Holiday Movies: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Before you head to the multiplex this holiday season, get the scoop on the best flicks for your family.
Caroline Knorr Parenting Editor | Mom of one Categories: Screen Time
Parenting Editor | Mom of one

Must-See Holiday Movies


If "great family movies" are at the top of your wish list this holiday season, you're in luck -- this fall, the multiplex will be packed with kid-friendly characters, from video game strongmen (Wreck-It Ralph) and hobbits (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey) to James Bond (Skyfall) and even a Twilight vampire or two for teens. We’ll provide detailed ratings and reviews on everything from violence to sexual content, plus conversation starters so you can talk to your kids about what you see. For now, find out what all the buzz is about so you can start making a list of which movies will be -- and won't! -- be on your family’s movie agenda this season.


Now Playing and Coming Soon


Wreck-It Ralph (Nov. 2)
Target Age: Young Kids
What's the Buzz?: Leave it to Disney to come up with such an inventive idea: Wreck-It Ralph, a video game villain (voiced by John C. Reilly), is tired of always being the bad guy, so he decides to go where no one has gone before -- other video games -- to find a place he can be a hero. With its clever premise and all-star voice cast, this animated adventure will appeal to everyone from little kids to older gamers.

Lincoln (Nov. 9)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: If legendary director Steven Spielberg and Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis don't spell Oscar, nothing does. Unlike the classic black-and-white drama Young Mr. Lincoln, Spielberg's take (based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography) follows the final four months in America's beloved 16th president's life. Lincoln is both extremely educational and very entertaining.

Skyfall  (Nov. 9)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: James Bond returns for the 23rd official 007 film (star Daniel Craig's third outing as the dashing English spy), and it's a powerful installment in the iconic franchise. Directed by Sam Mendes, the latest Bond flick has the same pulse-quickening action, high-tech gadgetry, beautiful bombshells, and gritty violence we've come to expect from the series. And this time, the story's personal.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (Nov. 16)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
What's the Buzz?: The time has finally come for Bella (Kristen Stewart) to take her place alongside husband Edward (Robert Pattinson) as a vampire. Although the Cullen clan just wants to marvel at their new hybrid vampire-human addition, little Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), the Volturi plan to make them pay. The final film boasts more characters, love scenes, and action sequences, but it’s the chance to see "Robsten" onscreen one last time that's packing theaters.

Life of Pi (Nov. 21)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
What's the Buzz?: Although Yann Martel's bestselling novel -- on which Ang Lee's fantasy adventure is based -- is not a kids' book, the movie is rated PG. It follows a zookeeper's teen son who's the sole human survivor of a shipwreck -- along with a quartet of wild animals, including a Bengal tiger. Filled with spiritual themes and beautiful visuals, the movie will appeal to both fans of the book and curious tweens and teens, though the pace and tone make it a better fit for older moviegoers.

Red Dawn (Nov. 21)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: The original Red Dawn fit in with the anti-Communist zeitgeist of the end of the Cold War; the new version reimagines the foes not as "Red" Cubans and Russians but as North Koreans instead. Starring a cast of popular actors like Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers), Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh), and Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights), this patriotic action drama has plenty of peril and violence, as well as some strong language.

Rise of the Guardians (Nov. 21)
Target Age: Young Kids and Tweens
What's the Buzz?: What do you get when you combine the powers of Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Sandman? An Avengers-style consortium of immortal beings who want to keep children safe ... at least according to this animated adventure that pits the legendary team against the dark forces of evil. Based on William Joyce's Guardians of Childhood fantasy series, this is one of those slightly edgy animated films tha attract even kids who no longer "believe."

Hitchcock (Nov. 23)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: Any teen who's seen and liked an Alfred Hitchcock thriller will be interested in Anthony Hopkins' take on the genius behind some of Hollywood's most memorable films. Starring Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh and Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, this biopic follows the legendary director as he attempts to get the suspense novel Psycho adapted for the big screen -- against all odds.

Playing for Keeps (Dec. 7)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: Family dramedies aren't as compelling to teens as paranormal romances and fantasy adventures are, but Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel (aka Mrs. Justin Timberlake) could be a draw. This feel-good story follows a hunky divorced dad (Butler) who hasn't had a stable job since he was a professional soccer player. Still pining for his ex (Biel), he coaches his son's soccer team -- a decision that changes his life. Expect a bit of racy stuff and some language.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
What's the Buzz?: Visionary director Peter Jackson created a new generation of J. R. R. Tolkien fans with his adaptations of the three Lord of the Rings books, and now he's back with the first in the three-part tale of The Hobbit. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) embarks on an epic quest with Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and a group of feisty dwarves that will change the course of Middle-earth. Expect the same kinds of peril, clashes, and monsters that marked the LOTR trilogy.

The Guilt Trip (Dec. 19)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand co-star in this road trip comedy about an inventor who invites his lonely, widowed mother to accompany him as he drives cross-country to sell his latest product. Expect a mix of heartwarming mother-son moments and ridiculous comedy, with some strong language and other risque content.

Monsters, Inc. (Dec. 19)
Target Age: Young Kids
What's the Buzz?: Pixar is re-releasing this popular animated buddy comedy in 3-D just in time for the holidays. It's also the perfect way to get audiences excited for the impending release of Monsters Inc. prequel Monsters University, which comes out next July. But before you see Sulley and Mike W. in college, check out the original that introduced us to our favorite monsters in the closet.

Jack Reacher (Dec. 21)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: Tom Cruise stars as author Jim Grant's beloved literary hero Jack Reacher, a military police detective investigating the murder of five random people killed at a distance by six shots -- obviously the work of a trained sniper. Despite the PG-13 violence (as well as language and drug content), teens are likely to want to see Cruise do what he does best.

Les Miserables (Dec. 25)
Target Age: Teens
What's the Buzz?: Although movie musicals aren't usually the favorite genre of younger audiences, Les Miz is one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time. Plus, this gritty adaptation of the French Revolution tale stars A-listers Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. And as an added bonus for teen girls, there's a swoony central love triangle that should keep romance fans happy amidst the tragic plot twists and violent battles.

Parental Guidance (Dec. 25)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
What's the Buzz?: In the same spirit as the Meet the Parents series, this intergenerational comedy chronicles what happens when laid-back grandparents (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) have to step in to babysit the three kids of their Type-A daughter (Marisa Tomei). Considering its Christmas release and generally kid-friendly content (a bit of rude humor is likely the iffiest stuff to watch out for), this is an obvious choice for an extended-family trip to the movies over the holiday break.


About Caroline Knorr

As Common Sense Media's parenting editor, Caroline helps parents make sense of what’s going on in their kids' media lives. From games to cell phones to movies and more, if you're wondering "what’s the right age for…?"... Read more

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Comments (13)

Kid, 3 years old

different people exercise and workout for different reasons this can cause greater inflammation and infection increasing the chances that your pimple will leave a permanent scar enter if your dermatologist says you can stop then stopbut follow your dermatologists instructions
Teen, 13 years old written by Smiley2000

I saw Wreck-It Ralph and I LOVED IT!!! I also saw Rise of the Guardians and I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I enjoyed the Hobbit but the length was so long! I've enjoyed Monsters Inc. a lot!!! Although, I LOVED Parental Guidance! It is one of the funniest and touching movies I've seen!!!
Kid, 10 years old

Monsters Inc Was Great,And I Liked Parental Guidence Too. But I Didn't Enjoy The Hobbit Very Well......Not To Be Mean But,I Didn't Think The Hobbit Was As Good As I Thought It Might Be.Wreck It Ralph Was OK,And I Really Want To See Lincoln.Rise Of The Guardians Was OK If I Remember Correctly. MONSTERS INC:4 Stars HOBBIT:2 Stars PARENTAL GUIDANCE: 4 Stars WRECK IT RALPH: 3 Stars LINCOLN:(Have Not Seen,Looks About 4 Stars) RISE OF THE GUARDIANS:3 Stars Yes,Some People Might Disagree,But That's My Opinion. I Hope This Helps!
Parent written by xotic11

I am sure that a very very exiting holiday coming for us .. Lots of exiting and superb movies .. Oh i cant wait more .. visit my blog
Teen, 13 years old written by Rango813

I'm so excited for Les Mis! I loved Twilight; Wreck-It Ralph was pretty good, too. Life of Pi was okay; it got kind of slow, but it did make me want to read the book. My mom wants to see Parental Guidance, which looks pretty cheesy to me :) I also saw Skyfall, which was good.
Kid, 9 years old

I saw Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians already! I am going to see Red Dawn, Parental Guidance, And The Hobbit with friends when they come out! so excited! by the way Paranormal Activities was OK too.
Teen, 13 years old written by K bug

Listen. For all yall who have been downing Twilight just stop. Its the best of all of them so just suck it up and go see it. You'll be happy you did.
Kid, 11 years old

Great List. I think Wreck It Ralph looks good,Lincoln doesn't interest me but it will probably be good,Life of Pi sound interesting,The hobbit does too. Skyfall looks interesting. Rise of the Guardians also looks good. Red Dawn looks terrible,as well as the new Twilight.
Teen, 14 years old written by Sol9000

When I see FILMCRITIC500's comment, I feel the need to remind you all that there are people out there who hate the idea of a kid's film/book/video game/etc. This is what I like to call an offensivist: As in someone who will only like a film if there's a body count big enough to prevent 8-year-olds from seeing it. And you can tell because all the films he's attacking (with the exception of Twilight, but hating that series is a given for intolerant viewers. And while I'm not saying that everyone who can't stand the Twilight saga is ignorant, I am saying it's a trait for those kind of people.) are kid-friendly. Would anyone like to say that Skyfall or Red Dawn will be kid-friendly? I offer the time right now to bring that up.
Kid, 11 years old

Les Miserables sounds awesome! Also my favorite movie=Monsters Inc!!! The hobit? Yay! And wreck it ralph looks cute. <3 I don't like the Life of Pi cuz it has no plot. The rest is just lame.
Parent written by Morwalk

How can you know that Life of Pi has no plot if you have not seen it? It is an amazing story, but I do think it might be too deep for 11 year olds.
Teen, 13 years old written by FILMCRITIC500

some of these movies are rubish. seriously, why put Twilight in there? that franchise is terrible and i even didnt see any of the films. also wreck it ralph looks terrible, the re-release of monsters inc. will be just as bad, and rise of the guardians just like bla! but i am pumpes for skyfall, red dawn, the hobbit, and i am sort of looking forward to lincoln. overall, there is a so-so choice of films coming this holiday season.
Teen, 15 years old written by Moviedudde18

Really, where's Silver Lining's Playbook, Django Unchained, This is 40, Flight, and Killing Them Softly? but y'all have movies that look like pure crap like Rise of the Guardians, Parental Guidance, Playing for Keeps, Twilight Breaking Dawn Part Two, and Jack Reacher.