Family Movie Night: Top 3 Winners and Losers

by Nicole Loughan


Winter is on the way and one way to keep the family together and out of the cold is to cozy on the couch with a good movie. My family and I watch movies together often and we have a massed a collection that we all enjoy. For a great movie night with the kids I recommend getting an old fashioned air popper and grabbing a movie off of the winner list. The ones on the loser list were all gladly returned before they were due or hidden like a dark family secret. Please see my reviews below to help make an informed movie night decision.


  1. Tangled
  2. Finding Nemo
  3. Rio

tangled“Tangled” – Disney has really stepped up their princess movies. In this clever reboot of the fairy tale Rapunzel she is kidnapped by a witch who raises her as a daughter and keeps her hair long because it has magical properties. They even make the “prince” climbing her hair to the tower believable, something hard for today’s mostly jaded audiences. My children love the songs and even my husband can stomach the music provided by Mandy Moore, because the songs are so upbeat and catchy. The lyrics and placement of the music is clever, a hallmark of most Disney movies. My whole family especially likes the song “I’ve got a Dream” which features Brad Garrett’s baritone.

finding-nemo-1“Finding Nemo” – Probably the most worn out movie in my collection. Children of all ages, at least all of the children I know, love “Finding Nemo.” Even my one-year-old loves to stare at the colorful fish. My husband and I like the humor of Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres. There are so many good movie quotes that we find ourselves referencing it all the time. After you see the movie I dare you not to call something you’re “squishy” or to say “dude.” If you have seen it you know what I am talking about. The rumor is that there will be a follow-up called Finding Dory out in 2014. You can count us in.

rio“Rio” – I held off on renting this movie for the longest time. The commercials looked gimmicky and I was sure I had seen all of the best parts in previews. How wrong I was after much begging we finally tried “Rio” and shortly after bought in on Blue Ray. We were singing those songs for weeks. The line “Magic can happen for real” will ignite my whole house into a chorus of “in Rio.” The birds are very colorful and the adventure was fun and believable. My husband and I liked the song by Jemaine Clement, which is pretty much all for adults, with lines such as “Like an abandoned school I have no principal.” Our kids like the beat but have no idea what the words are. The violence is mild. There are some scenes with woman wearing bikinis but I am more disturbed by violence then a little skin, others might disagree.


  1. Up
  2. Horton Hears a Who
  3. Elmo in Grouchland

Up_Poster“Up” – I love “Up” my husband loves “Up” the only problem is my children hate it. While it may be an appropriate movie for older children, perhaps over the age of seven, for my pre-school and toddler aged child there is simply not enough visually to keep them in the movie. The beginning sequence with the main character Carl and his wife growing old together is sweet and touching to adults. But let’s face it the pain of infertility and growing old childless is a little too deep for children. During that portion of the movie my kids were doing anything but paying attention. There were some dogs and a colorful bird later, but even the balloon lifting house was not enough to keep their attention past a few minutes.

horton and who“Horton Hears a Who!” – I wanted to like this so much. I like Steve Carell and Jim Carrey and other Dr. Seuss movies, such as “The Grinch,” but this adaptation was just bad. To be honest my kids love it but whenever they want to see it I rub my temples. I get bored out of my mind with it and there are too many scary or inappropriate scenes for them. It follows the plot of the book for the most part, with an elephant named Horton trying to save a microscopic town which has come to rest on a clover. But in the movie there is more of a focus on the town of Who-Ville which was poorly plotted. The townspeople aren’t “fun” and I don’t like that the head of the city council calls the mayor a moron and lets fly words like idiot and boob, it’s one of the parts we have to skip. The other part to miss is the scenes with the vulture and the scene in the end where the Kangaroo-like bad guy tries to fry the town in a vat of oil. This movie has cute parts and the original story of Horton is still in there, but this adaptation requires too many skips to bother with.

elmo in grouchland“Elmo in Grouchland” – Again, my kids like it. I have it hidden between the mattresses like a dirty secret. Something about Elmo’s voice draws children in. But to adults it’s like nails on a chalkboard. The songs in the movie are terrible and uninspired. I can’t name or sing even one and who would want to. On top of it the visuals aren’t good. The Grouch Land scenes are cheap by Sesame Street standards. A good episode of Sesame Street is more entertaining and more educational.


Nicole Loughan is a professional writer and author. She loves mystery, humor and a little romance. Her books are packed with what she loves and are available through her website

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