We – parents, grandparents, educators, librarians, community leaders – can preach the gospel of “summer reading” all we want, but we know there is a stealthy underbelly of summer recreation that can, and will, steal our children’s interests regardless of our best intentions and busy trips to the library: the summer movie.
So, this summer, why not embrace some big screen entertainment while planting the subtle seeds that may one day bloom into curiosity for reading? As luck, or Hollywood, will have it, there are quite a few motion pics this season that are based on books, some beloved, some revered, and some just good fun.
For the younger ones:
Epic – An animated film based on children’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce. You may recognize the voices of Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari, and Amanda Seyfriend. Rated PG.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – The adventures of the half-blood Percy (son of a human mother and Poseidon) continue as the second book in Rick Riordan’s series comes to life on the big screen. The series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, has been wildly popular with the 9-13 year old reader and the film should be as popular as the 2010 release Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, although Lightning Thief’s director Chris Columbus has been replaced by young Thor Freudenthal, known for Diary of a Whimpy Kid and Hotel for Dogs. Rated PG.
For older youth:
World War Z – Based on the popular young adult book by Max Brooks, this thriller recounts the stories of eyewitnesses and survivors in a post-apocalyptic world after a plague leaves many dead – and undead. The movie stars Brad Pitt and features music by uber-popular band Muse. Directed by Marc Forster whose credits include the Bond movie Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner, and Monster’s Ball. Rated PG-13.
R.I.P.D. – Based on the comic book Rest in Peace Department by Peter Lenkov, this action thriller stars Ryan Reynolds as recently slain police officer Nick Walker, picking up the theme of zombies and the undead. Rated PG-13.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones- If zombies and undead police are not enough kitschy horror for your child, you can find more demons, vampires, witches, and werewolves in this thriller, based on the series by Cassandra Clare. Set to be released August 21st, the film is not yet rated.
Tiger Eyes – A coming-of-age drama about overcoming loss, this film is based on the the book of the same title by favorite young adult writer Judy Blume. Directed by Judy’s own son, Lawrence Blume, who also wrote the screenplay, this 2013 film resurrects one of Judy Blume’s most compelling, if lesser read, novels. PG-13.
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald’s beloved portrait of the rich and careless of New York in the heyday of the Jazz Age is given new treatment by colorful Australian director Baz Luhrmann. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the title character, with the more subdued Tobey Maguire playing the narrator’s role, and Carey Mulligan as honey-voiced Daisy. Based on Luhrmann’s other works – Strictly Ballroom, Romeo and Juliet (with DiCaprio as Romeo), and Moulin Rouge – expect the colors to be bright, the music to crescendo, the lights to dazzle – but will loyalists to Fitzgerald’s written words be satisfied? Rated PG-13
Much Ado About Nothing – Another unconventional reproduction of another classic; this time director Joss Whedon, best known for TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, takes on Shakespeare’s comedy with a modern twist. PG-13
Copperhead – A film depiction of the ac claimed Civil War novel by Bernard Cornwall about fictional Nathaniel Starbuck and the struggles of a family during the war between North and South. Rated PG-13.
Detailed kid-focused reviews of content, such as violence and gore, profanity, and nudity, for most of these films, can be found at Kids-In-Mind.com.