Parental Guidance: Rise of the Guardians, Life of Pi, and Red Dawn

Our new weekly column takes a look at the best bets for family movie night.

Since Thanksgiving is a time for family gatherings, it follows that there are plenty of choices in the multiplex this weekend. For the little kids, there's Rise of the Guardians, featuring Santa and the Tooth Fairy. For older teens, there's the visually sweeping Life of Pi. For brothers and cousins who want an action fix, there's Red Dawn. And for home viewing, there's a sparkling new Blu-ray of one of the greatest Anime films ever. Without further ado, check out the best bets for family viewing this week!

In Theaters This Week:

Rise of the Guardians

74%

What's it about? In this animated feature from DreamWorks, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, and other folkloric types team up to battle a nightmare-purveying baddie named Pitch.

Who's it for? Rise of the Guardians is rated PG "for thematic elements and some mildly scary action." Kindergarteners and above will probably be able to handle it, though the film does demystify its protagonists, which might be troubling to more sensitive children.

Is it any good? Critics say the little ones will probably like it just fine, and that their guardians will probably be mildly amused as well. It's got some solid gags and terrific visuals.

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Life of Pi

87%

What's it about? A guy survives a shipwreck only to end up in a lifeboat with a tiger.

Who's it for? It's rated PG "for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril." It will almost certainly bore little kids, but it should be fine for eighth graders up.

Is it any good? Critics say Life of Pi is visually masterful and philosophically intriguing; it's the type of thing that could entrance thoughtful teenagers.

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Red Dawn

12%

What's it about? Foreign troops invade a small town in the Pacific Northwest. A group of photogenic teens fight back.

Who's it for? It's rated PG-13 "for sequences of intense war violence and action, and for language." In any incarnation, Red Dawn is every teenage boy's dream come true, and will probably delight less than discerning middle schoolers.

Is it any good? If you're looking for an evening of father-son bonding over a cheesy action movie, you're probably better off renting the original.

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New On DVD:

Grave of the Fireflies

97%

What's it about? In the waning days of World War II, a brother and sister attempt to survive on their own amidst the barren landscape of war-torn Japan.

Who's it for? Grave of the Fireflies is unrated, but with its scenes of starvation, death, and destruction, it's not appropriate for children. It's probably ok for young teenagers and up.

Is it any good? Grave of the Fireflies is a monumental work of animation and an anti-war masterpiece. It's profoundly sad, touching, and beautiful. You should probably watch it, but beware: it's a bona fide tearjerker.

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