Managing Passover movies for kids

Suggested films on the big screen for the small fry.

The Smurfs (photo credit: PR)
The Smurfs
(photo credit: PR)
The Passover vacation can get very long, so it’s a great time to take kids to the movies. Here are some suggestions of what to see during the holiday and how to manage the multiplexes.
Cinema City in Jerusalem will be incredibly crowded. The whole place is such a sensory overload, that you should plan carefully if you want to take your kids there. Advance tickets are a must. And leave plenty of time to park in the overcrowded garage. I almost missed a movie there not long ago because I left myself only 15 minutes to find parking. It can take half an hour to find a spot, and the guards will wave everyone in without checking whether there are spaces. If you can park near Gan Sacher or even in Binyenei Ha’uma and walk, that would be better. The Jerusalem YES Planet is a far more pleasant movie going experience but there, too, advance tickets are key.
I know that many English speakers prefer to see cartoons in English rather than dubbed in Hebrew. But the theater chains are not going to show English cartoons during the day anytime soon — there just aren’t enough people to see them. But, and I report this very happily, some terrific Israeli actors are dubbing the voices now. The quality is better than ever.
You may regret not hearing the original cast, but your kids won’t know what they’re missing. And the English versions are sometimes shown in the evening.
The big movie this season is the liveaction version of Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast. This is part of a trend of turning cartoons into live-action films that started with last year’s The Jungle Book. The advantage of that was that the live animals provided some real scares, but I’m not sure how many kids will find the live-action Beauty an improvement over the cartoon that so many of them love. Emma Watson of the Harry Potter movies is all grown up and charming, but the Beast (Dan Stevens, who can currently be seen in Joseph Cedar’s Norman) isn’t terribly scary. The movie is also quite long, over two hours, and will test the patience of some younger viewers. I’m also not sure the live-action format adds anything to the charm of all the singing and dancing household objects from the original, but the supporting cast includes Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellan and Kevin Kline.
As was widely reported, sensitive residents of ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods have been spared the sight of the blond Smurfette. In spite of its being too racy for Bnei Brak, Smurfs: The Lost Village might be a good option for kids who will get squirmy in a movie as long as Beauty and the Beast. For what it’s worth, I find the Smurf franchise to be marginally less annoying than some others.
The Jerusalem Cinematheque is showing the original AristoCats from 1970 on April 15 at 11 a.m. as part of the Children’s Cinema Club series.
Yes, it is dubbed, but children, especially cat-loving kids, will enjoy this story of Parisian cats kidnapped by a mean butler.
Another animated feline feature is Top Cat Begins. It may not be the classic that The AristoCats is, but on the other hand, you have nothing to lose by seeing this in its dubbed version, since no one you’ve ever heard of is in the original cast.
Snarky tweens and near-tweens are the target audience for The LEGO Batman Movie. There is a lot of cleverness in these Lego movies. This one really will be more fun if you can see it in the English-language version, since not all the humor will translate well.
The Boss Baby is the other big PG cartoon for tweens. This is one where you might want to head for the undubbed version, since it stars everybody’s favorite Trump impersonator, Alec Baldwin, as a briefcase-toting, suit-wearing baby who is obsessed with taking away attention from cute dogs. Jimmy Kimmel, Steve Buscemi and Lisa Kudrow are some of the other voice actors. Although this is about babies, it is not for little kids.