Great summer movies for teens

Jun 30, 2010 at 1:46 p.m. ET

It's true you don't want your kids to spend their entire summer in front of screens, but sometimes an air-conditioned theatre in the heat of the day -- or a family movie night a home -- is just the thing. We've got the scoop on the hottest new releases and the timeless classics your teens will love.

Teen watching movie

Sure, summer itself just started, but summer movie season? Well, that's in full swing already, and more than a few of the blockbusters out there are aimed squarely at the teen market. Add to that the favorites from our own heydey (it wasn't that long ago, right?), and you've got the makings of a picture-perfect summer. Here's your quick cheat sheet.

In theatres now

Remember how amazing The Karate Kid was? Guess what? The new version is just as good. Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith, does a fine job of filling Ralph Macchio's shoes -- but because the protagonist is now 12, not 16, there's less romance. The classic good triumphs over evil storyline is just as powerful all these years later, and younger teens will enjoy this movie thoroughly.

Another remake in theatres is The A-Team, a tribute to the iconic 80s television series. If you have boys who like to watch things explode, they will enjoy this movie. If you like Bradley Cooper --shirtless, natch -- you will really enjoy this movie. If you were hoping for a plot, you will be sorely disappointed. Still, for car chases, shootouts, and the aforementioned explosions, this is the one to see.

The Karate Kid

There's this other little film that's hardly worth mentioning, because, really, is anyone really going to watch a movie about a girl in love with a vampire? Yes, that's right, Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight Saga is on the big screen, and every teenage girl in America is required to see it.

On the home front

Movie night at home can be a lot of fun. Sure, maybe your big-screen TV isn't quite as large as the movie screen, but the popcorn is cheaper, and you can pause the action for bathroom breaks. Let your kids invite a friend or two, gather the family around, and enjoy a cinematic masterpiece like Ferris Beuller's Day Off, the story of a high school kid who's trying to make his last sick day of the school year really count.

Of course, summer wouldn't be complete without a showing of Dirty Dancing (Rest in Peace, Patrick Swayze. We miss you.), the huge hit with the highly quotable line, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Really, life isn't complete until you've seen -- and memorized -- this film.

Ferris Beuller's Day Off

Looking for some slightly newer releases? Try Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, based on the book series about four best friends who split up for the summer but are brought together by a pair of pants that somehow fits all their different body types perfectly. Send Dad and the boys out while you watch this with your daughter. Have a few tissues handy.

Not in the mood for a tear-jerker? The whole family can enjoy Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, about a teenager who discovers he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon. It's also based on a book series, so if the kids like it enough, you might even get them to read.

What movies are appropriate for teens?

If you want good information on the flicks your kids want to see, there are several web sites that will let you make educated decisions.

Check out Kids in Mind, a site whose mission is "to provide parents and other adults with objective and complete information about a film's content." They're not kidding -- in their review of The Karate Kid, you'll find detailed information about the mild nudity in the film, for example: "A woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage and bare shoulders in a few scenes. A pre-teen boy is shown shirtless (bare chest and abdomen) in a few scenes. A pre-teen girl wears a short dress that reveals her bare thighs."

Another helpful site is Common Sense, which is "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology." Reviews strive to rank movies (and more) for different age groups based on child development principles.

Both sites stress that you know your kids better than anyone else -- their aim is to give you the tools you need to make educated decisions.

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