In 2011, the silver screen shone with an abundance of wholesome films. From familiar franchises ("The Muppets," "Winnie the Pooh") to under-the-radar Christian-themed fare ("Warrior," "Courageous"), you could find it all at the movies this year. With the year coming to a close, we offer our top family movies of 2011. They were chosen not just for their level of appropriateness (in fact, many are not recommended for very young audiences), but for storytelling and themes that convey positive values and teaching moments. Films are listed in the order they were released. And don't be holding your breath hoping to find "Bridesmaids" or the latest "Harold and Kumar" reboot. We only considered movies we think parents will feel comfortable taking teens to see.

'Midnight in Paris'

Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and smoking

Common Sense Media recommends ages 14+

Released May 20.

The best Woody Allen film in years features Owen Wilson as a contemporary screenwriter who finds himself transported back in time to 1920s Paris and face-to-face with literary legends like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Long-time Deseret News film critic Chris Hicks chose this as his favorite film of the year, noting that Allen "struck gold with this one, a romantic fantasy that is charming, funny and completely winning."

'The Deathly Hallows, Part 2'

Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images

Common Sense Media recommends ages 12+

Released July 15.

Very rarely does anything in popular culture live up to its hype the way "Deathly Hallows, Part 2" did in capping off the eight-part Harry Potter film canon. With apologies to Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson stole the show and showed why her acting career harbors the potential to stretch several decades into the future.

'Winnie the Pooh'

Rated G, nothing offensive

Common Sense Media recommends ages 3+

Released July 15.

Amazingly, this movie leaves you feeling like you got your money's worth even though it clocks in at less than 70 minutes. Exceptionally executed, it appeals to all ages. Also, make sure you keep watching until the credits are through for a fun surprise.

'The Help'

Rated PG-13 for thematic material

Common Sense Media recommends ages 12+

Released Aug. 10

Although it's largely told through the lens of Skeeter (Emma Stone), a middle-class white woman who recently finished college, "The Help" does a really nice job of showing moviegoers the moral basis for the civil rights movement in a way that even young teens can understand.

Viola Davis deserves Oscar consideration for her turn as the strong-willed and tender-hearted Aibileen Clark.


Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material

Common Sense Media recommends ages 14+

Released Sept. 9

If you think "Warrior" is a movie chock-full of mixed martial arts fighting, you're not wrong. But at the same time, you'd be missing the film's most compelling aspect: a Christian-tinged story of forgiveness and redemption.

The forgiveness theme plays out on two fronts: a son (Tom Hardy) struggles to forgive his father (Nick Nolte), a former alcoholic who gave up the bottle and became a practicing Christian; and two brothers must face their past and reconcile their relationship as adults.

Common Sense Media calls it a "fantastic family drama," and IMDB's Kevin Polowy hails "Warrior" as "the most criminally under-seen gem of the year."


Rated PG-13 for some strong language

Common Sense Media recommends ages 12+

Released Sept. 23

As we detailed in September, director Bennett Miller ("Capote") and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ("Social Network") performed an admirable job of excising a slew of excessive obscenities from the "Moneyball" screenplay that initially looked like a lock to turn out as a hard-R, adults-only films. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill display great on-screen chemistry in film; both have already nabbed Golden Globe nominations, and Oscar nods could soon follow.


Rated PG-13 for some violence and drug content

Common Sense Media recommends ages 12+

Released Sept. 30

The fourth film from Sherwood Pictures — a ministry of Sherwood Church in Albany, Ga. — "Courageous" follows in the footsteps of "Fireproof," Sherwood's third offering. In both cases, the net result is an uplifting experience even though the acting is mediocre and Christian themes are bluntly overt.

"Courageous" focuses on four police officers and emphasizes the importance of men stepping up to be good Christian fathers. Noteworthy is the wide chasm separating the way critics and fans view "Courageous"; per Rotten Tomatoes, only 37 percent of critics liked the films while a whopping 93 percent of audience attendees liked it.


Rated PG for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking

Common Sense Media recommends ages 8+

Released Nov. 23

There are pretty much only two things you need to know about "Hugo." First, it is NOT a movie for young children. Because it lasts more than two hours and treats more mature tropes like legacy and redemption, your 8-year-old will be hard-pressed to sit through "Hugo."

Secondly, if you're over the age of 12 and you haven't seen "Hugo" yet, we strongly recommend you go see it without further delay. It's impeccably crafted by director Martin Scorsese and stylishly acted by an ensemble cast featuring Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kinglsey.

In short, "Hugo" is an artsy movie with a heart of gold that, because its thematic focus bounces back and forth between an orphan and an old man, can effectively resonate with teens and adults alike.

'The Muppets'

Rated PG for some mild rude humor

Common Sense Media recommends ages 5+

Released Nov. 23

If there's anything to dislike about this movie, we haven't found it yet. Jason Segel fills the dual roles of leading man and screenwriter with aplomb, and Amy Adams hits all the right notes as his longtime girlfriend. But of course, the real stars are Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, Gonzo, Fozzie and friends — returning to the silver screen for the first time since 1999. "The Muppets" also prominently features value-based themes about hard work, friendship and the power of a positive attitude.

'The Adventures of Tintin'

Rated PG for adventure action violence, some drunkenness and brief smoking

Common Sense Media recommends ages 9+

Released Dec. 21

Based on the comic books by Belgian artist Herge, "The Adventures of Tintin" uses stop-motion technology to keep the action fast and fun in this first installment of what will be a trilogy. Common Sense Media describes "Tintin" as a "whirlwind animated adventure" and "a visual treat for tweens." It's produced by Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings") and directed by Steven Spielberg, in his first directorial effort since 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."