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Kids' Summer Movie Guide 2017

Common Sense Media logo Common Sense Media 4/25/2017 Frannie Ucciferri

There's no better way to beat the heat in summer than heading to the movies to see the latest blockbuster. And because school's out, that means there are even more movies aimed at kids, tweens, and teens. But how to decide what's worth the hype? Our guide can help you choose which summer movies are best for your kids, no matter their age or interests!

This summer's movie offerings include animated sequels to Pixar's Cars and DreamWorks' Despicable Me. There are also teen summer romances like bestseller-based Everything, Everything, and lots of superheroes -- Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even Captain Underpants are hitting the big screen.

This guide will help you stay cool -- in more ways than one -- this summer. And be sure to check back soon for our full reviews.

  • May Movies
  • June Movies
  • July Movies
  • August Movies

MAY MOVIES

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
  • Everything, Everything
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
Target age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz?Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the follow-up to Marvel's hit sci-fi adventure about a team of outlaws who band together to battle space bad guys. The whole gang returns, including pilot Star-Lord (a.k.a. Peter Quill) (Chris Pratt), aliens Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista), and talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Even talking tree Groot (Vin Diesel) is back, although now he's a baby. The first movie had some salty language, action violence, and a few sexual references, so expect the same in the sequel. But unless the formula has changed a lot, this action-packed superhero movie will likely be fine for older tweens and teens.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12)
Target age:
Teens
What's the buzz?King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is Guy Ritchie's take on the King Arthur legend. The main story here is probably familiar: A young Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) learns of his royal ancestry after pulling the sword Excalibur from the stone. Arthur encounters magical forces that are out to both help and harm him, including his uncle, Vortigern (Jude Law), who killed Arthur's father to ascend the throne. This version also includes more of Arthur's life on the streets before he becomes king. Ritchie is known for bringing a "cool factor" to his movies by using his signature stylized visuals to breathe new life into well-known stories. That helps make his movies popular with teens, but you can also expect strong language and graphic violence.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (May 19)
Target Age:
Big kids and tweens
What's the buzz?Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul is the fourth movie in the series based on Jeff Kinney's super-popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. In this installment, Greg Heffley (now played by Jason Drucker, rather than Zachary Gordon) convinces his family to take a road trip to attend his great-grandmother's 90th birthday (his secret motive is to go to a local gamer convention). His parents, Frank and Alice (now Tom Everett Scott and Alicia Silverstone), load up the car, but things definitely don't go according to plan: Expect broken-down cars, crazy pigs, and more. The previous three movies had plenty of the potty humor and rude language that tweens seem to love, so expect more of the same this time around. Despite a totally new cast, fans of the earlier movies and the book series will likely be eager to see this sequel.

Everything, Everything (May 19)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?Everything, Everything is based on Nicola Yoon's best-selling young adult romance novel about a teen girl who can't leave her house. Maddy Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) suffers from a severe autoimmune disorder that makes her allergic to almost everything. She lives a relatively content life, even though the only people she sees are her mom (Anika Noni Rose) and nurse (Ana de la Reguera). But that all changes when Olly Bright (Nick Robinson) moves in next door. As they fall for each other, Maddy starts to dream about life outside her sealed-off house and wonder whether going outside is worth the risk to her health. Expect some kissing and possibly other racy content. The book also deals with domestic violence and has some swearing and descriptions of sex, so that could pop up in the movie as well.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
Target Age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is the fifth installment in Disney's pirate franchise starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. This time around, Sparrow is searching the seas for the legendary Trident of Poseidon so he can defeat the deadly ghost pirates that are out to kill him. Expect the return of familiar faces like Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), as well as new ones -- like the treacherous Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). The previous four films had plenty of shooting, stabbing, and rum-drinking, as well as scary supernatural elements, so expect that this time, too. But it might still be OK for mature tweens and teens, especially if they've seen the previous movies.

JUNE MOVIES

  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Wonder Woman
  • The Mummy
  • Megan Leavey
  • 47 Meters Down
  • Cars 3
  • The Book of Henry
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Despicable Me 3

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz?Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is an animated comedy based on the first book in Dav Pilkey's wildly popular series about a nearly naked superhero. In this wacky tale, fourth graders George Beard (voiced by Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) hypnotize their mean-hearted principal and turn him into Captain Underpants (Ed Helms). As long as he's under their control, Captain Underpants fights bad guys wearing nothing but his tighty-whiteys and a cape. The book series is known for its action sequences and gross-out/potty humor, so expect plenty of rude language and cartoonish violence.

Wonder Woman (June 2)
Target Age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz?Wonder Woman is the long-anticipated action movie featuring the comics' most famous female superhero. After a brief cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) gets her own DC movie, focusing on her origin story. Diana, princess of the Amazons and unbeatable warrior, leaves her all-female island paradise to help save humanity. By becoming Wonder Woman, she aims to stop the spread of mass destruction during World War I. As in most superhero movies, you can expect loads of action and fighting, as well as some salty language and romance between Diana and American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). But this movie will likely be appropriate for teens and older tweens, hopefully offering the kind of strong female role models that aren't always common in action movies.

The Mummy (June 9)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?The Mummy (2017) is a reboot of the Mummy franchise, this time starring Tom Cruise. Like the earlier films, this one looks chock full of supernatural violence, monsters, plagues, and peril. This time around, the mummy is the ancient princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella). After being unearthed by Nick Morton (Cruise), Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), and their team, Ahmanet awakens and unleashes evil throughout London. In addition to the violence, there looks to be some non-graphic nudity, as well as some swearing and romance. This film looks too intense for young kids to handle, but older tweens and teens will likely want to see it, especially since it marks the beginning of the new "Universal Monsters" franchise.

Megan Leavey (June 9)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?Megan Leavey is based on the true story of a marine corporal who forms a unique bond with a bomb-sniffing dog. After enlisting to get away from her civilian life, Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) struggles to fit in as a Marine until she's assigned to the K9 unit. There she bonds with an aggressive German shepherd named Rex. Together, Rex and Leavey become an unstoppable team while deployed in Iraq ... until they're both injured in an explosion. Discharged and separated from Rex, Megan struggles to cope and to be reunited with her canine partner. Expect lots of wartime violence, strong language, and intense themes including trauma and grief.

47 Meters Down (June 16)
Target Age:
Older teens
What's the buzz?47 Meters Down is a thriller about two divers who get trapped far beneath the surface in shark-infested waters. Sisters Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) decide to go down in a shark-observation cage while on vacation in Mexico. When the cable attaching them to their boat breaks, they sink and end up trapped at the bottom of the ocean. Their air dwindles as bloodthirsty great white sharks circle their tank. With intense scenes of peril, strong language, and -- most likely -- lots of blood, this one will probably be too scary and tense for kids (or anyone who gets nightmares during Shark Week), but teen horror fans might want to see it.

Cars 3 (June 16)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz?Cars 3 is the latest installment in Pixar's Cars franchise. Unlike Cars 2, which focused more on Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) and was an international spy thriller, the third Cars film returns to Radiator Springs to shine its headlights back on Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). Once a champion racer, McQueen is now being pushed out of the sport he loves by younger, flashier cars like phenom Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). With the help of race technician Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), McQueen trains hard to again compete for the Piston Cup. There may be some intense scenes -- including a serious crash for Lightning -- as well as some product placement and the occasional rude joke from Mater. But overall, this Pixar outing should be family friendly.

The Book of Henry (June 16)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?The Book of Henry is a drama about a single mother raising two boys, including one who's a genius. Oldest son Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) develops a crush on their neighbor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame), and comes up with an elaborate plan to rescue her from her abusive father. When his mother, Susan (Naomi Watts), hears about the plan, she decides to help her boys carry it out, discovering her own strength along the way. Although the movie features kid actors, including Jacob Tremblay as younger brother Peter, intense themes like abuse and murder likely make it too much for young viewers.

Transformers: The Last Knight (June 21)
Target Age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz?Transformers: The Last Knight is the fifth movie in Michael Bay's violent, action-packed series about alien robots that can disguise themselves as cars. Following the events of Transformers: Age of Extinction, humanity is under attack from the evil Decepticons. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) tries to lead a seemingly hopeless resistance with the help of a tech-savvy girl named Izabella (Isabela Moner). Meanwhile Optimus Prime, the "good guy" Autobot and Earth's last hope, is off on a distant planet. The Transformers franchise is known for its explosion-filled CGI battle scenes, as well as some objectification of women, so expect more of the same this time. And while even very little kids love the toys the movies are based on, this movie, like its prequels, will likely be best for teens and up.

Despicable Me 3 (June 30)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz?Despicable Me 3 is the third movie in the hit animated series about reformed supervillain/happy adoptive father, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell). This "threequel" brings back old favorites -- like the ever-popular Minions and Gru's girlfriend, Lucy (Kristen Wiig) -- as well as new characters, including Gru's twin brother, Dru (also Carell). And, of course, there's a new villain out for world domination: Bathalzar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former child star from the '80s who can't give up his old character (or his old style choices). As with the first two movies, expect some comic pratfalls, cartoon violence, and creative but minor insults. But overall, this promises to be a fun choice for kids and parents to enjoy together, with lots of laughs and positive messages.

JULY MOVIES

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wish Upon
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • Dunkirk
  • The Emoji Movie
  • An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
Target Age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz?Spider-Man: Homecoming is the latest take on Marvel's popular web-slinging teenage superhero. This movie directly follows the events of Captain America: Civil War, in which Peter Parker (Tom Holland) was recruited to help the Avengers. Still flying high on the idea of being Spider-Man, Peter returns home to his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and tries to settle back into high school. But at the same time, he wants to prove himself to his unconventional new mentor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). And then a new dangerous villain, The Vulture (Michael Keaton), arrives on the scene. Expect lots of comic book-style action violence, some light romance, and a bit of swearing, probably in similar amounts to Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man (and their sequels). Spidey fans know the drill by now, but this will hopefully be fine for tweens and up.

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?War for the Planet of the Apes is the third and final film in the origin-story trilogy that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Following the post-apocalyptic events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a war breaks out between a group of humans led by the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and a clan of genetically enhanced apes governed by the peace-loving Caesar (portrayed using motion capture by Andy Serkis). After a deadly attack on the apes, Caesar must face his own darker, brutal impulses to ensure the apes' survival. When Caesar and the Colonel finally meet, the battle between them will decide the fate of the planet -- and their species. Although probably fine for mature teens, this movie looks more intense and violent than the previous two, both of which already featured plenty of scary scenes. Expect weapons, disturbing imagery, and strong language, too.

Wish Upon (July 14)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?Wish Upon is a fantasy horror movie about a teen who discovers the danger in the phrase "be careful what you wish for." When high schooler Claire (Joey King) finds a mysterious music box that promises to grant her seven wishes, she uses it to get everything she ever wanted -- money, her crush, revenge. But after every wish, someone close to her dies in a brutal, violent way, revealing that the box is possessed by a demon preying on how badly she wants her newly improved life. This movie will likely appeal to teens with its young cast and high school drama, but it promises violence, disturbing imagery, and strong language.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a Luc Besson-directed sci-fi epic based on a graphic novel. Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives employed by the government of the human territories to maintain order. They manage to work together as partners, despite their romantic tension and Valerian's obvious interest in Laureline -- as well as her frequent rejection of him. Together, they travel to a futuristic, intergalactic metropolis called Alpha to uncover dangerous hidden forces that threaten everyone. Teens and sci-fi fans will likely be interested, but expect lots of action, peril, and stylized comic book violence, as well as romance and innuendo.

Dunkirk (July 21)
Target Age:
Older teens
What's the buzz?Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan's latest action epic based on real events from World War II. After being cut off and surrounded by German forces in 1940, the only hope for hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers stranded on the beach of Dunkirk, France, is rescue by sea. But as German planes attack from the sky, survival for the soldiers -- and their rescuers -- seems impossible. Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, and Cillian Murphy co-star in this wartime thriller, which promises plenty of violence and strong language. The film also looks to have disturbing images like dead bodies floating in the ocean and washing up on the beach, as well as bloody injuries.

The Emoji Movie (July 28)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz?The Emoji Movie is an animated comedy about the tiny faces and pictures that everyone loves to text. The movie imagines the world of Textopolis, a colorful city inside the messaging app where all the emojis live and wait to be texted. But while all the other emojis only have one expression, overly enthusiastic Gene (voiced by T.J. Miller) has too many -- because he lacks a filter. With the help of his best friend, Hi-5 (James Corden), and notorious code breaker Jailbreak (Ilana Glazer), Gene goes on an adventure through all of the apps in the smartphone to find the code that will make him "normal." The cute, colorful emoji characters will likely appeal to kids, but don't be surprised if there's a lot of rude language and potty humor. Maya Rudolph, Rob Riggle, and Patrick Stewart (as the poop emoji) co-star.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (July 28)
Target Age:
Tweens and teens
What's the buzz? An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is the follow-up to 2006's An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore returns to the big screen to continue his efforts to warn people about the effects of climate change. This time around, in addition to watching Gore lecturing, viewers will also see him traveling around the world to influence energy policies and meet with leaders in sustainable energy. The original An Inconvenient Truth put the issue of global warming into many people's minds for the first time, but it continues to be controversial. Expect the follow up to address heavy themes and complex scientific, political, and social issues that will likely be too much for young kids. But for viewers who are old enough to understand and appreciate the issues brought up in the first film, this follow-up could be a must-see.

AUGUST MOVIES

  • The Dark Tower
  • The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature
  • Leap!

The Dark Tower (August 4)
Target Age:
Teens
What's the buzz?The Dark Tower is the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King's hit book series. The novels tell the story of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, who must travel across a desolate landscape in search of the Dark Tower, the key to saving his universe -- and every other universe. Doors between universes open up, causing young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) to leave New York and join the Gunslinger in his decaying magical world. Meanwhile, Roland's nemesis -- the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) -- opposes them at every step. King's series is full of violence, horror, and action, so expect a lot of the same in this series. That likely means it will be best for mature teens who enjoy Westerns, fantasies, and adventures. Fans of the books should also note that this is rumored to be more of a sequel, rather than a direct adaptation of the series.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (August 11)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz?The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature is the sequel to animated animal comedy The Nut Job. Following the events of the first film, Surly the squirrel (voiced by Will Arnett) and his friends are back and looking for a new home after a fire burns down The Nut Shop, where they were living. They find the perfect park, only to learn that the evil mayor wants to bulldoze it . Surly, Andie (Katherine Heigl), Buddy (Tom Kenny), and Precious (Maya Rudolph) must try and stop the mayor and save the entire city of Oakton from a huge scam. The original movie was so-so (and scarier than advertised!), but kids will probably still want to see the sequel. Expect some potty humor and lots of cartoonish violence played for laughs.

Leap! (August 25)
Target Age:
Kids
What's the buzz? Leap! is an animated story about two French orphans who will do anything to pursue their dreams. Felicie (voiced by Elle Fanning) and Victor (Nat Wolff) escape their overbearing orphanage caretaker (Mel Brooks) and head to Paris. Victor wants to be an inventor, while Felicie dreams of being a ballet dancer. By "borrowing" the identity of a wealthy girl (Maddie Ziegler), Felicie enters the prestigious Opera Ballet School, but she quickly learns that it's harder than it looks. She trains with a mysterious custodian, Odette (Carly Rae Jepson), and works to earn a part in the ballet. Although the main focus is on a ballerina, this movie about two adventurous 11-year-olds looks like one that will appeal to both girls and boys. Expect some action, tension, and rude language that might be too much for the littlest kids.

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