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The ten best films for kids this summer

A bumper crop of brilliant, family-friendly movies is hitting cinemas

Written by
Cath Clarke
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From the magic of Steven Spielberg’s ‘The BFG’ to things going repeatedly bang in the ‘Independence Day’ sequel, it’s looking like a vintage summer for children’s film. So forget about smearing suncream onto squirming little wrigglers and grab a giant box of popcorn.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the summer holidays in London

The Secret Life of Pets (U)
  • Film
  • Animation
What do our pets get up to when we shut the front door and go off to work or school? This new cartoon from the gang behind ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Minions’ follows loyal mutt Max on an adventure in New York City. If the film is half as sweet and witty as the trailer, ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ will be a winner.
Ice Age: Collision Course (tbc)
  • Film
  • Animation
If it ain’t broke… The ‘Ice Age’ franchise is back with film number five. ‘Collision Course’ finds our prehistoric heroes (Ray the woolly mammoth, Sid the sloth and Diego the sabre-toothed tiger) still searching for a new homeland. Kids are unlikely to pick up any natural history lessons, but all the ‘Ice Age’ films have been fun so far.
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The BFG (tbc)
  • Film
  • Fantasy
From ‘ET’ to ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, Steven Spielberg is the creator of some of the most beloved kids’ films. This adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s masterpiece has been a labour of love for the director, who casts Mark Rylance as the Big Friendly Giant. The reviews have been glowing, making ‘The BFG’ this summer’s don’t-miss.
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Finding Dory (U)
  • Film
  • Animation
Pixar’s latest is a welcome follow-up to 2003’s ‘Finding Nemo’. The animation studio has a hit-and-miss record when it comes to sequels, but even a B-game Pixar movie is packed with more personality than most kids’ films. The new fishy tale follows the adventures of Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), an adorably ditzy fish searching for her family. A warning: if your kids are easily upset they’ll be weeping buckets.
Swallows and Amazons (tbc)
  • Film
  • Family and kids
Arthur Ransome’s 1930 children’s classic about two groups of kids boating in the Lake District gets a big-screen BBC adaptation. The filmmakers have changed the name of young able-seaman Titty (she’s now called Tatty) so there will be no sniggering at the back.
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Central Intelligence (12A)
  • Film
  • Comedy
This buddy-cop-comedy is definitely for older kids (rated 12A for ‘moderate sex references, violence, infrequent strong language’). Ex-wrestler Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, plays a tough CIA officer who was overweight and bullied at school. After reconnecting with former popular kid Calvin, now an accountant (Kevin Hart), he embroils the pair of them in an international espionage plot.
The Legend of Tarzan (12A)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
If your kids found ‘The Jungle Book’ remake too scary, have a look at the trailer before taking them to see this live-action Tarzan reboot. Rated 12A (for moderate action violence), this looks like a pretty dark version of the story with a frequently shirtless Alexander Skarsgård’s as Tarzan, returning to the jungle after living the aristocratic high-life in London.
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Independence Day: Resurgence (12A)
  • Film
  • Action and adventure
It’s been 20 years since Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved the world (or the bits of it that alien invaders didn’t smash to smithereens). So kids might need an afternoon in front of the telly to catch up with the original. Grab the front row to make the most of the super-sized effects.
Blinky Bill The Movie (tbc)
  • Film
  • Animation
This gentle Aussie animation follows cheeky little koala bear Blinky who embarks on a grand adventure in the Outback to find his dad. The film is based on a classic series of stories by Dorothy Wall.

Or catch up with a classic

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