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Family Movies News

Film Mom: The Best Movies of the Year

The 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

The Golden Globe nominations are gobsmacked. No offense to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, but how could the uproarious This Is 40 NOT be nominated for Best Musical/Comedy when it’s easily the funniest movie of the year? The truth of filmmaking is that it’s tough to please everyone with a comedy. We laugh when we see something that is surprising, and laugh harder when it’s surprisingly true. Pete and Debbie’s midlife crisis has laugh-out-loud moments that most American Gen Xer parents can appreciate. Of course, it's R-rated, meaning This is 40 is NOT, absolutely NOT okay for kids.

Then there's the PG-rated Parental Guidance, in which I laughed until I cried and then cried until I laughed. Unlike Pete and Debbie, Alice and Phil are On It – technology is used to the family’s advantage; banned are toy guns, sugar and saying no; and the kids see therapists for speech problems and imaginary friends. When the “other” grandparents (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) come to take care of the kids – you know, the set of grandparents who don’t visit as much – the whole system unravels, ultimately for the better. Amazingly, it does hit enough notes to make it thoroughly entertaining for all age groups, but ultimately, it’s a Grandfather Knows Best movie, and therefore, some Baby Boomers may see Parental Guidance as the best film of the year.

Monsters, Inc. makes the list for best family film ever. The 3D version can’t be nominated for any awards since it was actually released 11 years ago, but if you’re a kid seeing it on the big screen, the fact that the modern animated classic escapes awards due to a technicality is a travesty.

No doubt, hundreds of thousands of moviegoers will be disappointed on Jan. 13, the night the winners are announced at the Golden Globe awards. That’s because moviegoing is personal and “best” is relative.

Here are three films you can see with the family over the holidays:

Monsters, Inc. 3D. Can you improve perfection? The 3D is irrelevant; Monsters, Inc. is worth seeing on the big screen no matter what.

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D. Cirque du Soleil is an extraordinary phenomenon, one best experienced in person. Second best thing: 3D; viewers will feel the breeze as aerialists fly overhead.

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.

To find out what movies kids want to see, go to , where all kids are movie critics. 

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