BOLT (2008)
The most creative film since WALL•E, Bolt is sometimes touching, often hysterical and always mesmerizing. The film opens with a great chase, ala James Bond only better. For example, where the opening sequence to Quantum of Solace was muddled by extreme close-ups and quick cutting, Bolt’s adroit draftsmanship immediately draws us into the chase as if we were a part of the action. The writers and artists have embraced moviegoers of all ages with this animated girl-and-her-movie-star-dog-who-thinks-he-has-real-superpowers adventure. Every detail has been given loving and experienced detailing, from the animation to the film’s score, to the directorial pacing. Disney has once again given us the perfect family film. And those pigeons! They’re the new penguins! (PG – for the action sequences.) PREVIEW REVIEW

BRAVE (2012)
Disney and Pixar still reign as kings of animation. It isn’t just that they have all the loot necessary to bring their stories to vivid screen life; they also have most of the creativity found in Hollywood. Their writers and filmmakers possess a winning combination of whimsy and potent storytelling agility that seems to escape most filmmakers of today, no matter the genre. While so many in the film industry are unable to tell today’s tales without crudity and excess, Disney and Pixar, knowing they are aiming at the family, use wit rather than shock value to get our laughs and our involvement. (PG). PREVIEW REVIEW

CARS (2006)
Voices: Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy. Rated G. Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, after he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. With brilliant digital cartooning and masterful voicing by its gifted cast, this skillfully retooled Doc Hollywood is a surefire winner for the whole family. Funny, yet subtly poignant, this action comedy teaches life lessons to kids while tickling the funny bone of each family member. PREVIEW REVIEW

From the people who gave us the Wallace and Gromit shorts comes a claymation comedy set on a chicken farm where a flock of hens is determined to fly the coop before meeting a fowl fate. The expressive faces (chickens with teeth – is that great?), the pacing, adventure and witty dialogue make for a fun family film. PREVIEW REVIEW

Animated family adventure/comedy with the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Cloris Leachman. The prehistoric world is still formulating and a single troglodyte family, afraid to venture out into the daytime, preferring the relative safety of a boulder plugged cave, find their lives uprooted when a caveboy catches the eye of the Crood’s teen daughter, Eep. PG


Mr. Gru, an “evil” genius, lives fairly unnoticed in a happy suburban neighborhood. It’s time, however, to prove once again just how despicable the villainous mastermind can be. So, he plots to steal the moon! But our world and the moon are saved when three orphaned girls turn his universe upside down. The story, the dialogue, the voice characterizations, and the humor manage to hold the attention of not just little ones, but their accompanying older companions as well. (PG) PREVIEW REVIEW

A mix of The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester and Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil, Mr. Gru delighted in popping children’s balloons and threatening to kill the neighbor’s dog for doing on his lawn what dogs do-do. Like Scrooge, he is converted by love by the end of the first film. I brought my 90-year-old mom and 7-year-old great-niece, Megan to the follow-up, DM2. Both enjoyed the comedy and action antics. Miss Megan, however, said it was better than the first one. We debated this on our drive home. It seems we critics never can completely agree. (PG) PREVIEW REVIEW

This hilarious, action-packed, animated adventure has put-upon superheroes now denying their superpowers and living under a government protection plan (themselves the victims of sue-happy citizens once protected by the super do-gooders: “Who asked you to save me?”). It’s a super superhero comic adventure. PG. MOVIE REPORTER REVIEW

DreamWorks comic computer-animation with the voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith. Four pampered zoo animals escape and explore the world, but soon find themselves captured and sent to Africa. A clever, witty tale, containing a subtle lesson about appreciating what you have. I found Madagascar to be stylish, engrossing and very funny. PG (there are a couple of mild innuendos meant for adults, but generally the content is mild; the animals get into some perilous situations, but the filmmakers are sensitive to little viewers and never assault the senses; there are positive messages regarding friendship and appreciating what you have). PREVIEW REVIEW

TANGLED (2010)
Disney’s retooling of the Rapunzel fairytale is classic. Where the studio’s 2009 Animated Oscar winner, UP, brilliantly touched the heartstrings as well as the funnybone, Tangled brings back the charm, excitement and coziness of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. (PG). PREVIEW REVIEW

UP (2009)
This animated comedy adventure has 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of a great adventure. He ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America.  But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip:  an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell.  Together, the boy and the old man journey into a lost world. I actually wasn’t expecting much from this film, due to the trailers I’d seen. But I should have known better. Disney and Pixar put story first. Creative story. Then they match that with interesting characters and just-right voice characterizations. And just before completion, they asked themselves, how can we make it even better? Then they did. PG. PREVIEW REVIEW

WALL-E (2008)
In this ecologically themed cartoon, the question is asked: What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn off the last robot? The most creative, original, fun film of that summer, Wall-E is both funny and touching. While never forgetting its target audience, by supplying enough slapstick humor and expressive visual movement to keep wee ones hypnotized, the creators have also produced an animated sci-fi adventure with something to say to viewers of all ages. Rated G. PREVIEW REVIEW

The Essentials
Sci-Fi Action or Spooky Thrillers
Pets and their People
Religious and Stories Of The Christ
Silent Classics
Foreign Classics
Older Children