Summer 2024 Family Film Preview: Garfield, Despicable Me 4, and more

The spring family movie drought is almost over.
Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt) in THE GARFIELD MOVIE. © 2023 Project G Productions, LLC
Garfield (voiced by Chris Pratt) in THE GARFIELD MOVIE. © 2023 Project G Productions, LLC /

It’s been a rough few months for parents wanting to take their children to the movies. The choices have been few and far between, and what’s been streaming on TV hasn’t been much better. But summer is the time when it all changes: movies are back, baby, and that means you can relax in the AC for a few hours with some popcorn and your kids quietly by your side once again.

…Well, sort of. There’s still not a lot of kids movies in theaters, which is frankly kind of wild since horror and family movies are pretty much the only reliable ways to get people in movie theaters. But even the ol’ reliable, Marvel Studios, is going super-adult with the R-Rated Deadpool & Wolverine. The kids will definitely want to check that out, but we here at The Parent Watch can’t in good conscience recommend that on a Family Film Preview.

That said, there are a few options coming up before Labor Day rolls around again, so let’s get into it. Here are the films you’ll want to check out in theaters this summer – and we threw a streaming movie or two on here anyway, because the pickings are slim.


Release Date: May 17, 2024

In theaters today, John Krasinski directs and writes for an all-star cast led by Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming. The movie focuses on “IFs” - imaginary friends, who are just looking for a kid to pal around with. Warning: this gets more morose and sad than you might expect.

Thelma The Unicorn

Release Date: May 17, 2024

On Netflix today, this delightful animated film focuses on a pony who pretends to be a unicorn in order to become a pop star. Naturally, it all goes wrong.

The Garfield Movie

Release Date: May 24, 2024

The original fat cat – Chris Pratt – is back in theaters with a brand new animated movie. This time around, he’s going to eat lasagna, be mean to Jon Arbuckle and Odie, and mail Nermal to Abu Dhabi, just to really shake things up.

Jim Henson Idea Man

Release Date: May 31, 2024

On Disney+, this documentary includes never before seen footage of the Muppets creator to delve into the man behind the felt. It’s directed by Ron Howard, and just be prepared for your kids to ask “daddy, why are you crying?”

Inside Out 2

Release Date: June 14, 2024

Riley is growing up and entering puberty, and that means new emotions! As she navigates school and friendships (and maybe romance?) the older emotions have to deal with a new adventure inside her head.

Despicable Me 4

Release Date: July 3, 2024

After various spinoffs and prequels, we’re back with the yellow, banana loving Minions, Gru and his kids for a new adventure. Will Ferrell is the new villain this time out, Maxime Le Mal.

The Neverending Story 40th Anniversary

Release Date: July 21 and 22, 2024

The fantasy film that gave millions of kids nightmares in the ‘80s is back for a two night engagement this July! Set in a magical land being destroyed by the “Nothing,” a boy reading a story and an adventurer may have to work together to save the entire world. Return to the Swamp of Sadness, once again!

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Release Date: August 2, 2024

Zachary Levi plays Harold, the kid with the magical purple crayon, all grown up. I’m not sure why this is the third movie where Levi plays a child in a man’s body, but there you go, typecasting at its finest.

Coraline (3-D Re-Release)

Release Date: August 14 and 15, 2024

Laika’s creepy stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic children’s book gets a 3-D re-release this summer, and I for one am not looking forward to those button-eyed monsters staring directly at me. But maybe your kids are?

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