Use the Force to find what’s out and what’s fun for the whole family these school holidays.
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9 Dec 2015 - 1:18 PM  UPDATED 10 Dec 2015 - 1:53 PM

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Out: December 17 (TBC, 135 minutes)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac
Plot: In a galaxy far, far away, 30 years after the original Star Wars trilogy concluded with Return of the Jedi, familiar if older faces and a new generation interact as good and evil once more come into conflict. Very politely pretending that George Lucas’ wretched trilogy of prequels never happened, Super 8 and Star Trek director Abrams gets back to basics – real sets, real actors, animatronics – in the year’s most hungered for blockbuster

Adult Irritation Potential: Obviously zero if you were one of the many, many people who thrilled to every speck of footage in the trailers: lightsabers! Millennium Falcon! BB8!

 

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Out: December 26 (TBC, 86 minutes)
Director: Walt Becker
Starring: Jason Lee, Christina Applegate, Justin Long, Kaley Cuoco, Anna Faris
What's it about?
The fourth instalment – remember The Sequeakquel and Chipwrecked? – in the pun-friendly mix of live-action comedy and pint-sized animated mayhem finds Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler), and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) setting off a road trip to Miami when they fear their buddy, songwriter and tolerant adult figurehead, Dave (Jason Lee), is about to marry and thus abandon them. Pop hits, including “Uptown Funk”, will be chipmunked along the way.

Adult Irritation Potential: Everyone likes the helium-from-the-balloon voice trick the first time, but an entire movie of high-pitched chipmunk patter is a stretch. Also, the marvellous Amy Poehler is no longer voicing Eleanor, one of the supporting Chipettes.

 

The Good Dinosaur

Out: December 26 (PG, 93 minutes)
Director: Peter Sohn
Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Raymond Ochoa, Sam Elliott
What's it about? 
Pixar’s latest release is a typically gorgeous 3D computer animation adventure, set in an alternate future where dinosaurs never became extinct and now live out a mostly industrious frontier existence. When Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), the timid youngest son of Apatosaurus corn farmers Henry (Jeffrey Wright) and Ida (Frances McDormand), is swept away from home, he has to surmount his many fears with only an unpredictable feral boy – a.k.a. “the critter” – as his unlikely traveling companion.

Adult Irritation Potential: It’s Pixar, so it’s easy to simply revel in the film’s look, but it’s certainly not as emotionally complex as Inside Out. This skews younger, gentler and predictable.

 

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie

Out: January 1 (G, 93 minutes)
Director: Steve Martino
Starring: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Alexander Garfin
What's it about? 
Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip debuted in 1950 and has previously been made into numerous television specials, but this digitally animated take is the first feature film adaptation since 1980. Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp), assisted by his best friend and pet beagle Snoopy, must overcome his considerable nerves when gets a crush on a new girl in school, while the likes of Peppermint Patty (Venue Schultheis), Linus (Alexander Garfin) and Pig-Pen (A.J. Tecce) watch on.

Adult Irritation Potential: The film’s look has certainly been updated, but the themes could do with a freshen up, too. Comic strip fans will get shout-outs to familiar gags: lost kites, errant footballs.

 

Nowhere Boys: The Book of Shadows

Out: January 1 (PG, 85 minutes)
Director: David Caesar
Starring: Dougie Baldwin, Rahart Adams, Joel Lok, Matt Testro, Angourie Rice
What's it about? 
After two well-received seasons which translated from ABC3 to an international audience, this adolescent-friendly Australian supernatural series signs off with a feature film (the television series is rebooting with a new cast) that has the quartet of mismatched teenage friends with magical powers facing a new foe when they inadvertently release a hostile spirit.

Adult Irritation Potential: Slight. Creator Tony Ayres and his collaborators have always given Nowhere Boys a foundation of solid storytelling, even if the special effects are comparatively mild.

 

The 5th Wave

Out: January 14 (TBC)
Director: J. Blakeson
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Alex Roe, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello
What's it about? 
The title could refer to how late in the cycle this best-selling Young Adult tale of the survivors of an alien invasion of Earth is arriving on screens – four Hunger Games films have come and gone. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, survivor of the extra-terrestrial invasion who, along with a good looking boy (Alex Roe), tries to track down her abducted younger brother.

Adult Irritation Potential: There may be some familiarity issues on the dystopic front, and a possible overload of digitally-derived disaster. British director Blakeson hasn’t helmed a feature since the 2009 thriller The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

 

Goosebumps

Out: January 14 (PG, 103 minutes)
Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ken Marino
What's it about? 
R.L. Stine’s extensive collection of children’s horror novellas has sold over 350 million copies, which is why a fictional version of the author, played by Jack Black, is front and centre in this tale of a teenage boy (Dylan Minnette) who finds himself living next door to the reclusive Stine and accidentally releases all the monsters from his many books while courting the eccentric author’s daughter (Odeya Rush). Getting them back between the covers isn’t so easy.

Adult Irritation Potential: Depends on your tolerance and/or liking of Jack Black, whose weird patriarch will probably have a lot of eye-bulging reaction shots but not many references to Kathleen Turner Overdrive.

 

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