So, now that it’s sunny and hot outside, what can you slip away to watch while inside where it’s nice and cool? Grab a nicely chilled beverage and let’s see.
The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13, 2006):
Will Smith stars in this film about single dad Chris Gardner who struggles to make ends meet and care for his 5-year-old son while pursuing a better life for the two of them. Along the way, they forge a powerful father-son bond that no misfortune can destroy. Reviewer Adam Holz loved the inspirational focus of this realistic drama, but he warns that the language issues here might keep some families at bay. “What won’t trip them up—and might even breathe new life into their own relationships—is Chris Gardner’s powerful, passionate pursuit of the best life possible for his little boy.”
I Am Legend (PG-13, 2007):
A brilliant scientist, who’s a survivor of a man-made plague that transforms humans into bloodthirsty mutants, works to figure out a solution to the disease. OK, the “bloodthirsty” violence side of this pic may curb its appeal, and there is a little language, too, but there are some positives. Our Paul Asay said: “This Will Smith-fronted tale is all about heroism, selfless sacrifice and final redemption. An enterprising movie buff might even be able to craft an I Am Legend devotional from it.”
And now for something without Will Smith in it, you might consider:
The Terminal (PG-13, 2004):
The story of an Eastern European tourist who arrives at JFK in New York just as war breaks out in his country. And since the US government won’t let him fly, he gets stuck in the terminal … indefinitely. There are sensual elements in the story mix and some two dozen profanities to be wary of. Still, former Plugged In editor Bob Smithouser noted that fans of Tom Hanks films will enjoy his good-guy role in this pic. “That triumphant good-man-against-the-system element is the best part of this touching, poignant, often funny film.”
Spy Kids (PG, 2001):
This pic suggests that kids can be spies, too, silly rabbit. And two youngsters do just that in an attempt to save their parents—who are both ex-spies—from an evil mastermind. OK, don’t come expecting a pic packed with classic spying intrigue. But Bob Smithouser said it “features a stylish mix of James Bond intrigue and gadgetry, plus impressive visual effects and the most psychedelic evil genius with a soft spot for kids since Willie Wonka.”
Rio 2 (G, 2014):
Blue macaws Blu and Jewel are worried that their kids are a little too comfortable in their human city, so they wing off to the Amazon together for a little jungle life tune-up. Sure, a few references to “poo” probably could have been left in the birdcage back home. But as I mentioned in my review, this is a fun pic, “a nice little suet cake that really starts to taste good once it hits its musical theater stride.”
Snow Day (PG, 2000):
As the title suggests, this is a film about kids romping through a day off from school after an unexpected snowstorm hits their hometown. OK, this pic is not quite as special as a real snow day feels, and as Bob Smithouser noted: “Chances are, memories of it will melt away like a 90-minute flurry.” But if you want something to remind you of cooler climes, this might be a watchable ball of fluff to fling during the summer heat.
Nim’s Island (PG, 2008):
Young Nim and her marine-biologist dad live on an exotic island. But when her father goes missing, Nim turns to an adventure writer—who’s really a timid recluse—for help. Nim’s Island, based on a children’s book by Canadian author Wendy Orr, is a little predictable and forced. That said, it’s also a story with clear positive lessons for its young audience members. As I said in my review: “After crashing waves, cracking thunder, erupting volcanoes and even the moments of peaceful tropical splendor, kids will walk out with the message that courage and sacrificial love have important places in our lives.”
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (PG, 2010):
Featuring the voices of Jim Sturgess, Helen Mirren and Sam Neill, this film follows Soren, a young owl enthralled by his father’s epic stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who fought a great battle against evil. This epic fantasy adventure is fun and heroic, but parents will want to be aware that there’s quite a bit of peril in the wing-flapping mix, too. Think of it like Lord of the Rings … with owls.
Step Up (PG-13, 2006):
A young guy is sentenced to 200 hours of community service mopping floors at the Maryland School of the Arts. There, he meets a gifted ballet student who convinces him to help her add hip-hop moves to her classical routines. Christopher Lyons’ review stated, “In creating a film which is aimed deep into the hearts of young girls, Step Up’s creators should be commended for steering their characters clear of any apparent sexual involvement, and for making an effort to pirouette away from MTV-style hyper-sexual grinding on the dance floor. A bit of language (and even less violence) does unnecessarily tromp on your toes, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Midnight in Paris (PG-13, 2011):
The story focuses on a screenwriter and aspiring novelist who goes for a late-night walk in Paris and is swept back in time for a night with some of the Jazz Age’s icons of art and literature. This Woody Allen directed pic is a bit content heavy for the whole family, idolizing the “anything goes” decadence of a 1920s Lost Generation. But for an older viewer or group of viewers, it comes with some thoughtful moments that are clever, relaxed and warmly nostalgic.
Son of God (PG-13, 2014):
Son of God paints the dramatic picture of Jesus arriving in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, performing miracles, and spreading messages of love and hope. This well-made film is pretty much what you’d expect it to be. Our Paul Asay put it this way: “It’s hard to watch the story of Jesus and not be moved in some way. I heard many moviegoers sniffle during the hard-to-watch crucifixion sequence, and a few gasps when our Lord rises again—despite the fact that it surely came as no great surprise. The story has been told so many times, as I’ve said. But even if we’ve heard it a thousand times before, it doesn’t get old. It resurrects itself in each retelling.”