Movies: For Children of All Ages

Three new kids' movies try to appeal to young and old. But you can't always have it both ways

Hollywood, like McDonald's, knows it's just good business to hook the customers when they're young. So when school's out, studios push their cinematic Happy Meals: cartoon fare like last summer's Shrek 2, which proved to be the top-grossing film of 2004. And since the wee ones don't buy their own tickets, filmmakers try to insert enough wit and sass and retro references to keep the grownups amused. A children's movie, never forget, is an all-family baby-sitting device.

Eons ago, Walt Disney cornered this market with cartoon features that comforted parents and scared kids with the same implied admonition: Get home before...

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