''Rugrats,'' ''Mighty Joe Young,'' and more offer sickeningly sweet child-friendly fare

The holidays are all about getting too much of a good thing. And for families in search of a movie for the kids, this year offers a chance to let the little ones overstuff themselves.

On Nov. 20, The Rugrats Movie toddles in. A new arrival, Baby Dil Pickles, joins the usual animated pre-schooler cast of Nickelodeon’s highest-rated show (now in its seventh year). Execs at Paramount, Nick’s sister company, hope the modestly budgeted feature can boldly go — and with this diaper-sporting cast, we mean go — where lucrative young-adult franchises like Star Trek have gone before.

For the preteen set, Disney presents its live-action comedy I’ll Be Home for Christmas, due Nov. 13. Home Improvement‘s all-grown-up middle kid, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, stars as a bratty prep-school student hitching across the country to his folks’ place and learning the true meaning of the holidays en route.

Sound treacly? Hey, at least the Taylor Thomas character has a dad to go home to. Not so for the unfortunate young boy (Joseph Cross) in Warner Bros.’ Jack Frost, opening Dec. 11. One wintry night, the child’s musician father (Michael Keaton) dies in a car accident. Dad boomerangs back to this mortal coil to visit his child and wife (Kelly Preston) as the cool, titular dude — a snowman brought to life by computer-animated simulations and full-size figures from Jim Henson’s creature shop.

If you’re not up for a heart melter, there’s less sentimental fare afoot: Disney’s Mighty Joe Young, opening Christmas Day. Charlize Theron stars as the doting guardian of a strapping young gorilla who gets loose in L.A. In hot pursuit is a strapping but kindly scientist (Bill Paxton). This being a Disney enterprise, don’t expect a stinky-pawed, damn dirty ape, but do expect a healthy dollop of action-movie intensity. God rest ye, angry simian.

I'll Be Home for Christmas
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