Older Children

Akeelah Anderson (Keke Palmer) is a precocious eleven-year-old from south Los Angeles with a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother (Angela Bassett), Akeelah enters various spelling contests, for which she is tutored by the forthright Dr. Larabee (Laurence Fishburne), and the proud residents of her neighborhood. The film has several positive messages, including caring and sacrificing for others. It also reminds each of us that while there are dark valleys we must go through on our travels through life, green pastures also lay ahead. PREVIEW REVIEW

HUGO (2011)
A beautifully made film, one that touches our hearts as it salutes the imagination of previous storytellers. A clean film, here language is used to uplift, not abuse, and tragedy, while incorporated to reveal the darker side of man’s nature, is never allowed to molest viewers. And though CGI and 3D add a flourish to the proceedings, they never outweigh the story. Hugo charms and satisfies the child in us all. PG. PREVIEW REVIEW

Not since Dorothy landed on the yellow brick road have young and old alike entered such an enchanting world. Its story and dialogue are witty for adults, its magical look spellbinding for kids. PG (Though there is no blood and the filmmakers attempt to avoid excessive brutality, this good vs. evil tale does include violence – from bombs exploding to a wicked witch slapping a youngster to wolves attacking to an all out Braveheart-like battle. There are a few jolting scenes and several scary moments; parents should attend with little ones in order to reassure. The kids learn life lessons, the film is pro-family and the spiritual insights are distinctly biblical). PREVIEW REVIEW

Animated kids adventure about an imaginative little boy who befriends a giant robot who doesn't seem to know how he came to be (something we never learn, although it appears in the beginning that he came from space). Highly entertaining, with humor aimed both at kids and adults. Set in the '50s, it's a little hard on the military and government secret agencies, but it also deals with spiritual issues, stating, "Souls don't die, they go on forever." Suggesting thematic ideas from The Day The Earth Stood Still and King Kong, The Iron Giant is smart, funny, and exciting. However, parents should view with little ones, both to reassure and to explain certain messages. PREVIEW REVIEW

The new boy in town struggles to become a member of the neighborhood baseball team. PG (a few mild expletives, one graphic scene where the kids get sick after chewing tobacco). PREVIEW REVIEW

SHILOH (1997)
Michael Moriarty, Blake Heron, Scott Wilson, Rod Steiger. A boy discovers a low-life neighbor is mistreating his animals. The lad sets out to save a beagle that runs away from the abusive hunter. More substance than in most boy-and-his-dog movies. Lessons are taught concerning the value of your word and that you can't run away from your problems. Great dog. PG (1 mild expletive, but I caught no harsh language; the one animal fight is staged with the cooperation of the American Humane Assn.; the villain kicks his dogs and mistreats them which may upset little ones).

SKY HIGH (2005)
The son of two superheroes is entering an elite high school designed to mold today’s power-gifted students into tomorrow’s superheroes. But there is a problem for young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), he has yet to receive his powers. Indeed, there is a growing fear that he is doomed to be a powerless “sidekick.” To make things worst, an overbearing gym coach, a school bully and girl problems are becoming super frustrating. Ah, but world-rescuing powers are on the way, and Will and his parents are about to save mankind while discovering that sidekicks are heroes too. Occasionally, a film aimed at the family succeeds in pleasing child and parent, alike. This one does. Sky High is fabulously funny family-friendly fare. PG (devoid of objectionable language and crudity, the script maintains an uplifting standard due to creativity and respect for audience members; there is cartoonish violence – come on, it’s a story about caped crusaders and arch villains – therefore parents should attend with little ones, but the filmmakers are careful to add humor to the battle scenes in order to ward off fears; lessons are learned about respecting others and the film presents a positive family example). PREVIEW REVIEW

STAR KID (1998)
Joseph Mazzello. The new kid on the block is taught to face his fears, first by his teacher after the school bully picks on him; then by a space robot who comes to Earth to do combat with an unfriendly space alien. The mechanical being can function only with the aid of a life force inside him, so without much convincing, the boy climbs inside, causing innocent havoc in the neighborhood before facing the enemy from outer space. A fairly clean film with life lessons, humor and enough action to keep 8-to-12-year-olds amused. I confess, I enjoyed it myself. PG (a few mild expletives, but no profanity other than a couple "Oh my gods"; some mild bathroom humor; a bully threatens our young hero and even beats him up, but later they become friends; the older sister is rather hostel to her sibling, but again, when danger threatens the family pulls together; the sci fi violence is tame for older kids, but may be a little intense for toddlers). PREVIEW REVIEW

Shane West, Mandy Moore. A smart drama aimed at the teen market, whose central figure is – are you ready for this – a committed Christian! Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks, about a high school bad boy who finds love and a reason for life when he falls for the Baptist preacher’s daughter. Youth leaders may occasionally blush during the first third of the film, but parents don’t have to worry that their children will be subjected to the profane use of God’s name or see explicit sexual activity. The “S” word is used several times, but no other harsh expletives. And there is no irreverence to God or Christ. The sexual references, I admit, border on the objectionable, but these moments are utilized to set the stage, to show the difference between the spiritual and the non-spiritual. PG (Ten obscenities, but no misuse of God’s name; one character utters crude sexual remarks, but I found these infractions used to depict the moods and feelings of many high schoolers; it shows the difference between secular society and people who have been instructed by God’s Word concerning how to conduct themselves). - Use TVG. PREVIEW REVIEW

Set in Depression era Oklahoma, it tells of a young boy who, more than anything, wants a pair of hunting dogs. With hard work, he earns enough to buy a pair of pups. As he trains them, he learns life lessons. A low-budgeted production, but replete with examples of courage and character development. Rated G (a tragic accident occurs where a teen bully falls on his own knife; a fight between the dogs and a mountain lion, but is fairly tame by today's standards).

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