School holiday movie guide you need to know

 

The school holidays are here again, which means the movies will be playing a key role in keeping the kids occupied and amused.

For parents on the lookout for entertainment options for their children, a trip to the cinema can be the perfect time-slaying circuit-breaker.

But how to best choose from all the G and PG-rated titles on offer during this busy period, particularly when you must cater to the tastes and whims of multiple age groups?

Don't panic. This guide will break down for you which titles best fit the bill for every discerning young viewer in your entourage.

TROLLS WORLD TOUR (PG, 90 min)

*** TOP PICK - PRE & EARLY PRIMARY SCHOOLERS ***

Who?: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Cordern

What?: Animated comedy adventure. When the Queen of the Hard Rock Trolls tries to take over all the Troll kingdoms, Queen Poppy and her friends try different ways to save all the Trolls.

Well … ?: Parents who put emphasis on quality control can be assured that this musically-inclined sequel surpasses the original 2016 hit Trolls in all departments. Sure, it did not have to beat much (and does not make the movie any easier to watch for anyone of adult age). Nevertheless, World Tour's easy-to-follow story, inspired visual design and irresistible singalong sequences will be much loved by very young viewers in particular.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : ***

5yo - 8yo : ***1/2

9yo - 12yo : ***

13yo+ : **

THE SECRET GARDEN (PG, 99 min)

*** TOP PICK - LATE PRIMARY SCHOOLERS ***

 

The Secret Garden is a must-see for Aussie kids these school holidays.
The Secret Garden is a must-see for Aussie kids these school holidays.

Who?: Dixie Egerickx, Colin Firth, Julie Walters

What?: Period era fantasy. Sent to live with her uncle after the death of her parents, young Mary and her sickly cousin discover a wondrous hidden garden, and start exploring.

Well … ?: The wonderful children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett has already been adapted over 10 times for film and TV. This solid new addition to the ranks does not diminish the quiet charm and appreciation of nature that are key to the tale's enduring appeal. Slightly modified ending (which is a bit confusing) is the only sticking point.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : **

5yo - 8yo : ***

9yo - 12yo : ***1/2

13yo+ : **1/2

ASTRO KID (G, 89 min)

 

Astro Kid. Picture: Supplied
Astro Kid. Picture: Supplied

Who?: Landon Beattie, Jason Anthony

What?: Animated adventure. Stranded on a wild and unexplored planet, ten-year-old space explorer William befriends the friendly robot Buck and kooky alien Flash.

Well … ?: This European co-production lacks the creative flash and storytelling spark of its slicker American-made rivals. However, it does zip along in a pleasing fashion and goes out of its way not to bore. A fair second choice for youngsters if tickets are scarce for the new Trolls movie.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : ***

5yo - 8yo : ***

9yo - 12yo : **

13yo+ : *

FOUR KIDS & IT (PG, 110 min)

 

Four Kids and It. Picture: Supplied
Four Kids and It. Picture: Supplied

 

Who?: Matthew Goode, Michael Caine, Russell Brand

What? Contemporary fantasy. While on holiday in Cornwall, a quartet of British children encounter a creature on the beach that has the power to grant wishes.

Well … ?: While not exactly the worst children's movie to happen along in recent times, this modernised remix of the old E. Nesbit book is decidedly average stuff. Very little kids will get a kick from the narky, farty magic critter voiced by Michael Caine. But that overlong running time will snap all attention spans in two.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : **

5yo - 8yo : **

9yo - 12yo : **

13yo+ : *1/2

E.T. : THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (PG, 115 min)

*** TOP PICK - HIGH SCHOOLERS ***

 

"E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" returns to theatres.

 

Who?: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace

What?: Classic re-issue. An alien is left behind on Earth and is saved by young Elliot who decides to keep him hidden. While the task force hunts for it, Elliot and his siblings form an emotional bond with their new friend.

Well … ?: The great films of yesteryear have enjoyed a robust renaissance this year, with a new generation of fans discovering several excellent blasts from the past on the big screen. Now it is the turn of E.T., which has not dated at all in terms of its ability to engage and move all ages. Does get surprisingly darker in its final act than some parents may recall.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : **

5yo - 8yo : ****

9yo - 12yo : ****1/2

13yo+ : ****

THE NEW MUTANTS (M, 94 min)

 

Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in “The New Mutants.”
Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton and Anya Taylor-Joy in “The New Mutants.”

 

Who?: Anya Taylor-Joy, Blu Hunt, Charlie Heaton

What?: Superhero reboot. Five young mutants, just discovering their abilities while held in a secret facility against their will, fight to escape their past sins and save themselves.

Well … ?: The M-rating should be reason enough to strike out this new direction for the X-Men franchise. However, unwitting parents shouldn't let this one slip under their guard as it is very violent (bordering on strong horror) and a far cry from the best superhero action fare associated with the Marvel brand.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : *

5yo - 8yo : *

9yo - 12yo : *1/2

13yo+ : **

ENOLA HOLMES (PG, 125 min)

*** TOP PICK - THE WHOLE FAMILY ***

 

Millie Bobby Brown in the movie Enola Holmes. Picture: Supplied
Millie Bobby Brown in the movie Enola Holmes. Picture: Supplied

 

Who?: Millie Bobby Brown, Henry Cavill, Sam Claflin

What?: Period-era mystery. In the year 1884, Sherlock Holmes' younger sister - the teenage tearaway Enola - must take it upon herself to solve the mysterious disappearance of their beloved mother.

Well … ?: We're including this excellent Netflix Originals new release as one of our top picks, even though it will be available on streaming only. Why? In a year where families have been starved for top-notch all-ages fare to watch together, this polished and energised production is a clear standout. Millie Bobby Brown's spirited performance includes a lot of direct-to-camera narration, which definitely helps littler kids keep up with what is happening.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : **

5yo - 8yo : ***

9yo - 12yo : ****

13yo+ : ***1/2

CATS & DOGS 3: PAWS UNITE (G, 80 min)

 

Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite. Picture: Warner Bros.
Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite. Picture: Warner Bros.

Who?: George Lopez, Melissa Rauch, Max Greenfield

What?: Comedy adventure. Gwen the Cat and Roger the Dog are secret agents who covertly protect and save the world without humans ever finding out. A supervillain parrot is out to change all that.

Well … ?: This third instalment to the C&D stable was not screened to media ahead of release. If it is anything like the first two - and advance trailers indicate this will likely be the case - then it should be approached as a middling, unchallenging talking-animal pic for early primary schoolers. The shortest release of the holiday crop, which is an important factor for some parents.

Which age group?:

under 5yo : ***

5yo - 8yo : ***

9yo - 12yo : **

13yo+ : *

 

Originally published as School holiday movie guide you need to know


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