When I was a childless man, the day when the LA Times Holiday Movie Sneaks section came out -- like it did this Sunday -- was one of my happiest of the year. It meant the horror-and-crappy-rom-com days of early autumn were over, and good movie season was starting. Time for indies that had been on the festival circuit all year, costumey period pieces looking for Oscar attention, and the better kind of blockbuster like the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I'd sit down with the Times and relish all the release dates and even circle them and put them in my calendar. But after having a kid, it just became an instrument of torture.
I had to look through it and see all the movies I was going to have to miss, then look at the full-page ads for toddler-friendly movies that I was going to have to sit through. It was like Curious George and was mocking me.
Movies in the theater are really the hardest thing when you're a parent. You need to get a sitter, but it just doesn't seem worth it like it is if it's a big concert or an anniversary dinner.
So while you all may be excited like I am for the Coen brothers' True Grit, or Natalie Portman in Black Swan, or Sofia Coppola's Nowhere (a father-daughter tale I know will make this dad cry even if it's as subdued as Lost in Translation), here's a look at a few of the upcoming movies you toddler parents actually have a shot at getting to see in the theater.
Tangled: You've got to admire Disney's attempts to not let computers rule the world, and to keep up with the classic animated pics in addition to the Pixar tearjerkers. Even if it does mean an attempt to continue the princess cult. Here they have Rapunzel joining the Belle-and-Cinderella club. It's been making some waves in gender-politics circles for months already. Parents' potential pain is a tough call. Their last effort, The Princess and the Frog, had some great moments but mostly fell flat. Comes out November 24.
Gulliver's Travels: Jack Black plays the big fella in Lilliput. I love me some Jack but dude's track record in movies outside of School of Rock and Kung Fu Panda (if you count that) is pretty rough. Still, it's a modern re-telling where he plays himself. It could work. You may not end up annoying the other parents by reaching for your smartphone out of boredom mid-movie. Comes out December 22.
Megamind: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt? Steady stream of jokes on superhero movies? Sounds like parents will be plenty entertained. But you may get a toddler who gets antsy, doesn't care who Liz Lemon is, and forces an early departure. Comes out Friday.
Yogi Bear: Seriously? A Yogi Bear movie? Now? Who on earth is this supposed to appeal to? Do you know any parent with any nostalgia for Yogi freaking Bear? Or any kid who's heard of him? When's the Quick-Draw McGraw movie coming out? Oh, but it's got the voice of Dan Aykroyd, so maybe it'll be gold. Okay, and Justin Timberlake is Boo Boo, so there's some sense of now. But I'm still bringing a sleep mask. Comes out December 17.
If you're the sort of devil-may-care parent who takes the tots to the big-kid flicks, the new installments of Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia are out. Or you could always justify taking a child to 127 Hours with James Franco. You're never too young to learn how to cut your arm off in an emergency. It's the responsible thing to do.
What movies do you plan on seeing with your toddler?