Who's In It: Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short, Kat Dennings, Leslie Mann, Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, James Spader, Jolie Vanier, Devon Gearhart
The Basics: A magic rock that grants wishes falls into one pair of unsuspecting, greedy kid hand (and sometimes even greedier adult mitts) after another. And as each short-sighted desire is fulfilled in the craziest "be careful what you wish for" way possible, the cumulative effects overwhelm an entire Texas town. And then everyone learns a lesson about being happy with what they have. I know I just made it sound uncool right there. But it's not. In fact, the details of each wish-gone-bad are what makes it the most frantically fun live-action kid's movie of the year.
What's The Deal: Robert Rodriguez might seem like two directors, the guy who made Spy Kids and the guy who co-directed Grindhouse, but it's really the same absurdist tone that connects the dots from Spy Kids to Planet Terror to this movie. Obviously, this is a PG outing for kids and there are no amputee strippers running around decapitating zombies. But there are flying alligators and space aliens and giant booger monsters and super-intelligent telepathic babies. In other words, his wild-man sense of fun crosses the wide span of MPAA ratings.
Scene Stealing Championship, Kids Division: There's a hilarious running gag revolving around a sibling staring contest that will crack you up every time. But it's young star Jolie Vanier (as a bullying child named Helvetica Black), who takes it away, stomping through the movie with almost as much mean-girl energy as the wickedly entertaining Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan. (Minus the murders, of course. And, coincidentally, lead kid Jimmy Bennett played the tormented brother in that film.)
John Hughes Connection: Pretty in Pink veterans James Spader and Jon Cryer (Duckie!) co-star as parents. True to his roots, Spader is the bad guy.
Not Just For Kids: For any grown-up who enjoyed The Adventures of Pete & Pete and Pee Wee's Playhouse, or who watches Yo Gabba Gabba! with the little ones, this is a movie that's not concerned with your entertainment at all, but that you're going to like a lot all the same.