Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Familiar family-friendly faces return to the screen

Dale Roe

You wouldn't know it by stepping outside, but summer is pretty much over. The kids are back in school and that means it's time to gear up for family movie season. Here are some of the fall's notable releases:

Sept. 23

"Dolphin Tale." Morgan Freeman crafts a prosthetic tail to save a dolphin named Winter, who plays herself in this inspired-by-a-true-story, live-action film.

Oct. 28

"Johnny English Reborn."Rowan Atkinson reprises his wannabe James Bond character in a sequel to 2003's "Johnny English." This time, Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files") tries to keep the bumbling spy from hurting himself and others.

Nov. 4

"Puss in Boots." Antonio Banderas returns as the titular kitty in this animated "Shrek" spinoff.

Nov. 18

"Happy Feet Two." Original stars Robin Williams and Elijah Wood return for this sequel to the popular 2006 animated all-singing, all-dancing musical penguin comedy.

Nov. 23

"The Muppets." Finally, an eagerly awaited return to the big screen for Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang, who haven't appeared in a true feature film in a dozen years. Muppets fan Jason Segel, who co-wrote the script, stars with the charming Amy Adams.

"Arthur Christmas."No, this isn't a holiday tale starring the bookish PBS aardvark. This Arthur Christmas is Santa's son, and his movie is animated by Aardman, the studio responsible for the wonderful "Wallace and Gromit" and the less-wonderful "Flushed Away."

"Hugo."Martin Scorsese directs a big-name cast featuring Chloë Grace Moretz, Emily Mortimer and Jude Law in the magical story of a Parisian orphan.

Dec. 16

"Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked." The least necessary sequel in the history of sequels finds Jason Lee and David Cross selling out for a third time— er, cavorting with animated rodents on a cruise ship.

Dec. 23

"The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn."Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson bring us this mixed-bag adaptation of the classic European comic series. On the plus side, "Dr. Who" revivalist Steven Moffat co-penned the script. On the minus side (and it's a big minus) the animated adventure uses the creepy motion-capture animation technique pioneered in "The Polar Express."

"We Bought a Zoo."The recently reclusive Cameron Crowe directs Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and "Super 8's" Elle Fanning in this memoir-based drama about a family that renovates a decrepit English zoo.

droe@statesman.com; 912-5923