February 26, 2018

Best to the Worst Kids’ Films of 2012

kids-watching-movieBy Julie Samrick

It’s hard to compare the kids’ films of 2012 that are aimed toward older kids to ones that are for the under 7 crowd.  Still, in 2012 there were a few movies that had such strong stories they’re sure to be remembered as classics suited for the whole family.  Only G, PG and PG-13 movies were considered.  

Movies were ranked lower for sexual content and violence and higher for having strong messages for kids and/or leading characters who served as role models. Some were ranked lower because they are only suited for certain members of the family and wouldn’t be ideal for family movie night. 

Click on each movie title for a more detailed review.


#1 Life of Pi The great coming-of-age classics like The Black Stallion and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn come to mind. A boy’s adventures teach him about life and its big questions too. The movie is rated PG for some intense scenes, like a shipwreck and when animals turn on one another for survival.


#2 War Horse The various young people who own Joey in the early 20th century may face poverty, loneliness or disease, yet the horse is there to uplift them. This film came out on Christmas Day, 2011, but wasn’t seen by many until 2012.


#3 The Lorax There are timeless environmental themes, but also lessons about greed, making amends, and teamwork that won’t be lost on kids older than 6.


#4 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The film may differ from the 1937 classic children’s book by J.R.R. Tolkien, but the essence of both versions, chiefly Bilbo’s physical and even more important personal odyssey as he grows from a simple homebody to a confident adventurer, are the same. This movie is more violent than the book, but the violence isn’t often or gratuitous except for one scene at the very end which would be easy to have young children look away.


#5 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days Greg is a mini Ferris Bueller- and just like Ferris went out of his way to innocently trick authority, the kind of excitement Greg seeks is pretty mundane too, while still capturing the middle school angst many tweens and teens feel today.


#6 Ice Age 4: Continental Drift Kids 6 and older will see that not even a seismic shift has to separate us from the ones we love. The main character played by Ray Romano is a strong leader of his family, seldom seen in movies and television today.


#7 Journey 2 Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels, and ancient stories like The Nautilus and about the lost city of Atlantis) are decoded for kids over 8.   I was tickled to get home and see many of those books are all checked out of the library.


#8 Madagascar 3 The story becomes interesting once the crew collects themselves to help their new friends revitalize a has-been European circus. Because of mature dialogue, some violence, and quick action sequences, this film earns its PG rating and isn’t for kids under 6.


#9 Hotel Transylvania After more than a century of running a thriving hotel, single dad, Dracula, plans his daughter’s 118th coming of age party while going to great lengths to keep her his dependent, baby girl. I’d hold off on showing kids younger than 8 this movie, though, because it can be frightening in several different parts. 


#10 Sherlock Holmes I think teens and young adults today just may pick up some Arthur Conan Doyle after seeing A Game of Shadows. The formula he mastered over 100 years ago in his books is still just as fun and relevant today. This movie came out at the very end of 2011, garnering a place on our 2012 list.


#11 Won’t Back Down It is the behemoth of bureaucracy that is the enemy in the film and in real life too- so much red tape is what keeps many concerned citizens quiet about their neighborhood schools.  This film is a reminder that we can all take action and high school aged kids can join in the conversation after watching it.


#12 Wreck-It Ralph I appreciated seeing old friends like Pac Man and Frogger on the screen more than my young, 21st Century, Mario Brother-loving sons did. The only reason viewers with kids over 7 should flock to the theatre to see Wreck it Ralph is for the visuals.


#13 The Odd Life of Timothy Green The movie is sweet, but not as magical or nearly as funny as E.T


#14 Frankenweenie As is typical for Tim Burton films, this movie is dark. In fact, it’s really scary for kids under 10.  For older children, the ethics of science could be discussed with it and for parents who’d like to take the learning opportunities even further I suggest reading Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein aloud with your child before or after watching Frankenweenie and enjoy comparing and contrasting the two stories.


#15 Pirates! Band of Misfits Mostly just a silly film- think Airplane movies with pirates, though the one-liners aren’t as funny as in Airplane.


#16 Katy Perry: Part of Me In the first five minutes of the movie Katy is trying on various costumes when she yelps, “This one makes my ass look like Nicki Minaj!” The enhancement of her chest in many costumes and the performances to songs like “I wanna see your peacock!” are just too suggestive for the bubble gum pop audience it tries to reach.


#17 Sparkle The PG-13 rating comes with escalating heavy material that shouldn’t be seen by younger children. While the beginning of Sparkle is tame, there are eventually scenes showing drug use and domestic violence. The scenes with drug use aren’t glorified, but shown in the light of how talented people can so easily waste their dreams.


#18 Snow White and the Huntsman Though more Grimm than Disney, the original choices to enhance this classic story are smart.


#19 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 Self-control is a theme that runs throughout the film, perfectly aimed at its teen fan base. Not meant for younger kids.


#20 The Hunger Games Satisfying to teens, but since young kids won’t relate to the strong feelings of angst, I’d hold off exposing them to this violent film, which is much more so than the book.


#21 The Avengers Super hero lovers will be pleased, but with too many characters to keep track of it’s also much too violent for kids under 10.


#22 Rise of the Guardians As we left the theatre, the first thing my 6-year-old asked: “Is Santa Claus real?” It spoils the wonder for kids who still believe.


#23 We Bought a Zoo The rare visits with the zoo animals aren’t spotlighted enough. The title misleads that it’s a lighthearted kids’ film.  A depressing yawner.


#24 Mirror, Mirror In this cynical retelling of the classic fairytale, home cooked meals aren’t enough to endear Snow White to the seven dwarves’ or garner her a permanent seat at their table.  The little men with names like Chuck, Wolf and Grub tell her, “To live with us, you’ll have to be a thief like us,” setting up scenes that go on far too long.


#25 Brave I expected Brave to be a tough, girl power film, and it is.  It also proves princess movies don’t have to have lots of pink or even (for the first time) a romantic love story. What I didn’t expect is for Brave to go so far as to be anti-male and anti-marriage to push its message. It leaves out the boy audience.


#26 Rock of Ages If it weren’t for the great soundtrack and fresh twist on the songs, I wouldn’t recommend this movie at all.  It’s PG13, but it should have an R-rating.  There are multiple graphic sex scenes and several more scenes set to pole dancing in strip clubs.


 A credentialed teacher, Julie Samrick is now a stay-at-home mother of four kids and the founder of Kid Focused.


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  1. I would prefer Diary Of A Wimpy Kid because of Karan Brar and Peyton List.

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