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What to watch if your kids aren’t into the kids-killing-kids realities of Panem

As we might have mentioned before, we loved The Hunger Games books and so were seriously anxious for the movie to open. A big part of why we love the Hunger Games is Katniss herself. For those who somehow escaped hearing all about this dystopian tale, it centres around 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen. She’s so brave and strong that, after losing her dad in a mining accident, takes it upon herself to hunt and forage for her family so they don’t all starve. Her braveness hits its peak when her little sister’s name is drawn to participate in the annual Hunger Games, where kids from various districts fight to the death, and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Yes, there’s a bit of young adult romance-y stuff happening, but at its core, it’s about Katniss surviving the games so she can get back to her family. Katniss makes for a great role model, but we understand that when other Hunger Games participants are speared, stabbed and bashed on the head, it’s not really family-friendly entertainment if your family is on the young side. We’re thinking Snow White and the Huntsman looks pretty kickass too, but again, it’s probably not for the kids.

That’s why we’re super looking forward to Brave. Like Katniss, Brave‘s protagonist Merida is rather skilled with a bow and arrow. Also like Katniss, Merida isn’t about to just accept some less-than-stellar fate and fights for what she believes in. For Katniss, that means her life and for Merida, equal rights (we’re guessing… based on the trailer). Brave doesn’t comes out until June, so while you wait to see Merida in action, you can check out the following girl-centric family-friendly films:

1. Mulan (1998)

Like Merida, Mulan takes it upon herself to do what is typically left to the men. When the Huns invade China, each family is required to contribute a man to the army. Since Mulan has no brothers, her dad would have to go and he’s old and surely wouldn’t last very long. Mulan dresses up as a man and takes his place. Like any Disney heroine, Mulan gets some help and encouragement from some strange creatures, like Eddie Murphy the dragon.

2. Coraline (2009)

The movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s much loved graphic novel of the same name might be a little scary for young, young kids. Only you know whether or not your kids would enjoy a movie with ghosts and a scary insect-type-thing, or if it would just upset them. Coraline is young girl whose family has just moved into what seems like a boring, old house. Things changed when Coraline discovers a locked door and has heard from some mice, via one of her new neighbours, that she should not go through that door. Obviously she does and what’s on the other side is a whole identical world, complete with an Other Mother and Other Father… but instead of normal eyes they have buttons. If your kid is scared by this description, move on down the list, but if they’re intrigued, let’s watch Coraline rescue her parents from the Other World!

3. Matilda (1994)

In some ways, the odds don’t really seem to be in Matilda’s favour: her parents barely notice her, she’s just a small kid, she goes to a school with a monster for a principal, etc. But in other ways, she’s got a serious advantage over everyone else: she’s ridiculously clever, caring and she can do magic. Once Matilda discovers she has certain powers, she decides to get back at Miss Trunchbull for bullying and stealing from her beloved Miss Honey. What must school have been like for Roald Dahl that he could dream up a character like Miss Trunchbull and a punishment like the chokey? Oh, and she uses magic to play tricks on her family. On a semi-related note: anyone else getting a kick out of seeing Miss Honey on Mad Men as Lane Pryce’s wife? What a change!

4. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Like Matilda, Kiki’s got some special magical powers; she’s a young witch-in-training. Well, really her only skill is flying, so to earn some money for herself, she starts a delivery service. Suddenly, she loses the ability to fly and communicate with her cat best friend! Will she regain her powers? Will she learn anything in the process? Oh, how about the importance of self-confidence during difficult times and gaining independence?

5. Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009)

Can you really go wrong with a giant killer robot machine and its four-eyed alien squid master? Yeah, we didn’t think so. Anyway, this movie is all about Susan, who gets hit by a meteorite on her wedding day. Subsequently, she grows into absolute giant. Not Andre-the-Giant-big, she’s King Kong-big. The military captures her, calls her Ginormica and sends her to a top secret prison where she meets fellow monsters. An evil alien has detected the substance that Susan absorbed that turned her into a giant and sends a robot down to Earth to find it, but the robot just ends up destroying everything! The monsters, including Susan, are unleashed to fight the robot and are promised their freedom if they succeed. Will Susan and the monsters defeat the aliens? Can we really call Susan a monster? Should she go through with her planned marriage? Hint: she has something of a Paperbag Princess moment. Is any movie featuring the voice talents of Hugh Laurie, Stephen Colbert, Will Arnett and Keifer Sutherland probably a safe bet? Yes! (There are other talented actors in this movie too, including obviously our heroine, Reese Witherspoon, but those dudes all have such great voices!)

What are your favourite girl-centric movies? Why doesn’t J.K. Rowling write us a Hermione: The College Years? And how early is too early to start your kids on Buffy?

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