Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (July)
What’s it about? Although technically a literary adaptation, any parent expecting highbrow culture needs to pull the pants from over their eyes. What you can expect from the animated version of Dav Pilkey’s book series is plenty of silliness and the sort of plot that appeals to kids. A couple of fourth graders hypnotise their head teacher into becoming the eponymous superhero to stop a turbo toilet from destroying laughter forever. Yeah, it is that kind of film. It comes from the same studio behind Shrek and How to Train your Dragon and stars hot comic property Kevin Hart so standards should be high.
Watch if you like: Captain Underpants books, Horrid Henry, Trolls, underwear jokes.
Who’s in it? Jordan Peele, Kevin Hart, Nick Kroll.
Cars 3 (July)
What’s it about? Lightning McQueen is back and, we know he is just a talking car in an animated movie about, well, other talking cars, but after seeing the trailer where he flies off the track and gets all smashed up we have to own up to getting a bit emotional. Will he come back? Is he too old? What do cars do after they retire? We’re not going to lie, we’re probably going to end up watching this on replay a thousand times in a year or two, so we’re hoping that the message is that old people/cars can succeed if they just put their minds to it.
Watch if you like: Other Cars movies, Toy Story, underdogs coming good.
Who’s in it? Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Kerry Washington.
Despicable Me 3 (June)
What’s it about? We liked the Minions movie, but consider the babbling yellow sidekicks to be the least enjoyable part of the Despicable Me franchise, so it is nice to be back with Steve Carell’s brilliant Gru. He walks the tightrope between evil and good once again but this time must face up to a more successful, richer and less bald twin brother as he does so.
Watch if you like: Other Despicable Me movies, Minions, James Bond.
Who’s in it? Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Steve Coogan, Jenny Slate.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (June)
What’s it about? As if a wimpy kids don’t have enough to worry about, this cinematic adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s popular book series has faced a backlash before even reaching screens. This is the fourth film in the series, but a whole new cast arrives as the principal characters. That means Greg, Rowley and all the Heffley clan are all changed up for some fresh faces. That is the danger of young actors who age faster than the characters they play, of course. The new cast features Alicia Silverstone as “mom” (come on now, how old does THAT make you feel?!) and sees the usual procession of wimpy awkwardness as the family go on a road trip for granny’s 90th birthday. Lovely.
Watch if you like: Previous Wimpy Kid films, Horrid Henry, Nanny McPhee.
Who’s in it? Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott, Charlie Wright, Jason Drucker, Owen Asztalos.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July)
What’s it about? This is the third different Spider-Man series of the century so far, but unlike other versions the latest iteration will be part of a wider cinematic universe. That means we will see Robert Downey Jr. cracking wise as Iron Man Tony Stark, as well as a few other cameos from familiar superfaces. It will sit between Captain America: Civil War and an upcoming Avengers sequel, but as a one-off it sees Peter Parker trying to balance his life as a high school student and emerging as a crimefighter with incredible powers.
Watch if you like: Movie reboots, Marvel superheroes, spiders.
Who’s in it? Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Michael Keaton, Stan Lee.
The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (August)
What’s it about? The original wasn’t one of the massive animations that are beloved by adults, but kids enjoyed the humans versus animals capers and forced music sequences pushing a Gangnam Style dance-off (presumably at the request of the Korean co-producers). This time round, the plucky park animals are battling with a corrupt mayor. Most of the cast is back and Jackie Chan and Gabriel Iglesias are among the new arrivals. As a street-fighting mouse and tough groundhog, of course.
Watch if you like: The Nut Job, Over the Hedge, Secret Life of Pets.
Who’s in it? Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Jackie Chan, Maya Rudolph.
Transformers: The Last Knight (June)
What’s it about? Multiple Oscar or Emmy-nominated and winning actors Anthony Hopkins, John Turturro, Stanley Tucci and Mark Wahlberg are the human talent sharing screen time with the robot race that keep coming back to Earth to blow things up and disguise themselves as cars. We’ve seen the trailer and it looks to have just as much slow motion-running and robo-scrapping as all the others. Consider it an extended advert for the toys you will be asked to buy later in the year.
Watch if you like: Films about toys, explosions, talking cars.
Who’s in it? Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock.
Wonder Woman (June)
What’s it about? Oh, great, another line of comic book story arc you need to be fluent in or lose the respect of children. Wonder Woman inhabits the same world as Superman and Batman, but this is a story dedicated to her. Gal Gadot plays the Amazonian princess in disguise who leaves her island to help stop World War One. Standard superhero origin plot maybe, but Gadot is great.
Watch if you like: Superhero movies and strong female role models. Turn page 66 for more on why we think you should take your kids to see this film.
Who’s in it? Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, David Thewlis.
AFTER THE SUMMER
Come the autumn, the big family movies won’t stop...
What’s it about? We don’t want to give them an easy ride, but simply seeing the Pixar logo attached to this project is enough to make us interested. The Disney-owned animation studio has earned the right (see below). Here Pixar tells a new story and is bringing new characters for us, probably, to fall in love with. Based on the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead the story sees a 12-year-old boy looking to uncover secrets about his musical father and travelling to other worlds.
Watch if you like: Toy Story, The Book of Life, Spirited Away.
Who’s in it? Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Renee Victor.
What’s it about? Carlos Saldanha adapts the popular children’s novel about a bull who prefers sniffing flowers to fighting. Having already been at the helm of animal animations Ice Age and Rio, the December release seems an assured winner for young children and trailers suggest this will be a charming favourite for younger audiences.
Watch if you like: Ratatouille, Ice Age, Rio, non-violent conflict resolution.
Who’s in it? David Tennant, John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Cannavale.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (December)
What’s it about? Remember Jumanji? When Robin Williams and some kids were transported into a board game? This is a distant sequel-cum-reboot. Updated with Dwayne Johnson and a video game instead of a board game, it looks like being plenty of jungle fun and seems to be an attempt at a new franchise for The Rock.
Watch if you like: Jumanji, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Hook, Zathura.
Who’s in it? Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan.
Justice League (November)
What’s it about? You know how The Avengers brings together different superheroes into a single evil-battling squad? This is just the same, but with better heroes from the DC stable. That means Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and more are all present under one roof. There is some cobblers about them banding together to fight extra-terrestrials but are you really going to an ensemble comic book movie for the plot?
Watch if you like: Superman, Batman, The Avengers.
Who’s in it? Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Jesse Eisenberg.
My Little Pony: The Movie (October)
What’s it about? Any child could like this big-screen story based on the Hasbro toys so we don’t want to generalise. But it is a head start if your kid loves the colour pink, prefers cuddles and fairy dust to war games and toy guns and has already started collecting the mini equine toys. If that sounds like your offspring then an all-star cast awaits for a story about Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash and more Ponyville favourites on a journey to save their kingdom.
Watch if you like: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Lego: Friends, loving things.
Who’s in it? Zoe Saldana, Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Sia.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December)
What’s it about? This really needs no introduction. Children, and parents who grew up with the original trilogy, have been waiting for the latest instalment in the saga since seeing a bearded Luke Skywalker take delivery of a lightsaber in The Force Awakens. Will be one of the biggest films of the year and keep up the current run rate of a Star Wars movie every year.
Watch if you like: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One, epic sci-fi.
Who’s in it? Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver.
The Lego Ninjago Movie (October)
What’s it about? A spin-off movie of a spin-off toy line. The folks behind The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie are involved in this so expect it to be closer in style to those cinematic releases than the Netflix TV series based on the same characters. That means we can look forward to lots of ironic humour, quirky asides and knowing jokes for adults. This time the action does not focus on the wider Lego world so cameos are kept to a minimum and instead focuses on a more linear storyline centred around Lego ninjas defeating monsters and riding dragons. While non-too subtly brainwashing kids with toy ideas as well.
Watch if you like: The Lego Movie, Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, Angry Birds: The Movie.
Who’s in it? Olivia Munn, Justin Theroux, Dave Franco, Jackie Chan.
What’s on TV?
There are also some real highlights to look out for on streaming TV services this summer...
You know how you love to stream a full series after the kids have gone to bed? It is just the same for the little ones, too. Check out these new Netflix Originals available in the UAE.
Buddy Thunderstruck: When kids are barraged with 3D and modern animation, there is something charming about this stop-motion animation comedy. The visuals have a kitsch retro appeal but the humour is all 2017.
Legend Quest: If there are two things that kids love on screen it is legends and quests. Throw in some ghosts, wacky humour and a cast of quirky characters and attention will be rapt throughout the summer with this animated fantasy comedy-horror.
Tarzan and Jane: It seems every generation has its own retelling of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan story. The latest is a computer animation from the same folk that made the Kong: King of the Apes series. Expect the whole story to be updated as Tarzan battles foes in jungles urban and, er, jungly.
Trollhunters: This big-budget animated Netflix and DreamWorks collaboration has the voice talents of Kelsey Grammer and the late Anton Yelchin and is created by Guillermo del Toro. The story is all trolls, knights and comedy and it is a noticeable step up in quality with A-list talent.
Pixar is the animation studio behind the most imaginative, beloved and cross-generationally appealing films of the past few decades. Since Academy Awards began recognising animated films as a category in 2001, Pixar has scooped the top award eight times with the next closest, Disney, at just three. OSN will celebrate the films of Disney Pixar with a special pop-up channel running from June 23-July 28. That means a total of 13 Pixar movies will be available over the course of three weekends. In real terms that means a movie marathon including the Toy Story trilogy, the Finding Nemo series, Wall-E, Up and Cars. OSN Movies Disney Pixar could save you a fortune in DVD and cinema costs. See www.osn.com for details.