Five Can’t-Miss Family Movies from 2012 (Plus the Five We’ve Circled for 2013)

Five Can’t-Miss Family Movies from 2012 (Plus the Five We’ve Circled for 2013)

Jan 04, 2013

Time flies when you are trying to raise young movie junkies. 

Here I thought 2012 had just begun. Instead, it’s over. We covered a lot of cinematic ground in the When Can I Watch That with My Kids column, a weekly feature that “talks” with parents about current and classic movies our kids likely are interested in seeing. Highlights from the 2012 slate include conversation on Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, superhero epics such as The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, documentaries both challenging (Bully) and inspirational (Brooklyn Castle), and – of course – The Hunger Games
Before we close the book on the previous year, I wanted to single out five movies that have meant the most to my kids, and recommend that you check them out with your own kids at some point in the near future. These are the movies from 2012 that deeply resonated with my two sons, who are about to turn nine and five. Because of that, they are on constant rotation in our DVD player. I’ve tried to explain the importance of each. Let me know if you’ve seen them, or what you think about them after you have checked them out.
In addition, I’ve listed five movies I’ve already circled as must-see movie events for our family in 2013. What movies are you guys looking forward to? And which would you really like us to cover in the column? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 
The point of the When Can I Watch column usually is to move into live-action films that will begin to interest your children when they mature out of animation. But kids are kids, cartoons are still a huge draw, and Rise of the Guardians remains my sons’ fave. Oddly enough, this holiday-themed mash-up of fantasy characters didn’t do so well at the box office. My guess is ticket-buying fatigue set in after parents laid out cash for Hotel Transylvania and Wreck-it Ralph… both excellent films (as you’ll see below). But do yourself a favor and dial into Guardians, which spins William Joyce’s best-selling book into an imaginative, heartfelt ode to childhood wonder and belief. This is the movie my kids incorporate into their daily play, and the movie they want to watch nearly every other day. I hope you like it, too.
Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph gets better every time we see it. An immensely creative tribute to the old-school gaming community, Ralph also offers the best “Disney Princess” movie since Tangled, introducing the rebellious and headstrong Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), a one-time race-car driver with a complicated glitch. The relationship between Vanellope and Ralph will warm your heart, even as you’re laughing and cheering the characters through some thrilling video game action. A winner from start to finish.
Thanks to Brooklyn Castle, my kids now play chess. What else needs to be said? My sons were swept up in Katie Dellamaggiore’s inspirational story of I.S. 318 and its trend-setting chess club. They were riveted to the budget woes facing the middle school children who just want to compete against the best chess players in the country. And they were so enamored by the game that we got them “No Stress Chess” for Christmas – a step-by-step board game that educates all ages (myself, included) on the rules of chess. Now we play every day. You'll want to, as well. 
For my sons, Andrew Garfield is Peter Parker… and that means the world to me. As a lifelong Spider-Man fan, I really felt that Garfield and director Marc Webb nailed the attitudes, demeanors and tragic circumstances of young Parker. The origin story didn’t bother us as we watched (and rewatched) this new version of Spider-Man acquire and test his powers. May 2014, and Webb’s Spider-Man sequel, can’t get here soon enough.
Outside of animation, it wasn’t a great year for kid-friendly movies. So we all were thrilled that the Wimpy Kid series continued to milk laughs from the perfectly cast ensemble and author Jeff Kinney’s spot-on observations about growing up. I think even my kids acknowledge that Zachary Gordon’s likely too old to do any more films in the series. But three was the perfect amount, and we’ll always enjoy revisiting the movies in this charming series. 
And the five we’re most looking forward to in 2013:

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