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Film Mom: Hollywood Holds Back on Family Fare for the Holidays?

Family Film Mom is a weekly column about family entertainment for parents with kids (and kids with parents) by Tara McNamara, the editor and founder of

This year at the movies, Santa is making an appearance but not leaving many gifts. Rise of the Guardians is the lone holiday kids’ film from now until the end of the year. The only other solid children’s fare available is December’s Monsters, Inc. re-release in 3D.

Not cool, Hollywood. Parents rely on kid-appropriate films to endure weeks of no school and entertaining grandparents and cousins. Last year, Hollywood presented families with no less than six PG films including Arthur Christmas, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and Hugo.

Once kids are old enough to be able to go places with friends unsupervised but not old enough to drive themselves, the movies become a lifeline. My 11-year-old has already seen Wreck-It Ralph three times with various groups of friends. Yet, it’s hard to imagine a group of 7th graders gathering at the Cineplex to line the back row of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.  More likely, PG-13 entries like Red Dawn and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will benefit.

Actually, options do exist but are less obvious than last year’s The Muppets.  For Thanksgiving, multigenerational families can enjoy the spiritual Life of Pi. Billy Crystal will lighten up Christmas with the grandparents-know-better comedy Parental Guidance. But with the relative absence of kid-friendly movies this holiday season, don’t be surprised if you see a 6-year-old slurping an Icee in Les Miserables.

Here are three movies some families will see this week:

Rise of the Guardians. Jack Frost joins Santa, the Easter Bunny and other magical holiday creatures to protect children from the Boogeyman. The mechanism is dark but it’s a fantastic lesson on how kids can cope with fear.

Life of Pi. My tween pleaded with me to not “make her” attend this movie about a boy stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. During the realistic shipwreck scene, she whispered, “Why did you take me to see this?” Two hours and five minutes later, she proclaimed Life of Pi the most beautiful movie ever.

Red Dawn. Thanksgiving is an exclusively American holiday – and as parents remember from the Patrick Swayze/C. Thomas Howell version, Red Dawn bleeds red, white and blue. Hopefully, parents should also remember Red Dawn is a violent teen empowerment movie and not intended for elementary-school age audiences.

Find out what kids think about these movies at, where all kids are movie critics.

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