One of our KiA Dads, Tim, is a huge movie buff so we’ve put him on the job and he’ll be reviewing as many kid friendly movies as he can manage every school holidays. It’s sometimes hard to judge from just a movie trailer or movie rating if something is suitable for your kids so Tim will not only be reviewing each film but also recommending which kids might enjoy or not enjoy it.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Runtime: 118 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – The movie version of the drunk business idea you and your friends think of. Crazy but it works!

You know when you walk into a conversation that has been going a while, don’t really know what they are talking about so you just smile like a weirdo and laugh with them to pretend you know what on Earth they are on about? That was me in the first 15 minutes of Maleficent, because I had either not seen the first one or my brain had erased it. Thankfully it didn’t take long to catch up because this Disney flick had quite frankly, cut and pasted the plot of about a dozen movies before. Legit. I don’t usually do the spoiler thing but bugga it, this is a cracker.

The plot of Avatar, you know the mega successful blue people movie. Peaceful (but powerful) forest people at one with nature fight against the evil humans who want their land for mining or herbs or whatever. Watch Maleficent and through some incredible use of trickery, the screenwriters have cut and pasted that script here! It is bonkers. But its good fun so who cares.

Join Angelina Jolie as Maleficent (no relation to Fiddy Cent) as she tries to convince everyone that she isn’t the big scary evil flying dragon thing that she kind of actually is, who has the power to pretty much kill everyone with a single thought. For some reason she has a god daughter (Aurora – Sleeping Beauty) who is human but lives with all the elves and fairies, rather than the humans on the other side of the river. If that was me, a large clumsy dude, I would be petrified of tripping and crushing my forest friends. But that’s just me. Maybe she isn’t clumsy?

As weird as this movie is, given its basically the characters from Sleeping Beauty thrust into Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, its actually pretty good fun. The special effects are epic and make you forget all the weird plot shenanigans going on. Jolie is awesome as the misunderstood magical sky demon and it has the best ‘meet the in-laws dinner party’ scene since Meet the Parents. Kids under 10 might be scared by some of the darker bits and I its a tad sad at times (I am Groot. Will leave it at that) but apart from the little ones, the whole clan will get a kick out of this one. At around 2hrs, if you have the bladder the size of a thimble you will need 2 toilet breaks. Just a heads up thimble friends.

3.5 out of 5 winged sky demons with amazing cheekbones. You will have a blast.

Paw Patrol: Ready Race Rescue

Runtime: 44 minutes
Rating: G
Short version – Its only 44 minutes. You got this. I believe in you.

Every parent has had those times where you are sitting watching Hannah Montana for 3 hours and then you look around and realise the kids left the room ages ago. Surely that isn’t just me right? You just kind of zonk out in a sleep deprived state of semi-consciousness, not really sure what time it is but happy that the kids are alive and that means you are doing your job. Paw Patrol is kind of like that. There is nothing in it for the adults but after long enough, you really just hope Marshall wins the bloody race. He has to beat the corrupt Mayor Humdinger! How do they not see how corrupt he is! 

If you haven’t heard of the Paw Patrol, they are a bunch of dogs who are sort of like a mix of the SES, Police, Firies and Ambos all rolled into one. Everyone just calls them direct to help when they get stuck and stuff. They have some awesome tech. I don’t know who is funding them but they have all the good stuff. I spent most of the time wondering how they grip the steering wheels with their paws. I couldn’t see any gripping pads or any sort of pup handles. One of many plot holes I suppose. 

This one is for the really small kids. Like if they have never been to the cinema before, at 44 minutes this one is perfect. The story doesn’t matter. The pups race. Save their friends. Something about believing in yourself or something. All good wholesome stuff. My 5yo ate it up like fairy floss at the show. Out of his seat half the time cheering, so for that I guess it was spot on and it didn’t drag on so that’s a win for me. 

4 out of 5 pups. Not sure how long this one will last in the cinema so get onto it this school holidays! 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – In hindsight, Dora’s parents weren’t really that attentive were they.

I have teen daughters which for me, meant that a vast majority of the last decade of my life has been in that twilight zone of time in between Dora asking a question to the audience and Dora answering the question. Time seemed to stand still in those mere seconds, as I watched her frozen eyes and wondered if I had accidentally paused the remote. Then, usually about 10 seconds later, she would answer that she would indeed take the path to the forest and not the mountains as I had guessed.

The Dora cartoon was soul destroying for a parent and I expected something similar of this movie. But with Michael Pena (one of the funniest dudes around) and Eva Longoria on board, it had some chance of not being terrible. This ended up falling in between as some sort of Lara Croft Jr/Jumanji for kids hybrid that wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but doesn’t mean it was good. Like a service station hot dog that didn’t give you gastro. I mean it wasn’t bad, but that doesn’t mean it was good. The best bits were then it took the piss out of the cartoon, like Dora staring for ages after asking a question. Or why Swiper the fox wore a mask. Was there a lot of fox related crime in the jungle and he needed to keep his identity a secret? Alas those moments were few and far between.

My daughters, 14 and 11yrs, thought it was OK. Probably in the service station hot dog range like me. My 5year old actually really liked it and he sat still during the whole thing. He didn’t get scared at all and there is nothing that will put anyone off, but I think out of all of us I actually like this the most. I think that means Dora has totally destroyed my brain. Like some sort of cruel torture.

3 out of 5 because Swiper swiped the other 2 stars. 

Abominable

Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: G
Short version – Will make you want a Yeti as a pet

You know how there are some words that you just really struggle to say. Squirrel. Worcestershire Sauce (not the sauce bit…I have that down pat), sixth. Well add Abominable to that list for me. I just can’t get it out. I just end up saying Abommable. As a result I hereby rename this movie “The Magic Snow Beast”.

I will set the scene. Magic snow beast is magic and also rare. Evil rich dude who collects rare things catches him for reasons. Probably to make a rug out of him or something. Magic snow beast escapes, finds plucky kids and bingo. Hilarity ensues. Well when I say hilarity, its not quite that scene in bridesmaids where the chick is trying on wedding dresses after a dodgy lunch and collapses in the middle of the road, but there is enough to give you a bit of an actual lol. Not where you type lol but don’t actually make any sounds, an actual laugh out loud. Thats where this movie fits.

The kids will really like this one. All of mine did, except my 5 year old was a little scared of the magic snow beast at the start, but eventually I was able to regain use of my hand soon enough from it duty as “5yo eye coverer during sort of scary bits”. Miss 14 and 11 both loved it, but I did buy them a frozen coke on the way to the movies so they were in good moods which helped. Parenting hack – Frozen coke makes car rides so much quieter and more pleasant. Didn’t think you would get parenting tips as well as a movie review did you! The plot revolves around friendship, family, working together and all that jazz, which my 5yo found really easy to follow and keep track of what was going on. And if anyone cares I liked it too. A winner all round. 

4 out of 5 magic snow beasts

Angry Birds 2

Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – Like the Royal Show. Kids will love it. Adults not so much.

in 2009, a young Tim with slightly less lower back pain than now, was sitting on the toilet playing Angry Birds, a new whiz bang phone game that was all the rage.  How could I possibly foresee that fast forward a decade and I would be writing a review of not only a movie about that game, but a sequel! A sequel to a phone time wasting toilet game where you throw birds into pigs. What a time to be alive.

Didn’t see the first one? Don’t stress I will catch you up. The red bird is the angry one. In the first one he saved the island from the pigs or something and now all the other birds like him. The birds now spend their days playing pranks on the pigs, who live on a nearby island. They are mortal enemies, these birds and pigs. Don’t ask why. I did and it melted my brain. Anyway they have to join forces to fight a threat from a mysterious third island. Those 5 lines essentially sum up the entire movie. I can’t believe someone presented that as an idea for a movie and then someone actually said “yeah here’s $50m, go knock yourself out”.

What is most worrying is my kids bloody loved it. I think they are broken. I don’t think I laughed once. Maybe a burp turned into a giggle, but that’s as close as I got. In a worrying sign for our future movie industry, my 5yo gave it 5 out of 5, my 11yo a solid 4 and my 14yo, who is the most sane of the group, a lowly 2. I will give it a 1. I am more disappointed with myself that I expected more from the Angry Birds 2 movie.

Overall 3.5 out of 5 birds. Sadly your kids will actually really like it.

A Dog’s Journey

Runtime: 108 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – We don’t deserve dogs.

Dogs are the best. Any movie involving a dog is great. Turner and Hooch. Milo and Otis. Beethoven. Beethoven’s 2nd. Not Beethoven’s 3rd. That was crap. All in all, whack a cute dog and some sort of loveable humans around it and its a sure fire recipe for movie magic!
This one however, was tough. If you don’t know the premise for this sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, basically Olaf from Frozen is a dog that gets reincarnated a bunch of times as it follows the lives of the various hoomans in his life. Essentially what that means is that a dog dies like every half an hour. It is brutal. I cried. Both my daughters cried. Then repeat every half hour when the dog dies again. It is like watching Marley and Me 4 or 5 times in a row.
After the 2nd dog died I sort of ran out of tears so was able to pay some sort of attention to the plot. You know it will end well, but if the success of a movie is judged by the amount of dogs that die in heartbreaking fashion whilst somehow managing to piece together your broken dog loving heart in an awesome conclusion, then this one ticks all the boxes. 
We all loved this one. Even my middle daughter who ‘hates movies’. So for that alone this one rises above the pack. Get it. Pack. See what I did there. Pack. Dog pack. Anyway…..Everyone will find the dog deaths sad but there is nothing too scary along the way so most ages will love it.

4 out of 5 pups. At least I know I won’t cry in Angry Birds 2. Probably.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Runtime: 86 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – I saw it 3hrs ago and have already kind of forgotten it.

Any parent will know that for every Toy Story, there is an Emoji Movie. This is one of those in between ones where it isn’t exactly painful to sit through, but when you walk out you wonder what exactly you did for the last 90 minutes. Sort of like when you drive home when a bit tired and then forget how you drove the last 5km, sitting there at at the traffic lights in a daze. Thats The Secret Life of Pets 2. Sitting at the traffic lights in a daze, not entirely sure where the last bit of your life went but knowing it wasn’t bad. You could also call it July. As in “oh my god its already July where has the year gone and what have I done with my life”

Join Max, Duke and some other pets whose names I have already forgotten, as they get up to mischief in New York whilst their owners are unconscious somewhere I assume. I mean they snuck a tiger into an apartment. Not really a spoiler alert because, does it really matter what the plot is? I spent most of my time trying to work out which pet best described me. Turns out I am Duke, the big scruffy one. He is clumsy, eats all the food and doesn’t really know what is happening most of the time. 

The kids ate it all up like lollies from a showbag though, so for that it gets full marks. My 3, ranging from 5 years through 14, all thought it was the bees knees and to that end, it is great family viewing. There are no scary bits and the humour is very much aimed at the kids, so no awkward convos to have later. The older teens may (will) get a tad bored however.

Thankfully at 86 minutes it is shorter than a Kardashian marriage and will be over before you know it.

3 out of 5 dogs. A point for each of my kids that liked it. No points from me.

The Lion King

Runtime: 118 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version – Relive the most traumatic death of your childhood. In stunning High Definition.

I would pay to listen to James Earl Jones reading the back of a detergent label. There is something about that voice which soothes the soul. Which is probably part of the reason why the death of Mufasa in the 1994 original hit so hard. You are on such a high watching the father-son relationship between Mufasa and Simba and then bam, somebody starts cutting onions again. 
In this new instalment, which I had to explain to my daughter isn’t a live action update like Aladdin (or were the lions just really well trained?), what is arguably Disney’s finest work is faithfully recreated practically scene for scene. The visuals are just insane. I mean what’s next? Will I be able to smell the lions next? For a moment you feel like you are watching a David Attenborough doco, until Pumba tells a fart joke which kind of reminds you this isn’t real.
The voice actors are incredible. Thankfully Jones was able to perform again as Mufasa because quite frankly, he is irreplaceable. Timon and Pumba are outstanding and a young up and comer named Beyonce (Think its pronounced Bee-Yon-Say) is great as Nala. Big things are in store for her I am sure. 
The little ones are a bit young for this version. It is so life like that most of the Scar and Hyena scenes even scared me and I am 38. So my 5 year old will have to wait for this one, so will my 11 year old who got her bravery from me. The Mufasa death is obviously a tough watch too which may be upsetting for kids or 38 year old men. 
Maybe try out the cartoon version and gauge their reaction, the scenes are almost identical.
For the adults, take your tissues. I have now cried 3 times in movies. Twice involve The Lion King.
5 out of 5 Beyonces. Outstanding. Better than the original. 

Aladdin

Runtime: 128 minutes
Rating: PG
Short version: Disney ruined my childhood.

Jokes. This is incredible. I was 11 when Aladdin was released with the incomparable Robin Williams. Since then I have seen it in excess of 6000 times. Probably. It certainly feels like that many. Even saw the musical a few years back. It is a tale as old as time….wait sorry, wrong movie. Anyway Aladdin is a classic and a remake will struggle to top the original. So I thought.
You know the story. Street rat Aladdin on the streets of Agrabah, fooled by the evil Jafar yada yada yada Genie yada yada yada Princess and happily ever after.
Every single fave moment from the original is here and they nailed it. Not going to say I cried during the magic carpet ride but someone had some onions near me I swear. The cast is perfection and Will Smith. The Fresh Prince nailed this. Bravo.
Parents will love the nostalgia, the laughs and the visuals. So colourful and fantastic music. Kids of nearly all ages will love it too. Some of the little ones under 8 might find some of the mild action and fighting scenes a little much, especially nearing towards the end with….you know how it ends. Jafar. Evil genie. Do you do spoiler alerts for remakes of movies 27 years ago? Anyway for me, my 5yo is a little way off this one but my 11yo and 14yo were all over this.
Loved it! 4 lamps out of 5 for this one.

Toy Story 4

Runtime: 100mins
Rating: G
Short version – You can indeed improve on perfection.

Dear Pixar, Please just make Toy Story movies forever. Kind regards, Tim. Its hard to believe the first Toy Story was released in the mid 90s. Those were the days. I was rocking an undercut then from memory whilst navigating year 10. Thankfully there was no facebook to record that fashion travesty. Anyway I digress, since that first release, Pixar created probably the perfect trilogy of movies with the release of Toy Story 2 and 3 over the next 15 years or so. So did they stuff it up by going for number 4? I mean what 4th instalment of anything was any good. Police Academy 4? Nope. Sharknado 4? Nope again. Although Sharknado is truly awesome in its own way. Looking at you Iain Ziering.
Somehow they nailed it. With number 3 ending on a perfect note, the story picks up with Buzz, Woody and co. travelling across country with Bonnie and their new friend Forky. Spoiler alert, Forky is a plastic fork. I can imagine the round table meeting at Pixar where some hung over writer was asked on the spot for an idea for a new character. Then, hazily staring down at his empty lunch container he piped up with ‘uh how about a plastic fork’. Genius. Hilarious too. The scenes with Woody and Forky will remind parents of trying to drag a toddler through a shopping centre at Christmas.
The whole thing is just insanely good. You know those people that are annoyingly good at everything? ‘Oh you are a Doctor and also play the piano. Cool’. Thats Toy Story. It just shouldn’t be this good but it just is perfect.
This is the peak movie for the whole fam. The little kids will love it, the teen kids will love it and unless you have a small and undiscovered fear of those creepy old school dolls ala Annabelle, then adults will love it too.
And lastly, the person who doesn’t like those creepy dolls is me. Go see Annabelle yourself. Wont get a review from me though.
5 out of 5 forky’s. Bring on Toy Story 5!

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Runtime: 130 minutes
Rating: M
Short version – Stop what you are doing and go see this movie now.

I mean it. With Avengers: Endgame grossing almost $3 billion earlier this year, chances are you either Saw it several times Saw it once Didn’t see it but have a general idea what its all about because your kids won’t stop talking about it As someone who falls into category a), I will start by saying this review of Spider-man: Far from home, is entirely spoiler free. In fact I have probably already said too much. Far from home is the first movie in the Marvel cinematic universe since the events of Endgame, with details about plot kept very closely guarded. What I can say without fear of punishment, is all your favourite Spider-man faves return, as everyone’s favourite neighbourhood hero travels to Europe to try and win the heart of his crush MJ. Of course from there, adventures follow which leads to a brilliant conclusion and applause (I may have been the only one clapping I must add). Oh my god so good. For those very familiar with the current crop of superhero movies, this will tick all your boxes. In fact, don’t even take the kids. Just go on your own when the cinema is empty and enjoy this majestic period in cinematic history. If you don’t like superhero movies and the kids are dragging you along? Will I like it I hear you say?

Of course you will. You don’t need to have seen all 22 Marvel movies to enjoy this one. They touch briefly at the start on previous events to quickly catch everyone up and then grab your popcorn and enjoy the show. At a nudge over 2 hours, it won’t feel overly long and will be a great way to spend an afternoon. It has been given an M rating which seems fair. There are a lot of action scenes which could be a bit scary in parts and very loud in the cinema. There is also one short scene in particular (you will know it when you see it) which would probably scare the pants off the little ones. So for me and my kids, the 6yo gets a miss for this one and my 11yo is a little jumpy so probably not either. My 14yo is tougher than me and she love love loved it! Oh and another thing. Always stay til the end of the credits. Totally worth the wait.
4.5 webs out of 5 for me and that will probably increase after a 2nd viewing.