Kids summer movies guide 2017

The 2017 summer movie season is packed with goofy family comedies, teen romances, and tons of superheroes.


Frannie Ucciferri
May 14, 2017 8:59PM (UTC)

This post originally appeared on Common Sense Media.

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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

Baby Driver (June 28)
Target Age:
 Teens
What's the buzz?  Baby Driver is an action-packed crime thriller about a getaway driver. Baby-faced driver Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the fastest and most skilled in the business once he starts blasting music from his headphones. He gets hired by a crime boss (Kevin Spacey) for a series of bank heists with Bats (Jamie Foxx) and Buddy (Jon Hamm). When a heist goes wrong, Baby tries to flee in order to protect both his independence and his girlfriend (Lily James). Not only are the police after him, but so are his criminal partners, who think he's responsible. Expect lots of strong language, gun violence, and extremely dangerous car stunts, as well as racy moments. This one will likely be best for mature teens.

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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.


Frannie Ucciferri

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