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Reel Life with Jane: December Movies

By on December 2, 2014

By Jane Louise Boursaw

New on the big screen for kids and teens in December is a battle for Middle-earth, a cute little orphan, and Meryl Streep as a wicked witch. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD and Blu-ray this month. Note that release dates are subject to change.


Exodus-2PG-13 for violence, including battle sequences and intense images

In Theaters 12/12 | Ok for Kids 13+ | 20th Century Fox |

Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Prometheus”) comes this epic story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Featuring state-of-the-art 3D and visual effects, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. I’m generally skeptical of sword-and-sandal movies, but the cast and crew of this one, including John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul, promises greatness.


The-Hobbit-Five-Armies-7Not Yet Rated; Likely PG-13 | In Theaters 12/17 (2D/3D/IMAX 3D)

Ok for Kids 12+ | New Line Cinema (Warner Bros.)

Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels

Peter Jackson’s third movie in “The Hobbit” trilogy, adapted from the books by J.R.R. Tolkien, concludes the adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), the group has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world, and Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless people of Lake-town and the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.


Annie-1PG for some mild language and rude humor | In Theaters 12/19

Ok for Kids 8+ | Sony Pictures (Columbia Pictures)

Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels

The delightful Broadway classic comes to the big screen with Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) starring as Annie, a happy foster kid who’s tough enough to make it on the streets of New York in 2014 (don’t try this at home, kids!). It’s been a “hard knock” life, thanks to her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), but everything changes when hard-nosed tycoon and New York mayoral candidate Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) rescues her from the path of a speeding vehicle. Emma Thompson, Aline Brosh McKenna and director Will Gluck wrote the screenplay for this super cute adaptation, which also stars Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale.


Night-Museum-Tomb-1PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language | In Theaters 12/19

Ok for Kids 7+ | 20th Century Fox

Reel Preview: 3.5 of 5 Reels

You know how all the exhibits spring to life at the museum every night? Well, that magic might come to an end unless security guard/CEO Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) can figure out why the Tablet of Ahkmenrah is dying out. To do so, he spans the globe, uniting favorite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it’s gone forever. Directed by Shawn Levy, the all-star cast includes Robin Williams (one of his final films), Mickey Rooney (his final film), Rebel Wilson, Ben Kingsley, Dan Stevens, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Skyler Gisondo and Ricky Gervais.


Big-Eyes-PosterPG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language | In Theaters 12/25

Ok for Kids 13+ | The Weinstein Co.

Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, “Big Eyes” is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and 1960s. The artist catapulted to international fame by commercializing his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. Except … they were actually painted by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). “Big Eyes” tells the story of Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband. Also stars Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman and Terence Stamp. At 87, Keane is still painting today; check out her website.


Into-the-Woods-1PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material

In Theaters 12/25 | Ok for Kids 9+ | Walt Disney Pictures

Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels

This big screen adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Rapunzel.” The tales are tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family, and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them. Meryl Streep (The Witch), Anna Kendrick (Cinderella), Chris Pine (The Prince), Johnny Depp (The Wolf) and Emily Blunt (The Baker’s Wife) head up the cast of this gorgeous film directed by Rob Marshall.



Julius-Jr-Snow-MonkeyNot Rated | On DVD 12/02

Ok for Kids 3+

Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels

For the first time on DVD & Digital comes six episodes of this charming preschool series filled with music, creativity and out of the box thinking for kids. The set also contains a Fisher-Price Julius Jr. figurine (while supplies last). Join the funky monkey and his pals as they take preschoolers on exciting adventures into a magical cardboard box playhouse and through the wondrous Hall of Doors to discover the importance of cooperation and creativity.


Legend-of-Korra-Bk-3-Blu-rayNot Rated

On DVD 12/02 | Ok for Kids 8+

Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels

Book Three of the mega-popular “Legend of Korra” begins with the world entering a new age. Korra discovers that new Airbenders are popping up all over the Earth Kingdom, and she makes it her mission to find them and rebuild the Air Nation. But a group of dangerous criminals who recently broke out of prison have a dangerous mission of their own. The series was voted as IGN’s Best TV Animated Series in 2012 and was the only animated series on the annual list of iTunes Best TV Shows of 2013. Both kids and grownups love it.


Hero-of-Color-City-DVDRated G | On DVD/Blu-ray 12/02

Ok for Kids 4+

Reel Review: 4 of 5 Reels

This animated tale for the pre-school/kindergarten set follows the adventures of a group of crayons that come alive in a little boy’s room when he drifts off to sleep. Yellow (voiced by Christina Ricci), a timid and fearful crayon, inadvertently awakens two unfinished drawings that threaten to take over Color City. As she embarks on an adventure to discover inner strength and courage, she teams with other crayons and meets fantastical creatures, including Ricky the dragon (Owen Wilson). Filled with valuable life lessons, this sweet movie will entertain and inspire little ones. Directed by Frank Gladstone, the cast also includes Rosie Perez, Wayne Brady, Craig Ferguson and Jessica Capshaw.


Chuggington-Snow-Rescue-DVDNot Rated | On DVD 12/09

Ok for Kids 3+

Reel Review: 5 of 5 Reels

It’s winter time in Chuggington, and the Chuggers are preparing for the magical Winter Parade, outfitting themselves in colorful lights for a special nighttime processional through town. But when freezing fog traps Koko and a snowy avalanche derails Fletch, Wilson and the Chug Patrol embark on a wild winter rescue. Kids will discover important lessons about safety, responsibility, and teamwork in this and four other episodes.



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 the film critic and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Contact her at and check out the shop for fresh editorial content.

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