Great Summer Movies for Kids and Families

Celebrate No School and Fun in the Sun

School's out and it's time to celebrate? These relatively recent summer-themed movies are fun for kids and families, and perfect for a warm weather movie night or an end of the school year celebration party. Or, you can always watch one even if you are just pining for warmer weather! Presented in order of age recommendation, this list has something on it for families with kids from preschool age to teens.

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Rio (2011)
Rio (2011). Amazon

It's Real in Rio! Featuring colorful characters, vibrant animation, and a lively beat, Rio is full of sun and sand, and it's a film the whole family can enjoy. The spice and flavor of the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro, heat up this festive flick and add a rich cultural backdrop that is both interesting and educational. Download our Rio Movie Scavenger Hunt to help kids focus in on the cultural and geographical elements of the movie. They will have fun learning while they watch! (Rated G, recommended for ages 4+) More »

School's out and Judy Moody is ready for a thrilladelic summer full of awesome adventures! But, when she finds out that her parents are going away and she and her little brother will be left at home with Aunt Opal, Judy's hopes for the summer are crushed. After a few depressed "roars," Judy pulls herself out of it and determines to have the most thrill points for summer adventures no matter what. Based on the popular Judy Moody books, this movie will thrill school-age kids, especially those who are fans of the series. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 6+)

Featuring the song "Summertime" by Bridgit Mendler, The Secret World of Arrietty tells the story of a tiny girl with a big heart. The movie is based on the book "The Borrowers," about tiny people who live under the floorboards and borrow what they need to survive from human beings. When a boy named Sean comes to stay for a time at the house in the country where his mother grew up, he finds out that the stories about little people his mother told him were true. Meeting Sean changes Arrietty's life forever, and she changes his life too. (Rated G, recommended for ages 6+)

Celebrate summer with a "garden variety" spin on the famous Shakespearean tale, presenting the not-so-tragic, in this case, a love story about finding love and overcoming hate. Featuring classic and newer Elton John music, this delightfully funny and kid friendly flick has a plastic pink flamingo character. What says summer better than that? (Rated G, recommended for ages 4+)

Presented in animated documentary style, Surf's Up tells the story of Cody, a penguin from a small fishing town who dreams of becoming a surfing champion like his idol, the late Big Z. The documentary follows Cody as he makes the journey to Pen Gu Island to compete in the Big Z Memorial Surf Off. Sand, sun and a lot of surprises greet Cody, and he has an experience that is completely different than he expected. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 5+)

Based on a true story, Dolphin Tale follows the progress of a dolphin named Winter who lost her tail which was injured when she got caught in a fishing net. Despite her disability, Winter survived and eventually thrived. In the movie, a boy named Sawyer who is in summer school finds the dolphin all tangled up in a fishing net. The good people from the Clearwater Marine Hospital take the dolphin to their facility, where Sawyer faithfully visits Winter and becomes friends with a girl named Hazel and her family. Winter the dolphin inspires Sawyer and others to overcome their own personal trials. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 5+)

The Perfect Game is all about baseball -- America's favorite summertime sport. In 1957, the Monterrey Industrial Little League traveled all the way from their homes in Mexico to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, with a big and seemingly impossible dream. The determined group of players won the series with a perfect game. The movie is based on this true story and is inspiring to watch. The story also provides a great springboard to talk about topics such as racism (the boys are discriminated against), religion and overcoming trials. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 8+ due to some thematic material)

Soul Surfer
Photo © Sony Pictures. All rights reserved.

Starring AnnaSophia Robb, Soul Surfer tells the inspiring true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton. Bethany loved surfing more than anything and was on track to become a true surfing champion, but tragedy struck and a devastating shark attack left her wondering if she would ever be able to surf again. Full of determination, a lot of faith in God, and hope, Bethany relearned her favorite sport and succeeded despite her disability. The Blu-ray special features introduce viewers to the real Bethany Hamilton and also include making-of features. Although the shark attack is handled delicately, young viewers may be frightened or disturbed by the scene. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 8+) More »

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High School Musical 2 (2007)

High School Musical 2 DVD
Photo © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

In the mood for a kid friendly summer romance? Break out the old copy of HSM2 and relive the memories of Troy and Gabriella's summer with the rest of the Wildcats. Sharpay sets her sights on Troy and cooks up a scheme to get him a summer job at daddy's country club in Lava Springs. But, Troy gets all his friends, including girlfriend Gabriella, a job there too, ruining Sharpay's scheme. She determines to get her way, no matter what. (Rated TV-G, recommended for kids 8+)

Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song presents a touching and meaningful glimpse of life and love and is summer teen romance at it's best. Ronnie is a somewhat misguided teen who is only sure about one thing: visiting her father for the summer is not her idea of fun. She and her little brother arrive to spend the summer in her father's small beach-side community, and she acts rebelliously, though she is a good girl at heart. She begins to develop a friendship/romance with a boy named Will. When she learns the devastating truth about her father's health, Ronnie's life changes forever, and she learns a lot about who she really is and what she wants. (Rated PG, recommended for ages 12+ due to heavy thematic material)