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Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller, Pixar have kids’ flicks

Escape to prehistoric times, fly away with a thousand balloons, go where the museum attractions come to life or see Hannah Montana do her thing.
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Kids have a lot to choose from this spring. Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller sign on for family-friendly adventures  — and two of those films feature dinosaurs. How about escaping with the help of a thousand balloons? Could next year’s Oscar best animated film be Pixar’s latest, “Up”? Go ahead and lay your bets down now. Miley Cyrus brings her alter ego, Hannah Montana to the big screen, which should have all the tweens in line. And finally, just to mix things up, there’s an animated flick about invaders from Earth.

“Land of the Lost” Starring: Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, Anna Friel, Jorma Taccone Director: Brad Silberling Story: Based on the 1974 Sid and Marty Kroft TV show, this film tells the story of how Dr. Rick Marshall (Ferrell) finds himself back in prehistoric times. Unlike the TV show, Rick is not stranded with his kids Holly and Will. Instead, he’s accompanied by his assistant (Friel) and a macho tour guide (McBride). Back in time he meets Cha-Ka (Taccone) and encounters the dangerous Sleestaks. Will they make it back home? Worth seeing? For the kids. Kids love dinosaurs, so this does seem like a natural fit. Ferrell has been pretty good about avoiding the family-friendly route until now, but the fact that he’s bringing McBride (“Eastbound and Down”) along for the ride bodes well for the film’s humor. Friel is best known for her role as Chuck on the late “Pushing Daisies.” Frankly, “Lost” seemed campy back in 1974, so expect this to be extra silly. Web site: date: June 5

“Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” Starring: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Owen Wilson, Ed Helms, Christopher Guest Director: Shawn Levy Story: With the Museum of Natural History closed for renovation, all the museum pieces are moved into storage at the Washington museums. Larry Daley (Stiller) decides to infiltrate the Smithsonian in order to free Jedediah (Wilson) and Octavious (Steve Coogen) who were shipped to the Smithsonian by mistake. Adams plays Amelia Earhart, a potential new love interest for Stiller. Guest plays Ivan the Terrible. Worth seeing? If you liked the first one. Director Levy and most of the original cast returns, so this looks to be more of the same. CGI will be out in full force, since even the statue of Lincoln on the Washington Mall will come to life in this film. Frankly, this feels a bit rote for Stiller, who stretched in last year’s “Tropic Thunder.” Web site: date: May 22

Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Delroy Lindo, Jordan Nagai Director: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson Story: In this comedy, 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen (Asner) decides to tie thousands of balloons to his house and fly to South America. But he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer Russell (Nagai) has stowed along for the ride. Worth seeing? Yes. Pixar has yet to make a misstep and it seems unlikely with Docter (who wrote “WALL-E,” wrote and directed “Monsters, Inc”) and Peterson (wrote “Ratatouille,” wrote and directed “Finding Nemo”) that this is going to be anything but another fabulous Pixar adventure. Docter explained Pixar’s success to, saying, “Every one of the movies has been crappy at some point, and then we polish it up. That has been, so far, the key to our success.” He explained the premise for “Up,” saying, “It kind of started with the idea of escaping, of getting away from everything … And we also wanted to do something with an old man. There's been a lot of great humor possibilities that we've explored with a grouchy old guy. So then we though, OK, how did the old man get into the floating house?” Web site: Release date: May 29

“Imagine That”
Eddie Murphy, Thomas Haden Church, Nicole Ari Parker, DeRay Davis, Ronny Cox Director: Karey Kirkpatrick Story: Evan (Murphy) is a financial executive whose career is on a downward spiral. But when he brings his 7-year-old daughter (Yara Shahidi) to work one day, she seems to know everything that’s going on in business, from what companies to invest in to which ones are merging. Worth seeing? On the plus side, it does look a lot better than “Meet Dave.” Murphy, who will reportedly star in a Richard Pryor biopic (a much more interesting career move), certainly knows his way around a family-friendly comedy. The potential breakout star of this one is Bobb’e J. Thompson who was incredibly funny in this summer’s “Role Models.”Web site: Release date: June 12

“Hannah Montana The Movie”
Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Margo Martindale, Jason Earles, Peter Gunn, Melora Hardin, Mitchel Musso, Lucas Till Director: Peter Chelsom Story: Miley Stewart (Cyrus) is having a hard time juggling her normal life with her secret superstar persona as Hannah Montana. Her dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) decides it’s time for her to have a dose of reality and takes her to Crowley Corners, Tenn. Miley develops a crush on childhood pal Travis Brody (Til), and slowly starts to realize that she might like life better in the country than as Hannah Montana. Worth seeing? If you like this sort of thing, why not? “High School Musical 3” proved that those tweens will pay money for what they can see on their own TVs. And Cyrus proved with her concert film that she has more box office mojo than the Jonas Brothers. It basically looks like a big-screen version of the TV show. Director Chelsom is known for light comedies such as “Shall We Dance,” “Serendipity” and “Town & Country.” Web site: Release date: April 10

“Battle for Terra”
Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Justin Long, Amanda Peet, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans Director: Aristomenis Tsirbas Story: When Earth becomes uninhabitable, the remaining members of the human race turn their sights on planet Terra, a peaceful, tolerant place that doesn’t believe in weapons or war. But when the Earthlings invade, their peaceful society turns to chaos, a civil war begins, and their environment is in jeapordy. Long and Wood voice two alien teens, while Wilson provides the voice for an injured human pilot. Worth seeing? Perhaps. This looks a little preachy, but it did win the grand prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. “In light of recent events too and tendencies in several First World nations, not just the United States, it feels as though we are the ones who are following the patterns of the ‘invading aliens.’ So I figured let’s turn it around and make the point of view through the aliens and make the invaders us,” director Tsirbas told Mania. “The film is really about choices, about options. Characters on both sides feel like their backs are against the wall and think that their only choice is war.” Web site: May 1