This past week I got an email from my kids’ school and I swear to you that my blood ran cold. While yes, I certainly appreciate the structure the academic year brings and, like any parent, don’t mind having the kids out of my hair during the day, I still prefer the more relaxed and carefree nature of the summer months. Sleeping in, picnics, theme parks, fireworks, later bedtimes that allow for walks in the park or by the lake — I can’t get enough of it.

But when we’ve all spent too much time in the sun or are wiped out from another water balloon fight, I like to have a movie ready for everyone to chill out — or even nod off — to. Here are 6 perfect options:

Missing Link – In this stop‐motion animated film featuring a voice cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Emma Thompson and Zach Galifianakis, we follow an English explorer who finds a Yeti (or Bigfoot … or Sasquatch) and helps him get back to his family in the Himalayas. But on top of their perilous journey, they need to deal with a bounty hunter who’s hot on their trail. You’ll be treated to wonderful animation and a heartwarming story — what more could you ask for? (And make sure you keep it rolling for the end credits scene!)

UglyDolls – This animated tale about a group of defective dolls and stuffed animals from “Uglyville” who try to find acceptance in the real world boasts Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Pitbull, Janelle Monae, Nick Jonas, Bebe Rexha, Charlie XCX and Lizzo in its voice cast, so clearly it’s going to be jam‐packed with some great tunes on top of a sweet message.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – My kids are crazy about the How to Train Your Dragon series (both TV and film), and this final installment of the franchise is absolutely amazing and did not disappoint.

Mary Poppins Returns – Mixing live action (in the form of cast members Emily Blunt, Lin‐ Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Ben Wishaw and more) with fantastical cartoon sequences just like its 1964 predecessor, this musical is a great pick for those with older children who will understand its slightly more complex themes and not need to be constantly entertained by cutesy characters.

Captain Underpants – … or on the opposite end of the maturity scale, there’s my kids, who love to run around in their undies and shout “I’M CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS…. TRA LALAAAAAAA!!!!” If you have kids like that, this is the movie for you. (And honestly, it’s actually pretty clever cute.)

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – In our house, summer is also the time when my kids remember ALL THE LEGO SETS they’ve accumulated over the years and get excited about rebuilding them again. So this sequel (that’s just as good as the 2014 groundbreaking original) comes highly recommended.

What are some of your go‐to family movies during summer break?

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