Looking to escape the crowded malls this holiday season? Pack up the kiddies and head for your local cineplex instead. A plethora of must-see family movies is in store.
Kicking things off, "Happy Feet Two" is the long-anticipated fun-filled follow up to the hit 2006 animated feature, starring the adorable dancing penguin Mumble (voiced again by "The Lord of the Rings'" star Elijah Wood). In this equally impressive sequel, Mumble is all grown up and a proud papa to little Erik. One problem: junior hasn't inherited pop's love of dancing. This music and dance filled adventure also features the voices of Robin Williams, Alecia Moore (a.k.a. Pink), and Hank Azaria, under the direction of George Miller, who also helmed the Oscar-winning original, Mumble and his son Erik embark on an adventure to save their flock after a glacier traps them in a valley, cutting off their food supply. Parents and children alike will enjoy this Antarctic adventure tale, where animals and humans must work together to save their friends. "Happy Feet Two" also boasts cutting-edge CGI animation and a pulsing music vibe. The 3-D element adds a whole other visceral experience.
For live-action adventure the whole family can enjoy, head over to "Hugo," directed by Academy award-winning filmmaker Martin Scorsese. "Scorsese" and "heartwarming" aren't typically used in the same sentence, but "Hugo" is winning over adults and kids alike with its nostalgic look at the history of the movies through the eyes of a young orphan (Asa Butterfield) who lives in the walls of a Paris train station. Sir Ben Kingsley delivers an awe-inspiring performance as a shopkeeper with a mysterious past who befriends the boy.
For pure feel-good fun, "The Muppets" has returned to the big screen after a decade-long absence. Jason Segel joins Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal and the rest of the felt gang in this musical extravaganza. Moms and dads are sure to recall the humor of the old "Muppet Show" and earlier Muppet movies, while children will be introduced to the puppet creatures' unique brand of humor in this fun reunion. "Flight of the Conchords" co-creator Bret McKenzie has compiled a toe-tapping soundtrack of classic pop songs along with new catchy tunes like the show-stopping "Life's a Happy Song" to the disco-inspired "Me Party" (sung by Adams and Miss Piggy) to Segel's power ballad "Man or a Muppet."
Speaking of nostalgia, around the corner is "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked," docking in theaters December 16. Say what you will about the rodent trio, kids can't get enough of their shrilly singing and madcap misadventures. In this latest installment, Alvin, Simon, Theodore and the girl group The Chipettes go overboard while on a cruise ship and wind up stranded on a tropical island, which isn't all that isolated. So channel your inner Tamias and join the 'Munks for this all-new adventure.
With so many must-see family movies now playing, you're likely to spy as many adults as kids having fun at the theater. So sit back, relax and enjoy your popcorn.