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Mackenzie Foy is Clara and Keira Knightley is the Sugar Plum Fairy in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

4 Family Movies to See this November

The holiday movie season kicks off with a collection of thrilling sequels and reinvented classics.

There’s no better way to warm up and keep the kids occupied for a couple hours during the holiday season than heading to the movies. This season’s family-friendly films feature everything from new twists on old tales to sequels. Here are the movies we are most excited about this November:

The Nutcracker & The Four Realms

Release Date: November 2, 2018
Rating: PG

Keira Knightley joins up with her Pride and Prejudice co-star Matthew McFadden in this film that brings the classic ballet to life. Clara—played by wunderkind Mackenzie Foy—and her family are soldiering through the holiday season after losing their mother, when their father presents all three kids with gifts from their late mother. Clara’s gift is a one-of-a-kind box with a note that says “everything you’ll need is inside.” The film is slower paced, but the colorful design and a key twist in the movie will keep kids and adults’ attention throughout slower parts. Knightley’s performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy is the stand-out of the film, especially when she worriedly rips out a chunk of her cotton candy hair and eats it.

The Grinch

Release Date: November 9, 2018
Rating: PG
Courtesy of Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

In this animated update of the Dr. Seuss classic, the Grinch—voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch—lives on top of a mountain with his loyal dog Max, far from the friendly eyes of the Whos down in Whoville. Among the Whos are Cindy Lou and her mother, a busy single mom of three that works nights to support Cindy and her rambunctious twin brothers. While the other Whos wish for material gifts for Christmas, Cindy wishes only for Santa to find a way to help her mom. She concocts a plan to catch Santa to help her. When the Grinch and Max set off on the town to steal all of the Whos’ presents, they make Cindy’s house the last stop. There, she successfully catches him in her net and tells him her wish for a way to help her mom. The Grinch leaves, but can’t get Cindy’s benevolent wish out of his head.

The movie kept me and the kiddo laughing, and the soundtrack by Pharrell incorporates the classic music of The Grinch in an updated hip-hop style. The film emphasizes that the real beauty of Christmas isn’t about presents or feasts, but about being with and helping your loved ones. Bonus: I never thought an animated dog could be as lovable as Max was.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Release Date: November 16, 2018
Rating: PG-13

Part two of the five-part Harry Potter prequel series returns, following Newt, (Eddie Redmayne), his friends Jacob, Queenie, Tina, and, of course, his cute monsters. The film begins where the first left off, following Grindelwald’s (Johnny Depp) escape from prison, where he immediately begins giving raucous speeches on the supremacy of wizards over muggles.

A young Dumbledore (Jude Law), is unable to stop Grindelwald’s mission to establish dominance over the wizard world, and sends Newt to Paris to stop Grindelwald’s tour of anti-muggle rallies. In Paris, Grindelwald is intent on finding Credence, an orphaned half-blood from the first film, who is desperate to find out who his real family is. Similar to the first film, Newt’s cast of monsters help him along his journey. Depp, looking like an evil Jack Frost steals the movie, as does Jude Law, who plays a young Dumbledore with the same compassion that audiences have always seen in the powerful wizard.

Fantastic Beasts 2 has even more funny moments and adorable creatures than the first and the same attention to detail that was applied to the Harry Potter series; making the two-and-a-half hour run time fly by. The detailed storyline, large cast of characters, and a surprise twist at the end may be confusing for young kiddos, but the film is so magically watchable, especially for Harry Potter fans, that it’s enjoyable even if you don’t know what every spell means.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Release Date: November 21, 2018
Rating: PG

The sequel to the video game spin-off Wreck It Ralph!, provides a great commentary on the absurdity of the internet, while conveying a story about friendship. The animated flick follows Ralph—voiced by John C. Reilly—and his best friend Vanelloppe—voiced by Sarah Silverman—after a part in V’s game breaks, and they must scour the internet to find a replacement before their arcade store permanently turns the game off. A hilarious journey across the internet ensues, complete with adventures through Ebay, spam websites, selfie stations, and internet memes.

For parents, many of the cultural references will have them snickering, like a charmingly grumpy search engine helper, and “YES!”, the head algorithm at the fictional Buzztube. Fans of Disney princesses will also be delighted when all of the princesses appear to help Vanellope, and offer her their sage advice on singing.

The movie is grounded in lessons on friendship; specifically that a good friend often has to let go of their own idea of what is best for a friend, and instead, support them. It also emphasizes that long-distance friends can be just as close as if you’re playing the same game.


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