<strong>Release Date:</strong> May 24 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Jason Sudeikis, Amanda Seyfried, Steven Tyler, Josh Hutcherson <strong>What It’s About:</strong> The teenaged daughter of a naturalist who believes in miniscule forest warriors discovers that her father’s ramblings are real. One day, in the woods behind her cabin, she’s magically shrunken and thrust into the world of Leafmen who must save the forest from the evil Boggans. <strong>Why We’re Excited:</strong> This animated adaptation of William Joyce’s “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs,” better live up to its powerful title. It’s the latest animated film from Chris Wedge, who directed the first “Ice Age” and has produced every Blue Sky title since (he’s also the voice of the ever persistent Scrat). We’re keeping fingers crossed “Epic” is indeed so.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> June 21 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi <strong>What It’s About: </strong>Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.” prequel follows our favorite monsters, Sulley and Mike Wazowski, during their college years at the titular “U.” Find out how the unlikely duo went from undergraduate frenemies to the best of monster BFFs. <strong>Why We’re Excited: </strong>How could anyone not be excited?! We’ve been waiting to see more of the Boo-saving monsters since 2001. “Monsters, Inc.” is one of Pixar’s early masterpieces, and we can’t wait to see what the furry blue jock and the pint-size, one-eyed brainiac get up to in this kid-friendly campus comedy.
‘Despicable Me 2′
<strong>Release Date:</strong> July 3 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Steve Carell, Al Pacino, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove <strong>What It’s About: </strong>Supervillain-turned-adoptive father Gru returns with his trio of daughters (Margo, Edith, and Agnes) and their stable of trusty minions. In this much-anticipated sequel, Gru is recruited into the Anti-Villain League to fight a dangerous new supervillain, Eduardo. <strong>Why We’re Excited: </strong>”Despicable Me” was fabulous — the animation, the voice acting, the music — so we’re psyched to see what’s in store for Gru and the girls the second time around. The fatherhood challenges (Margo has a crush!) should keep grown-ups laughing, while the hilarious yellow minions will entertain preschoolers and parents alike. Plus, Pacino as the voice of a supervillain? Booyah!
<strong>Release Date:</strong> July 17 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Samuel L. Jackson <strong>What It’s About: </strong>Turbo, an ambitious garden snail, dreams of life in the fast lane. When a freak accident with nitrous oxide gives Turbo the power to move like he’s supercharged, he decides to train for the biggest race of all: the Indy 500. <strong>Why We’re Excited:</strong> An ordinary garden snail turns into an extraordinary racer: It’s like “A Bug’s Life” meets “Spider-Man.” Fast snails plus fast cars is a combination most kids, especially young boys, won’t be able to resist. And with Samuel L. Jackson on board as a fellow snail, even child-free audiences will want to cheer for the little snail that could.
‘The Smurfs 2′
<strong>Release Date: </strong>July 31 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Sofia Vergara, Jayma Mays <strong>What It’s About:</strong> Still obsessed with defeating the Smurfs, the evil warlock Gargamel creates the “Naughties,” a group of mischievous Smurf-like creatures that kidnap Smurfette and lure her to the dark side. The remaining Smurfs rally with their human pals, Patrick and Grace, to save their beloved Smurfette. <strong>Why We’re Excited: </strong>It was hard to see the precious animated blue Smurfs of our Saturday morning cartoon childhood turned into a live-action/CGI hybrid, but Neil Patrick Harris is always good for a laugh, as is Hank Azaria, who’s such a gifted comedian he can even make an insane bald warlock hilarious.
<strong>Release Date: </strong>August 9 <strong>Who’s in It: </strong>Dane Cook, Val Kilmer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Brad Garrett What It’s About: A cropduster (named Dusty, of course) hopes to compete in a prestigious air race, but he’s not really designed for that kind of flying. The kicker? He’s also desperately afraid of heights. Determined to get over his phobia, Dusty enlists help from a veteran naval aviator to whip him into shape. <strong>Why We’re Excited:</strong> This could be a clear successor to “Cars.” Between “Turbo” and “Planes,” it’s a perfect summer for race-obsessed kids, who will no doubt root for Dusty to earn his wings as a champion air flyer.
‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’
<strong>Release Date: </strong>August 16 <strong>Who’s in It: </strong>Logan Lerman, Sean Bean, Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci <strong>What It’s About:</strong> Rick Riordan’s bestselling mythology adventure continues after a three–year hiatus. In the second installment, Percy and the rest of his Camp Half-Blood clan must band together to find the Golden Fleece, only they have to travel to the horror-filled Sea of Monsters (the Bermuda Triangle) to search for it. <strong>Why We’re Excited: </strong>Although the 2010 original wasn’t a huge critical or commercial success, this is literally the stuff of legend. Riordan’s book franchise is as thrilling as the “Harry Potter” series, and if the movie can do the material justice, “Sea of Monsters” should be better than its predecessor.
‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones’
<strong>Release Date: </strong>August 23 <strong>Who’s in It:</strong> Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers <strong>What It’s About:</strong> Clary Fray, a 15-year-old New Yorker, realizes that she can see supernatural creatures no one else can. When her mother (Lena Headey) is mysteriously kidnapped, she steps into an underground world of Shadowhunters — fierce (and gorgeous) demon slayers, vampires, werewolves, and more. <strong>Why We’re Excited:</strong> Best-selling young adult books don’t always translate into popular movie franchises, but if anything has an excellent shot of joining the “Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” and “Harry Potter” level of hysteria, it’s Cassandra Clare’s hugely beloved paranormal series. There’s supernatural suspense, pulse-quickening romance, and enough action to satisfy teens and adults alike.
‘One Direction: This Is Us’
<strong>Release Date: </strong>August 30 Who’s in It: Harry, Niall, Zayn, Louis, Liam <strong>What It’s About:</strong> Following in the footsteps of Katy Perry, the Jonas Brothers, the “Glee” kids, and Justin Bieber, the United Kingdom’s (current) most celebrated boy band, One Direction, gets their turn at a 3D concert film. <strong>Why We’re Excited:</strong> All those other artists may have been the subject of 3D documentaries, but none of them was directed by Academy Award-winner Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”). As far as we’re concerned, that makes “This Is Us” the “No Direction Home” of tween concert movies. Let the high-pitched squeeing begin!