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Common Sense Media: 2018 summer movie guide for kids

summer movies
Common Sense Media
May10/ 2018

Summer is just around the corner, and I’m excited to see the Common Sense Media movie guide has been released. Grab your friends and family, and make a plan to see the most anticipated movies of the summer. My family is patiently waiting to see Incredibles II and Mama Mia!: Here We Go Again. What movies are on your list? – Jennifer Ehehalt, Pittsburgh Regional Manager at Common Sense Media. You can find her on Twitter @Jehehalt.

By Frannie Ucciferri

Common Sense Media

Grab some popcorn, because the summer movie season is here! When school’s out, movie theaters are packed with people ready to see the biggest blockbusters of the year. But with so many to choose from, how can you tell what’s worth your time (and ticket)? We’ve gathered up the most anticipated movies of the summer for kids, tweens, and teens to help you figure it out.

This year is all about superheroes, from the action-packed Avengers: Infinity War to the more kid-friendly Pixar sequel Incredibles 2. There’s also plenty of girl power in movies like Ocean’s 8 and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. And don’t forget the popular sequels and spin-offs. Solo: A Star Wars StoryJurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation will all be hitting the big screen this summer. (There are also some edgier blockbusters coming out, but you’re not going to find R-rated picks like Deadpool 2 on this list.)

This guide is here to help you make the most of your summer trip to the movies. And be sure to check out Common Sense Media when the movies are released for full reviews.

Avengers: Infinity War (April 27)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Avengers: Infinity War is a superhero epic that brings together characters from just about every Marvel movie made so far. Because it features so many superheroes from so many films (not only The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron but also Captain America: Civil WarBlack PantherGuardians of the Galaxy, and more), you’ll want to be familiar with those characters and stories before you see this movie. Like all the previous Marvel superhero movies, it’s safe to expect lots of action violence, as well as some language and romance. But teens and mature tweens who’ve kept up with the rest of the MCU films won’t want to miss this one.

RBG (May 4)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? RBG is a biographical documentary about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Using interviews with Ginsburg herself as well as with others who know or follow her, it tells her life story, from her early legal battles to becoming a political (and pop cultural) force on the Supreme Court. Expect some salty language and complex themes, but overall this looks like an inspiring pick about a real-life role model for girls and women.

Breaking In (May 11)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Breaking In is a thriller about a mom who will do anything to save her kids during a home invasion. Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) takes her son and daughter to her wealthy late father’s house. But when bad guys manage to find their way past the normally impenetrable security system and take the kids hostage, she’s willing to go to any extreme to break into the house and rescue them. Expect lots of intense action, bloody violence, sexual references, and strong language.

Life of the Party (May 11)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Life of the Party is a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as a mom who decides to return to school to restart her career, only to end up at the same college as her daughter, Amanda (Adria Arjona). Both women embrace the full college experience (including classes, freedom, and, yes, frat boys). Expect lots of sexual references, partying, and drug use, as well as McCarthy’s signature brand of physical comedy. But this could be a fun comedy about second chances and the bond between mothers and daughters.

Lu over the Wall (May 11)
Target age
: Kids and tweens
What’s the buzz? Lu over the Wall puts an anime twist on a classic fairy tale as a tween musician forms a bond with a singing mermaid. Lonely middle schooler Kai (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas) forms a rock band with two of his classmates, only to be surprised during band practice by a young mermaid girl named Lu (Christine Marie Cabanos) whose tail turns to legs when she hears the music. Expect some action, peril, and intense themes in this colorful animated movie.

Book Club (May 18)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Book Club is a romantic comedy about four 60-something friends (Diane KeatonJane FondaCandice BergenMary Steenburgen) who push each other to take more romantic risks and be more adventurous in their love lives after reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Expect plenty of sexual references and situations, as well as swearing, drinking, and romance. There probably won’t be too much for kids here, but teens will likely enjoy the heart and humor.

Pope Francis – A Man of His Word (May 18)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Pope Francis – A Man of His Word is a documentary about the current head of the Catholic Church. It looks at his approach to both faith and facing the challenges of the modern world. Featuring interviews with Pope Francis himself (subtitled from his native Spanish), the film looks at the popularity and inclusive messages that he brings to the world. It’s likely safe to expect very little iffy content, but the content and themes may not interest younger kids.summer movies

Show Dogs (May 18)
Target age
: Kids
What’s the buzz? Show Dogs is a family-friendly comedy that looks to answer the question of what you’d get if you combined Miss Congeniality with Best in Show. Macho police dog Max (voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) — with the help of his human partner, Frank (Will Arnett) — must go undercover at a prestigious Las Vegas dog show. This looks like it will have plenty of rude humor, suggestive language, and action sequences but ultimately will be kid-friendly. Alan CummingStanley TucciNatasha LyonneRuPaulGabriel Iglesias, and Shaquille O’Neal co-star.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Solo: A Star Wars Story is a stand-alone prequel directed by Ron Howard that, like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, takes place before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It tells the story of a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich, in the role that Harrison Ford made famous). Although plot details are being kept quiet, we know that Han was originally an intergalactic smuggler — and a good one. Expect familiar characters like Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to make appearances. And there will likely be lots of action violence, as well as some language and innuendo, but nothing a Star Wars fan can’t handle.

Adrift (June 1)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Adrift is based on the true story of a young couple, Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), who sail into a catastrophic hurricane and must fight to survive. Teens will likely be drawn in by the movie’s stars (Woodley starred in the Divergent series, and Claflin played a role in several of the Hunger Games movies). And although there will probably be intense scenes of peril, romance, and disturbing imagery, this fact-based drama also looks like an inspiring tale of perseverance and love.

Ocean’s 8 (June 8)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Ocean’s 8 is a female-driven heist movie spin-off of the Ocean’s trilogy. Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is on a mission to pull off an epic heist during the Met Gala in New York City. But first she must assemble a perfect crew of (all-female) cons: her partner-in-crime, Lou (Cate Blanchett); celebrity Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway); jewelry designer Amita (Mindy Kaling); unassuming mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson); sleight-of-hand artist Constance (Awkwafina); hacker Eight Ball (Rihanna); and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). The original trilogy had lots of action, suspense, and strong language and some sexuality, so you can expect much of the same here, along with a hefty dose of girl power.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor (June 8)
Target age
: Big kids, tweens, and teens
What’s the buzz? Won’t You Be My Neighbor promises to be a gentle documentary about Fred Rogers and the creation and legacy of his classic children’s TV show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Although the TV series is intended for preschoolers, this documentary is better for older viewers who remember the show but can handle the film’s somewhat heavier themes and occasional strong language. But expect a touching, inspirational movie about the power of creativity and compassion, especially for kids.

Incredibles 2 (June 15)
Target age
: Kids and tweens
What’s the buzz? Incredibles 2 is Pixar’s long-awaited superhero sequel about the Parr family — Bob (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), Helen (Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and baby Jack-Jack. The original movie had more action violence than most animated kids’ movies, although everything was still cartoonish. But it was also a beautifully animated, hilarious take on superhero movies. You can probably expect a lot of the same here. It could be too intense for very young or sensitive kids, but it will surely be a fun summer movie for many families.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is the sequel to Jurassic World, the 2015 reboot of the classic dinosaur action movie Jurassic Park. Four years after the most dangerous dinosaurs got loose, raptor trainer Owen (Chris Pratt) and former park manager Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) must travel to the island to try to save the remaining dinosaurs from a second extinction. Jurassic World was scarier and more intense than the original movies, and this sequel will likely continue where it left off. Adrenaline junkies can expect gore, sustained scenes of peril, and strong language, as well as romance.

The Hustle (June 29)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? The Hustle is a gender-swapped remake of the 1988 comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. In this film, two con women (Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson) with different styles end up competing to see who can seduce and rob a tech billionaire (Alex Sharp). The loser has to leave town. Expect plenty of sexual references, swearing, and physical comedy. Fans of Hathaway and Wilson will likely enjoy the competitive edge between these two funny women.

Uncle Drew (June 29)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Uncle Drew is a comedy starring current and former NBA players as the members of a senior citizens’ basketball squad. Desperate to win a street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) recruits aging basketball legend Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) and his old squad (played by Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie), now well into their 70s, to prove that the old guys can still win the big game. You can expect lots of commercialism (the film is based on a series of Pepsi commercials), as well as comic violence, strong language, and sexual references. But this could be a slam dunk for teen basketball fans.

Fireworks (July 4)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Fireworks is an anime teen romance from the producers of Your Name. Friends Norimichi and Yusuke both have a crush on their classmate Nazuna, and try to impress her by competing in a swimming race. After Norimichi loses, he finds a magical ball that reverses time, so he goes back and tries to see what would happen if he won the race. This looks like an emotional, romantic drama that will appeal to mature tween/teen anime fans who can handle the romance and language. But keep an eye out for gendered stereotypes.

Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Ant-Man and the Wasp is the sequel to Marvel’s 2015 clever sci-fi superhero movie Ant-Man. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is dealing with the consequences of getting caught up with the Avengers and balancing his role as a dad, when he’s recruited for a new mission alongside Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), aka the Wasp. The original Ant-Man had lots of action, language, violence, and romance, so expect more of the same here. But, like most Marvel films, it will likely be fine for tweens and up who can handle the action.

Eighth Grade (July 13)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age dramedy directed by internet star Bo Burnham. It centers on Kayla (Elsie Fisher), who’s trying to get through her last week of middle school and manage the overwhelming nerves and self-consciousness that go along with being 13. This looks best for middle schoolers; expect some swearing, discussion of romance and sexuality, and heavy but relatable themes.

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (July 13)
Target age
: Kids
What’s the buzz? Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation is the third in the series of family-friendly monster movies about hotel owner Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his quirky family. In this installment, Dracula’s daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), surprises everyone with a family vacation on a luxury cruise ship for monsters. The first two films had plenty of kid-friendly laughs but also rude humor, some potty language, and romance, so expect the same here.

Skyscraper (July 13)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Skyscraper is an action movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as former FBI agent Will Ford, who must rescue himself and his family from a disastrous fire in a towering building. Expect this to be an action-packed adventure with lots of peril, likely with strong language and violence, too. But if you’re a fan of the Rock’s action movies, you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (July 20)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the sequel to Mamma Mia!, the hit movie musical based on songs by ABBA. The story picks up after a now pregnant Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) invites three former lovers of her mom, Donna (Meryl Streep), to her wedding. But it also flashes back to the past, telling the tale of a young Donna (Lily James) and the Dynamos. Here We Go Again promises to have plenty of music and dancing — this time with a ’60s twist and likely a fair number of sexual references and a bit of nudity. Overall, this looks to be a fun summer movie for musical fans, especially those who like the original.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout (July 27)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Mission: Impossible — Fallout is the sixth movie in Tom Cruise‘s hit spy action franchise. After a mission goes horribly wrong, CIA agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team (Alec BaldwinSimon PeggVing Rhames) must race the clock to save everyone, even with a government that seems against them. The Mission: Impossible movies are known for their death-defying stunts, intense violence, and thrilling action sequences, and it’s quite likely that this one will deliver more of the same.

Teen Titans Go! to the Movies (July 27)
Target age
: Kids
What’s the buzz? Teen Titans Go! to the Movies is an animated superhero comedy based on the cartoon series Teen Titans Go!, which follows five sidekicks and minor heroes in the DC Universe. The TV show is hugely popular, so kids will likely want to see their favorite characters on the big screen. But expect lots of potty humor, rude language, and cartoonish action violence and plenty of references to other DC superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman.

The Darkest Minds (Aug. 3)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? The Darkest Minds is a sci-fi thriller based on a YA novel by Alexandra Bracken about teen refugees with powerful abilities who build a resistance to save their future from adults who would have them destroyed. In a time when teen activism is more widespread than ever, this dystopian sci-fi adventure will likely appeal to many young people. But expect some swearing and romance and plenty of intense action.

Disney’s Christopher Robin (Aug. 3)
Target age
: Kids and tweens
What’s the buzz? Disney’s Christopher Robin is a part live-action, part animated “sequel” to the classic story of Winnie the Pooh. Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), now all grown up, is reunited with his old friend Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings). Pooh needs Christopher Robin’s help to find his lost friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, but he also might be exactly what Christopher Robin needs to rediscover the joys of childhood. This Disney movie looks like a feel-good, family-friendly option, but be ready for some sad moments and possibly some potty humor.

The Spy Who Dumped Me (Aug. 3)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? The Spy Who Dumped Me is an action comedy about Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend, Morgan (Kate McKinnon), who get caught up in an international conspiracy when they find out Audrey’s ex-boyfriend, Drew (Justin Theroux), is a spy on the run from assassins. Expect plenty of action, explosions, and violence, as well as some sexual references and swearing and lots of laugh potential from Kunis and McKinnon.

A.X.L. (Aug. 10)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? A.X.L. is a sci-fi adventure about a teen (Alex Neustaedter) who comes across an advanced military robot called A.X.L. that combines cutting-edge artificial intelligence with the heart of a dog. Miles and A.X.L. form an intense bond as they evade capture by rogue military scientists. This genre mashup of science fiction and the timeless story of a boy and his dog looks like a fun choice, but expect some action, peril, romance, and language.

Dog Days (Aug. 10)
Target age
: Tweens
What’s the buzz? Dog Days is an ensemble dramedy about a group of people in Los Angeles whose lives become intertwined thanks to their dogs. The movie stars Nina DobrevVanessa HudgensFinn WolfhardEva LongoriaTig NotaroRob Corddry, and several canine actors. It will likely be fine for tweens, but expect some romance and heavy themes.

The Meg (Aug. 10)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? The Meg is an action thriller about the attack of a giant — no, really, giant — shark. Based on a novel by Steve Alten, the story focuses on disgraced former Navy Captain Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham), who must rescue his ex-wife and her team on a sinking submersible from a deadly attack by a 70-foot-long marine predator. This monster movie promises lots of peril, action, and bloody violence.

Alpha (Aug. 17)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Alpha is an action-adventure movie set 20,000 years ago about a young man’s struggle to survive. During a hunt, Keda (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is injured and left for dead after falling from a cliff. He fights his way through the harsh wilderness, fends off wild-animal attacks, and manages to tame a lone wolf. Together, Keda and the wolf must make it back to Keda’s tribe before the deadly winter begins. Expect scenes of intense peril, graphic injuries, and some blood.

Crazy Rich Asians (Aug. 17)
Target age
: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Crazy Rich Asians is a comedy based on the same-named best-selling novel by Kevin Kwan. When Asian American college professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) travels to her boyfriend Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) home in Singapore for his best friend’s wedding, she realizes he’s the sole heir to an enormous fortune — and one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors. Expect some suggestive references and swearing, as well as lots of laughs.

Down a Dark Hall (Aug. 17)
Target age: Tweens and teens
What’s the buzz? Down a Dark Hall is based on a classic YA supernatural thriller by Lois Duncan about Kit Gordy (AnnaSophia Robb), a new student at the exclusive, mysterious boarding school where students demonstrate extraordinary abilities in their sleep. Teens may recognize the stars from shows and movies like The Carrie DiariesThe Hunger Games, and Falling Skies. Expect supernatural scares, violence, sexual references, and language.

Replicas (Aug. 21)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Replicas is a sci-fi thriller about a neuroscientist (Keanu Reeves) who defies the laws of man and nature to bring his family back to life after a deadly car crash by uploading their consciousnesses to human clones. He goes up against the government-controlled lab where he works, the police, and the rules of science, only to be faced with a horrible choice: He can only save three of his four dead family members. Expect heavy themes, disturbing images, violence, sexual references, and some nudity in this thriller.

Kin (Aug. 31)
Target age
: Teens
What’s the buzz? Kin is a sci-fi crime thriller about two adopted brothers on the run. Recently released from jail, an ex-con (Jack Reynor) and his adopted teen brother (Myles Truitt) are forced to flee from the police, another vengeful criminal (James Franco), and an army of otherworldly soldiers. Their only protection is a mysterious ancient weapon. Expect violence, gun use, sexual references, and strong language from this action-packed genre mashup.

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