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Another round of movies that the whole family can watch without worrying about the young kids having to cover their eyes or ears, the parents drifting off due to boredom, or your teens rolling their eyes so hard you can actually hear them.

Sky High2005

As if high school is not hard enough, imagine going to one where everyone has a super power... except you. To make matters worse your parents are the ultimate super heroes and it looks like you might be relegated to be a (gasp) - sidekick! Starring Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as the parents, and lots of teens with very quirky abilities. An engaging storyline and fun special effects.


Based on the story by the wonderful children's author, Roald Dahl, this is about sweet little Matilda and the absolute worst parents in the world (Danny DeVito/Rhea Perlman). When she is finally allowed to go to school, she finds that the only thing worse than her parents is the principal. With help from a kind and sympathetic teacher, Matilda overcomes her challenges, thwarts the awful Miss Trunchbull, and reaches her full potential.

March of the Penguins2005

Most of you have probably heard that it is the male penguin that hatches the egg, but you simply will not believe what they must endure while doing so. And it's not like the females are exactly sitting around taking it easy during this time. This multi award winner has camera work that defies belief and tells such a magnificent tale of survival you will want to watch it more than once. You must see this movie -- all of you -- everyone!

Night at the Museum2006

Ben Stiller is right up there with Jack Black and Will Ferrell when it comes to doing bizarre movies (in fact they often do them together) but this is one that the whole family can watch without flinching. Stiller plays the new Night Guard at the Museum of Natural History where plenty goes on when the lights go off. There's something for everyone - dinosaurs, cowboys, historical figures, even Roman centurions with catapaults! A fun way to spend 2 hours.

Spy Kids2001 Spy kids 2: the island of lost dreamsSpy kids 3-D: game overThree offerings in this franchise- the last one in 3D, but the first one is still my favorite. With plenty of recognizable adult faces (Antonio Banderas, Teri Hatcher, Alan Cummings, Tony Shalhoub), the story is really about the children and their adventures. This time it's not super heroes but super spies, and their children are the ones that must figure out the clues, foil the bad guys and save the world.

Chronicles of Narnia; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe2005

Now that the sequel (Prince Caspian) has just been released to DVD and is piling up the holds, why not watch episode one? If you haven't seen it yet it will bring you up to where you need to be for Caspian and if you have already seen it you know it is worth revisiting. Mythical creatures, heroic children, the never ending struggle between darkness and light, this story is deservedly a classic. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien were contemporaries and friends, and the two stories bear many similarities. However Narnia is considerably less dark and graphic than the Lord of the Rings (especially as envisioned in the Peter Jackson films). Your young ones might get nightmares from LOTR, but should be delighted with Chronicles.

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Miss Congeniality 2002

When a threat is issued against the Miss United States beauty pageant an FBI agent must be recruited to go undercover. Enter Sandra Bullock. The only problem is that she is more gutsy than glamorous, more confrontational than charming and most definitely not delicate. She must undergo a transformation to prepare her to enter the surreal world of beauty contests. The makeover artist is played by the always enjoyable and highly versatile Michael Caine, and the banter between the two is wonderful. Benjamin Bratt plays the love interest. There is also a 2005 sequel, but this one is the better of the two offerings.

The Incredibles 2004

This is one of two choices from Pixar that I am featuring this week. The CGI (computer generated imagery) is excellent, but it's the story that really steals the show. Mr. and Mrs. Incredible are living a quiet suburban existence after being forced into retirement by a series of lawsuits launched by the ungrateful public they were trying to help. Bored to distraction, Mr. Incredible is lured by the promise of one last super hero adventure. His wife and three children enter into the fray when he runs into trouble. Great fun.

Galaxy Quest 1999

If you are at all a fan of Star Trek (and I might as well confess right now, that I am a diehard Trekkie) you'll get lots of laughs at the not so subtle references to characters such as Kirk and Spock. And if you are not, there are still plenty of laughs to be had. Eighteen years after their popular show has been cancelled, the cast of 'Galaxy Quest' are still appearing at conventions. Whether trying to relive or live down the experience the group is having difficulty getting on with their lives. When they are presented with an opportunity to actually save a race of aliens they must rally together one last time. With the exception of Tim Allen most of the cast is better known for more serious, dramatic or even villainous roles and they put in some very funny performances. Sigourney Weaver, usually the quintessential alpha female does a great job playing against type. Alan Rickman is a lot of fun to watch and Sam Rockwell (often cast as a miscreant) is wonderful as the whiny and nervous 'unnamed crewman # 6'. This movie is not so much spoof, as homage.

Monsters Inc2001.

I recently rewatched this, my second Pixar pick, and I was instantly reminded why it is one of my faves. In a parallel world, monsters harness energy from the screams of frightened children to power their city. The two main characters (voiced by John Goodman and Billy Crystal) work hard at being the #1 scream team; but when a little girl follows them back into their world, all goes very wrong. As with "The Incredibles", the CGI is amazing -- you won't believe how Sulley's fur flows when he walks. And the little girl, Boo, is absolutely adorable. This might be a little intense for younger children, because it does have to do with fear of the monsters in our closet, but it resolves happily and really is worth watching as a family.

The Princess Bride 1988

Missed this one of the many times it's been on television? Take it home with you now and settle in for a very enjoyable movie. There is something for everyone in this offering from Rob Reiner. It has criminal masterminds, gentle giants and dread pirates. There are damsels in distress, dashing heroes and dastardly villains. There is a really outstanding sword fight, and of course, true love.

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Miracle Worker1962

This movie tells the story of Helen Keller, born deaf and blind, and young Annie Sullivan who is brought in with the aim of reaching into Helen's dark and silent world. The parent's expectations are low- hoping only for some peace from the animal like child that rules their lives. What ensues is a gigantic battle of wills- and one of the world's best-known stories of triumph over adversity. Anne Bancroft won an Academy Award for best actress and Patty Duke (aged 16) won best supporting actress. This win made Patty the youngest performer ever to receive an Oscar- a title that she held until 10 year old Tatum O'Neal's win for Paper Moon in 1973 (another very good movie, but definitely not embarrassment free).

Jurassic Park1993

If you missed this first time around or just want to revisit it, sit down with the family, make a big bowl of popcorn and grab a pillow to scream into, because there are lots of scary moments. But scary in a heart-thumping, squeeze your eyes shut and peek kind of way. The first in the franchise of three, this is my favorite, although the others are good as well. Director Steven Spielberg is in top form here, all the actors turn in good performances and you will not believe how real the dinosaurs look. The scene with the children trying to hide from the raptors in the kitchen is terrific. This was based on the book by Michael Crichton, considered one of the foremost writers of speculative/technological fiction. Crichton, who has just passed away at the time of this post, is well represented in several formats at CPL--print, audio and dvds. Look for him under author search for a full listing of titles.

Free Willy1993

This movie was a big hit when first released, spawning two sequels and a short lived animated tv series. It tells the story of a young street boy and the orca whale that he encounters while vandalizing a marina. As part of his rehabilitation the boy is sent to work at the marina and a friendship soon develops between the misfit boy and the displaced whale. When things take a turn for the worse for Willy, the boy decides to try and set him free. A very heart warming story-you'll be rooting for Willy and Jesse all the way.

The King and I1956

This wonderful musical features Yul Brynner as the king of Siam and Deborah Kerr as Anna, the governess imported from England to tutor the kings many children. Obviously there are culture clashes- some tender- some severe enough to cause real problems. With a wonderful score from Rodgers and Hammerstein, this old classic still stands the test of time. Now, I know that musicals are not for everyone, but I defy you to not come out with at least one of the songs stuck in your head. This was remade in 1999 with Jody Foster and Chow Yun-Fat, and although quite lavish, I prefer the musical.

Home Alone 1990

This perennial Christmas favorite from 1990 is still a good bet. Eight year old Kevin is accidentally left behind during his family's mad rush to start their holiday abroad. Alone in the house with only his wits, he must cope with his fears and also try to outsmart two bungling but determined burglars. His clever use of available resources brings to mind a young MacGyver.

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All parents have done it--sat through something that either bores us to tears or makes us squirm at how inappropriate it is. When looking for something that the whole family can watch we typically gravitate to Disney--particularly the Classics. While Disney is almost without exception a safe bet, try one of these for something a little different. Don't let the early release dates fool you--they stand up well.

Big Fat Liar- 2002

Starring Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the middle),Amanda Bynes (Hairspray) and Paul Giamatti (Sideways).

A young boy (Muniz) writes a story for a school project that ends up in the hands of an unscrupulous Hollywood Director(Giamatti). When no one believes the story is really his, he and his best friend head to California to try to set things right. This is a fun movie with engaging characters, a manic but non-threatening bad guy, and one scene that gave me one of the best belly laughs I've had in ages.

The Iron Giant- Animated 1999

This engaging story about a 9 year old boy that befriends an alien machine that has fallen to earth is both tender and meaningful. The young outcast boy and this misunderstood giant robot strike up a friendship based on trust and kindness. Watch for government agents who try to commandeer the robot for their own use. This has a very poignant ending.

Baby's Day Out-1994

Written and directed by John Hughes of Ferris Bueller and Home Alone fame, this is the delightful story of Baby Bink, who thanks to some bungling kidnappers ends up on a crawling adventure through New York City. Baby Bink is adorable, the villains are funny rather that frightening, and all ends well after some really funny misadventures.

October Sky-1999

Based on the book Rocket Boys:a memoir, this tells the true story of Homer Hickman Jr., a brilliant young boy growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town in the 50's. Determined to escape the drudgery of the mines, he and three friends embark on a scientific journey that eventually leads to NASA. Homer, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Rendition Brokeback Mountain), struggles to overcome the conflict between him and his father (Chris Cooper- Lonesome Dove, Bourne Identity) to live the life that he dreams of.

The Borrowers- 1997

Based on the popular series of the same name by Mary Norton. This is a charming movie about the 4 inch high people who live in our homes behind our walls. They are the ones really responsible for all those strange occurrences- like missing socks, or where did the sewing needle go. When Ocious P Potter (John Goodman- Roseanne, O Brother Where art thou) tries to tear down the house, the Borrowers come to the rescue of the full sized humans who live there. Also featuring Tom Felton of the Harry Potter series (Draco Malfoy).

Mouse Hunt-1997

Nathan Lane (The Producers) and Lee Evans (Dinoptopia) star as the loveable, bungling Smuntz brothers. They inherit an old mansion that they believe will be their ticket to the easy life. However, it comes with an unwanted guest-a mouse that proves more than a challenge for the two. Christopher Walken makes a cameo appearance that is truly off the wall (and literally through the wall) funny.

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