch a DVD during your road trip, here’s what you need to know about the top grossing kids movies of 2014 so far (and Frozen actually came out in 2013, so that won’t appear on this list – like you don’t know enough about that one anyway). Please note that all but one of these films are rated PG – no PG-13 films were included on this list.
The Lego Movie (PG – rude humor) – It would be easy to dismiss The Lego Movie as a 90-minute infomercial, but thankfully, it’s not. Emmett is a Lego construction worker, not a superhero, but he saves the Lego universe with his Lego friends, proving that everyone has talents. It’s funny and positive and squeaky clean – a good choice for the family gathering at Grandma’s, and adults will get some chuckles too.
Maleficent (PG – sequences of violence not meant for small children) – Angelina Jolie’s rather dark fairy tale is a visually beautiful film, a cross between animation and live action. Jolie plays the winged creature Maleficent, who is betrayed by her best friend and then burns with resentment for years, only to learn another way to handle her disillusionment. This movie is really more suited for older kids – preschoolers may find it too scary.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG – some rude humor, non-gory action) – Hiccup and his faithful “steed’’ Toothless are back, along with a host of adorable dragons who are now an accepted and loved part of village culture. The village kids stumble across a cave of wild dragons and a mysterious figure among them who may not have friendly intentions. This is a quality sequel that kids of all ages and adults will enjoy.
Big Hero 6 (PG – some rude humor, non-gory action) – This film has already made the top 5 even though as I write it is still in theatrical release. Pixar has hit another home run with this tale of a band of friends who enlist their robotic friend to help them solve a mystery. Like all of Pixar’s works, it’s both funny and touching and visually amazing. You can never go wrong with Pixar.
Rio 2 (G) – The continued adventures of parrot Blu and his bird friends got mixed reviews from critics. Young children will love Rio 2, but older children and adults may lose interest in the birds’ attempt to escape their kidnappers. Rio 2 is the only G-rated film on this list – t’s a completely safe choice for all ages.