Reel Guys: The best kid-friendly family movies out right now

legomoviwBy Richard Crouse & Mark Breslin – Metro Reel Guys

Synopsis: After enjoying big Easter and Passover meals, the Reel Guys like to treat the family to a good movie. Because there are as many different kinds of family movies as there are colours on the most psychedelic Ukrainian Easter egg, this week the guys have a look at their favourites. From the big screen to rentals for the small screen they choose movies that will put an extra hop in your step this weekend.

Richard: Mark, if you’re planning to take the kids out to the movies this weekend, there are two recent family flicks that deserve to be seen on the big screen. The Lego Movie is possibly the weirdest, most psychedelic kid’s entertainment since H.R. Pufnstuf, but it is also one of the best films of the year so far, kid’s movie or not. Then there is Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a big animated film inspired by a time travelling segment from the TV show Rocky and His Friends. It’s the only kid’s movie with an Oedipal joke and the kind of children’s movie that I think parents and kids will enjoy, but probably for completely different reasons.

Mark: Richard, so far The Lego Movie is the most exciting movie of the year, family or otherwise, but it should be noted that it, too, has a strong Oedipal theme in it. As a father of a three-year-old, I’m never quite sure what family entertainment means; what’s appropriate for my little boy is different than what might entertain an eight-year-old. Pretty much anything animated works for all ages, but then it gets complicated. And gender plays a role in choosing the right flick, too. Young girls love The Wizard of Oz, but young boys, not so much. But you never know. My little one loves Frozen, just out on DVD, even though it might seem “girly” to some.

RC: People love Frozen. I’m not one of them, but there is no arguing with the success of that movie. I’m more on side with Despicable Me II, which I thought was great fun despite its predictable plot. The story of chrome-domed former bad guy Gru’s (Steve Carell) working with the Anti-Villain League could have written itself, but the inventive gags contained within are the reason the whole family will enjoy the movie. There are lots of fun characters, but it’s really all about the Minions — Gru’s yellow, jelly-bean-shaped helpers — who spice things up with their own special kind of anarchy. Speaking in gibberish, they’re fun and more than worth the rental.

MB: Despicable Me II is a treat but my little guy deemed it “too scawy”. But I look forward to a family viewing of E.T. — the greatest family movie ever. Young or old, boys or girls, who doesn’t love the tale of that lovable little alien? Also on my eventual DVD queue would be Gremlins and even Home Alone. Kids love movies with kid heroes.

RC: Speaking of kid heroes, the adaptation of the classic Maurice Sendak children’s book Where the Wild Things Are isn’t a movie for kids as much as it is a movie about being a kid. Max is the hero, a lonely kid who goes to where the wild things are. It’s a slow moving, simple film about deep feelings. It’s not a slick, brightly coloured kid’s film with a connect-the-dots plot and an easily digested moral, but it is a magical movie.

MB: I never got the appeal of the movie or the book, but maybe I’ve been missing something. But here’s an idea: Sit down with the family and watch A Hard Day’s Night. Everyone loves The Beatles, and this is the pop group in full cheeky-cute mode. Their rock songs from 1964 sound a lot like kids music today, with their melodic hooks and innocent lyrics.


Despicable-me-2-Minions-banana“Despicable Me 2” features some big names. Steve Carrel, Kristen Wiig and Russell Brand headline the cast but the real stars are the nameless Minions who do most of the heavy lifting in this funny children’s flick.

The follow up to the 2010 hit, “Despicable Me 2” sees chrome-domed former villain Gru (Steve Carell)—his days of trying to vaporize Mt. Fuji are behind him now—as a doting single father lured back into the life, but this time working for the Anti Villain League with partner and love interest Agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig). The pair are sent undercover to a mall where one of the merchants is storing a chemical that will turn your average everyday Minion into an unbeatable fighting machine.

The trick is to figure out who is the bad guy.

Could it be the mustachioed hairstylist at the Eagle Hair Club or the salsa-dancing owner of the Mexican Restaurant who bears an uncanny resemblance to El Macho, a super villain thought to have perished riding a shark strapped with dynamite into a volcano?

Despite the humdrum story “Despicable Me 2” is great fun. The predictable plot could have written itself, but the inventive gags contained within are the reason to take the whole family. The animation is excellent and returning directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud take pains to make the most of the visual gags.

A bug-eyed guard chicken, a Lipstick Taser toting agent and Gru’s vaguely menacing accent are worth a look and listen, but the movie belongs to the Minions.

The memorable Minions—Gru’s yellow, jellybean shaped helpers—are back, spicing up the movie with their own special kind of anarchy. Speaking in gibbertish, they’re fun, frivolous and worth the extra few bucks to enjoy in 3D (stay for some more fun during the final credits).

“Despicable Me 2” is silly good fun, the rare sequel that is zanier and more enjoyable than the original.