"Big Four" Highlights


Don’t Miss These Movies

During the Christmas holiday, you may want to catch these fun flicks

By David DiCerto

‘Tis the season to see movies, particularly for parents who are looking for ways to keep their children entertained during the Christmas break. But with so much inappropriate content steadily creeping into “family” fare, it is difficult know which are naughty and which are nice. After a bumper crop of quality, family-friendly films in 2010, this year has, with few exceptions, been a major disappointment, with most of the offerings being as appetizing as stale fruitcake. And while, cinematically, 2011 will end with a whimper rather than a bang, moviegoers can still ring out the old year and ring in the new with several standout films. Here’s some that struck this admittedly fallible Catholic film critic as particularly worth considering for holiday viewing:

For the Whole Family:

The Muppets – What’s not to love about Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang reuniting after 12 years? My only question is why it took so long? As one character says, laughter is the greatest gift you can give someone – and this film delivers on that count. With only some mildly rude humor, it’s a treat for the whole family that will leave you and your children smiling. (PG)

For Older Children and Up:

The Adventures of Tintin - Swashbuckling adventure; hidden treasures; pirates and St. John the Evangelist – this Steven Spielberg animated yarn based on the popular Belgian comic book has it all. Apart from some dark action violence and peril and scenes of drunkenness, this rollicking romp, is adequately fun for the boy – or girl – in all of us. (PG)

We Bought a Zoo – The title says it all. Matt Damon plays a recently widowed dad who saves a wildlife park, and his family in the process. The film is an endangered species these days – no explosions, special effects or talking animals, just a good story well told… with a nice affirmation of fatherhood and family to boot. Parents should note, there is some unnecessary crude language and the emotional themes are heavy, but overall, this “Zoo” is a keeper. (PG)

Hugo – Martin Scorsese tries his hand at family entertainment with this 3D adventure about an orphan clock-winder living in a Parisian train station, a mechanical boy, and a toy-maker with a mysterious past. Part fable, part ode to early cinema and the magic of movies, the film contains some peril and weighty thematic elements. What it lacks in emotional depth, it makes up for in visual artistry. (PG)

For Teens and Up:

War Horse – Among Steven Spielberg’s finer works, this WWI boy and his horse tale is good old-fashioned filmmaking, sweeping in its grandeur, visually poetic in its beauty and uplifting in its storytelling that finds hope and humanity amidst the inhumanity of war. The battle scenes are pretty intense, but this thoroughbred has enough heart and horsepower to nose out the competition come Oscar time. (PG-13)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Newcomer Thomas Horn is impressive as a boy searching for answers to a mystery involving his father – Tom Hanks – who was killed on Sept 11th. Ten years later the 9/11 images are still painful to watch, but it’s ultimately an affirmation of life and family bonds that thoughtfully explores grief, healing and our shared humanity. Despite flaws – not much mention of God – and scattered crude language, the movie is extremely moving and incredibly worthwhile. (PG-13)

And One for the Parents:

The Artist – In an age of 3-D, IMAX spectacles, who knew a silent, black-and-white love story about a fading matinee idol and a rising starlet could say so much, without “saying” a thing. Parents should note there are some mature thematic elements, including an attempted suicide. Yet despite some romantic complications, this charming, tragic, funny love letter to silent cinema is, simply put, too good for words. (PG)

David DiCerto is a Catholic movie reviewer for NET TV, hosted by the Diocese of Brooklyn. His 30-second video movie reviews will continue in January on Fathers for Good.