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Family-friendly flicks set for theater screens this summer
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Unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and train in the art of kung fu, giant panda Po (left, Jack Black) begins his study under Master Shifu (right, Dustin Hoffman) in DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda,” which will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.
Worried that this summer’s comic-book-inspired movie lineup, featuring “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and “The Dark Knight,” might contain too much graphic violence for the little tykes?

Not prepared to explain to children what’s happening in M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” – a film bound to have more ups and downs than Milton Bradley’s Chutes and Ladders board game?

Fortunately, Hollywood has prepared a string of family-friendly crowd-pleasers for the summer months, including the following flicks:

Kung Fu Panda – Opening June 6, this DreamWorks film released through Paramount Pictures features the voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Seth Rogen. The story focuses on Po, a somewhat clumsy panda who loves kung fu but spends his days working in his family’s noodle shop. When he is chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, he joins the world of kung fu, studying alongside the Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. Po must ultimately defend everyone from the treacherous snow leopard Tai Lung. Rated PG.

WALL-E – Opening June 27, Buena Vista Pictures will present this Disney-Pixar tale from writer-director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo”). Mankind has left Earth, leaving only WALL-E, the last robot, to spend eternity doing what he was made to do. The story follows the robot’s comic adventures as he chases his dream across the galaxy.

Kit Kitteredge: An American Girl – Picturehouse will release this family film on July 2. The first feature film based on the popular American Girl book series, Abigail Breslin stars as a resourceful young girl whose bravery, compassion and determination help her solve a mystery that saves her family’s home during the Great Depression. Rated G.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D – Opening July 11, this New Line Cinema adaptation of the classic Jules Verne novel of the same name stars Brendan Fraser as a science professor whose unconventional theories have made him an outcast among his academic peers. While on an expedition in Iceland, he and his nephew make a discovery that launches them on a journey deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Rated PG.

Space Chimps – Opening July 18, this 20th Century Fox movie is pretty much summed up in its title. Two NASA chimps are sent into space, one heroic and clever, the other a lovable goofball. This odd couple must make the best of things on a strange, uncharted planet. Rated G.

Fly Me to the Moon – Opening Aug. 22, this 3D animated adventure from Summit Entertainment centers on three young flies who set off on a mission to become the first insects on the moon by hitching a ride on the historic Apollo 11 space flight. Based on the actual transcripts and the original blueprints from NASA, the film’s attention to detail will introduce a new generation to the awe-inspiring achievements of the space program’s most momentous mission. Rated G.
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