There’s a great deal to weigh up when you take children to a movie in the school holidays, including the cost, the level of quality, and the chance that you can’t take any more wisecracking anthropomorphic creatures. To help, here are five of your best options, all currently in cinemas, for the looming free time ahead evaluated.
Beauty and the Beast
Out: Now screening (PG, 129 minutes)
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline
For: This ornate live-action version of Disney’s much loved 1991 animated musical will satisfy fans of the original, slavishly recreating it with Emma Watson out front as an industrious Belle, the young woman who falls in love with Dan Stevens’ hirsute captor.
Against: It doesn’t actually add much to the original work. The handful of new songs aren't exactly memorable and the relationship between the two leads isn’t exactly blessed with romantic passion. Also, some of the anthropomorphic furniture is just odd.
The Boss Baby
Out: Now screening (G, 97 minutes)
Director: Tom McGrath
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Lisa Kudrow
For: Anyone who loves Alec Baldwin’s world class patter, a commentary somehow both mocking and endearing and capable of launching multiple punchlines, can now enjoy the 30 Rock star as a corporate baby infiltrating a suburban household. There are also some terrific animation sequences that combine filmmaking eras.
Against: Children don’t know who Alec Baldwin is, and the backstory to the plot, which involves a formula for staying young and some strange machinations, is not exactly juvenile-friendly. The idea that there’s not enough love in the world so babies and puppies have to compete for it, is genuinely dispiriting once it sinks in.
The Lego Batman Movie
Out: Now screening (PG, 104 minutes)
Director: Chris McKay
Cast: Will Arnett, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera
For: It’s an easy sell for anyone who’s seen The Lego Movie, one of the most original use of bricks since that Pink Floyd song. Will Arnett, reprising his narcissistic Batman, is a wonder at voicing animated characters, and there are dozens of familiar characters in the supporting cast to be spotted and scored with.
Against: It’s a satire. As rife with jokes as the script is, it’s essentially mocking the Batman-industrial complex, which Ben Affleck himself has been doing a great job of since Christian Bale bailed. It’s just not as inventive as its predecessor, despite gung-ho momentum.
Out: Now screening (M, 124 minutes)
Director: Dean Israelite
Cast: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, Bryan Cranston
For: It’s one for the younger teenager – it’s a soft M in ratings terms – with the now familiar superhero tropes extended to the kitschy 1990s live action children’s series. For the newly empowered high school superheroes there are setbacks, lessons, and triumphs, with Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as their mentor.
Against: Did anyone bar a profit participant want this film made? If you don’t know the original, this reboot may be baffling, especially with the preponderance of mystical implements such as Zeo Crystals, Zords and the Morphing grid.
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Out: Now screening (G, 90 minutes)
Director: Kelly Asbury
Cast: Demi Lovato, Mandy Patinkin, Rainn Wilson
For: It’s a fully animated reboot for the little blue blighters after a mix of live action and animation was used for 2011’s The Smurfs and 2013’s The Smurfs 2, with a new cast headlined by singer Demi Lovato (Smurfette), Homeland’s Mandy Patinkin (Papa Smurf) and The Office’s Rainn Wilson (the villainous Gargamel).
Against: They’re still the Smurfs, somewhat irritating to adults and prone to appeal to children for a narrow window of time before they’re swiftly outgrown. The lack of live action also removes the interaction with skilled comic co-stars such as previous participants Hank Azari and Neil Patrick Harris.
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