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May Movies: Reel Life with Jane

By on April 29, 2012

Avengers assemble, aliens invade, and a well-known vampire returns to theaters this month. Here’s a look at what’s new on the big and small screens in May.


Not yet rated; likely PG-13. In theaters 5/04.

Ok for kids 12+.

Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels.

Joss Whedon fans assemble! That’s what they’ll be doing on opening day, to check out what their favorite helmer of Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer is doing with the ultimate comic-book film. The story ties together such characters as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for a big-screen franchise team-up like no other. Whedon not only directs, but also adapted the script by Zak Penn, which focuses on a superhero lineup assembled by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to combat a hostile force out to destroy the world. Scarlett Johansson once again dons the Black Widow costume, with Jeremy Renner stepping into the role of ace archer Hawkeye. Tom Hiddleston also returns as Thor’s ever-deceptive brother, Loki. While some of the individual Avengers films haven’t been slam-dunk with fans (looking at you, Captain America: The First Avenger), expect good things with this film.


Not yet rated; likely PG-13. In theaters 5/11.

Ok for kids 13+.

Reel Preview: 3.5 out of 5 Reels.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins? Yes, please. This re-telling of the campy 1960s TV series finds Depp teaming with director Tim Burton. The story begins in 1752 with young Barnabas and his parents setting sail from Liverpool to start a new life in America. Jump ahead two decades and Barnabas is living large as the master of Collinwood Manor in Collinsport, Maine.  He’s rich and powerful, until he breaks the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), a witch who turns him into a vampire and buries him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas wakes up in 1972 to find dark secrets and dysfunctional relatives living at Collinwood, including matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), live-in psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller), Carolyn Stoddard (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley). Also look for cameos from some of the original characters, including Jonathan Frid, who played Barnabas in the TV show.


PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language.

In theaters 5/18. Ok for kids 13+.

Reel Preview: 3 out of 5 Reels.

When I was a kid, my brothers were obsessed with Battleship, the Milton Bradley board game that required so little strategy that even their kid sister (me) could figure it out. I wiki’d the game, and apparently, it’s been around since before WWI and morphed into a board game in 1931. The movie is basically one big explosion after another – so much so that you’d think Michael Bay is directing, but nope, it’s Peter Berg, the mastermind behind such high-octane blockbusters as Friday Night Lights and Lars and the Real Girl. Yes, I’m being sarcastic (and by the way, my favorite Peter Berg movie is the little-known 1991 flick Late for Dinner). Anyway, Battleship is for any kid or grownup who loves Transformers-type movies with tons of explosions, heavy machinery, tense military people, and aliens (I don’t remember there being aliens in the board game). The cast includes Liam “I’m in charge” Neeson, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, and Rihanna. Yes, Rihanna.


PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.

In theaters 5/18. Ok for kids 13+.

Reel Preview: 3 out of 5 Reels.

If you’ve read Heidi Murkoff’s popular book What to Expect When You’re Expecting, now you can see it played out on the big screen. Well, sort of. Instead of a how-to tome on prenatal vitamins and baby development, this uplifting romantic comedy follows four expectant couples who learn that having a baby is anything but predictable. Cameron Diaz plays Jules, a household name thanks to her popular fitness show. She’s expecting a baby with Evan (Matthew J. Morrison), star of a popular TV dance show. Meanwhile, outspoken infant-advice author Wendy (Elizabeth Banks) contends with surging hormones as her belly begins to swell, and her devoted husband Gary (Ben Falcone) is shell-shocked to discover that his overbearing father’s trophy wife will soon be having twins. Then there’s Holly (Jennifer Lopez), a professional photographer who’s scouring the globe for a child to adopt, while her reluctant husband Alex (Rodrigo Santoro) gets his first glimpse of fatherhood in a brutally honest (and hilarious) support group for new dads. And while some parents spend years preparing to have babies, feuding food-truck owners Rosie (Anna Kendrick) and Marco (Chace Crawford) get the surprise of their lives when an impulsive act of passion has permanent repercussions. Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, Everybody’s Fine) directs.


PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and brief suggestive content.

In theaters 5/25. Ok for kids 13+.

Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels.

Those crazy Men in Black are back, and this time Agent J (Will Smith) is taking a galactic trip into the past to save both the future and his taciturn partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). After 15 years of working with aliens from all across the cosmos, Agent J is sure he’s seen it all – until he learns that history has been rewritten and Agent K has been dead for 40 years. Aliens? Yes, we’ve got aliens, determined to attack Earth and claim control. So Agent J travels back to 1969 (hilarity ensues), meets young Agent K (Josh Brolin), and tries to set things right in 24 hours. What could have been a tossed-off sequel delivers the goods with director Barry Sonnenfeld, whose long cinematic track record includes the first two Men in Black movies. With his understanding of the story and characters, Men in Black III is fun and lively, with great special effects.



Not rated. On DVD 5/08. Ok for kids 3+.

Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels.

Based on the best-selling books by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark, Franklin is a young turtle with whom kids can easily identify. Sometimes he fibs, acts bossy and makes mistakes, but Franklin always learns something along the way – and has fun in the process. This DVD includes 44 episodes of the little guy and his woodland friends figuring out how they fit in the world.


Not rated. On DVD 5/15. Ok for kids 3+.

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels.

It’s never too early to get kids geeked about science, and Sid is here to help. With summer starting, it’s also a great time for a campout. This DVD finds Sid, Gerald, and Dad setting up a tent in the backyard, cooking their own dinner, checking out the stars, roasting marshmallows and singing songs around the campfire. Good old-fashioned fun in our increasingly digital world.


Not rated. On DVD 5/15. Ok for kids 3+.

Reel Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Reels.

This fun collection finds the brave young trainee making a special delivery to the ice cream fair, helping Frostini create a new flavor for the mayor’s banquet, and trying to prevent a massive ice cream meltdown on the hottest day of the year. But wait, there’s more! Fun in the ice cream factory, a brave rescue at the Safari Park, and an adventure in the ice caves. With good friends Koko and Brewster, and helpful Chuggers like Old Puffer Pete and Mtambo, the trainees discover important lessons about responsibility, cooperation, paying attention, overcoming fear and lots more.


Not rated. On DVD 5/29. Ok for kids 3+.
Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels.

Summer fun finds Garfield chowing down on pizza and looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He also undergoes an extreme education program to become a “normal” cat (what fun is that?), but some things never change, because he’s driving the mailman crazy in no time. The highlight of this DVD is tagging along with Garfield and his pals as they visit Cheeseworld, a cheese-lovers theme park! Clearly, anything can happen with the crazy cat and his pals.


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 syndicated family entertainment writer specializing in movies, TV and celebrities. Visit her at or email

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