It’s sweaty August once again. The kids are dripping their way through those last desperate days of sunburn, insect bites and freedom before school ramps back up. You’re fuming over the fact that the van’s AC doesn’t seem to be living up to its end of the automotive bargain. Even the grass in your front yard is starting to look like it needs a vacation from summer vacation. So maybe it’s time for everyone (except the beleaguered grass) to grab a glass of lemonade and hit your air-conditioned family room for a while.
So what can you hope to find?
Well … not a whole lot, frankly. Even the streaming services are suffering from summer fatigue. But we’ll dig up a few suggestions for you.
Are We Done Yet? (PG, 2007): Nick Persons and his family decide it’s time to move out of the city and find a little slice of paradise out in the suburbs. But what seemed a heaven-sent relocation soon turns into something quite the opposite as Nick realizes that the “new” house is in need of more fixing than he’d planned.
This remake of a remake of a remake may not be the most prime property on the family movie list, but it has its good points. Or as I said in my review: “The film may start out with a little dry-rot (disrespectful children and skewed parental priorities), but it ends with positive choices, forgiveness and family unity—all the right structural materials.”
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (PG, 2011): Fiery-haired and fiery-spirited third-grader Judy Moody has the perfect summer planned, but then she finds out that her high-flying summer dreams are a bust. Worse, Judy is bummed to be left home with her rotten brother, Stink, and an Aunt she’s never met before.
Based on a famed children’s book, this flick has some fun in its kid-adventure tank. Plugged In’s Adam Holz noted that there are a few toilet humor bumps in the road, but that the movie also encourages kids to find creative summer fun and offers “an invitation to recall what life was like before the digital revolution attracted young eyes to all manner of small screens.”
Want some kid-friendly TV streaming? How about the girl-power of:
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: In this reboot of the 1980s series, a magic sword transforms an orphan girl into the warrior She-Ra. She rounds up and unites a princess legion in a fight against evil. Our Paul Asay warns about some violence and mysticism in the animated tale’s mix. But he also notes that, “The new She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is a bazillion light years away from the original in terms of aesthetic quality—light years in the right direction, that is. The writing is sharp and clever, the humor disarmingly self-aware.”
Zookeeper (PG-2011): Zookeeper Griffin Keyes is beloved by his animal charges, but he kinda, sorta likes the idea of someday being loved by a female of his own species, too. He’s not so good in that department, though. It’s up to his animal pals to reveal their secret ability to talk, and then offer to teach him the rules of courtship, animal style.
OK, this one won’t win any awards. But it’s kinda cute. Paul Asay simply warns that there are some things to be wary of going in. “Its slapstick violence and crass humor is stuff that wouldn’t shock the censors, and might be the stuff that 7-year-olds guiltily giggle about at the lunch table—the cinematic equivalent of milk shooting out of someone’s nose.”
Had enough of the “silly” and want something with a bit more “super-duper?” These next two actioner possibilities might fit, at least for families with older kids:
Mission Impossible – Fallout (PG-13, 2018) Ethan Hunt and his IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to take on another typically impossible mission. But things go sideways when nuclear weapons disappear right out from under the team’s nose. Now it’s a race against time to not only prevent a disaster of epic proportions, but save everything Ethan truly cares about.
As I mentioned in my review, this pic is “the epitome of today’s spy-guy actioner. It clips along at a pace that’s just shy of a heart attack and neatly tucks in all the exciting bits that most people expect from a top-shelf, bullet-whizzing franchise like this one.” But parents should also be prepared for the requisite secret-agent stuff—violence, language and a little sensuality—that’s part of the ticket. Little ones might want to sit this ride out.
Aquaman (PG-13, 2018) Even though he’s shied away from any superhero involvement, Arthur Curry reluctantly steps up to his responsibility to claim the throne for the underwater city of Atlantis—once home to the most advanced civilization on Earth. Taking on that important role, however, is far from an easy swim.
OK, so is this a super pic for your fam? We put our answer this way in Plugged In’s review: “Aquaman doesn’t stray far from the kind of content we’ve come to expect from superhero movies these days, but the flick feels a bit more violent than many, containing not just your typical punches and kicks, but actual deaths.” So I’d say, uh, mind this movies deep water and check out the full review for details.