Summertime usually means trips to the pool, the beach, and to the baseball diamond. But it also means that the studios target summer vacation for films they think families will enjoy. Does that mean every film marketed to families is really what families want to see? And what might be a few films that are worth considering that aren’t getting the major ad push? Dove.org offers you a few films to potentially add to your summer calendar.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
The fourth installment of Disney/Pixar’s pairing of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (well, at least their voices) finds Woody and Buzz Lightyear educating Forky, a plastic fork turned into a toy by the original toys’ second owner, Bonnie. While they try to teach Forky about how to be a toy, they must also protect him from the dangers of the world at large. For the adults, new additions vocally are provided by some big names like Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, and Christina Hendricks. Grab a quick recap of the previous films (Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, all Dove Approved for all ages) and head to the theater for what will probably be another blend of hijinks and tissue-swabbing.
Yesterday (June 28)
While the proposed storyline - a struggling singer wakes up in a post-accident world where only he remembers the music of the Beatles - screams original, it’s the direction of Danny Boyle (Millions, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) that makes this one a sneaky pick for some summer quality at the movies for discerning viewers. The other films that Boyle has made involve a fair amount of existential crisis and strong morality to make for good discussion starters, around class, wealth, and more. Here, some lyrical plagiarism looks to lend itself to questions about identity against a solid soundtrack. Ed Sheeran makes an appearance! [In August, Blinded by the Light shows us a based-on-a-true-story look at an Indian man who finds himself seeking out The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, in America.]
Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2)
While there are other summer hero blockbusters, Peter Parker’s teenage struggle with responsibility simply never gets old. Written and directed by Jon Watts, who held the same responsibility with Spider-Man: Homecoming, the film follows Parker on a field trip to Europe as he mourns the death of … someone who died during the events of Avengers: Endgame (look, no spoilers here!) What better way to discuss the responsibilities of growing up than a fantasy-laden superhero trying to be a ‘normal’ teenager?
The Lion King (July 19)
Disney’s next live-action remake, fresh on the heels of Aladdin and the ears of Dumbo, finds Simba mourning the loss of his dad and struggling with his ascension to the role of ruler. Of course Pumbaa and Timon show up again to provide some moral support, and comic levity. This time around, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodward, John Oliver, Beyonce, and Keegan Michael-Key join James Earl Jones, who reprises his previous role from the animated original. Disney has successfully delivered their previous stories with new twists that challenge and encourage audiences so the circle of life should come back around here.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (August 9)
Have you ever seen Dora and Boots on Nickelodeon? This live-action remake of the animated show looks hilarious from its trailer, with big named stars like Michael Pena, Eva Longoria, Benecio del Toro, and Danny Trejo playing notable roles. Here, Dora’s parents send her to the city instead of hunting treasure with them in the jungle (she gets to see Diego!) but when they’re kidnapped, she leads a few other teenagers in a desperate attempt to find them. We’ll stay hopeful that this keeps the family friendliness of some other remakes, and doesn’t go the remake of Jumanji route.
Angry Birds 2 (August 14)
In the world of movies based on videogames… Angry Birds was okay. But the film followed around the birds from the hit app and showed us something about teamwork, family, and dealing with your own emotions. Comedians and actors Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage voice characters, drawing in the older viewers, but this time, the audience can expect some bird-pig bonding when a new threat emerges. An interesting aside is the conversations in the car afterward about how to deal with one’s anger (or other emotions) the way that Red must learn how to deal with his own explosiveness as he began in the first film.
Stay tuned this summer for more reviews of these films at Dove.org!