Sure, it might be the month celebrating Screen Free Week, but we feel like an afternoon as a family at the movies is a different critter than eyes-glued-to-apps-and-games. Share the popcorn, and a few laughs (or gasps), with the kids with these new family flicks.
Opens: June 17. Rated:G. Cast:Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Idris Elba, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon, John Ratzenberger. Plot:The friendly but forgetful blue tang fish reunites with her loved ones.
Parenting Points: Finally, a sequel to one of the most beloved animated films of all times. A star-studded casts brings it to this much-anticipated revisiting of the underwater world of Nemo. Bringing the family to an afternoon with always-charming Dory will make kids extra bubbly. Don’t be late to the theatre, Disney is releasing a new stellar short about “Piper” before each showing.
Opens: July 1. Rated:PG. Cast:Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement. Plot:Ten-year-old Sophie travels from London to Giant Country, where she meets the BFG, a Big Friendly Giant, as well as some very scary giants. Sophie and the BFG travel to London to warn the queen of the scary giants and try to get rid of them.
Parenting Points: This classic Roald Dahl book has been directed into film by another master, Steven Spielberg (his directorial debut with Disney). And just in time for the 100th anniversary the ol’ Chocolate Factory author’s birth. Pop by the library or Tustin’s Once Upon a Storybook and have a family bedtime read of the book before the film to kick off a summer reading program.
Opens: May 20. Rated:PG. CAST:Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, Hannibal Buress. PLOT:Mysterious green piggies come to an island filled with happy, flightless birds. Three outcasts on the island – Red, Chuck, and Bomb – investigate what the pigs are up to.
Parenting Points: SNL has suddenly become more animated with this crew of comedians, literally. Often parents can gauge their level of interest in watching a “kid” movie by trusting the voice cast’s personal choices in films — this one is stacked with grown up favorites.
Opens: August 5. Rated:PG. Cast:Jennifer Garner, Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Mark Consuelos, Cheryl Hines Plot:In this family comedy, a billionaire whose workaholic lifestyle leaves him disconnected from his beautiful wife and adoring daughter visits a mysterious pet store and leaves with a cat named Mr. Fuzzypants. After getting into an accident, Tom wakes up to find himself magically trapped inside the animal’s body.
Parenting Points: Certainly a different, fluffier, look at Spacey, this is a great film to act as a conversation starter discuss family values like quality time and how parents’ responsibilities and time management affects their kids’ everyday home life. The dangers of materialism, and kids’ “need to have the latest this and that” attitude, can both be explored in a light way through the comedy.
Captain America: Civil War
Opens: May 6. Rated:PG-13 . Cast:Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner. Plot:In Marvel’s third Captain America movie, the Avengers become divided into two groups after Tony Stark wants to allow the government to oversee the group and Steve Rogers does not.
PARENTING POINTS: Although some violence is inherent in these good vs evil-style superhero flicks, much of the action is more abstract or cartoon-like than graphic. Still, it is best to honor the rating system and realize that while comic books or made-for-kids cartoons seen on TV with these same characters might be favorites, the intensity of being in a dark theatre with booming side effects and suspense (geared toward engaging adults as well as kids) likely put this in a different and more mature category of entertainment.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Opens: May 27. Rated:PG. Cast:Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Sacha Baron Cohen, Rhys Ifans, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry. Plot:In the sequel to the 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, Alice finds a magic looking glass and returns to Underland. In her attempts to help Hatter, who is now acting madder than usual, Alice goes back in time.
Parenting Points: Sadly, this is the late Alan Rickman’s final performance. The PG rating, paired with the dark and somewhat creepy flavor of most (beautiful) Burton flicks means most kids too young to have enjoyed the first Alice film will be ready for a DVD night replay. Enjoy the original a few days before the new film and observe kids’ engagement and reaction to judge whether to see this in the theatres, in fullblown 3D or Imax, or wait for a video release where certain scenes can be better enjoyed from the comfort of a familiar living room.
The Secret Life of Pets
Opens: July 8. Rated:PG. Cast:Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Kevin Hart, Hannibal Buress, Albert Brooks, Louis C.K. Plot:Max is no longer the favorite pet after his owner brings home a dog named Duke. Max and Duke must team up after they discover that a group of abandoned pets led by a bunny named Snowball plan to take revenge on happy pets and their owners.
Parenting Points: This Toy Story-with-pets film answers some long-imagined wonderings, what exactly do our pets do while we’re out and about in the world? Spend a fun afternoon of observing Fido and Fluffy and then use this movie as an excuse to ramp up the family imagination factor by having kids draw or chat about the fantastic adventures their furry friends will get up to while you’re out watching the movie.
Opens: August 12. Rated:PG. Cast:Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban,Wes Bentley, Oakes Fegley. Plot:For years, an old wood carver Mr. Meacham has delighted local children with tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods. To his daughter, a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales…until she meets Pete. Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott.
Parenting Points: Parents probably have fond memories of an animated Disney tale of a somewhat goofy, snorting dragon and his young friend Pete, even if the movie predates them a touch. It is always a bonding experience to share some of your own childhood memories, so after enjoying this new live action feature, break out the video of this pre-CIG-era animated film to share a bit of the “good old days” with your whippersnappers.