Reel Life with Jane – March movies

By on March 24, 2011

Johnny Depp as a chameleon, Linus and his beloved blanket, and that wimpy kid Greg Heffley are heading to theaters and DVDs this month. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new.

By Jane Louise Boursaw

RANGO – Reel Preview:  5 Reels
Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 3/04. Ok for kids 7+.

It’s always encouraging when a trailer is so hilarious you want to watch it over and over again. Such is the case with ‘Rango’ an  animated film from director Gore Verbinski. Johnny Depp voices the title character, a chameleon who aspires to be a swashbuckling hero and finds himself playing that very role in a Western town plagued by bandits. And you couldn’t ask for a better cast: Bill Nighy, Timothy Olyphant, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Ned Beatty, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton and Stephen Root among them. I’m already calling “best animated film of 2011” on this one. We’ll see if I’m right.

BEASTLY- Reel Preview:  3 Reels
Rated PG-13 for language, including some crude comments, drug references and brief violence. In theaters 3/18. Ok for kids 13+.

March must be the month for modern fairy tales. We’ve got ‘Red Riding Hood,’ which turns the beloved children’s story into a dark thriller starring Amanda Seyfried (not for kids!), and ‘Beastly,’ an updated take on ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Alex Pettyfer plays Kyle Kingson, a handsome teen who loves humiliating less attractive people. But he spurns the wrong girl in misfit Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), who casts a spell which turns him into a repulsive beast. The only way to reverse the spell is to find someone who can love him for who he is. Other players include his dad (Peter Krause), his blind tutor (Neil Patrick Harris), a kindly housekeeper (Lisa Gay Hamilton), and a woman who might help to turn things around (Vanessa Hudgens).

Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 3/25. Ok for kids 9+.
This sequel to 2010’s ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ finds Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) starting seventh grade with pal Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron). But Greg’s parents (Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris) are determined that he and older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) bond in a nice brotherly way. The only problem is that Rodrick is Greg’s chief tormenter. Directed by David Bowers, this movie is based on one of the many ‘Wimpy Kid’ books by Jeff Kinney. I went back and read my review of the first movie to see how it fared. I gave it 3 out of 5 Reels, mainly because the gross-out humor grossed me out. But let’s face it middle school IS fraught with potty humor, so I guess the movies are true to life.

NEW ON DVD in March

SCOOBY-DOO: CURSE OF THE LAKE MONSTER – Reel Preview:  3 1/2 Reels
Rated PG. On DVD/Blu-ray 3/01. Ok for kids 8+

Scooby-Doo is one of those characters that will probably live forever, even though the mysteries are basically the same thing over and over. This one is a live action/CG version that originally aired on Cartoon Network last year. The story finds Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby working at a country club for Daphne’s uncle. There’s mystery surrounding a lake monster, a moonstone, a suspected witch, and the usual cloaked figures. One thing that sets this apart from the cartoon version is all the talk about who likes whom within the Scooby gang, and even a few make-out sessions. For that reason, it seems best suited for kids 8 and older.

BAMBI (2-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo) – Reel Preview:  4 1/2 Reels
Rated G. On DVD/Blu-ray 3/01. Ok for kids 6+.

Sure, the death of Bambi’s mom always comes up in discussions about traumatic movie experiences. But you have to admit that the classic film skillfully creates a simple story about life and death, childhood bliss and grownup responsibilities. And it does it without preaching, all the while using cute characters like the young deer, his rabbit sidekick Thumper, and the cuddly skunk Flower to tell the story. One of my favorite scenes is Bambi’s wobbly glide across a frozen lake, all spindly legs and gleeful freedom. Can’t wait to see it in restored high-def color.

Not rated. On DVD 3/29. Ok for kids 4+. 4.5 out of 5 Reels.

Ok, first of all, why does Linus have to give up his blanket? The kid’s what, five? I say hang onto it for a while until the cold, hard reality of life sets in. Nevertheless, Linus decides it’s time and dutifully goes about trying to give up his precious piece of fabric before Grandma’s visit (I think she’d be with me on this). But he realizes it’s harder than he thought, even with the help of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Lucy. Yet another classic installment of the Peanuts franchise that puts kids first, with or without their blankets.

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.
Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies, TV and celebrities. Syndicate her family movie and TV reviews in your publication; visit her at; follow her on”; become a friend on; and mail
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