The top 10 family films of 2013, according to Catholic News Service, are:
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” is a cheerful animated comedy in which the young inventor (voice of Bill Hader) of a machine that turns water into food learns that the device, which he thought had been disabled, has continued to function. Directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn’s sequel serves up colorful fun while elevating friendship and teamwork over egotism (A-II, PG).
Beautifully rendered and refreshingly good-humored, “The Croods” follows the adventures of the Stone Age family of the title — voiced by Nicolas Cage, Catherine Keener and Emma Stone — as they face the perils of climate change. Directors and co-writers Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco spin a diverting tale that also carries an intriguing Christian subtext.
In the sweet animated sequel “Despicable Me 2,” the never very wicked and now thoroughly reformed villain of the original film (voice of Steve Carell) teams with a secret agent (voice of Kristen Wiig) to identify the perpetrator of a crime of global significance. An endearing comedy showcases the transformative power of both romantic love and family affection.
“Ender’s Game,” an enlightened and well-wrought science-fiction movie, focuses on a 12-year-old (Asa Butterfield) chosen to lead Earth’s military forces against an alien race that 50 years earlier tried to colonize the planet, resulting in the deaths of millions. Director and screenwriter Gavin Hood highlights a salubrious message about the moral pitfalls of war (A-II, PG-13).
“Epic” is a pleasant animated fantasy in which a 17-year-old girl (voice of Amanda Seyfried) finds herself magically transported to a miniature world within nature where the champions of growth and life battle the dark forces of decay.
In co-directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee’s animated musical “Frozen,” the new queen (voice of Idina Menzel) of a mythical kingdom accidentally unleashes her power to create ice and snow, causing an eternal winter. This good-natured film has a nice message about the enduring bonds of family as well as a few religious overtones likely to please believers.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” director Peter Jackson’s second installment in a trilogy of films based on Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, finds a once-timid hobbit (Martin Freeman) continuing his courageous quest to help a group of dwarves (led by Richard Armitage) recapture their ancestral stronghold from the terrifying dragon (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch) who displaced them. Implicit warnings against the corrupting influence of wealth and power accompany his adventures (A-II, PG-13).
“Jack the Giant Slayer” is a fun fable in which the romance between a peasant boy (Nicholas Hoult) and a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) is imperiled when a beanstalk of his own unwitting creation suddenly sprouts up, carrying her aloft to a land of people-eating giants. A faith-tinged retelling of the classic fairy tale is set in an alternate version of the Middle Ages where characters freely acknowledge God (A-II, PG-13).
“Monsters University,” director Dan Scanlon’s animated prequel to the 2001 hit “Monsters, Inc.,” centers on two best pals (voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman) were not, it seems, always so fond of one another. This tale of the duo’s college years reinforces familiar but important messages for young people (and their parents): Make friends, study hard and apply your unique talents for the greater good (G — general audiences).
Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare gets a Formula One makeover in the rollicking animated comedy “Turbo” as a garden snail’s (voice of Ryan Reynolds) wish for super speed is unexpectedly granted after a freak accident. A warmhearted family adventure that champions the underdog and upholds the bonds of familial love.
CNS classification is A-I — general patronage, while their MPAA rating is PG — parental guidance suggested, some material may not be suitable for children.
— By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service.