On Feb. 24, Daniel Day-Lewis and some other people will smile, strut onstage at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, collect gleaming statuettes and tell the world how much they love their agents.
The Academy Awards is, by far, the biggest awards show in what has become known as awards season—when everything from Grammys to BAFTAs to Razzies are doled out with much fanfare and press attention. It’s a big deal, these awards. Ask anyone who’s won one and they’ll tell you.
This year, looking back at all the movies released in 2012, Plugged In adds its voice to the cacophony—not to confuse the matter further by merely adding more movie titles to the already large pile, of course, but to give a family-sensitive alternative to Oscar’s love for the likes of Django Unchained.
We’re calling them the Plugged In Movie Awards.
And, oh, by the way, they’re not just our awards. They’re yours, too. We want you to be a part of this.
Here’s how it’ll work:
Over four days this week on this blog we’ll be unveiling our five nominees in four categories: Best Movie for Kids, Best Movie for Teens, Best Christian Movie and our stab at identifying the year’s most valuable Diamond in the Rough. Each nominee will come with a brief description written by the Plugged In reviewers. Our nominees aren’t necessarily perfect films, and that is especially true for the Diamonds in the Rough. So please read our linked reviews carefully before watching any of them. But they’re all movies that have merit—capable (we think) of inspiring you and/or making you think.
Then we want to hear from you: Which one of each category’s nominees do you like best? And why? We’ll tally your votes, and when we announce our final winners, we’ll also announce yours! You can lodge your opinions in one of two forums: on our FACEBOOK PAGE or right here on our blog at the end of the four nominee posts. Note that you’re more than welcome to vote and speak your mind anonymously, but if you want it to count, you’ll have to JOIN our blog community and use your forum name. That helps us guard against one anonymous commenter voting over and over again … and we also want to use this opportunity to encourage you to grab your own screen name! It just helps with that feeling of community when folks have names.
We’ll officially announce all winners on Feb. 14 during that day’s Official Plugged In Podcast. (It won’t be televised, but we’ll all be wearing tuxedos, I assure you.) The following day we’ll follow up with a blog post here with all the details.
So let’s kick things off with …
BEST MOVIE FOR KIDS*
*Since the word kids is a pretty broad descriptor, we’ll give some context here: Generally speaking, we’re looking at middle school- and elementary-age children, but we’re also aware that different kids have different sensitivities. Read our reviews before deciding whether a film here is suitable for your family.
Brave (PG): Growing up is never easy. Doubly so for Disney princesses, who have a persistent habit of conflict with their mothers. That’s definitely the case in Pixar/Disney’s latest, the story of a sassy Scottish princess, named Merida, who’s more interested in horseback riding and archery than she is her mother’s ideas about becoming a lady. So tense is their relationship that Merida wishes she didn’t have to deal with her nagging mom at all … a wish that’s granted by a “helpful” witch, though not quite the way Merida expected. Merida learns lessons about how self-absorbed she’s been and how much her mother loves her. It’s a tender story, but families should know that before they reconcile, Merida and her mom will traverse some dark (and sometimes spiritually dim) moments together and face a fierce bear who’s got it in for them. Scottish-themed toilet humor creeps in, too. It’s never enough, however, to completely derail this redemptive tale.
Chimpanzee (G): It’s a jungle out there, quite literally for poor Oscar. Only the strong survive, and an orphaned chimp like Oscar—barring a miracle—doesn’t stand much of a chance. But in this nature film from Disney, that miracle happens. Freddy, a powerful alpha chimpanzee who’s never shown a whit of interest in Oscar (or any other baby chimp) before, takes the tyke under his wing and shows him how to survive: how to eat, how to groom, how to stay safe. It’s the year’s most improbable love story, and perhaps its most touching. Through the eyes of Oscar and Freddy kids of all ages can learn about the value of charity, compassion and, most especially, family.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (PG): Manny the mammoth, Diego the saber-toothed tiger and Sid the sloth are set afloat on an iceberg and must battle a pirate ape to get back home. This fourth animated Ice Age has a bit of lowball regurgitating humor and just a dash of floating-on-a-slab-of-ice peril, but nothing too odorous or scary for your average young sloth. On the other hand, the longing and love for family and the growing pains between teens and adults are positive topics well explored amidst the joking, seafaring and swashbuckling.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG): Inspired by the classic novels of H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, this live-action adventure from Walden Media thrilled moviegoing kids in 3-D. There’s nothing like a perilous quest to unite sparring family members. This one bonds a teenager, his grandfather and his stepdad as our heroes outrun giant lizards and insects on a lush island that’s as dangerous as it is beautiful. Impressive effects. Wild and crazy action scenes. Better yet, the story packs great messages about absentee dads and the selfless love required to grow a healthy family.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (PG): The homesick menagerie of zoo animals are finally heading back to their Central Park home—via Monte Carlo, Rome and London. Things start off on the French Riviera where Alex the Lion and his furry pals get chased out of town by a psychotic animal-control chief named Capitaine DuBois. She wants a few more stuffed trophies for her wall. So, of course, there’s only one thing for the animal pals to do … join the circus. This animated migration tale has a few off-color giggles and some cartoony thumping under its big top. But it’s a warmhearted, fun romp that encourages kids to overcome their fears and make the most of the unexpected things in life.
Explore our other Plugged In Movie Awards nominees in these categories: