One of the miracles of spring in Israel is the length of children’s Passover vacation. It’s often a challenge, to put it mildly, to keep children busy during the nearly threeweek layoff – especially towards the end – and movie distributors release as many children’s movies at this time of year as they do for the summer vacation. Here’s a brief guide to what’s out there and the ratio of fun for them and boredom/annoyance for you during each movie. This year, there are actually some movies that will entertain both children and parents.
Please keep in mind that virtually all cartoons and some live-action films screened during the day in Israel are dubbed into Hebrew. It’s a shame for English-speaking kids who will miss the voices of famous actors, so if it’s important to you, check with the theater before you go.
The best news of all is the release of a live-action adaptation of David Grossman’s novel The Zigzag Kid, which is showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. Oddly, the film was made in The Netherlands, but it just goes to show how a good story can travel well. It tells the tale of Nono, a kid who wants to become a detective, like his father, but then meets a master criminal with a mysterious connection to his life. The film, directed by Vincent Bal, won the Young Audience Award at the European Film Awards and the audience award at the Montreal International Film Festival. (When choosing films to see, especially with children, audience awards are the most accurate gauge of whether a film is actually enjoyable.) Also showing at the Jerusalem Cinematheque is The Rocket, a film that tweens and teens may enjoy. It’s about a boy in Laos who believes he brings everyone bad luck and goes on a journey through the war-scarred country to enter a rocket he has built in a rocket festival. Like The Zigzag Kid, The Rocket has won prizes all over the world, including the Audience Award at the highly competitive Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
The Lego Movie is a huge hit around the world. It’s a clever movie, visually, set in a universe where everything is made of Lego. The storyline is nothing special, but you’ll enjoy watching the animators have fun with the Lego pieces.
Muppets Most Wanted is the latest Muppet movie. While it’s not their best ever, it’s still fun. Most theaters do show this one in English with Hebrew titles throughout the day, and that’s lucky because, in addition to Miss Piggy and Kermit, this one features Tina Fey as a villain named Nadya, Ricky Gervais, Christoph Waltz, and Stanley Tucci, and in cameos, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Sean Combs and Celine Dion.
Rio 2, the sequel to the extraordinarily grating Rio, is about a cartoon parrot who – never mind.
Put this one at the bottom of the list.
Khumba, about a zebra that is born without stripes on half his body, is a kind of Lion King/Madagascar retread.
You’ll want to step outside to check your email when watching Khumba, but young kids may enjoy it.
If you’ve ever wanted to see French animated cockroaches, Oggy and the Cockroaches will make your dream a reality. It’s sort of like Tom and Jerry, but snarkier.
Very little girls will enjoy Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy.
Tweens tend to know which movies they want to see, so you may end up taking them to Divergent, based on the wildly popular series of Young Adult novels or Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Since every kid in Israel learns Bible stories, you and your older children may enjoy seeing Noah together. It’s a live-action drama starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connely, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson.
Although it was well reviewed in the US, your kids may have fun pointing out the inaccuracies.
If you don’t get to see as many of these movies as you’d like this week, remember, they will still be around during the many vacations and post-vacation vacation days (Isr’u chag) that the kids will have until the end of the year.