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Six new kids' movies to see during the holiday 2012 season

There’s an eclectic mix of new kids' movies for families to unwrap this season, including a tough-talking Santa and a ring-seeking Hobbit.

  • Holiday movies 2012: Rise of the Guardians

  • Photograph: James Fisher

    Holiday movies 2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  • Photograph: Courtesy Disney/Pixar

    Holiday movies 2012: Monsters, Inc. 3D

  • Photograph: Mark Fellman

    Holiday movies 2012: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

  • Photograph: Laurie Sparham

    Holiday movies 2012: Les Misérables

  • Photograph: Phil Caruso

    Holiday movies 2012: Parental Guidance

Holiday movies 2012: Rise of the Guardians

Holiday movies 2012: Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians

Not to be mistaken for the 2010 owl epic Legend of the Guardians, Rise of the Guardians gathers Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman in a superpowered adventure tale, as they team up to save the world from an evil spirit.

The buzz: A film featuring the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy may seem as sugary as a basket of Peeps. But with a script by the darkly comic playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, plus a tattooed Russian Santa and a slick, Aussie Bunny (voiced by Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman, respectively), this may have enough of an edge to please both parents and their kids. Opens Nov 21; rated PG.

Holiday movies 2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The first offering in Peter Jackson’s highly anticipated Hobbit trilogy (a prequel to the Lord of the Rings series), this sweeping epic involves dragons, orcs, dwarf kings, goblins, Bilbo Baggins and other denizens of Middle Earth that you either know everything about or nothing about, depending on your social standing back in high school.

The buzz: The LOTR movies earned close to 3 billion dollars and picked up 17 Oscars, so it’s not a question of whether this will be a hit, but how big of one it will be. If your kids haven’t read the Tolkien classics yet, just explain that it’s sort of like Harry Potter, but with more Dobby and Griphook and less teenage angst.

  1. Opens Dec 14; not yet rated.
Holiday movies 2012: Monsters, Inc. 3D

Monsters, Inc. 3D

This 2001 CGI classic, starring John Goodman and Billy Crystal as a couple of working-stiff monsters who befriend a little human girl named Boo, is among the most hilarious of all the Pixar films. Following their recent success with the 3-D rerelease of Finding Nemo, Disney introduces Sulley and Mike Wazowski to a new generation of kids.

The buzz: Even if your kids have seen Monsters a million times on DVD, it will be worth the price of a ticket to catch all the blink-and-you-miss-them background details on the big screen. Also, it’ll be a good refresher in anticipation of the upcoming prequel, Monsters University

  1. Opens Dec 19; rated G.
Holiday movies 2012: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away

This 3-D extravaganza, executive-produced by James Cameron, immerses the audience in the fantastical costumes, New Agey music and ooh-inspiring acrobatics of the world’s most glamorous circus troupe. Expect flames, water, spinning and flipping, all framed by a wordless tale about a young couple trying to find each other.

The buzz: Part of the magic of Cirque is that it creates eye-popping visual spectacles without any CGI or special effects, so the 3-D seems almost redundant. But then again, with seats to a live performance costing well over $100 apiece, the price of a premium movie ticket is a relative bargain. 

  1. Opens Dec 21; not yet rated.
Holiday movies 2012: Les Misérables

Les Misérables

It’s the big-screen adaptation theater geeks have been salivating for: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway star in the epic tale of poverty, love, faith and redemption during the student uprisings of 19th-century France, based on the blockbuster Broadway musical.

The buzz: Oddsmakers are already pegging Les Mis as the film to beat for Best Picture this year. The complex plot, with different threads crisscrossing over many years, may be too challenging for younger kids, but it will be a visual and aural feast for music-loving tweens and teens. Plus, there are a couple of awfully cute little urchins to root for. 

  1. Opens Dec 25; rated PG-13.
Holiday movies 2012: Parental Guidance

Parental Guidance

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play a pair of wisecracking grandparents who agree to babysit daughter Marisa Tomei’s three high-tech, overly coddled kids for a spell.

The buzz: If 3-D glasses give you a major headache, then this is the family film for you this season. With no animation, special effects or operatic soundtracks, Parental Guidance daringly relies on nothing more dazzling than the comic timing of two comedy pros and (hopefully) clever riffs on the generation gap. 

  1. Opens Dec 25; not yet rated.

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