Making Sense

11 New Movies for Kids and Teens

Before you take your kids to the movies this spring, check our preview of what to watch -- and what to watch out for.
Sandie Angulo Chen Guest Blogger | Movie/DVD/Book Reviewer | Mom of three Categories: We recommend
Guest Blogger | Movie/DVD/Book Reviewer | Mom of three

Who says summer is the only time for movie blockbusters? Box-office-wise, March and April look nearly as exciting as May through August. While there's only one major animated flick aimed at younger moviegoers (The Croods), tweens and teens can look forward to everything from reimagined fairy tales (Jack the Giant Slayer) and highly anticipated book adaptations (Oz the Great and Powerful, The Host) to the dino-mite 3-D re-release of Jurassic Park.

No matter how old your kids are, our sneak peeks will help you decide whether these high-profile movies will be appropriate for your family.

Jack the Giant Slayer (March 1)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
Buzz Factor: New Line/Warner Bros. has reimagined the Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer fairy tales with a swashbuckling young hero (Nicholas Hoult) who volunteers for a dangerous mission to save a beautiful princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) from the land of giants. With tons of special effects, giant humor, action sequences, and a smattering of romance, this fantasy should appeal to both boys and girls.

Oz the Great and Powerful (March 8)
Target Age: Tweens and Teens
Buzz Factor: We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz! Well, OK, we're off to meet the young wizard, years before Dorothy and Toto arrived on the scene. Young audiences, especially those who love The Wizard of Oz, will want to see this colorful -- albeit somewhat dark-toned -- prequel and find out how a small-town Kansas magician (James Franco) ends up swept into an enchanted kingdom full of witches, flying monkeys, and yellow brick roads.

From up on Poppy Hill
Target Age: Young Kids and up
Buzz Factor: Yes, this is a Miyazaki film, but it's not a Hayao Miyazaki movie; rather, it's an anime adventure from his son, Goro, who has followed in his father's famous footsteps. This newest Studio Ghibli film came out in Japan in 2011 but was recently dubbed for a limited English-language release. The dub features the voice talents of Emily Osment, Isabelle Fuhrmann, Sarah Bolger, and Alex Wolff, who play a group of friends trying to save their school's clubhouse from being demolished in preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It's fun (and historical) for older anime lovers and younger kids alike.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (March 15)
Target Age: Older Teens
Buzz Factor: Comedians Steve Carell and Jim Carrey play rival magicians (one a traditional David Copperfield-like illusionist, the other a street magician in the style of David Blaine or Criss Angel) vying for a lucrative Las Vegas contract. Considering the movie's trailer, its stars, and the fact that it has sexual content, language, and some drug content, the humor and sight gags definitely skew toward older teens and adults.

Admission (March 22)
Target Age: Teens
Buzz Factor: Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are probably more popular with parents than with kids, but high schoolers may appreciate the premise of a Princeton admissions officer whose life is changed when she visits an alternative high school attended by her secret biological son (Nat Wolff, from The Naked Brothers Band). With college application jokes aplenty, a young Nickelodeon star, and the irresistible charm of Fey and Rudd, Admission is an option to go see with your teens.

The Croods (March 22)
Target Age: Young Kids
Buzz Factor: Take the popularity of prehistoric animated Ice Age franchise, multiplied by the whole-family hijinks of Brave or The Incredibles, and you've got The Croods -- a family of Neanderthals on an unchartered mission to find a safe place to live. Featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds, this prehistoric adventure with early humans should appeal to your entire clan.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (March 28)
Target Age: Older Tweens and Teens
Buzz Factor: Even though critics panned the first G.I. Joe in 2009, it made more than $300 million worldwide, making this sequel inevitable. Starring Channing Tatum and with supporting appearances from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Bruce Willis, Retaliation will definitely appeal to tween boys and anyone interested in military action adventures. But, like the first one, it's a lot more violent than the younger kids who play with G.I. Joe toys are ready for.

The Host (March 29)
Target Age: Teens
Buzz Factor: Twilight author Stephenie Meyer's book The Host was billed as a sci-fi romance for adults rather than young adult readers, but the film adaptation -- starring Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones) and Max Irons (Red Riding Hood) -- is firmly marketed to a teen audience. A bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers but with a lot more romance, The Host may appeal to more guys than the Twilight series did. But, then again ... 

Jurassic Park 3D (April 5)
Target Age: Older Tweens and Teens
Buzz Factor: We've already reviewed Steven Spielberg's classic dinosaur adventure Jurassic Park, so you know it's a fabulous pick for older tweens and teens who can handle the considerable frights. Even single-digit-aged budding paleontologists may want to see the new 3D version of the movie, but keep in mind the body count and the heart-pounding sequences with the T-Rex and those scary-smart velociraptors, and save this one for the older crowd.

42 (April 12)
Target Age: Older Tweens and Teens
Buzz Factor: Although director Spike Lee tried to mount a Jackie Robinson biopic for more than a decade, it's Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) who finally turned the story of the man who integrated baseball (played here by Chadwick Boseman) into a film. Whether your family follows baseball or not, this promises to be an important historical drama about an American hero and a baseball legend. Just be prepared to see a whole lot of racism and discrimination.

Oblivion (April 19)
Target Age: Teens
Buzz Factor: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau star in this sci-fi thriller set in the year 2073. Cruise plays a drone repairman who's stationed on a deserted Earth and encounters a 102-year-old revolutionary (Freeman) who explains that the world isn't as it seems. As confusing as the plot seems, what is clear is that there will be a lot of futuristic violence.

What's on your must-see (or must NOT see) list?

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About Sandie Angulo Chen

Sandie has been writing about movies, books, pop culture, and entertainment since 1998, when she landed her first job after college at From there, she moved to AOL's, where, as... Read more

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Comments (8)

Beware of Graphic Novels! Scholastic does not screen them for content, and the anime genres can get the kids hooked on the series & anime, NOT on reading! Stick to traditional comics!
Jack the Giant Slayer was AWESOME! so excited for "The Host" and "Oblivion" because "Jack Reacher" was so good!
I really want to see From up on Poppy Hill! I'm a big anime fan and I wonder when that's coming out. I'm not really sure about The Croads,though. I reminds me of the Ice Age movies.
Thanks for your comment! We unfortunately aren't able to provide our ratings before the movies are released (and many don't have their MPAA ratings assigned yet, either), but the full review pages for each movie -- which you can reach by clicking on the linked title -- will be updated with all ratings information as soon as we can post them. Thanks!
Why is this linked to my email as "Top Picks for Ages 2-6 This Week" when "tweens" are the youngest age mentioned? Please don't waste my time!