The school holidays are here, and for parents who are tired of watching kids programmes on TV and DVD, now is the chance to go to the cinemas – to watch more kids’ fare!
Here’s a quick, at-a-glance guide at which family-oriented films are out in cinemas this holiday period, and whether you should buy a ticket to see them:
Alice in Wonderland
Release date: 4 March
The story: Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19, is convinced that her previous visit to Wonderland was nothing more than a vivid childhood nightmare. However, just as she receives a marriage proposal, and is set to decide on her future, she spies a fretful white rabbit dressed in a waistcoat scurrying about. She falls into the rabbit hole once again and is back in Wonderland, where she meets her forgotten friends, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and the Tweedles, among others, and faces a test of courage against dark forces.
The cute factor: The Cheshire Cat, voiced by Stephen Fry, has been wonderfully rendered and is noticeably more cuddly than portrayed in the books. If you find grotesque cute, then I suppose there is ‘cute’ to be found in Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham Carter’s strong-headed Red Queen.
inSing.com says: This PG-rated film is generally entertaining and fun. While there are sometimes loud, intense scenes, it is generally not overly frightful. It should be suitable for kids of all ages, and may perhaps be best appreciated by those of primary school age and up.
Yona Yona Penguin
Release date: 11 March
The story: This CGI movie centres on a sweet young girl in a penguin suit who ventures to a fantasy land one night. There, she encounters a group of strange magical inhabitants who are fearful of an evil entity and his minions, including a plump little boy who claims to be a fallen angel.
The cute factor: The film’s protagonist, the girl in the penguin costume, is extremely childlike and makes many cute little comments and movements, while the rotund ‘fallen angel’ seems to always make a comical entrance along with his gang of nefarious creatures.
inSing.com says: With a G rating, you can expect the storytelling and humour to be rather simplistic. The film doesn’t really have any truly memorable moments, but it is still a rather pleasant cinematic experience for young and old.
Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard
Release date: 11 March
The story: A sequel to Arthur and the Invisibles (also known as Arthur and the Minimoys), the story focuses on a teen boy named Arthur who stays with his grandparents for the holidays during the 1960s. He befriends fantastic little creatures known as the Minimoys. In this film, he has to contend with the evil wizard Maltazard, who wants to go to the human world and wreak havoc.
The cute factor: You have Freddie Highmore of Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Spiderwick Chronicles fame – who is actually already 18, but still babyfaced. And you have a whole civilisation of punk-haired pixie-like creatures with attitude and ingenuity.
inSing.com says: Rated PG, this is one of those films where the threat of danger is probably never that scary or tangible for the audience. Expect much shenanigans as the good guys seek to thwart the baddie, who is for the umpteenth time an evil wizard – surprise, surprise.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva
Release date: 18 March
The story: Professor Layton is a puzzle-loving archaeology expert with a penchant for solving mysteries. In this film, he and his apprentice Luke come to the aid of an opera singer, who is beset by strange incidents happening at the opera house.
The cute factor: All the characters may speak Japanese, but they exist in a sort of alternate English world, judging by their costumes.
inSing.com says: Would you believe this film originated from a popular Nintendo DS game? With a PG rating, this film may not be all that daunting, although it does tackle a heavy concept in terms of immortality, and there are meant to be some rather surreal scenes. Could very well be ‘trippy’ fun.
How to Train Your Dragon
Release date (3D): 18 March
Release date (2D): 25 March
The story: This is a comedy adventure set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, based on the book by Cressida Cowell. The story centers around a Viking teenager named Hiccup, who lives on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. After he encounters and later befriends an injured dragon, his world is flipped upside down.
The cute factor: You have some goofy human characters, as they often are in 3D animated films (see Wall-E for reference), and you have an adorable and playful dragon.
inSing.com says: Yet another PG-rated film, one can see from the poster and trailer that the cartoonish character design is very attractive for younger audiences. It promises to be good clean fun, with plenty of dragonlore and high-flying action sequences.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Release date: 25 March, sneaks 19 to 21 March
The story: Based on Jeff Kinney's best-selling illustrated novel, it chronicles the adventures of wisecracking middle school student Greg Heffley – a self-proclaimed wimp – over the course of an academic year, as told through the young man's diary and hand-drawn cartoons.
The cute factor: Anyone who has ever doodled on a notepad, and faced the ups and downs of early education, can relate to the drawings of the protagonist. Even with their imperfections, the images should bring a smile to even the grounchiest movie goer.
inSing.com says: Rated PG in the United States, with the rating in Singapore to be advised, this film should have a ready-made audience in fans of Kinney’s book series. Apart from the drawings, the character also shares his thoughts through a number of written notes. It will certainly have wide appeal.