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Flicks for tykes, tweens and kids at heart

There are plenty of fun offerings for the tykes and tweens in your life. Cute animals in 3-D? Check. Singing cheerleaders? Yes indeed.
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Need to entertain your kids this summer? There are plenty of fun offerings for the tykes and tweens in your life. Cute animals in 3-D? Check. Singing cheerleaders? Yep, they have those, too. And adults don’t have to yawn their way through all of these — the talented Hayao Miyazaki is back with another magical animated journey. Here are six flicks that your kids might enjoy.

“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” Starring: Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Simon Pegg, Queen Latifah, Sean William Scott, Josh Peck Directors: Carlos Saldanha, Michael Thurmeier Story: Manny (Romano), Sid (Leguizamo), Diego (Leary), Ellie (Latifah), Crash (Scott) and Eddie (Peck) stumble upon an entire dinosaur population beneath their world of ice, and meet a weasel named Buck (Pegg), who’s the only mammal living among the giant reptiles. Manny and Ellie are also about to have their first baby, Diego worries that he’s not ferocious enough, and Sid steals some dinosaur eggs so he can start a family of his own. Worth seeing? Yes. Kids who loved the first two should really enjoy the added bonus of 3-D. And yes, the director is fully aware that dinosaurs were extinct during the ice age. “We took a little creative liberty,” Saldanha told Entertainment Weekly. Web site: Release date: July 1

Bill Nighy, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau, Penelope Cruz, Steve Buscemi, Tracy Morgan Director: Hoyt Yeatman Story: An elite team of FBI-trained guinea pigs, including Darwin (Rockwell), Blaster (Morgan), Juarez (Cruz), a mole named Speckles (Cage) and a housefly named Mooch (Edwin Louis) work as spies for the U.S. government, until another FBI agent (Arnett) shuts down the whole operation. The animals are taken to a pet store, where their special abilities aren’t exactly appreciated by their new owners. But it’s still up to them to stop an evil billionaire (Bill Nighy) who wants to rule the world. Worth seeing? Yes. The film is a mix of live action and digital 3-D. It’s also a mix of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s action sensibility with the soft and furry world of Disney. Director Yeatman told that his 5-year-old son came up with the concept. “He's really excited,” Yeatman said. “He did a couple of the voices so he got to go to Disney to record.” Web site: Release date: July 24

Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett, Kat DenningsDirector: Robert Rodriguez Story: Eleven-year-old Toe Thompson (Bennett) is sick of being picked on. During a freak storm a rainbow-colored rock falls from the sky and grants wishes to anyone holding it. Toe gets his wish, but then the rock makes its way all around town, causing chaos throughout the town of Black Falls. Worth seeing? Yes. Rather than being one long film, this is actually a series of vignettes tied together through Bennett’s narration. “You’re at the mercy of how he remembers things, out of order and skipping around,” director Rodriguez (“Spy Kids”) told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s like ‘Pulp Fiction’ for kids.” Rodriguez should know; he and “Pulp Fiction” director Quentin Tarantino have collaborated on two films. This looks to be one of summer’s more imaginative films. Web site: Release date: Aug. 7

Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, Betty White, Frankie Jonas, Noah Cyrus, Cloris Leachman Director: Hayao Miyazaki Story: Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” the film tells a story of an overeager goldfish (Cyrus) who wants to run away from the ocean. When she gets stranded on the shore, she’s rescued by a boy named Sōsuke (Jonas). After she returns to sea, she tells her father (George Tokoro) that she wants to become human and steals his magic to try to make it happen. But her spells have strange results. Worth seeing? Yes. Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”) is one of the best directors working in animation, and for the English-language version of this Japanese creation, Disney savvily added in siblings of famous stars (Jonas and Cyrus). After seeing the Japanese version, Time magazine’s Richard Corliss wrote, “(Miyazaki has) learned the secret language of children, and speaks to them as one gifted five-year-old to his enthralled peers.” Let’s hope this is the animated film that gets Miyazaki the American box-office attention he deserves. Web site: NA Release date: Aug. 14

Alyson Michalka, Vanessa Hudgens, Gaelan Connell, Lisa Kudrow Director: Todd Graff Story: Popular cheerleader Charlotte (Michalka) asks geeky Will (Connell) to manage her fledgling band, so she can get back at her musician ex-boyfriend (Scott Porter). Will recruits his misfit pal Sam (Hudgens) and begins to develop romantic feelings for her. Worth seeing? Maybe. Graff directed the very fun teen musical movie “Camp.” “It's hard to write a really good, old-fashioned musical,” Graff told the Los Angeles Times. Recruiting “High School Musical’s” Hudgens and “Phil of the Future’s” Michalka seems like a wise way to get those tweens in the seats. “I play guitar in it, and I had to learn and I was really nervous because I didn't want to look stupid,” Hudgens told MTV. com. “But I think I pulled it off.” Web site: Release date: Aug. 14

“Aliens in the Attic”
Kevin Nealon, Robert Hoffman, Doris Roberts, Tim Meadows, Ashley Tisdale Director: John Schultz Story: When the Pearson family heads to their vacation house in Maine, they come to find out that it’s already occupied. A friendly alien is living in the attic. But the alien’s buddies don’t share his affection for humans, so it’s up to the Pearson kids to defend their house from the evil extraterrestrials.Worth seeing? Unlikely. Though this could be cute, the trailers make it look very sitcommy, sort of like something that might play on ABC Family or the Disney channel on a Sunday afternoon (and probably will in the future). Web site: Release date: July 31