Although it might not feel like winter’s coming to an end any time soon (especially if you live in the Midwest like I do — nice sleet storm we had on Tuesday… grr), rest assured that it is. How can I be so sure? Because Spring Breakers are partying it up and doing all sorts of things they’re sure to regret in sun-drenched locales to the south — or south of the border — as I type this.
However, Spring Break isn’t only for those pursuing college degrees — most K-12 students have some sort of short respite from classes in March or April every year. And In This Economy, a lot of families are opting for “staycations” instead of expensive trips. So if you’re at home with your brood for an extended period of time and are realizing that there is such a thing as too much togetherness, here are some movie-rental picks to help keep you all from going stir crazy.
If your kids are in junior high or high school, many of the “family-friendly” films on the market might not be a good fit because they’re geared toward significantly less mature audiences. Teenagers already have a tendency to roll their eyes, smirk, or dramatically stomp away at the drop of a hat, so the last thing a parent wants to do is plan a movie night around a film that’s meant for a six-year-old. Here are a few PG-13 picks that should give the kids no reason to protest… or accuse you of thinking they’re still in second grade.
Unstoppable – There is not a dull moment in this one, I promise you. I actually just watched it again — this time with my parents during a recent visit home — and I was on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding, even though I already knew what was going to happen. You can always count on a good old-fashioned thrill ride from Tony Scott, and his latest is no exception.
Easy A – I’ve recommended this film to several parents of teenage girls, and every single one of them has thanked me. Yes, the premise is a little risqué as it’s about a high school senior (Emma Stone) who builds a slutty (and completely fabricated) reputation for herself and becomes more popular as a result, but the moral at the heart of the tale stands the test of time. With pop culture references the parents will appreciate and an honest portrayal of what it’s like to be a teenager these days, everyone will find something they can relate to. Oh, and it’s extraordinarily funny… on top of featuring one of the coolest “movie families” of recent years.
Pre-teens in the house?
You know your kids best — the PG-13 films above might be absolutely fine for them to watch. But if you want to stick with PG titles that are still a step up from “kiddie” movies, here are three that fit the bill:
Secretariat – If your kids are animal lovers or enjoy “true stories,” then this one’s a no-brainer! What’s more, it’s the only movie I’ve seen in the past year which inspired a theater audience to burst into applause three separate times, if that tells you anything. So yeah, it’s a feel-good film.
How to Train Your Dragon (DVD and Blu-ray) – Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is an animated film — it’s action-packed and quite intense in some parts. And there’s a reason why it was nominated for an Academy Award: it’s really, really good! Plus, the younger characters are the heroes and there’s a strong “be yourself” lesson to rally around.
For the Young’uns
Ah, innocence. Who doesn’t envy the truly young? They can be entertained by almost anything (that means you, Barney), but family-friendly doesn’t have to equal annoying or over-the-top cutesy. Here are a few films that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend adults watch by themselves, but that aren’t so geared toward little ones that they have nothing to offer those of us in the double-digits.
Cats and Dogs and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (both PG) Young children will like the talking animals and the action, while adults will get a kick out of the sly shout-outs to famous franchises, as well as all of the punny humor.
Nanny McPhee and Nanny McPhee Returns (both PG) Magic, dancing piggies, and naughty-kid tomfoolery will keep your children in stitches… while you’ll no doubt feel like you’ve walked in Nanny’s shoes before.
Need more recommendations? Check out redbox’s “Family Movie” page. And enjoy your Spring Break!