Kids' Holiday Movie Guide 2015

With the return of Katniss, Charlie Brown, and Han Solo, it's time to get the scoop on what to see this season -- and what to skip.
Sandie Angulo Chen Guest Blogger | Movie/DVD/Book Reviewer | Mom of three Categories: Healthy Media Habits
Guest Blogger | Movie/DVD/Book Reviewer | Mom of three

This fall and holiday season, parents with kids of all ages will have plenty of movies to choose from in theaters. From animated comedies for the whole family to much-anticipated series installments for teens, the end of 2015 brings a slate of movies that are sure to please. Got a fanboy or fangirl? Try Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, or Star Wars: Episode VII. Love throwbacks? There's Goosebumps, Jem and the Holograms, and The Peanuts Movie. Can't get enough Oscar-bait dramas? Check out Suffragette, Secret in Their Eyes, In the Heart of the Sea, and Concussion. As for us, we're most excited for the return of Katniss, Charlie Brown, and Han Solo.

We'll have detailed ratings and reviews when the movies hit theaters, plus suggestions for talking to your kids about what they see. In the meantime, get the buzz on each holiday release so you know which movies will -- and won't -- be on your wish list.












Goosebumps (Oct. 16)
Target age: Tweens and teens
What's the buzz? Goosebumps is a live-action movie based on the best-selling middle-grade horror novels by R.L. Stine. It follows teen Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), who doesn't fit in at his new school -- but does connect with his next-door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), who turns out to be Stine's (Jack Black) daughter. When the teens inadvertently release real monsters into the world, the chase is on. Expect many different kinds of monsters in this adaptation, as well as frequent peril, fighting, destruction, and chaos. But it looks like Goosebumps will be more about action than spooky scares, so it could be a good fit for younger tweens and up.











Bridge of Spies (Oct. 16)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies was inspired by real-life events that took place during the height of the Cold War. Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan, an American insurance lawyer who's hired by the CIA to defend KGB agent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). Donovan must also travel to East Berlin to negotiate the release of Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stowell), a captured American pilot whose plane was shot down by the Soviet Union. Watch out for violence and strong language in this dramatic historical thriller, which will likely be best suited for teens and adults.











Jem and the Holograms (Oct. 23)
Target age: Tweens and teens
What's the buzz? For adults who grew up in the late '80s, Jem and the Holograms conjures memories of the beloved cartoon about an all-girl band led by Jem, who's the secret identity/alter ego of young record-label owner Jerrica Benton. Nearly 30 years after it went off the air, there's finally a live-action adaptation -- but it's been updated and reworked into more of a Hannah Montana-meets-YouTube story about an unknown singer (Nashville's Aubrey Peeples) who's forced by her record label to abandon her band and become the solo act she doesn't want to be. Nostalgic fans of the original cartoon may not be thrilled, but tweens, mostly girls, might be interested in the story. Yes, it's lacking the Misfits and Synergy, but at least Jem's still got the magenta wig and her besties Aja, Kimber, and Shana.











Suffragette (Oct. 23)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Suffragette chronicles the story of the women's movement in Great Britain (something many people only know in films because of Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins). Starring an ensemble cast of award-winning actresses including Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, and Helena Bonham Carter, this drama shows how difficult it was for early 20th-century British women to demand the right to vote. Facing ridicule and abuse, the suffragettes yelled, protested, broke windows, and more to make sure their voices were heard. The film is directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane, This Little Life) and written by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, The Hour).












The Peanuts Movie (Nov. 6)
Target age: All ages
What's the buzz? Charles M. Schulz's creations star in their first computer-generated feature-length film thanks to Blue Sky Studios, the creators of the Ice Age and Rio movies. The movie stars the entire Peanuts gang (Schroeder, Sally, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Pigpen, Lucy, Snoopy, and -- of course -- Charlie Brown) in a schoolyard comedy following Charlie Brown as he discovers he has a pretty new neighbor who doesn't know about his reputation for clumsiness. As Charlie wrestles with his insecurities, Snoopy takes to the sky as the Flying Ace -- in his dreams. This should be an ideal pick for families with young kids, tweens, and teens nostalgic for the classic Charlie Brown specials.











Spectre (Nov. 6)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? The 24th James Bond installment stars Daniel Craig in his fourth performance as 007 and Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz as the villainous head of the titular global crime organization. While Ralph Fiennes' Gareth Mallory (M) deals with getting MI6 running again after the events of Skyfall, Bond figures out that the only way to dismantle Spectre is to protect the daughter (Lea Seydoux) of his powerful enemy, Mr. White. Italian actress Monica Bellucci (The Matrix) also stars as "the oldest Bond girl" to date, and Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris return, respectively, as genius quartermaster Q and M's devoted assistant, Moneypenny. Craig's Bond has always been the franchise's bloodiest, so expect explosions, car crashes, and shoot-outs ... as well as (naturally) a little bit of romance.











The 33 (Nov. 13)
Target age: Tweens, teens, and adults
What's the buzz? The 33 is the intense but inspiring true story of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for more than two months. Expect lots of peril and tension during the scenes that depict the mine's collapse, as well as interpersonal conflicts among the trapped men. Despite the serious subject matter, the movie promises to have strong themes of support, teamwork, faith against the odds, and persistence and could be inspiring and uplifting for tweens and up.











My All-American (Nov. 13)
Target age: Tweens and teens
What's the buzz? Football fans will flock to this tear-jerking sports biopic chronicling the little-known story of the late Freddie Steinmark (American Horror Story's Finn Wittrock), a wiry high school football player who, despite his size, caught the eye of legendary University of Texas coach Darrell Royal (Aaron Eckhart) and played during the Longhorns' 1969 season before an injury revealed a catastrophic diagnosis. Considering this sports drama was written and directed by Angelo Pizzo, who cowrote Rudy and Hoosiers, audiences should expect a heartwarming, heartbreaking tale of courage, discipline, and faith.











The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (Nov. 20)
Target age: Tweens, teens, and adults
What's the buzz? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 is the final installment in the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise, based on the best-selling YA series by Suzanne Collins. Now that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been rescued, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) starts to use controversial strategies to convince the other districts to join the rebellion. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), President Coin (Julianne Moore), and District 13 prepare for war against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) as unrest begins to grow in Panem, and the revolution moves closer to the Capitol. Fans of the trilogy should expect lots of violence and action in the bloody battle scenes as the series comes to a close.











Secret in Their Eyes (Nov. 20)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? This adaptation of the best-selling Argentine crime novel The Question in Their Eyes has a lot to live up to, because the 2009 Spanish-language original won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Starring Julia Roberts, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Nicole Kidman, this crime thriller follows former Los Angeles federal investigator Ray (Ejiofor), 13 years after the case that tore his life -- and career -- apart: the unsolved murder of his FBI partner Jess' (Roberts) daughter. Ray goes back to L.A. determined to convince the district attorney (Kidman) to reopen the case. But while Ray wants justice, Jess seeks vengeance. If the original is any indication, you can expect disturbing violence, drinking, political intrigue, and language that is likely to make this a better fit for mature teens and adults.











Creed (Nov. 25)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Creed is the latest entry in the Rocky franchise, but this installment switches the focus to Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), Apollo Creed's son. Adonis never met his late father, but boxing is in his blood, so he heads to Philadelphia to find Apollo's former rival and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). With the former boxing champ's help, Adonis hopes to become a champion like his trainer and father before him. As in all the Rocky movies, expect a fair amount of ringside boxing violence and some romance amid a feel-good, inspirational story line.











The Good Dinosaur (Nov. 25)
Target age: All ages
What's the buzz? Pixar's latest animated adventure poses the question "What if dinosaurs never became extinct?" In the movie's alternate prehistoric era, an asteroid never struck Earth, and eventually dinosaurs and early humans overlapped. The story centers on orphaned young apatosaurus, Arlo, who befriends a little boy he names Spot. Together they attempt to find their way to safety. A journey exploring the friendship between two species that never coexisted, The Good Dinosaur, like all Disney Pixar films, is likely to spark the imagination, pull at heartstrings, and enchant kids and adults alike.











Victor Frankenstein (Nov. 25)
Target age: Tweens, teens, and adults
What's the buzz? X-Men: First Class headliner James McAvoy and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe team up as a young Victor Frankenstein and his assistant, Igor, in this take on Mary Shelley's legendary monster tale. Told from Igor's perspective, the movie focuses on the assistant as he helps medical student Frankenstein with the early experiments that will eventually lead to the creation of a living monster. Based on the trailer, it seems like the movie is more about Frankenstein and Igor's friendship than a horror flick, and though it's not a parody such as Young Frankenstein, it does promise enough humor to appeal to mature tweens and up.












Christmas Eve (Dec. 4)
Target age: Tweens and up
What's the buzz? Christmas Eve is a star-studded ensemble holiday comedy set in New York City. A power outage creates a memorable night for six groups of people (including characters played by Patrick StewartJon HederJames RodayCheryl HinesGary Cole, and more) trapped in different elevators around the city. With nothing to do except wait to get rescued, these New Yorkers are forced to revaluate the way they interact with others. There may be some perilous situations and language to watch out for in this holiday comedy.











Krampus (Dec. 4)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Krampus is a horror comedy that looks at the dark side of the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year becomes a nightmare for young Max's family (Toni ColletteAdam Scott, and more) when he loses his Christmas spirit. Instead of Santa Claus, Max has unknowingly summoned Krampus, a demon that seeks to punish misbehaving non-believers. As holiday icons come to life as monsters, Max and his family must work together if they want to survive this not-so-silent night. Expect plenty of jump scares and salty language in this tongue-in-cheek film that will likely be best suited for teens and adults.











In the Heart of the Sea (Dec. 11)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? In the Heart of the Sea is based on the real-life maritime disaster that inspired Herman Melville's classic novel Moby-Dick. In 1820, the Essex whaling ship was crewed by 21 men, including Captain George Pollard (Benjamin Walker), first mate Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), second mate Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy), and cabin boy Thomas Nickerson (Tom Holland). During their voyage, the ship was attacked and sunk by a monstrous sperm whale, leaving the crew stranded. This historical drama is likely to include plenty of action and violence, which may be too intense for younger viewers.











Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18)
Target age: Tweens, teens, and adults
What's the buzz? Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is set approximately 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. Directed by J.J. Abrams, this seventh installment in the Star Wars saga is the first in a planned new trilogy continuing George Lucas' epic adventure. Many of the franchise's iconic characters are returning, including Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO. The star-studded cast also includes Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, and more. Official plot details have yet to be revealed, but rumors suggest that Solo will be helping the main characters (played by John Boyega and Daisy Ridley) search for Skywalker after finding the Jedi master's severed hand and lightsaber. As in the previous installments, expect plenty of sci-fi action, adventure, and violence.











Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Dec. 23)
Target age: Kids and tweens
What's the buzz? Alvin, Simon, Theodore, and their Chipette friends Brittany, Jeannette, and Eleanor are back with another adventure for the holiday season. This time, the boys are on a road trip -- unaccompanied -- to Miami, where Alvin believes Dave plans to propose to his girlfriend. Since the chipmunks think Dave's going to dump them once his girlfriend agrees to marry him, they plan to wreck the question popping. As usual, expect plenty of shenanigans, musical numbers (a Chimpunk version of "Uptown Funk" is in the trailer), sight gags, and physical-comedy bits.











Concussion (Dec. 25)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Based on a true story, this medical drama stars Will Smith as Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster and discovered the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the result of repetitive head injuries from years of playing football. Billed as a David-vs.-Goliath story, Concussion pits Smith's foreign-born doctor against one of the biggest, most symbolic corporations in the United States: the National Football League. Football fans be warned -- the movie is bound to stir up controversy about whether it's a safe sport.











Joy (Dec. 25)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? Joy is the third David O. Russell movie co-starring Bradley Cooperand Jennifer Lawrence. This drama tells the life story of Joy Magano (played by Lawrence as an adult), a single mother raising three kids who ends up creating the Miracle Mop. Cooper plays the executive at the Home Shopping Network who helps launch Joy's career as an inventor/entrepreneur, which leads to a successful family business that spans four generations. There may be some salty language to watch out for in this dramatic biopic, which will likely be better suited for teens and adults.











Point Break (Dec. 25)
Target age: Teens and adults
What's the buzz? This remake of the 1991 cult classic starring Keanu Reeves and the late, great Patrick Swayze now stars relative unknown Aussie actor Luke Bracey (The Best of Me) as Johnny Utah (Reeves' role) and award-winning Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez as Bodhi (played by Swayze in the original). The story is surprisingly similar (FBI rookie Johnny Utah goes undercover to infiltrate a group of alleged criminals), but instead of surfers-turned-bank-robbers as in the original, the new Bodhi's crew are extreme-sports enthusiasts. Expect action thrills and occasional violence as well as a little bit of romance and a lot of philosophizing.

About Sandie Angulo Chen

Sandie has been writing about movies, books, pop culture, and entertainment since 1998, when she landed her first job after college at From there, she moved to AOL's, where, as a... Read more

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Comments (5)

Teen, 14 years old written by Baconpizza78

I am going to see spectre and point break in the cinema. Also I see they forgot to mention the good trucker but maybe that's not coming out until next January.
Teen, 14 years old written by ethanct86

Wow, I'm surprised. With all these movies, including the smaller scale ones, you still have forgotten about the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks historical and also HUGE Oscar-bait, Bridge of Spies.