Kids' Summer Movie Guide 2015

A cheat sheet to help you decide which high-profile summer movies are appropriate for you and your kids. By Sandie Angulo Chen
Topics: We Recommend
Kids' Summer Movie Guide 2015

When the kids aren't bingeing on Minecraft or (hopefully) playing outside this summer, chances are they'll be clamoring to see one of the season's big movies. But it can be hard to decide which of the big-budget sequels, superhero adventures, and eye-popping animated flicks you and your kids are most likely to love (and want to spend money on!).

From the blockbuster action of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World to the mischievous hijinks of the Minions to the mysterious adventure of Tomorrowland, here's a cheat sheet to help you decide which high-profile summer movies are appropriate for you and your kids.

For more recommendations check out the Kids' Summer Movie Guide 2016.












Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Avengers: Age of Ultron is the highly anticipated sequel to 2012's epic adventure The Avengers. When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) fails to restart an inoperative peacekeeping program, the Avengers -- Iron Man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) -- are forced to reassemble to defeat Ultron (James Spader), an intelligent robot determined to wipe out humanity. As the superheroes work together to stop Ultron from unleashing his evil plans, they also meet powerful twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen). As in previous Marvel films, expect plenty of big, loud action and violence.











Hot Pursuit (May 8)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: An odd-couple buddy road-trip comedy reminiscent of Rush Hour, 48 Hours, The Heat, and Tommy Boy, Hot Pursuit stars Reese Witherspoon as a buttoned-up Texas cop tasked with protecting the gorgeous and brassy widow of a drug kingpin (played by Sofia Vergara) until she can testify against the cartel. As the trailer makes clear, the movie features loads of jokes about the two stars, their relative body shapes and sex appeal (such as Witherspoon's pocket-size frame compared to Vergara's statuesque curves, granny panties vs. thongs, and saucy Latina stereotypes).











Pitch Perfect 2 (May 15)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Pitch Perfect 2 is the sequel to 2012's word-of-mouth hit Pitch Perfect. Many of the stars from the first movie -- including Anna KendrickRebel WilsonBrittany SnowAnna CampSkylar Astin, and Adam Devine -- reprise their roles as members of the Barden Bellas and Trebelmakers. With most of the Bellas now in their senior year of college, the group decides to enter an international competition -- which features well-known a cappella groups such as Pentatonix, the Filharmonic, and Penn Masala -- that no American team has ever won. Be on the lookout for some sexual humor and language in this musical comedy, but with luck it will be just as teen-friendly as the original.











Poltergeist (2015) (May 22)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: "They're heeeere ... " If that quote is familiar, you probably realize that Poltergeist (2015) is a remake of the legendary 1982 horror film that scared a generation of viewers about the possibility of ghosts in our televisions and closets. It stars Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt in the Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams roles and Jared Harris as the Zelda Rubenstein-esque expert in supernatural forces. Although the remake has been modernized, it retains the basic elements of the classic original: A family's suburban home is haunted by evil spirits that kidnap their youngest daughter. But this time it's all in 3-D.











Tomorrowland (May 22)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Tomorrowland is a science-fiction adventure directed by Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille). Casey (Britt Robertson) is a bright teen with a curious mind who's transported to a futuristic world when she touches a mysterious pin. Desperate to know why she can enter the alternate universe, Casey meets former boy-genius inventor Frank Walker (George Clooney), who tells her that Tomorrowland is a place where nothing is impossible and that the people there are trying to make the world a better place. There may be some action and violence to watch out for as Frank and Casey embark on a danger-filled mission to learn Tomorrowland's secrets.











When Marnie Was There (May 22)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: The latest (and possibly last) Studio Ghibli production is an adaptation of the novel When Marnie Was There, the story of Anna, a 12-year-old Japanese girl who meets and befriends Marnie, a blond foreigner visiting the same rural seaside town. The English-speaking cast features the voice talents of Hailee Steinfeld (Romeo and Juliet) and Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men) as Anna and Marnie. Since this is potentially the final film produced by the legendary Japanese animation studio, When Marnie Was There is a must-see for anyone who has seen and loved a Studio Ghibli movie.











Aloha (May 29)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: Writer-director Cameron Crowe returns to the big screen after a four-year hiatus with this military-themed romantic comedy starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, and John Krasinski. Cooper plays an ambitious defense contractor who returns to Hawaii to oversee the launch of a state-of-the-art weapons satellite. His time in the islands is complicated by the presence of his beautiful ex (McAdams) and the enthusiastic Air Force pilot (Stone) assigned to his detail. With its all-star cast (Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin play supporting characters) and beloved director, Aloha should prove a sophisticated romcom for mature teens and parents.











San Andreas (May 29)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: It's been a while since a huge natural disaster film captivated audiences, but San Andreas looks to be up to the task. In the aftermath of the deadliest earthquake in California history, a rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) embarks on a seemingly doomed mission to find his daughter across the state. In addition to The Rock, the disaster flick also stars Spy Kids mom Carla Gugino, Percy Jackson's Alexandra Daddario, and Arrow hunk Colton Haynes. Who will survive? Expect some hair-raising action sequences of the wreckage and collateral damage that an earthquake and the resulting tsunami can cause.












Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5)
Target age: Older teens
Buzz factor: After two creeptastic installments about the haunting of the Lambert family, Insidious: Chapter 3 takes a step back to focus on psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye). The prequel chronicles how Elise reluctantly used her unique abilities to contact the dead to help a teenager (Stefanie Scott) being relentlessly targeted by something decidedly supernatural. Given the popularity of the first two films, this installment should similarly feature jump-worthy frights and eerie sequences that will scare audiences young and old.











Jurassic World (June 12)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World features a dinosaur theme park as imagined by original creator John Hammond (Richard Attenborough). But after 10 years of declining ticket sales, the corporate overlords running the island create a genetically modified dinosaur attraction that goes terribly wrong ... again. Twenty-two years after Steven Spielberg amazed moviegoers with a T. rex making a glass of water shake -- and eating a lawyer hiding on a toilet -- he produces this reboot of his legendary franchise. Starring audience favorite Chris Pratt, this adventure should thrill -- and frighten -- a new generation of dinosaur fans.











Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (June 12)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: The indie darling of 2015's Sundance Film Festival (it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award) has already been hailed as "a beautifully charming, captivating knockout" and a "touchstone for its generation." Based on a 2012 young adult book about a movie-obsessed high schooler forced to rekindle his friendship with a beautiful family friend diagnosed with leukemia, this sounds like (but isn't) The Fault in Our Stars. Instead it's a touching dramedy about the healing power of film and friendship -- and, yes, first love.











Inside Out (June 19)
Target age: Young kids and tweens
Buzz factor: Inside Out is told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a young girl named Riley, whose family moves from the Midwest when her dad starts a new job in San Francisco. Riley's emotions -- Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) -- live in Headquarters, the control center of her mind. When the emotions have conflicting ideas about the best way for Riley to transition into her new life, Joy -- Riley's most important emotion -- does her best to keep things positive. As with the rest of Pixar's movies, this looks like an original story that's fun for the whole family.










Batkid Begins (June 26)
Target Age: Kids
Buzz factor: Batkid Begins is a documentary about the day in 2013 that the city of San Francisco transformed itself into Gotham to help a young cancer survivor's Make-A-Wish dream come true. The whole city -- along with tens of thousands of people who came just for the event -- pulled together to help Miles Scott rescue a damsel in distress, fight villains, and much more. Underlying the action are themes related to the positive power of social media. Expect some discussion of Miles' illness (leukemia) and treatment, which could worry some sensitive kids, as well as a few tense scenes staged for Batkid's big day. But overall this promises to be a heartwarming story for viewers of all ages, with basically zero iffy content.











Max (June 26)
Target age: Young kids and tweens
Buzz factor: Max is a family adventure written and directed by indie-film darling Boaz Yakin. Based on real events, this drama follows Max, a military dog returning from active service in Afghanistan after his trainer's traumatizing death. He's adopted by the trainer's grieving family and bonds with the trainer's 14-year-old brother. Expect plenty of emotional scenes dealing with heavy themes as Max helps the family heal and discover the truth behind the soldier's death.












Terminator: Genisys (July 1)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: In this reboot of the legendary Terminator franchise, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney of Divergent) goes back in time to try to save John Connor's mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones). Once in the past, Kyle (whom the audience knows is John's father) realizes he's in another time line in which Sarah has teamed up with the aging Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course) to stop Judgment Day from happening. Regardless of how well action fans understand the complexities of the time paradox in the Terminator movies, they'll definitely want to see Arnold rise again (as a kinder, older Terminator, but still). This looks like it's going to be a loud, guns-and-stunts-fllled battle for humanity.











Minions (July 10)
Target age: Young kids and tweens
Buzz factor: Minions is a spin-off of the popular Despicable Me movies. It focuses on the hilarious yellow creatures in the 1960s, about 42 years before they worked for Gru. After accidentally killing their previous masters -- including a T. rex, Napoleon, and Dracula -- the minions decide to isolate themselves in Antarctica, where they fall into a deep depression until Kevin (voiced by director Pierre Coffin) hatches a plan to find them a new leader. With the help of Stuart and Bob, Kevin embarks on an incredible journey that leads them to Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the world’s first female supervillain, and her husband, Herb Overkill (Jon Hamm). This animated comedy should bring plenty of laughs for the whole family.











Ant-Man (July 17)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: For tweens and teens, only two words are necessary to get them into the theater: "Marvel Comics." Ant-Man is the latest story in the Marvel Universe. It follows master thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who's recruited by brilliant scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to become the "Ant-Man" and who, with the help of a special suit, can shrink in size but gain ant-like strength and speed. Ant-Man must steal the suit's technology from the hands of Pym's former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who seeks to unleash the suit's technology in unethical, lethal ways.











Paper Towns (July 24)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: Based on superstar young adult author John Green's novel, Paper Towns stars Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) as Quentin "Q" Jacobsen, who's been in love with his beautiful but eccentric neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman (model-actress Cara Delevingne). for as long as he can remember. When Margo disappears just before graduation, no one has any idea where she could be, but Q finds a clue he believes will lead to her. He rounds up his close friends, and they go on an epic road trip trying to find Margo. Green fans should be thrilled that the same duo who adapted TFIOS also wrote Paper Towns -- which is slightly less romantic but also features precocious teens who are in over their heads.











Pixels (July 24)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Adam Sandler teams up with Harry Potter director Chris Columbus for this 3-D sci-fi comedy. The premise is that, in 1982, NASA launched a time capsule into space containing images and footage of life on Earth in the early '80s. The extraterrestrials that open the time capsule, however, believe it to be a declaration of war, with Pac-Man symbolizing the Earth and the ghosts the alien planets. In retaliation, the aliens launch an attack on Earth using the classic video game characters as pixelated weapons that can turn anything they want into more holographic pixels -- whether it's a car, a building, or a person. Sandler plays an arcade champion recruited to defeat the Pac-Man/Donkey assault with a crew of other old-school gamers, including Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad.











Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (July 31)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: Tom Cruise returns for his fifth Mission: Impossible adventure as Ethan Hunt, and this time the stakes go beyond an individual nemesis. Hunt and his IMF team aren't up against a terrorist cell, greedy corporation, or political entity; they must defeat the Syndicate, a secret international group of intelligence agents and mercenaries loyal not to any country but to their own "rogue nation." The IMF has been defunded, but Hunt rounds up his crew (including Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, and Ving Rhames) to prove the Syndicate's existence and take it out. Expect over-the-top, stunt-filled action violence, explosions, and possible character deaths.












Fantastic Four (Aug. 7)
Target age: Tweens and teens
Buzz factor: Chronicle director Josh Trank reboots Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four franchise with a hip young cast of scientists turned superheroes: Miles Teller (Whiplash) as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic; Kate Mara as his girlfriend, Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman; Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch; and Ben Grimm as Reed's best friend/The Thing. Unlike the mid-2000s movies starring Chris Evans and Jessica Alba, this Fantastic Four isn't going for camp or nostalgia; it's being marketed a bit like the The Avengers or X-Men (in other words, it's brimming with action, angst, and relationship drama).











Ricki and the Flash (Aug. 7)
Target age: Teens
Buzz Factor: Ricki and the Flash is a rock-and-roll-themed musical dramedy about family ties and a mother-daughter relationship. Guitar heroine Ricki (Meryl Streep) returns home after years of chasing her dreams to console her heartbroken daughter, Julie (played by Streep's real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer), who was recently abandoned at the altar. The pair end up addressing long-term family tensions. Packed with rock jams and live performances, the movie seems likely to appeal to both teens and parents; just watch out for a bit of edgy content, including strong language and drug references.











Shaun the Sheep Movie (Aug. 7)
Target age: Young kids and tweens
Buzz factor: Based on the dialogue-free TV show spin-off of the Wallace and Gromit series, Shaun the Sheep Movie is the mischievous title character's first feature-length adventure. Shaun and the flock decide to take the day off, so they distract Bitzer the sheepdog with a bone and lull the Farmer to sleep. But their plans take an unexpected turn when the Farmer and his trailer roll away from Mossy Bottom Farm and into the Big City. It's no easy task for the farmyard characters to blend into city life and avoid the animal catcher, but kids can expect plenty of slapstick humor as they try to rescue the Farmer and bring him safely home. 











The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Aug. 14)
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: After a four-year hiatus, director Guy Ritchie returns to the big screen with this retro adaptation of the popular '60s spy show. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. follows two super spies -- one American (played by Brit Henry Cavill) and one Soviet (played by American Armie Hammer) -- forced to work together to defeat an international crime syndicate bent on nuclear proliferation. This would be an ideal spy adventure for teens to see with their grandparents, who are likely to remember the hit TV series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. The remake looks like it will be as full of spy humor and action as the show famously was.











War Room (Aug. 28) 
Target age: Teens
Buzz factor: From the producers of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants comes another faith-based film, this one about a couple named Elizabeth and Tony Jordan. The Jordans look like they have the ideal life (beautiful daughter, dream house, great jobs), but their marriage is actually a "war zone" tearing their family apart. But when Elizabeth meets a devout elderly woman who teaches her about the transformative power of prayer, everything in their lives begins to change. Although there might be little to no language or violence in this religious drama, the themes (marital strife, personal faith) appear to be aimed at mature teens and adult believers.

About Sandie Angulo Chen

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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 a... Read more

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Comments (6)

Parent of a 10 year old written by opfiend

If you watch the movie Aloha with your teens, it's a perfect opportunity to talk about cultural misappropriation. From the use of the word aloha as the title to one of the part Hawaiian characters being played by a non Hawaiian. Also, the lack of any native Hawaiians in significant roles.
written by Jimmy brew

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written by Jimmy brew

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