With the kids out of school, summertime means more time to spend with family. And this summer has movies that can please every age group.
Focus on the Family critic Bob Waliszewski and Common Sense Media executive editor of reviews and ratings Betsy Bozdech weighed in on some movies they felt would be friends of the American family this summer (Note: Bozdech and Waliszewski said they had not been able to view all the movies presented here, but offered their best estimations on family-friendliness).
1. Pixar's 'Inside Out'
Everyone knows growing up isn't easy. For Riley, the girl at the center of Pixar's new "Inside Out," growing up is made a little bit harder when her family relocates to San Francisco, throwing her emotions — joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust — into turmoil as they try to help Riley navigate her new surroundings. Both Bozdech and Waliszewski expect this latest turn from Pixar to be a big hit with families.
"It's Pixar at their best," Bozdech said. "I think it could give kids and their families a language to talk about their emotions more openly."
2. 'Shaun the Sheep'
"Wallace and Gromit" creator Aardman Animations brings its British TV show hit "Shaun the Sheep" to the big screen this summer with a film of the same name. In it, Shaun and his circle of sheep friends leave the farm for the city after a joke played on their farmer goes awry.
In its positive review of the film, the UK Telegraph called the film "charming" and boasted, "There can't be a child in the world who won't adore this." Bozdech said she hasn't yet seen the film, but she expects it will please young children and their parents given the studio's long run of clean fun.
3. 'Batkid Begins'
"Batkid Begins" is a documentary born out of national attention for a single day San Francisco transformed itself into Gotham City to grant 5-year-old cancer survivor Miles Scott's dream through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Miles' wish was, as the title implies, to become Batman for a single day.
Bozdech says bring the tissues for this one, and probably not little kids that don't grasp the realities of cancer.
"You'll be on the verge of tears the whole time, but in a good way," Bozdech said.
Ever wondered where the little yellow helpers from "Despicable Me" came from? This summer's "Minions" answers that question by following the Minions through history and a variety of unsavory masters. In this film, the Minions are recruited by supervillain Scarlett Overkill and her husband Herb to help take over the world.
"It'll be fun for kids and parents who like 'Despicable Me,’” Waliszewski said.
5. 'Paper Towns'
Adapted from "The Fault in Our Stars" author John Green's novel, "Paper Towns" may be best for families that include tweens and teens. The film follows high school senior Quentin as he pines after his neighbor, Margo. After Quentin helps Margo exact a few revenge pranks on her cheating ex-boyfriend, Quentin has to help find Margo when she disappears without a trace the following day.
But Bozdech warns that for "The Fault in Our Stars" fans, this movie is "less romancy" and more mystery.
6. 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'
Parents may remember "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." from the popular 1960s espionage television series, and Hollywood has a reboot in store this summer that includes an all-star cast.
In the film, spies from the CIA and the KGB team up to stop a section of the criminal underworld from obtaining nuclear weapons. But there are a few red flags parents need to consider, including the film's director, Guy Ritchie, who is known primarily for violent, adult action films like "Snatch" and the Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes" reboot films.
The film is rated PG-13, but Waliszewski urges parents to screen the film first.
"I was a big fan of the show as a boy," Waliszewski said. "I really hope Hollywood doesn't screw it up with a lot of violence or sex."
7. 'Jurassic World'
Since the premiere of the trailer during the Super Bowl this year, it's hard to avoid hearing about the fourth film in the "Jurassic Park" franchise. Set well after the first film took place, "Jurassic World" takes fans back to Isla Nublar, which has been converted into a full-blown dinosaur theme park ala Sea World, complete with new, genetically engineered dinosaurs and trained velociraptors.
"It's definitely for older kids," Bozdech said. "They're going back to what worked for them in the first film here, so use (the first film) as a reference for what you're OK with."
Tricks of the trade
If parents still aren't sure if a film is right for their kids, Waliszewski says the Internet is here to help.
"Go online, watch the trailers, read what it's about," Waliszewski said. "Ask your child what they're going to see and tell them you have to make the decision as a family after you discuss it."
Bozdech says it's also crucial for parents to not rely solely on ratings and judge for themselves what their children can handle. Parents who need a little extra help can check out individual movie reviews at both Common Sense Media and Focus on the Family's websites.
"Every kid is different. What one kid can handle might scare the pants off of another kid," Bozdech said. "You're making the judgment for them."
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