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November Movies: Reel Life with Jane

By on October 30, 2011

Kermit the Frog, Edward and Bella’s baby, and Mumble the Penguin are heading to the big screen in November. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD/blu-ray.

By Jane Louise Boursaw

TOWER HEIST

Reel Preview: 3.5 out of 5
PG-13 for language and sexual content.
In theaters 11/04. Ok for kids 14+.
http://www.towerheist.net/

This is the year of the Wall Street protest – both in real life and on the big screen. Tower Heist finds the workers at a posh Central Park condo plotting to steal back their pensions from the thieving Wall Street billionaire (Alan Alda) who’s about to get away with the ultimate white-collar crime. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Gabourey Sidibe, Judd Hirsch, and Tea Leoni also star in this fun caper directed by Brett Ratner.

THE GREENING OF WHITNEY BROWN

Reel Preview: 3.5 out of 5
PG for brief mild language.
In theaters 11/11. Ok for kids 7+.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Greening-of-Whitney-Brown/

Sammi Hanratty plays Whitney Brown, a spoiled Philadelphia pre-teen who’s forced to move to the country when her parents feel the economic crunch. A fish out of water and far from her comfort zone, Whitney befriends an amazing horse and embarks on a misguided journey back to her old life — only to discover that her family IS her home. Brooke Shields, Aidan Quinn, and Kris Kristofferson also star in this sweet family film.

JACK AND JILL

Reel Preview: 2.5 out of 5
PG for crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and brief smoking.
In theaters 11/11. Ok for kids 10+.

http://www.jackandjill-movie.com/

The only thing worse than an Adam Sandler film is an Adam Sandler film where he plays two characters – one of them female. Ok, maybe that’s harsh. I DID like 50 First Dates and Bedtime Stories, after all, but I’m not a big Sandler fan. Maybe this movie will surprise me. He plays a Los Angeles family man who’s forced to deal with his twin sister from the Bronx when she comes to visit and won’t leave. Helmed by frequent Sandler director Dennis Dugan, it also stars Katie Holmes, Dana Carvey and Al Pacino (I know – what’s up with that?).

HAPPY FEET TWO

Reel Preview: 4 out of 5
Not yet rated; likely PG. In theaters 11/18.
Ok for kids 7+
http://happyfeettwo.warnerbros.com/index.html

Those adorable penguins are back, and Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) and his pals are using their smooth moves to save the penguin nation. Mumble and Gloria (voiced by Pink) have started a family of their own, and their son Erik is just finding his footing among the Emperor penguins when a dire new threat puts their future in jeopardy. No worries, though. The happy crew will dance the darkness away. Writer/director George Miller and star Robin Williams return in this sequel which also features Hank Azaria, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Sofía Vergara.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

Reel Preview: 3.5 out of 5
PG for some mild rude humor.
In theaters 11/23. Ok for kids 6+
http://www.arthurchristmas.com/

Santa has gone high-tech! Produced by Aardman Features (Flushed Away, Chicken Run, and the Wallace & Gromit films), this cute family film takes us to the North Pole to learn exactly how Santa Claus makes Christmas magic happen. But his mischievous son Arthur (James McAvoy) must race to complete an important mission to ensure that this year’s celebration goes off without a hitch. Also features the voices of Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Ashley Jensen, Imelda Staunton and Will Sasso.

THE MUPPETS

Reel Preview: 4 out of 5
PG for some mild rude humor.
In theaters 11/23. Ok for kids 7+.
http://disney.go.com/muppets/

When some Muppet fans learn that Tex Richman wants to drill under the Muppet Theater for oil, they set out to find the gang and save the day. Except the gang is spread around the globe now. Kermit lives in Hollywood; Gonzo is a high-class plumber at Gonzo’s Royal Flush; Fozzie performs with a tribute band called The Moopets; Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris; and Animal is at an anger management rehab center in Santa Barbara. Who’s in this movie? A better question would be who ISN’T in this movie? Here are just a few stars gracing the big screen with the loveable Muppets: Zach Galifianakis, Selena Gomez, Mila Kunis, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Blunt and John Krasinski.

NEW ON DVD | BLU-RAY:

CARS 2

Reel Review: 4 out of 5
Rated G. On DVD/Blu-ray 11/01.
Ok for kids 6+.  Buy on Amazon.

While Cars 2 lacks the emotional impact of other Pixar films like Finding Nemo and Toy Story, it’s still a great caper complete with high-speed chases, international intrigue, and high-tech gadgets a la James Bond. There’s also an eco-storyline about alternative fuel which, ok, might go over the heads of some kids but is interesting nonetheless. Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt, and Cheech Marin return to voice characters; there’s also a sweet homage to Paul Newman, who voiced Doc Hudson in the first movie.

TOY STORY 3D TRILOGY

Reel Review: 5 out of 5
Rated G. On Blu-ray 11/1.
Ok for kids 6+.
Buy on Amazon.

In the “let’s keep releasing films over and over with newer and better features” department comes this blu-ray 3D trilogy from Disney Pixar. The set includes Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 in the following formats: DVD, Digital Copy, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, along with three animated shorts, special features, deleted scenes and more. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that unless you’re a serious collector and you don’t already have these films, you might want to put this on your Christmas list and let someone else buy it for you. Note that The Lion King is also available on blu-ray Nov. 15.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2

Reel Review: 5 out of 5
PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images.
On DVD/blu-ray 11/11. Ok for kids 12+
Buy on Amazon.

This film is a fitting finale to surely one of the biggest franchises in cinema history, not to mention a huge part of our culture for the past ten years. Everything is carefully crafted — the dialogue, the soundtrack that weaves in John Williams’ familiar theme, the epic story of good vs. evil, and, of course, Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe), who steps up to fulfill his destiny once and for all. We’ll miss you, Harry, but we’ll be continuing the fun at Pottermore.com.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

PG-13 for intense sequences of action/adventure violence, some frightening images, sensuality and innuendo.
On DVD/Blu-ray 11/15.
Buy on Amazon.

This fun popcorn movie features lush locations, an action-packed storyline, a gorgeous soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, and most of all, that loveable rogue Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Director Gary Marshall cut all the bloat of the third installment and made this one lean and mean with a streamlined story about the fountain of youth. Hey, Jack’s not getting any younger. Also stars Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, and Astrid Berges-Frisbey as an ethereal mermaid.

SUPER 8

Reel Preview: 5 out of 5
PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some drug use.
On DVD/Blu-ray 11/22. Ok for kids 14+
Buy on Amazon.

One of my favorite movies of 2011, this sci-fi thriller from writer-director J.J. Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg finds a group of kids shooting a movie on a super 8 camera circa 1970s. Yes, there are aliens, but this creeper stresses character development over explosions and special effects. Stars include Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, and Elle Fanning. The set includes 2+ hours of special features, 14 deleted scenes, 8 featurettes, and more. A must for anyone who loves this movie as much as I do.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM

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 Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email

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