Everyone is a kid at heart during the holidays, so even though these movies and DVDs are geared for kids and families, they are, of course, totally appropriate for anyone who loves a great story and needs a boost of cheer.
Here’s our official choices for the best family movies and DVDs of 2012 to give to a loved one or buy for yourself. These are all rated either G or PG.
Finding Nemo. Everyone’s favorite clown fish resurfaced in theaters this year in 3D, and I couldn’t have been happier to go watch the fish tale on the big screen again. This new DVD/blu-ray set is magnificent and worth revisiting the story of loss, parental love, and thrilling adventure. Grab shell, dude!
Brave. One of my absolute favorite family movies of 2012, this sweet, hopeful and empowering tale from Disney Pixar about an Irish princess who doesn’t need a man to determine her fate is a must-see for, well, everyone. Don’t miss it. More here.
Ice Age: Continental Drift. This will be out Dec. 11, which is just in time to scoop up for your holiday viewing. Revisit your favorite neanderthal friends Manny, Diego, Sid, Ellie and Scrat, and a bunch of new characters, as they attempt to overcome an earth-shattering (truly) continental rift that shapes our world as we know it.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. It’s an environmental story! A love story! A cute family tale! Yes, this story about inflatable trees, fast cars, and air quality so poor that the residents are forced to purchase bottled fresh air is not to be missed, especially since it features the joyful voices of Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.
Madagascar 3: America’s Most Wanted. This third installment of the franchise finds the penguins and lemur King Julien XIII flying off in a monkey-powered plane to visit the casinos of Monte Carlo, leaving Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman to embark on a great rescue mission.
The Secret World of Arrietty. This quiet, magical film brings the classic Borrowers to life in a beautiful way, as seen through the imaginative eye of Japanese writer Hayao Miyazaki. Just gorgeous.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Fun tale with tons of bonus features and Josh Hutcherson playing a teen who embarks on a journey to find his grandfather on a remote island. Mom’s new hubby (Dwayne Johnson) goes along to keep an eye on things (and play the ukulele).
Big Miracle. It’s all about the whales in this sweet story that finds Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski in Alaska. With, of course, whales. Need a feel-good movie? This is it.
The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series. Includes all 52 episodes of the animated series, based on the hugely popular book franchise, including 30 available for purchase for the first time. The longest-running science series to air on TV features the voices of Lily Tomlin, Wynonna Judd, Dolly Parton, Tony Randall and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. From Scholastic.com.
Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters: Creatures Unleashed. From Shout! Factory comes this story about 14-year-old Ray who’s been recruited by the mysterious Duel Masters to study Kaijudo (The Way of the Creature). More here.
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! The Best of Wubbzy Vol. 1. In these six great adventures from Anchor Bay, Wubbzy helps baby chirpees who’ve lost their mother, Widget builds a robot to teach a lesson, Daizy gets a visit from a fill-in Tooth Fairy, and everybody has fun on the first day of spring! Great fun for little ones.
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Royal Pony Wedding. A must for little ones and, yes, bronies who love these sweet creatures. When it’s announced that Twilight Sparkle’s older brother, Shining Armor, is set to marry Princess Celestia’s niece, Cadance, all the ponies in Equestria should be celebrating. But Twilight Sparkle isn’t thrilled with the news. Shout! Factory scores again with this one.
The Flintstones Prime time Specials Collection, Vol 1. America’s favorite Stone Age family was featured in a bunch of prime time specials, including The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone. A great hark-back to a classic series.
Dino Dan: ‘Twas a Dinosaur. Follow the adventures of paleontologist-in-training Dan Henderson as he learns what might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, tracks down a Euoplocephalus, and gives the poem “The Night Before Christmas” a dinosaur spin. Dan uses the scientific method to gather clues and solve mysteries. ’Twas a Dinosaur is filled with five action-packed adventures full of discovery.
Scooby-Doo! Mystery, Inc. Season 2, Part 1 – Danger in the Deep. Shaggy, Velma, Fred and Daphne are living separate lives after the split-up of Mystery Inc., but the marauding antics of Crybaby Clown draw them back to Crystal Cove. With help from brainy newbie Hot Dog Water and sassy Angel Dynamite, the truth behind the mystical Planaspheric Discs is closer than ever.
The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas. NCircle Entertainment has some fabulous DVDs for little ones, including this take on our beloved cat with the cute hat. ‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the yard, the Cat in the Hat and his guests partied hard! When the party was over, and the guests all departed, one poor baby reindeer was left broken-hearted! Can the Cat in the Hat, Sally, Nick and the Fish help little Ralph’s Christmas wish come true? He just wants to be with his family in far-off Freeze-Your-Knees.
Secret of the Wings. More Disney fairies? Yes, please. Join Tinker Bell and the rest of your favorite fairies in a magical adventure that leads them to discover a new winter fairy world and reveals new winter fairy characters.
Cinderella. This new Diamond Edition of the classic princess tale includes new bonus features and a sweet Tangled Ever After animated short. Beautiful packaging, too.
Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups. When Mrs. Claus travels to Pineville, the playful Santa Pups stow away on her sled, taking mischief to a whole new level as they begin granting joyful wishes to Pineville’s boys and girls.
The Adventures of Scooter the Penguin. This cute tale from Entertainment One centers on Scooter, a little penguin who’s the fastest swimmer anyone has ever seen, but he’s all alone … until he meets a pair of young penguins who welcome him into their family.
Elf-Man. From Anchor Bay Entertainment comes this cute tale about young Ryan and Casey Harper, who are excited that their scientist father (Mackenzie Astin) has finally perfected his new invention. But when dad is kidnapped by a bumbling gang of thieves, Casey’s wish on a magic doll causes Santa to leave behind a mischievous elf (‘Wee Man’) to save the day. Hysterical fun and something a little different in the holiday movie offerings.
Chilly Christmas. Another sweet tale from Anchor Bay, this time about young Bobby Cole and his dog Chilly, who are tasked with convincing Bobby’s dad, a single parent and police detective who accepts a job in New York City, that Chilly can be a city dog after living in California. Of course, there’s a corrupt dog thief, played by Tom Arnold. Super fun.
Adventures of Bailey: Christmas Hero. This dog tale from Entertainment One centers on a little dog who’s worried he won t get any presents from Santa. Then he learns about a mysterious Native American brave who can make his holiday wishes come true. Yep, it’s all about the true meaning of Christmas.
The Dog Who Saved the Holidays. This little gem from Anchor Bay finds the Bannister family traveling to Southern California to stay with Aunt Barbara (Shelley Long), who surprises them with a new puppy named Eve (voiced by Peyton List). Everyone is smitten with Eve — except the Bannister’s dog, Zeus (voiced by Joey Lawrence), who sees what a mischievous animal she is when no one else is around.
Got a Family DVD/Blu-ray you want included on this list? Please email Jane or send review copies to Jane Boursaw, 12875 Bluff Rd., Traverse City, MI 49686.