School’s almost out for summer, meaning throngs of kids will be flocking to theaters for their annual dose of superheroes, special-effects extravaganzas and animated comedies for the whole family to share. This year, Hollywood transports audiences to Scotland for a Pixar classic, Europe for a third Madagascar adventure, and New York City for the latest Spider-Man movie. Here are the top summer movies aimed at kids. (And yes, parents, you can tag along, as well.)
Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)
Rumor has it Universal’s take on the classic Snow White fairy tale is more family-friendly than we’d anticipated. The early trailers make Snow (Kristen Stewart) look like a vicious warrior princess, while Charlize Theron puts the “evil” in Evil Queen. But kids seeking empowerment lessons should find it in Huntsman. Just hide the apples when you get home.
Battlefield America (June 1)
In Long Beach, Calif., a young businessman sees talent in the Bad Boys, an ambitious but unruly kids' dance team. He hires a pro dance teacher to get them in line, and ready to hip-hop to the top of the dance battle scene. From the director of You Got Served--!
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8)
Same crew, but a completely different location as Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) and the rest of the Central Park Zoo animals try to get back home to New York City. Their latest detour finds them ion Monte Carlo, where they join a traveling circus. Listen for the voices of franchise newcomers Jessica Chastain, Martin Short and Frances McDormand.
Brave (June 22)
Pixar’s latest is the animation studio’s first feature centered on a female protagonist – Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) – a red-headed warrior who isn’t ready to settle down to her family’s throne. It’s also the studio’s first non-sequel since 2009’s Up, so it’s safe to say we’re anticipating something fresh, new and magical.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 6)
Kids who grew up on comic books likely are looking forward to the latest reboot of the Wall-crawler’s big-screen series. Andrew Garfield takes over as Peter Parker, a shy and sarcastic teen who rises to hero status when he’s bitten by a radioactive spider. Emma Stone signs on as Spidey’s true love, Gwen Stacey, while Rhys Ifans plays the scaly antagonist, The Lizard.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (July 6)
Pop singer Katy Perry has created the official soundtracks of the past three summers, so it only makes sense that she’d drop her first 3D concert film into the heart of the summer season. If Part of Me manages to be half as entertaining as previous concert efforts by Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, your toe-tapping pre-teens will want to wait in line to get an exclusive behind-the-stage glimpse at their favorite singer.
Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13)
Like a Timex watch, the Ice Age franchise just keeps on ticking. A decade after the first film reached theaters, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) are still presiding over our pre-historic planet … only their posse has grown over the years. As continents start to drift, the animated series introduces pirates and sea creatures – all in 3D!
Step Up: Revolution (July 27)
The Step Up franchise moves its dancing feet down to Miami, where aspiring dancer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) falls in love with Sean (Ryan Guzman), a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs. If your kids love Shake It Up on the Disney Channel, they might be ready for the bending, twisting rhythms of the Step Up crew.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Aug. 3)
The Wimpy Kid movies have been just as entertaining as Jeff Kinney’s best-selling books on which they are based. With Dog Days, Greg (Zachary Gordon) tries to survive his summer vacation. You can bet older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) isn’t going to make things easy.
ParaNorman (Aug. 17)
Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) sees dead people, but this isn’t an animated take on The Sixth Sense. Instead, co-director Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s spooky comedy looks to combine the adventurous spirit of The Goonies with the sarcastic humor of The Monster Squad.
Oogieloves in the BIG Balloon Adventure (Aug. 29)
In Lovelyloveville, the Oogieloves are planning a surprise birthday party for Schluufy! But the plan doesn't go as expected when J. Edgar loses the last five magical balloons in all of Lovelyloveville. As the Oogieloves set out to find the balloons, they meet interesting characters, including Cloris Leachman, Toni Braxton, and Christopher Lloyd. Don’t chuckle -- just bring your young ones and have a good time.