From ‘Finding Dory’ to ‘The BFG’ to ‘Ghostbusters': Preparing Your Kids for the Summer Blockbusters

The-BFGIt’s risky to bring your kids to the movie theaters, especially the younger ones. One temper tantrum and that’s $10 down the drain. So here is one media-savvy mom’s proactive way to get the kids excited and emotionally invested in the film beforehand, so you get your money’s worth!

If you do a little research, a lot of these of the big family blockbusters have a prequel to it, or a book that it’s based on. It’s worth it to read or watch these with your kids. That way, they will know the characters and their world when they go into the movie. (Or if they aren’t interested, you’ve saved yourself the hassle of taking them in the first place.)

“Finding Dory”: Opens on Friday June 17th.  For those of you planning to see “Finding Dory,” its beautiful predecessor, “Finding Nemo” is a must-see.  It’s the story of Marlin a widowed clownfish whose only surviving son gets lost, and he ends up finding Nemo with the help of the sweet but forgetful blue tang fish, Dory. Along the way, it provides a beautiful lesson for parents who want to learn where to draw the line on overprotectiveness. In this upcoming sequel, Marlin and Nemo try to help Dory find her family, which she had already lost before she met Nemo and Marlin in the first movie, due to her deplorable short-term memory.

Click here to read our previous post on “Finding Dory,” which includes links to reviews, including a Catholic one.

The BFG”: The beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl comes out as a movie on Friday, July 1. I remember having that book read to me in my first-grade class in the early 1980s, so I am particularly excited to read this to my kids. Especially exciting is that the payoff for them will be to get to see a hit Stephen Spielberg film starring Oscar-award-winning Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) turned into a giant with the latest technology. (Interestingly enough, that was a role that was being primed for the late Robin Williams, which would have altered the tone of the movie significantly).

It’s the story of a caring, compassionate, non-cannibalistic Giant able to give children pleasant dreams, who snatches orphan girl Sophie. A friendship forms between them, whilst the BFG’s fellow giants become a threat to Sophie. In order to end Cannibalism once and for all, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Victoria to get rid of Giants once and for all. This movie is rated PG, but contains cannibalistic giants that might scare the younger kids, but you can test it out on your kids with the book.

Then there’s Ghostbusters, the third of its kind. This time it’s a version featuring Kate McKinnon, a female member of the “Saturday Night Live” cast. Interestingly enough, its 1984 and 1989 male predecessors consisted of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, also “SNL” cast members of their time. Also starring are former “Mike & Molly” star Melissa McCarthy and Chris Hemsworth, along with “Ghostbusters” original cast members Murray, Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson.

The last two films were about three eccentric scientists and former university professors who set up Ghostbusters, a business specializing in the service of trapping pesky ghosts, spirits, haunts, and poltergeists. The new Ghostbusters has a very similar premise, but this time these are females that are shunned out of academia and forced to save New York City from a poltergeist uprising. The ghosts could scare the little ones. I remember being seven years old and scared myself.  But again, rent out the original and see for yourself – some kids are braver than you – or they – think.

Two more remakes to look into are “Pete’s Dragon” – another Disney, whose original was made in 1977 – and “Ice Age: Collision Course,” a franchise which has been known to contain some adult innuendos, but double meaning will often pass undetected by our innocent little ones.

Too many books, films, and comics to count have come before “The Legend of Tarzan.” (This is the 19th film of its kind, according to Wikipedia). In cases such as these, I like to go to the original book. This time, it’s a novel called “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. For the little ones, the 1999 animated Disney version, voiced by Tony Goldwyn might be more age-appropriate (though little ones always love being read to).  However, speaking of age-appropriateness, this film version is PG-13, and probably isn’t for the little ones. But take your teens out for a treat with this one.

Prepping your kids before hitting the theater can be a good method to use the media as a way to teach our kids that some of the most lucrative pop-culture is grounded in a tradition of great literature. Imparting the knowledge of the origins behind these blockbusters will then make this expensive trip to the movies a great occasion for educational and cultural enrichment.

But, all pretenses aside, the kids will be more focused on the movie, giving us parents something that we all long for … a much-deserved break!

Here are some trailers:

Image: Courtesy Walt Disney Company

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