A parental guide to film watching as a family.
It might seem odd for an issue with so much information on Screen Free Week and the downsides of spending so much time in the digital realm…to also include a Summer Movie Guide. We feel that the act of watching a movie together as a family — the event of it, the smell of the popcorn, the anticipation and discussion of previews, the whole experience of joining a bigger community in laughing and crying at the tales on the big screen is different than the isolation of a child spending hours zoning out on a video game or in front of a sitcom rerun on their own. We believe entertainment can come from a lot of different media, and seeing a movie with the kids can be an inexpensive way to beat the summer heat or celebrate a big soccer or baseball win. So, let’s go to the movies!
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie, Judy Greer, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Opens: May 22, 2015.
Plot: The reality of Tomorrowland is no longer just an attraction at the Disneyland Park. Now, audiences everywhere will be able to witness the wonder and excitement of Tomorrowland as it comes to life on the big screen. Frank (George Clooney), a former boy genius and inventor, and Casey (Britt Robertson), a curious teen, come together to unlock the mystery and wonder of Tomorrowland. Here, they are able to create, change, and bring to life anything imaginable. In Tomorrowland, limits of imagination do not exist, and anything you wish to bring to life you can. Unlock your imagination with this futuristic sci-fi must see.
Parenting Points: This much-promoted movie has both fans of the Disney Parks and those with an appreciation for the wonder of fantasy wishing they could be transported at the touch of a pin. Share discussions of Casey’s struggle to find her place in the world, and how she grew to use her strengths to accomplish amazing things through teamwork.
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson.
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Opens: June 12, 2015.
Plot: The Jurassic Park series returns with its next installment, Jurassic World. Nearly two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar has been converted into an exciting Dinosaur theme park entitled Jurassic World. In an attempt to increase park attendance, the head corporation, Masrani Global, decides to create a new hybrid dinosaur, generated by on staff geneticist Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard). The park uses Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to evaluate the new dinosaur and ensure that it is safe for release into the park. However, after careful inspection, Grady discovers that that this new specimen is far from safe. Unfortunately, this revelation comes too late and the dinosaur begins to wreak havoc on the island. Grady and Dearing must use their wit and knowledge of Dinosaurs to save visitors from this creation gone awry.
Parenting Points: Although the rating indicates a more mature audience, dino lovers might sway parents to overlook the recommendation. Talk about greed and serious consequences to selfish motives, especially when profit becomes more important than safety.
Cast: Diane Lane, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Kaitlyn Dias.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Opens: June 19, 2015.
Plot: Disney and Pixar invite you to take a look inside the mind of Riley Anderson (Kaitlyn Dias), a young girl who has just been uprooted from her childhood home to move to San Francisco with her parents. The film gives audiences a unique perspective on the emotional roller coaster that is adolescence. Riley’s emotions come to life as audiences are taken inside her mind and shown a control center in which her emotions live and control her actions. Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), attempt to navigate Riley through life’s changes and challenges while keeping balance and harmony within her. The film gives audiences a fun look into the mind of a young girl trying to balance and manage different emotions as she goes through a new phase of life.
Parenting Points: Getting in touch with honest feelings is always an important goal, and this movie proves an ideal conversation starter for even the youngest of viewers.
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin, Michael Keaton, Jon Hamm, Steve Coogan, Allison Janney.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Opens: July 10, 2015.
Plot: Minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob (Pierre Coffin) have one goal in mind; finding the perfect villain to serve. In order to make this dream a reality, the three minions travel to Villacon, a villain convention, to find a new master. Upon arriving, they are faced with the most powerful female villain to date, Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock). Scarlett’s charisma and evil charm draw the minions in and they decide that she is the villain for them. Everything seems to be going along just as planned until they are faced with a threat that could eliminate the existence of minions everywhere. Together, they must face the unknown and save all of minion-kind.
Parenting Points: Plenty of laughs balance out a very dire situation for these favorite characters we’ve all come to love. While we appreciation the open mindedness of a strong female character, her evil charms are of a different nature than lovable Gru. Brotherhood and friendship are key to the minion’’s success.
Cast Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell , Judy Greer, Michael Douglas, T.I., John Slattery.
MPAA Rating PG.
Opens July 17, 2015. Plot Marvel brings us a new superhero in the form of the Ant-Man, an amazing defender who can shrink in size while still maintaining super strength. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a common criminal who, with the help of his mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), must find the hero within and become The Ant-Man. Lang and Pym come together to cultivate the next generation of the Ant-Man and pull off a stunt that will save the world. With the help of Pym, Lang will find he is more than a petty thief and be able to prove himself as he takes on this new heroic role to challenge and defend the threats to humanity.
Parenting Points Many kids find themselves painted in a certain way by some adults. This movie offers a good opportunity to talk about self esteem and making better choices and that it never is too late to turn around when heading down a bad path.
Cast: Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Opens: October 9, 2015.
Plot: Travel back in time as we experience the beginning of the boy who never grew up. Peter Pan (Levi Miller) is a poor orphan who was abandoned by his mother in London. His life is bleak and miserable until one night he is taken from his orphanage and transported to the magical world of Neverland. Here, Peters life unfolds as he is introduced to the world of pirates, lost boys, fairies, mermaids, and adventures beyond his widest imagination. Watch Pans story unfold as he makes unlikely allies with Hook (Garrett Hedlund) and Princess Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara). Together, they find the strength and courage to stand up to Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), a corrupt pirate who is terrorizing Neverland and all it inhabitants. It is here Peter makes his place in Neverland and begins his life as the orphan who would stay a boy forever.
Parenting Points: Open mindedness is a good aspect to focus on, as Pan meets and befriends an unusual group of characters who help him find a home in this fantasy land. finding strength in numbers against a bully is another relatable theme.
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, and Ashley Benson.
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated.
Opens: July 24, 2015.
Plot: In 1982, in an attempt to establish contact with alien life forms, NASA launches a spacecraft mission. The ship contains information about human life that includes graphic images of arcade games and other elements of Earth’s culture. Unfortunately, when the images reach extraterrestrials, they are misinterpreted as a declaration of war against them. In retaliation against Earths message, the aliens use their advanced technology to attack Earth in the form of the arcade game characters, like Pac Man and Donkey Cong. It takes Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), a former 1980’s arcade champion to establish a team of gamers to take down these vengeful aliens and save human kind.
Parenting Points: Kids might find it humorous to take a look at their own actions and methods of interacting with friends when seen from an outside point of view. Talk about the difference between reality and fantasy or just enjoy the wild ride.
Cast: Ariana Grande, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Morrison, and Katie Holmes.
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated.
Opens: August 17, 2015.
Plot: A town bully, Ace (Nicholas Hoult), turned famed soccer player, returns to his hometown to take revenge upon Jake (Matthew Morrison), the boy who defeated him in a foosball match years before. Ace returns declaring that he now owns the town and has plans to demolish everything in site to make way for a new soccer stadium. In order to save his beloved home and win over the girl of his dreams, Laura (Ariana Grande), Jake must face Ace in a soccer match that will determine the fate of the town. Miraculously, his beloved foosball players come to life to help him defeat Ace and hopefully save everyone from the demolition.
Parenting Points: Size certainly doesn’t matter to these mini-mights. A classic tale of good versus evil is explored through Ace’s determination to best his former rival. Discussions about letting go of grudges and imagining what friends and not-so-friendly-classmates might grow up to be like could be interesting.
Cast: Robbie Amell, Lauren Graham, Thomas Haden Church.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Opens: June 26, 2015.
Plot: A U.S. Marine trained dog, Max, suffers posttraumatic stress after the loss of his owner and fellow Marine, Kyle (Robbie Amell). Max is returned to Kyle’s family where he undergoes the pain of the loss of his best friend. Justin (Josh Wiggins), Kyle’s younger brother, is a troubled teen who has little care for Max and shows little interest in any matters involving his family. However, an unlikely bond occurs between Max and Justin and the two become close. As their bond grows deeper, Max begins to lead Kyle to believe there are things he must understand about his brother’s death. The two join forces and find in each other what they both desperately need, a best friend.
Parenting Points: The bond between dog and boy is universal. Sometimes when kids find it hard to trust, offering a safer furry friend to believe in can help. For older kids, engaging in discussions of war and the lasting emotional effect could be appropriate.
By Jacqueline Clark