Summer Kids Movies: New Releases, Park, Dive-In and Drive-In

Summer Kids Movies in Kansas CityWHAT TO SEE
Before you take your kids to see any of these films, check out Common Sense Media’s reviews for a complete description of what to expect to determine if they are right for your child. Follow the title links below for some fun interactive sites (some have games for kids)! Here’s what to see when it’s hot outside and time for a cool, dark theater:

The Jungle Book (PG, Disney) – Friday, April 15.
Although this is a pre-summer release, it should still be in theaters this summer, and it’s awesome!
Check out all the versions (at all age levels) of this classic story you can read to your kids before seeing this movie here! They can watch Disney’s animated 1967 version for them to watch, too; you should be able to check this one out from any of the local KC libraries for free.

The Jungle Book is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. 

The Little Prince (PG, Paramount Pictures) – Friday, March 18 (Should also be in theaters this summer after it’s early spring release… and might make a wonderful Redbox rental for a summer night at home!)

Another beautiful story based on a classic children’s book that you can read to your kids before you see the movie, and it too has previously live-action (1974) and animated version (1982), so you can make it an event! Even adapted for stage and opera, the story centers on a pilot who crash-lands in the Sahara desert and comes across a little boy who says he is a prince fallen to Earth from his home on an asteroid. As the pilot repairs his plane, the little prince regales him with stories about his home and the foolish inhabitants of nearby asteroids. As of April 2016, this movie is hard to find in the KC area, but look for it again in theaters and on DVD this summer because it’s French release was an enormous success! 

Ratchet & Clank (PG, Gramercy Pictures) – Friday, April 29

Ratchet & Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind — a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, they will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity. 

Angry Birds (Sony Pictures) – Friday, May 20

The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to. 

Alice Through the Looking Glass (PG, Disney) – Friday, May 27

The THIRD on our list of classic books adapted to film, Alice Through the Looking Glass is a book to read together before seeing this promising movie! It’s also been made into film many times before 2016!

Alice Kingsleigh (Wasikowska) has spent the past few years following in her father’s footsteps and sailing the high seas. Upon her return to London, she comes across a magical looking glass and returns to the fantastical realm of Underland and her friends the White Rabbit (Sheen), Absolem (Rickman), the Cheshire Cat (Fry) and the Mad Hatter (Depp), who is not himself. The Hatter has lost his Muchness, so Mirana (Hathaway) sends Alice on a quest to borrow the Chronosphere, a metallic globe inside the chamber of the Grand Clock which powers all time. Returning to the past, she embarks on a perilous race to save the Hatter before time runs out. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (not rated yet, Paramount) – Friday, June 3

More adventures with turtle crime fighters Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.

Finding Dory (Disney) – Friday, June 17th

Does your brood love Finding Nemo? Do you have a little who wasn’t around for Finding Nemo? It’s another family multiple movie event! Finding Dory takes place about a year after the first film, and features returning favorites Marlin, Nemo and the Tank Gang, among others. 

The BFG (not rated yet, Disney) – Friday, July 1st

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s 1982 novel, this marks Steven Spielberg’s first time directing a Disney-branded movie. BFG’s budget is said to be in the $100 million to $125 million range.

The BFG (Mark Rylance) is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming. But Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. 

The Secret Life of Pets (not yet rated, Universal Pictures) – Friday, July 8

Set in a Manhattan apartment building, after the two-legged residents head for work and school, their pets gather to trade humiliating stories about their owners and help each other work up adorable looks that will lead to more snacks. The head hound is a quick-witted terrier rescue (voiced by Louis C.K.), whose position at the epicenter of his master’s universe is suddenly threatened when she comes home with Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet), a sloppy mongrel with no polish. 

Ice Age 5: Collision Course (not rated yet, 20th Century Fox) – Friday, July 22

Scrat’s epic pursuit of the elusive acorn catapults him into the universe where he accidentally sets off a series of cosmic events that transform and threaten the Ice Age World. To save themselves, Sid, Manny, Diego, and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on a quest full of comedy and adventure, traveling to exotic new lands and encountering a host of colorful new characters. 

Bad Moms, (likely rated R) – July 29 – We know, we know… it’s not a kids’ movie, but we’re throwing this in as a must-see for moms!

In this new comedy from the writers of The Hangover, Amy has a seemingly perfect life – a great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home and a career. However she’s over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities – going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.

Nine Lives (PG, EuropaCorp) – Friday, August 5 

Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a daredevil billionaire at the top of his game. But Tom’s workaholic lifestyle has disconnected him from his family, particularly his beautiful wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and his adoring daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman). Rebecca’s 11th birthday is here, and she wants the gift she wants every year, a cat. Tom hates cats, but he is without a gift and time is running out. His GPS directs him to a mystical pet store brimming with odd and exotic cats – where the store’s eccentric owner – Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken), presents him with a majestic tomcat, named Mr. Fuzzypants. En route to his daughter’s party, Tom has a terrible accident. When he regains consciousness he discovers that somehow, he has become trapped inside the body of the cat. 

Pete’s Dragon (PG, Disney) – Friday, August 12

Another potentially beautiful remake! Here’s the 1977 version that all of us mommies grew up with to share with your kids before taking them see this new version.

For years, old wood carver Mr. Meacham (Robert Redford) has delighted local children with his tales of the fierce dragon that resides deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. To his daughter, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), who works as a forest ranger, these stories are little more than tall tales… until she meets Pete (Oakes Fegley). Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. With the help of Natalie (Oona Laurence), an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack (Wes Bentley) owns the local lumber mill, Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon. 

Kubo and the Two Strings (not rated yet, Focus Features) – Friday, August 19

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and Kamekichi (Brenda Vaccaro). But his quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family and fulfill his heroic destiny. 


Indoor Movies

AMC Theaters have fresh popcorn, empty theaters, and super low ticket prices on weekday mornings. I don’t think it’s cheating that I pack a couple of gallon plastic bags and plastic cups with tops for the kids to split up the #1 Large Popcorn and Soda deal. We change up which flavor of Sprite we put in our drink each time for novelty. Popcorn is free refills! For an extra dose of preparation, download the AMC app so you can purchase tickets ahead of time and reserve your seats before you arrive. Most AMC theaters have those awesome reclining seats – enough said.

Dickinson B&B Theatres will be repeating their Summer Vacation Movie Series at all of the big four metro locations, and on Saturday mornings, they even have special 2016 new release showings for viewers with sensory needs (got a kid with SPD or ASD?). The Movie Series are movies from SummerKids10amthe last 2-3 years shown at 10 a.m. ONLY every Monday – Thursday for 8 weeks of the summer. Tickets are $3 each or $2 for Backstage Pass members. Retro Nights (generally the 2nd Thursday each month) usually have kid-appropriate shows for $5.

NOTE: Great Mall Theatre (20060 W. 151st Olathe) is PERMANENTLY CLOSED.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse at Merriam  and Palace at the Plaza play kids movies (rated G or PG) starting in June and running through August. Tickets are $1/person at the box office, or you can buy advanced passes for $5 and see 10 movies over the summer!

Alamo Drafthouse in Power & Light $11.50 for 6+ years, At variable times throughout the year, Alamo Drafthouse shows what they consider old school Saturday morning cartoons! This isn’t a summer movie special, but it’s so cool, it’s worth mentioning!

Outdoor Movies
Bring a blanket and/or chairs. Arrive early enough to get a good spot. Pack fun snacks (some locations provide concessions). Bring bug spray! Glow sticks as bracelets or necklaces are a good idea. After it gets dark, you’ll want to be able to see your kids. Put the kids in their pajamas and bring something they love to cuddle with. Most of these places prohibit alcoholic beverages. For a full list of summer outdoor movies and theater options see the KCMB Summer Guide

DIVE-In Movies
Splash around in a cool swimming pool while you watch a movie on a huge poolside screen! Check out these locations for dates in 2016:

DRIVE-In Movies

Library Movie Days

  • Kansas City Public Library offers Movies at the Library. These movies are a bit more teen or adult appropriate, but occasionally there is a good kids movie.

… AND FINALLY: Fast Forward to FALL 2016!

Vanessa Knight
Vanessa Knight has been a part of the Kansas City community for 11 years (a native Texan), living in the Overland Park area with husband Josh, two children (Sophie is 6, Jude is 5), and three Labradors. A clinical marriage and family counselor serving the area, Vanessa works with those who hurt from life experiences, relationships or trauma, helping both individuals and families to love ( When she's not working, Vanessa's favorite stay-at-home things are Sequence, puzzles, picnics on the Nelson-Atkins Museum lawn, messy art projects, and trampoline jumping!


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