Early Man (Now in theaters)
Did you love Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep? Well, Aardman Animation’s lovable but not exactly cute characters with big teeth in the distinctive clay animation style are back, this time in the form of cavemen and women. It’s Stone Age vs. Bronze Age when buffoonish Lord Nooth and his cronies invade a caveman tribe’s peaceful valley, planning to mine there for more bronze. But upstart Dug won’t take it lying down. He challenges Lord Nooth and the invaders to a round of the “sacred game” that is the obsession of the Bronze Agers, football (soccer in the States). Expect British humor, girl power in the form of gifted soccer player Goona, and plenty of clever slapstick (and unfortunately, one mention of “cr*p”). Good for ages six and up.
Peter Rabbit (Now in theaters)
Gah! What a disappointment and a complete abomination of the original Beatrix Potter story. This is completely out of line with the spirit of Potter’s sweet stories, where the main characters are mischievous, but learn an important lesson in a gentle manner by the end of the story. In this live action film, humans interact with CG animals. The animation of the rabbits and other characters from the classic Potter story is amazing, so convincing that my eight-year-old thought they were real animals. But their behavior is crass and edgy. From a nipple joke, to trying to kill a human with a food allergy, to a drunken revelry (though no alcohol is shown) that destroys the human’s home—that is only scratching the surface of the lame and inappropriate humor. Unlike the Paddington movie, this movie fails miserably to pay homage to its original creator. This one deserves rotten tomatoes from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Ages eight and up.
Lady and the Tramp
Oh, look what’s out of the famed and cryptic Disney vault! Our favorite canine classic Lady and the Tramp! My daughter last saw it when it came out on DVD last time, and she was too young to remember it—this one is so sweet, I can’t wait for her to fall in love with the meatball scene. This animated favorite from 1955 has a few scary moments, particularly when Lady winds up in the dog pound. But this is where she meets Tramp, and the two share a night of romance and adventure. A happy ending is assured. Good for all ages.