Where the Toys Are
Films Aimed at the Kiddie Crowd
If your kids manage to wade in from the Internet ocean or pry away from their Sega game systems for more than two hours during the upcoming holidays, it most likely indicates one thing: They've traded one form of entertainment for another and landed their size-eight Levi's in a seat at your local cineplex. And who could blame them? With all the well-marketed and perfectly ripe youth-oriented movies scheduled for release between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the lunch-toting generation must be snapping their crayons with giddy anticipation. Leading the pack with high-octane energy and lustrous animation galore is, of course, Toy Story 2, the much-anticipated sequel to the 1995 Tom Hanks/Tim Allen adventure film. Originally slated as a video release, the film thankfully debuts on the silver screen, backed up by THX Surround Sound and accompanied by a whole slew of T-Rex, Mr. Potato Head, and Woody toys sure to make their way onto your child's e-mail to Saint Nick. Then again, if a Toy Story 2 respite doesn't sate your rugrats, consider packing up the whole gang for Stuart Little, a rodent road trip tale fit even for the most conservative of the visiting grandparents. Based on American author E.B. White's (Charlotte's Web) beloved book of the same name, Little teaches all the comfortable viewing themes of family, loyalty, and friendship. For the older kids battling squeaky voices and the onset of acne, Disney also presents the future-think Robin Williams release, Bicentennial Man. In a story about the discovery of humanity in all of us, this robot-centric comedy directed by Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire) hopes to jerk tears and rub the funny bones of the entire clan. Of course, if you're looking to keep the kids a little more grounded in reality this winter, then Anna and the King should prove royal treatment to the eyes. Beautifully filmed as a 19th-century epic set in the wilds of Thailand, the film translates the true-life exploits of Anna Leonowens, a British governess hired by the King of Siam to educate his 58 children (the story upon which the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical The King & I is based). Look for Jodie Foster to bring her usual grace and powerful screen presence to a courageous story that promotes cross-cultural understanding and foregoes gratuitous sex, violence, and computer-generated imagery to draw a box-office crowd.