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9 New Movies To Take the Grandkids to This Summer

Mark your calendars and grab those tickets — these films are fun for our generation and theirs!

spinner image Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie singing in a car in the film Barbie; Spider-Man webslinging in the air in the animated film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Left to right: Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in "Barbie"; Miles Morales as Spider-Man (voiced by Shameik Moore) in "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse."
Warner Bros. Pictures; Sony Pictures Animation

School’s out for summer — which means plenty of time to hang out with the grandkids. If the air-conditioned pull of the cinema is calling you or you want to invite them over for a new movie that’s streaming, this season’s schedule of new releases is filled with films that have cross-generational appeal. You won’t have to grit your teeth through childish storylines, and they won’t be bored by a plot that’s too convoluted or grown-up. Here, the ultimate summer movie list to keep your whole family satisfied.

If the grandkids are in grade school …

Elemental (PG, June 16)

The premise: Pixar has become synonymous with multigenerational delights, and that streak is sure to continue with this high-concept animated comedy set in Element City, which is populated by fire, water, land and air residents. Korean American director Peter Sohn (who helmed Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur) was inspired by the multicultural New York City of his youth, and the story follows the budding — if a bit unconventional — relationship between the fiery Ember Lumen (voiced by Leah Lewis) and the watery Wade Ripple (Mamoudou Athie).

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Why they’ll love it: Expect plenty of kid-friendly puns and physical comedy, such as when a water resident gets sucked up into a sponge or a baby fire resident is pushed around in a BBQ-shaped stroller and fed with lighter fluid. 

Why you’ll love it: Sohn has credited romances like Guess Who’s Coming to DinnerMy Big Fat Greek Wedding and Moonstruck as inspirations.

Watch it: Elemental, June 16 in theaters

World’s Best (PG, June 23)

The premise: You might know actor Utkarsh Ambudkar from his role on the CBS sitcom Ghosts, and he takes on a spirited role of his own in this hip-hop musical comedy, which he cowrote, coproduced and costars in. As 12-year-old math whiz Prem Patel (Manny Magnus) deals with the stresses of adolescence, he discovers that his late father, Suresh (Ambudkar), was an up-and-coming rapper. With the help of his dad’s ghostly presence, Prem decides to follow in his footsteps to see if rap is really in his DNA. World’s Best represents the first time a South Asian family has been the centerpiece of a Disney movie.

Why they’ll love it: The school-set musical numbers are heaps of fun, and Prem’s classmates are scene-stealing stars.

Why you’ll love it: Ambudkar used to perform with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s improv hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme (and even played Aaron Burr in developmental readings of Hamilton!), and he cowrote the catchy tunes in the film.

Watch it: World’s Best, June 23 on Disney+

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (PG, June 30)

The premise: In this DreamWorks Animation coming-of-age comedy, 16-year-old Ruby Gillman (voiced by Lana Condor) breaks her mom’s one rule: Never get in the water at the beach. When she does, she quickly finds out that she’s actually part of a long line of krakens, and she’s destined to inherit the throne from her grandmother, the Warrior Queen of the Seven Seas. Making matters even more complicated is a new popular girl at school named Chelsea (Schitt’s Creek Emmy winner Annie Murphy) who happens to be a mermaid — the sworn enemies of the krakens.

Why they’ll love it: Condor is a favorite from Netflix’s To All the Boys young-adult rom-com trilogy. 

Why you’ll love it: Ruby’s regal grandma is voiced by none other than Hollywood royalty Jane Fonda, 85. 

Watch it: Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken, June 30 in theaters

If the grandkids are in junior high … 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (PG, in theaters now)

The premise: An Oscar winner for best animated feature, the 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse introduced moviegoers to Brooklyn teen Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), who becomes the new Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider and is thrust into a multiverse populated by other spidery superheroes. This blockbuster sequel ups the ante with a rich subplot about Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), who serves as Spider-Woman on another version of Earth, plus a slew of other alternate Spider-Men and -Women played by the likes of Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya and Oscar Isaac. You’ll definitely want to brush up on the original before tackling the sequel, but the screenwriters are skilled at making these surprisingly twisty concepts go down easy.

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Why they’ll love it: Chances are they already love Miles Morales, who deals with relatable problems like crushes and family pressures when he’s not battling baddies.

Why you’ll love it: The eclectic animation style incorporates vintage comic book elements that might remind you of superheroes from your own childhood.

Watch it: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse in theaters

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (PG-13, June 30)

The premise: Harrison Ford, 80, returns for his fifth go-around as the swashbuckling archaeologist in this 1969-set sequel. Threatened with forced retirement, Indy teams up with his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge) to retrieve a mystical dial that can change the course of history. The mission sees him squaring off against Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen, 57), a former Nazi–turned–NASA scientist who hopes to use the Apollo moon landing program for nefarious goals. The Indiana Jones franchise directly led to the creation of the PG-13 rating, which this film also carries; chances are you’ve seen enough of his exploits to know if your grandkid can handle this level of action-packed mayhem.

Why they’ll love it: Indiana Jones action sequences have a way of getting the adrenaline pumping no matter your age.

Why you’ll love it: A journalist at Cannes told Ford, who goes shirtless in the film, that he’s still “very hot” — if you’re into that sort of thing.

Watch it: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, June 30 in theaters

Haunted Mansion (PG-13, July 28)

The premise: The second movie based on the beloved Disneyland attraction of the same name, Haunted Mansion earned a PG-13 rating from the MPAA — but if your grandkids can handle the similarly rated Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, they should be fine. When Gabbie (Rosario Dawson) and her son (Chase W. Dillon) move into a spooky old house, they turn to a team of experts to help exorcise the ghosts who are harassing them: a priest (Owen Wilson, 54), a psychic (Tiffany Haddish), a paranormal tour guide (LaKeith Stanfield) and a history professor (Danny DeVito, 78).

Why they’ll love it: Kids of all ages will love picking out characters and scenes from the ride.

Why you’ll love it: Recent Oscar and AARP Movies for Grownups Career Achievement Award winner Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, plays Madame Leota, the iconic talking head inside the crystal ball.

Watch it: Haunted Mansion, July 28 in theaters

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​​If the grandkids are in high school … 

Asteroid City (PG-13, June 16)

The premise: Writer-director Wes Anderson, 54, brings his eccentric and diorama-like vision to the American Southwest in this quirky 1950s-set comedy that takes place in and around a Junior Stargazers convention. True to form, Anderson has assembled an expansive ensemble, this one comprising kid brainiacs and their parents, a Hollywood starlet (Scarlett Johansson), a motel manager (Steve Carell, 60), a scientist (Tilda Swinton, 62), a TV host (Bryan Cranston, 67) and more.

Why they’ll love it: Wes Anderson–inspired TikToks — with plenty of symmetry, rich colors, deadpan humor and retro music — have been all the rage on the social media platform, and your grandkid will certainly appreciate mining the film for new ideas.

Why you’ll love it: Tom Hanks, 66, makes his debut in the Wes Anderson Cinematic Universe, joining a crew of regulars and newcomers. 

Watch it: Asteroid City, June 16 in theaters

Theater Camp (PG-13, July 14)

The premise: Broadway fans of all ages will get a kick out of this heavily improvised Sundance comedy about the ragtag staff of an Upstate New York theater camp who must fight to keep the doors open when their founder (Amy Sedaris, 62) falls into a coma. The tone is reminiscent of comedies like Waiting for Guffman and Wet Hot American Summer with a game-for-anything ensemble cast. Booksmart breakout Molly Gordon codirects the film with Nick Lieberman from a script they wrote alongside Tony winner Ben Platt and his fiancé, Noah Galvin (The Good Doctor).

Why they’ll love it: Thespians past and present will chuckle at all the inside jokes about putting on a show.

Why you’ll love it: If you watch prestige television, you’ll probably recognize a few cast members, including Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) and Patti Harrison (Shrill).

Watch it: Theater Camp, July 14 in theaters

Barbie (PG-13, July 21)

The premise: Sure, it’s a movie about perhaps the most iconic toy of the 20th century, but don’t let all that pink fool you: This is a subversive PG-13-rated comedy from Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig, partially inspired by Mary Pipher’s nonfiction book Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling) leave behind the perfection of Barbieland to explore the real world, where they run into employees from Mattel, played by America Ferrera and Will Ferrell, 55.

Why they’ll love it: Pop-culture-obsessed viewers will get a kick out of recognizing all the buzzy actresses playing various iterations of the iconic doll, including Dua Lipa as Mermaid Barbie, Insecure’s Issa Rae as President Barbie, Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlin as Diplomat Barbie, Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon as Weird Barbie …

Why you’ll love it: The witty, reference-filled script was cowritten by Gerwig and her Oscar-nominated partner, Noah Baumbach, 53.

Watch it: Barbie, July 21 in theaters

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