This summer promises to be a busy one for movie-going families. There's an impressive mix of superhero flicks, animated adventures, sports dramas, and YA adaptations that should keep even the pickiest of families entertained. So get your calendars ready and start marking the release dates of the following family friendly titles.
Gallery | 2014 Summer Family Movies
- 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' (May 2), PG-13
What It's About: In the second installment of the latest Spider-Man reboot, Spidey faces another round of supervillains, starting with Oscorp CEO Norman Osborne, his son Harry, and one scary engineer turned electrical capacitor, Electro – all of whom want to control the City and take down our favorite young web slinger.
Why We're Excited: Andrew Garfield made Spider-Man a sarcastic and witty high-schooler again, and we can't wait to see him deal with his internal battle to balance being an ordinary teen with a sweet girlfriend (his real-life girlfriend Emma Stone) and the very extraordinary duties of being a superhero. But if we're being honest, we really just want to see Jamie Foxx as the nerdy engineer who transforms into the very freaky looking and dangerous Electro.
- 'Million Dollar Arm' (May 16), PG
What It's About: This biographical sports flick is based on the true story of sports agent J.B. Bernstein, who decides to get back on top with a big gamble: recruiting Major League Baseball hopefuls (including Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel) from the cricket pitches of India. Bernstein hosts a nationwide competition called "Million Dollar Arm" to find the first South Asian major league player.
Why We're Excited: A Disney movie about America's favorite pastime with a side of cultural diversity? How could we not be intrigued. It's also about a sport most Americans know nothing about – cricket (if you need a primer, talk to your closest Indian, British, or Aussie friend). Starring the affable Jon Hamm as a sports agent on a mission, this family sports docudrama could prove as educational (about cricket-obsessed India, the players, and the sport itself) as it is entertaining.
- 'Blended' (May 23), PG-13
What It's About: After single parents Jim and Hilary have a disastrous blind date (at Hooters, of course), neither is much interested in seeing each other again. Naturally, they end up on the exact same family vacation of a lifetime: an African safari with their kids. While on the trip, they start to see past their bad first impressions.
Why We're Excited: Just when we thought we were done with Sandler's bottom-of-the-barrel comedies starring his best friends, he sucks us back in with this cute looking Barrymore reunion. We loved them in "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates," will third time be the proverbial charm? We hope the answer is yes, especially because the supporting cast includes the ever-lovable Terry Crews, the always-funny Wendi McLendon-Covey and Sandler's fellow SNL alum Kevin Nealon.
- 'Maleficent' (May 30), PG
What It's About: Remember Sleeping Beauty? This is a prequel and retelling of that fairy tale told from the perspective of the villain Maleficent, so we can finally know why the stone-hearted sorceress curses baby Aurora in the first place; we all know it couldn't just be sour grapes at not being invited to her christening!
Why We're Excited: After a four-year hiatus to direct, travel the world as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, and raise her six kids with fiancé Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie is returning in front of the camera – as one of Disney's most sinister villains. Everyone wants to see her pull it off, and it doesn't hurt that lovely young Elle Fanning is Princess Aurora and that the debut director is an Oscar-winning production designer responsible for "Avatar," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Oz the Great and Powerful," so the visuals will be stunning.
- 'The Fault In Our Stars' (June 6), PG-13
What It's About: Sixteen year old Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer, so she begrudgingly attends a teens with cancer support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a handsome and clever guy who also happens to be a cancer survivor. Watch Augustus woo Hazel Grace in this unforgettable cry-fest of a love story.
Why We're Excited: Based on YA rock star John Green's award-winning 2012 novel, this movie has a promising pedigree: hip young director (Josh Boone, "Stuck in Love"); fabulous cast (Shailene Woodley and her "Divergent" brother Ansel Elgort now play the love-struck teens; Laura Dern and Sam Tramell play her parents; and Willem Dafoe as Hazel Grace's favorite author, a mysterious recluse); and the renowned author's blessing. Get your hankies ready, folks! This is one heartbreaking, breathtaking story.
- 'How to Train Your Dragon 2' (June 13), PG
What It's About: Based on Cressida Coswell's best-selling children's book series, "How to Train Your Dragon 2" takes place five years after the events of the first film. There's peace between the dragons and the people of Berk, but when Hiccup and his dragon Toothless stumble upon a secret cave that is home to hundreds of wild dragons, they find themselves having to protect the peace once again.
Why We're Excited: We've been waiting four years to return to the island of Berk with its brave and funny Vikings – and of course Toothless, the most adorable dragon ever to grace the screen. We hope the delay in producing a sequel means the adventure is worth the wait. Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and "Games of Thrones" star Kit Harington join the already-packed voice ensemble of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill and Kristen Wiig.
- 'Earth to Echo' (July 2), PG
What It's About: A group of middle school friends start receiving strange encoded messages on their cell phones after visiting a construction site in their neighborhood. Later they come upon a mysterious little alien they think is "E.T" harmless. But of course the kids (and their little extraterrestrial friend) end up in whole lot of trouble.
Why We're Excited: This looks a whole lot like "E.T." meets "Super-8": a diverse group of young kids (mostly boys) deal with some otherworldly knowledge that could get them killed, or at the very least captured and interrogated. While it's unlikely first-time feature director David Green will strike blockbuster gold quite as effectively as Steven Spielberg, the movie still looks compelling for tweens and young teens.
- 'Planes: Fire & Rescue' (July 18), PG
What It's About: In the second of the DisneyToon Studios' planned "Planes" trilogy, air racer Dusty Crophopper joins an elite crew of firefighting aircraft to protect Piston Peak's National Park from a raging wildfire. The rescue team includes veteran helicopter Blade Ranger, energetic Lil' Dipper, and a group of all-terrain vehicles that race the clock to stop the fire.
Why We're Excited: "Planes" wasn't as popular as Disney Pixar's "Cars" films, but it struck a chord with little vehicle fans who loved the underdog story. The sequel will broaden the "Planes" universe with emergency response aircraft and vehicles that are sure to enthrall young viewers who know the differences between a heavy-lift helicopter and an ex-military transport. "Modern Family" star Julie Bowen (Lil' Dipper) joins Dane Cook as the main voice cast.
- 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' (Aug. 8), PG
What It's About: Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello aren't just the names of Renaissance masters, they're also the names of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the storm sewers of Manhattan to battle the city's evils with the help of their rat sensei, Master Splinter.
Why We're Excited: After "Battle Los Angeles" and "Wrath of the Titans," it's clear director Jonathan Liebesman can handle action, but we're waiting to see what he can do with the beloved comic-book and television heroes of our youth. Starring character actor William Fichtner as the Turtles' arch-nemesis Shredder and Megan Fox as plucky April O'Neil, this could be just what families need toward the end of the summer.
- 'The Giver' (Aug. 15), PG-13
What It's About: In a utopian post-apocalyptic future, young Jonas reaches the coming-of-age milestone of a "life assignment" that gives him his role in society. Chosen to be the "receiver of memory," he's instructed by a Giver on the dark (and very much secret) truths behind his seemingly perfect world.
Why We're Excited: Starring an impressive multi-generational cast (Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard, country star-turned actress Taylor Swift and newcomer Brenton Thwaites), this adaptation has a lot to live up to, since the book has been a children's lit favorite since its publication in 1994. The filmmakers already angered the books fans by casting a 20-something in the lead role (Jonas is supposed to be 12), so a lot's riding on the film.