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To See Or Not To See.

Sizing up the summer blockbusters for tots

Taking your little one to his or her first movie is a rite of passage. But before you go, remember that animated cuteness does not always mean healthy, happy viewing for small children.

“Do your homework,” advises Betsy Bozdech, director of ratings and reviews for Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization with a mission to help parents make informed choices about media for their children. CSM publishes its reviews and age-appropriate ratings on each film’s release date. But in the meantime, here’s what Bozdech has to say about the summer lineup for kids:

“There are two movies this year that could make the grade for the youngest kids: Winnie the Pooh (July 15, rated G) and Cars 2 (June 24, rated G). While little kids will likely enjoy the animal antics of Mr. Popper’s Penguins (June 17, rated PG), with Jim Carrey at the helm and a bunch of computer-generated penguins at his side, keep in mind that it is rated PG for mild rude humor and some language. As for Kung Fu Panda 2 (May 26, rated PG): we rate it as appropriate for age 6+. Its surprisingly serious storyline includes a little bit of parent-child separation, which could prove upsetting for sensitive tots—not a great pick for kids who are easily scared or distressed. Also, it will be hard to tell for sure until they’re out, but Zookeeper (July 8, rated PG) and The Smurfs (July 29, not yet rated) appear to be the kind of “kid” movies that end up having a lot of jokes and references that skew a bit older to try to appeal to parents. And please, folks, Harry Potter (July 15) is simply not a little kid movie.”

Check out Common Sense Media’s entire summer movie preview report at commonsensemedia.org.