The latest offering from Disney/Pixar is the touching tale of 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills the lifelong dream he shared with his late wife when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and floats away to South America. But as soon as he's airbound, Carl discovers that he's inadvertently brought along a companion—an eager 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell who was hiding under his porch at the time of takeoff. The two embark on an adventure of a different sort when they encounter Carl's childhood idol, explorer Charles F. Muntz, who turns out to be not quite the hero Carl expected.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
An all-ages creature feature based on Roald Dahl's beloved children's tale, Fantastic Mr. Fox stars George Clooney voicing the title role of the urbane, sharp-dressed newspaper columnist whose moonlighting gig as a chicken thief raises the ire of local farmers and muddies his relationship with his wife (Meryl Streep) and sulky son (Jason Schwartzman). Directed by Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) and making nimble use of stop-motion animation (think of the herky-jerky charms of Wallace & Gromit or Corpse Bride), it's as dashing and fleet of foot as Mr. Fox himself.
Dakota Fanning voices the title character in this film about an 11-year-old girl who finds a secret door to an alternate universe. Having recently relocated with her parents to Oregon, Coraline is bored in her new home, especially since she still hasn't made any friends. When she discovers a hidden passageway in her house, she finds a world eerily similar to her own but with some key differences—her parents are never distracted by work, and she is always the center of attention. But when the bizarro world's Other Mother asks Coraline to stay in this world forever, she discovers that perhaps things aren't what they seem.
The Princess and the Frog
Walt Disney animation returned to its hand-drawn roots for The Princess and the Frog, which revolves around Princess Tianna, a 1920s New Orleans waitress and aspiring restaurant owner who is persuaded to kiss a frog in order to turn him back into a human. But in this rendition of the classic fairy tale, the amphibian doesn't become a prince. Instead, the princess becomes a frog. The depiction of this Disney princess was a landmark decision for the mouse, introducing its very first African-American heroine.
The Secret of Kells
Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. When a celebrated master illuminator arrives carrying an ancient but unfinished book brimming with secret wisdom and powers, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into an enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. Though he meets a mysterious young wolf-girl who helps him along the way, the barbarians are closing in. Brendan's determination and artistic vision must illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil.