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Reel Jane: December Movie Reviews

By on December 6, 2012

By Jane Louise Boursaw

December brings adventurous hobbits, adorable monsters, and Billy Crystal and Bette Midler on screen together – fun! Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD and blu-ray this month.


Not yet rated; like PG-13. In theaters 12/14. Ok for kids 12+.

Reel Preview: 5 out of 5 Reels.

The first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy finds Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) swept into a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen), Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). Their journey will take them into the Wild and through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins, Orcs, deadly Wargs, Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters, Sorcerers, and of course, the creature named Gollum. Bilbo learns what we already know: a simple gold ring is tied to the fate of Middle Earth.


Rated G. In theaters 12/19. Ok for kids 6+.

Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels.

Like so many other family movies lately, the Oscar-winning Monsters, Inc. is getting a new 3D theatrical release. John Goodman and Billy Crystal star in this classic Pixar movie about a group of monsters who generate their city’s power by scaring children. But they’re not so courageous when it comes to human kids contaminating their world — which is exactly what happens when little Boo (voiced by Mary Gibbs) disrupts things. Classic, brilliant and evergreen, be sure to see this movie on the big screen in 3D.


PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material. In theaters 12/21. Ok for kids 14+.

Reel Preview: 3.5 out of 5

Is it time for Tom Cruise to hang up his action-hero hat? I don’t think so. The star of Mission Impossible and Knight and Day still knows how to kick you know what, and this crime thriller has a great literary tie-in, as it’s based on a book by Lee Child. When five people are shot dead by an expert sniper in a heartland city, the cops quickly identify and arrest the culprit. But the accused man claims he’s innocent and says, “Get Jack Reacher.” Yep, that’s when Tom Cruise shows up to do some whoopin’. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, this movie also stars Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, and Robert Duvall.


PG for some rude humor. In theaters 12/25. Ok for kids 9+.

Reel Preview: 4 out of 5 Reels.

After the presents are unwrapped and the dinner consumed, hop out to see this fun movie on Christmas Day. Billy Crystal plays an old school grandpa who’s accustomed to calling the shots. But he meets his match when he and his eager-to-please wife Diane (Bette Midler) agree to babysit their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott) go away for work. You guessed it — 21st century problems collide with Artie and Diane’s old school methods of tough rules.


FINDING NEMO (5 Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition)

Rated G. On DVD/blu-ray 12/4. Ok for kids 5+. Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels.

Everyone’s favorite little clownfish surfaced this year when a 3D version of Finding Nemo was released in theaters. Now it gets a Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition, including a blu-ray, blu-ray 3D, DVD and digital copy, all in high-definition with cool interactive 3D bonus features. You know the story: In the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, Marlin (Albert Brooks), an overly protective clownfish, embarks on a daring rescue mission when his beloved son, Nemo, gets scooped up by a diver. With his unforgettable friend Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) by his side, Marlin encounters an ocean full of characters on his momentous journey to find Nemo. It’s no wonder this fish tale scored an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003.


Rated G. On blu-ray 12/11. Ok for kids 6+.

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels.

Go retro with this 1961 film, the first true live-action musical from the Walt Disney Studio, Tommy Sands pairs up with Annette Funicello, along with the famous Ray Bolger and Ed Wynn, and Disney staples Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran. The story takes place in Mother Goose land, where villains shrink our heroes down to toy size, and our heroes must enlist help from the toys in the Toymaker’s shop to fight back. Great special effects for the time, including stop motion animation that brings the toys to life. Remember, this is 30 years before the computer animation in Toy Story!


Rated G. On DVD 12/11. Ok for kids 3+. Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels.

It’s farmtastic! With an oink-oink here, and a moo-moo there, it’s time to sing along, plant the crops, and feed the animals on Mickey’s new clubhouse farm. But when Farmer Pete’s giant windmill blows all the cows, chickens, and piggies out of their pens, it’s up to little viewers to help Mickey and Donald find all the animals and bring them home. It’s a bumper crop of fun for little ones.



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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