Gift Guide: Movies for the Whole Family

From Batman's latest animated capers to the classic tale of Mary Poppins and those scene-stealing minions from "Despicable Me 2," these movies will keep all ages entertained through the holidays.

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Universal
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"Despicable Me 2" One of the most popular films of 2013, “Despicable Me 2” finds the reformed evil genius/doting dad Gru facing even greater challenges, including the needs of his new family, a threat to the world, a dangerous new breed of Evil Minions and – perhaps most frightening - romance. Chief among a wealth of special features on the 2D and 3D editions: a trio of brand-new mini-movies starring those mischievous, scene-stealing Minions. (available Dec. 10)
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"Winnie The Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year" This honey of a collection assembles two animated TV holiday specials starring Winnie the Pooh and the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood as they celebrate the season: 1991’s “Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too!” and 2002’s “Happy Pooh Year.” Though not as lushly rendered as Disney’s theatrical Pooh fare, it retains the sweet, simple pleasures inherent to the stuffed-with-fluff bear.
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"The Little Mermaid" Diamond Edition The film that spearheaded the glorious renaissance of Disney’s animated films in 1989 and brought the delightfully crafted music of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken to its widest audience has made its Blu Ray debut, and Ariel’s adventure have never looked or sounded better. Also available in 3D.
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"Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United" Marvel Studios continues to branch out from its Cinematic Universe, pairing two of its most popular big screen Avengers in one 72-minute animated adventure. Tony Stark’s high-tech arsenal and Bruce Banner’s brute strength are pitted against the monstrous energy being Zzzax, a delirious obscure comic book villain perfectly suited for the animated form. (available Dec. 3)
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"Mary Poppins" 50th Anniversary Edition The beloved magical nanny celebrates five Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious decades of doling out sweetness to help the medicine go down as Disney’s 1964 classic brings its blend of animation, live-action and jaunty Sherman Brothers tunes to Blu Ray for the first time, sumptuously restored and featuring extras that highlight the unforgettable music. (available Dec. 10)
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"The Croods" DreamWorks Animation demonstrates its continued mastery of CG-animated features, this time focused on the tale of a risk-averse prehistoric family forced to step out of their cave-dwelling comfort zone to deal with the changing landscape around them. Among the special features is a lively primer on the film’s imaginative menagerie of ancient animals.
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"Rise of the Guardians" One of year’s most unique CG-animated features, this Dirty Dozen-style scenario unites fantastical childhood icons– Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman and the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost – against a common foe threatening to shatter belief in them and plunge the world into darkness. Repackaged for the holiday season, the DVD comes with a marching toy elf.
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"Mickey’s Christmas Carol" 30th Anniversary Special Edition Mickey Mouse and his pals headline a Disney-fied take on Charles Dickens’ enduring tale “A Christmas Carol” from 1983, starring a pre-“Duck Tales” Scrooge McDuck as Donald Duck’s miserly uncle. The sweetly told short is accompanied by four more seasonally themed Disney cartoons, “Yodelberg” (2013) starring Mickey and Minnie; ““Pluto’s Christmas Tree” (1952); Goofy in “The Art of Skiing” (1941); “Corn Chips” (1951) with Donald and Chip ‘n’ Dale ; and “The Hockey Champ” (1939) starring Donald and Huey, Dewy and Louie.
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"Fraggle Rock": 30th Anniversary Collection Three decades after Jim Henson’s still-fondly-remembered Muppet creations’ five-season-long series debuted in 1983, the Fraggles, the Doozers, the Gorgs and Marjory the Trash Heap bring their valuable lessons and special brand of magic to DVD in this comprehensive set.
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition One for older kids, this animated adaptation of comic book writer/artist Frank Miller’s revolutionary, influential and very dark take on an aging Batman resuming his war on crime, originally released in two parts in 2012 and 2013, is now available as one stylish, seamlessly told story.
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"The Smurfs 2" The beloved little blue beings created by Belgian artist Peyo and a Saturday morning staple for years embark on a second CG-animated big screen adventure, this time squaring off against villainous Gargamel-created counterparts The Naughties. Best Smurfily suited for the littlest of audiences, the Blu Ray also delivers extras like a look at the evolution of Smurfette, including pop star Katy Perry’s take on voicing the itty-bitty bombshell. (available Dec. 3)
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"Monsters University" In this charming Pixar prequel we learn how future top scarers Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan met at college – surprise: they weren’t always BFFs – and learned the terrifying tricks of their trade. “The Blue Umbrella,” the heartwarming short that appeared alongside the film –available in 2D and 3D editions – in theaters, top-lines a deep bench of delightful extras. - Scott Huver
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