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Reel Life with Jane – April movies

By on April 3, 2011

Cute bunnies, a determined surfer, African cats, and romantic birds are just a few of the characters heading to theaters and DVDs this month. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new for April.

By Jane Louise Boursaw

HOP– Reel Preview: 4 Reels
Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 4/01. Ok for kids 7+

Think all those holiday mascots are geeked about their job? Not so. A young bunny (voiced by Russell Brand) is about to be crowned the new Easter Bunny, but he’s not so sure he wants the job. He’s content to hang out, play his drums, and kick back with some tunes. So he heads off to Hollywood to find fame and fortune and, hopefully, land a gig playing in a band. But those plans go awry when he’s hit by a car driven by Fred (James Marsden), who agrees to take him in. Blending live action with computer animation, this movie looks really cute and also stars Kaley Cuoco, David Hasselhoff and Chelsea Handler. It’s directed by Tim Hill, who also helmed 2007’s ‘Alvin and the ‘Chipmunks.’ Look for bits of crude humor here and there, like the bunny pooping jelly beans and rebelling at having to sleep among his poo.

SOUL SURFER – Reel Preview: 4 Reels
Not yet rated; likely PG-13. In theaters 4/08. Ok for kids 12+.

Just watching the trailer for ‘Soul Surfer’ gives me goosebumps! It’s a great story and also signals the return of AnnaSophia Robb to theaters after a short hiatus. She plays Bethany Hamilton, the real-life teenage surfer who made headlines after losing her arm in a shark attack. Bethany is ready to throw in the towel, but decides to surf again after receiving tons of mail from kids all over the country. Directed by Sean McNamara (‘Raise Your Voice’), this movie also stars Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid as her parents, and Carrie Underwood as her youth group leader.

BORN TO BE WILD –Reel Preview: 3 Reels

Rated G. In theaters 4/08. Ok for kids 7+.

This 3D documentary follows the story of orphaned orangutans and elephants and the people who rescue and raise them, then return them back to the wild. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this film is not only inspiring, but also takes us into some gorgeous places across the globe. We journey into lush rainforests of Borneo with world-renowned primatologist Dr. Birute Galdikas, and across the rugged Kenyan savannah with elephant authority Dame Daphne Sheldrick.

ATLAS SHRUGGED, PART 1 – Reel Preview: 3 Reels
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality. In theaters 04/15. Ok for kids 12+

Based on Ayn Rand’s 1956 novel, this film stars Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart, a woman who runs the largest railroad company in America with integrity, despite a few labor issues. She’s drawn to industrialist Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler); his super-strong metal alloy might help to rebuild Taggart’s company. It’s a story about thinkers, industrialists, scientists, artists and other innovators during an intriguing time in history. I’m excited to see how director Paul Johansson brings the book to the screen.

RIO – Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels
Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 04/15. Ok for kids 7+.

I love the tagline for this movie: “One out of every 8 Americans is afraid of flying. Most of them don’t have feathers.” That sums up this cute family movie about Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), a domesticated macaw from small-town Minnesota who meets the fiercely independent Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and takes off to Rio de Janeiro to be with the bird of his dreams. Of course, it’s not love at first sight – Blu can’t even fly, for crying out loud. But the two birds are thrown together in an adventure about friendship, love, courage, and being open to life’s many wonders. Colorful backdrops, vivid characters, a heartwarming story, and cool Latin and contemporary music make this a winner.

AFRICAN CATS – Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels
Rated G. In theaters 4/22. Ok for kids 7+.

DisneyNature continues its trend of releasing lovely Earth Day movies with ‘African Cats,’ a real-life tale of love, humor and determination. The story features Mara, an endearing lion cub who strives to grow up with her mother’s strength, spirit and wisdom; Sita, a fearless cheetah and single mom to five mischievous newborns; and Fang, a proud leader of the pride who must defend his family from a once banished lion. It’s directed by Alastair Fothergill, who also helmed DisneyNature’s ‘Earth’ and ‘Deep Blue.’

HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL – Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels
Rated PG for some mild rude humor, language and action. In theaters 4/29. Ok for kids 7+

This sequel to the popular 2005 movie finds teen Red Riding Hood (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) training in a distant land with a covert group called the Sister Hoods. Red and the Wolf (Patrick Warburton) are called upon by Nick Flippers (David Ogden Stiers), head of the Happily Ever After Agency, to investigate the disappearance of Hansel (Bill Hader) and Grendel (Amy Poehler). Other voices include Glenn Close (Granny), Martin Short (Kirk the Woodsman), Joan Cusack (Verushka the Witch) and Brad Garrett (Giant). I loved the first ‘Hoodwinked’ and this one looks to deliver the laughs, as well.

PROM – Reel Preview: 3 Reels
Rated PG for mild language and a brief fight. In theaters 4/29. Ok for kids 9+.

Several stories unfold at one high school as the big dance approaches in this Disney film about the precarious passage from high school to independence. For Nova Prescott (Aimee Teegarden), it’s a battle of wills as she finds herself drawn to the guy (Thomas McDonell) who gets in the way of her “perfect” prom. Fellow seniors Mei (Yin Chang) and Tyler (De’Vaughn Nixon) harbor secrets, while others face all the insecurity and anticipation surrounding one of high school’s most seminal events. It’s a sweet, funny story about teens with a PG rating.

New on DVD for April

Not rated. On DVD 4/5. Ok for kids 3+.

These cute little trains deliver action and laughter on their hit TV series, as well as on DVD. Six traintastic episodes find Brewster, Wilson and Koko helping each other out of jams, learning emergency rescue skills, and taking on new responsibilities. There are jetpacks, storm machines and daring escapades involved, too! Join the chuggers as they learn about patience, accountability, following instructions, and how to get the job done.

Rated PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action. On DVD/Blu-ray 4/8. Ok for kids 10+.

This third story in the franchise finds Lucy and Edmund Pevensie returning to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world. While not as great as the first film, this one is still entertaining with cool special effects.

GO, DIEGO, GO!: DIEGO SAVES THE WORLD – Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels
Not rated. On DVD 4/12. Ok for kids 3+.

Join Diego, his sister Alicia, and their global friends as they race to the rescue of animals in trouble! And boy, do they get around, traveling to Antarctica to help some penguins, saving a Bengal Tiger in India, thirsty camels in Egypt, and a Humpback Whale under the sea. They also swing through a Latin American rainforest to help a deer, a hawk, and even those silly Bobo Brothers.

Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images. On DVD/Blu-ray 4/15. Ok for kids 13+.

This next-to-last installment of the franchise finds Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) embarking on a perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s immortality and destruction — the Horcruxes. Meanwhile, the wizarding world has become a dangerous place for all enemies of the Dark Lord (Ralph Fiennes). The long-feared war has begun and Voldemort’s Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, terrorizing and arresting anyone who might oppose them. Sure, there’s lots of camping, but also enough action, thrills, and friendship to keep HP fans happy.

SUMMER ELEVEN – Reel Preview: 4 Reels
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. On DVD 4/26. Ok for kids 9+.

This coming-of-age film scored big at the Heartland Film Festival and follows four inseparable 11-year-old girls sharing their last summer before middle school. Vanessa (Alice Ziolkoski) is an aspiring actress up for her first feature film. Lizzie (Meaghan Hughes) is helping her brother adjust to life after returning home from the war. Jess (Sarah Butterworth) struggles to cope with her parents’ separation. And Peri (Sydney Fox) hides a desperate secret. Each girl finds the strength to face their challenges, knowing that best friends are always there for you no matter what. Adam Arkin and Valerie Mahaffey also star in this uplifting film.


  • 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; follow her on; become a friend on; email

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