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New in theaters this week for kids and teens are three diverse films: a Nicholas Sparks romance, a Guillermo del Toro musical extravaganza, and another amazing film from Studio Ghibli. Here’s what’s opening in theaters this week.

THE BEST OF ME

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence, some drug content and brief strong language | In Theaters 10/16 (p.m. screenings) | Ok for Kids 13+ | Reel Preview: 4 of 5 Reels | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, “The Best of Me” tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend.  Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but they soon discover the forces that drove them apart years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today.

This epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love. Directed by Michael Hoffman, stars include Michelle Monaghan, James Marsden and Gerald McRaney.

THE BOOK OF LIFE

Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images | In Theaters 10/16 (p.m. screenings) | Ok for Kids 7+ | Reel Preview: 5 of 5 Reels | The Book of Life | Facebook | Twitter | Google+

From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes this beautifully animated comedy with a unique visual style. The story chronicles the journey of Manolo, a young man who  is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart. Before choosing which path to follow, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds where he must face his greatest fears.

Rich with a fresh take on pop music favorites, this movie encourages us to celebrate the past while looking towards the future. Voice cast includes Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Placido Domingo, Kate del Castillo, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna, Cheech Marin, Ron Perlman, Zoë Saldana, Channing Tatum and Danny Trejo.

THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA

Rated PG for thematic elements, some violent action and partial nudity | In Theaters 10/17 (limited) | Ok for Kids 8+ | Reel Preview: 4.5 of 5 Reels | Facebook

“Ooh, a new Studio Ghibli film,” said my 17-year-old daughter from across the room, as I played the trailer on my computer. That’s because kids are drawn to these films like beautiful moths to light. “It will be good,” she assured me, and of course she’s right.

The story follows a tiny girl found inside a shining stalk of bamboo who grows into an exquisite young lady, raised by an old bamboo cutter and his wife. From the countryside to the grand capital city, she enthralls all who encounter her, including five noble suitors. Ultimately she must face her fate, punishment for her crime.

Based on the classic Japanese folktale, “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” this is the newest film from Studio Ghibli and the strikingly beautiful culmination of decades of contemplation by its director, Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM
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.

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