Summer Fun: Watch a Movie

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Make a memory and enjoy a movie together as a family. Here are some inexpensive ways to do it as well as a list of film recommendations.

This post does include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

despicable me movie

We are big movie buffs around here. The kids are constantly asking to look at the Redbox offerings while I check out at the grocery store. Sure, there are plenty of films that we pass up, but we are quick to grab the good ones that come our way.

Sometimes we hunt down a favorite movie at the library. Sometimes we pre-order it on Amazon because we love it and can’t wait to see it again. Sometimes I’m sent an advance copy of a film to review, too, which is fun. Overtime, many have become family favorites.

Summer time is when we end up watching quite a few different films. The days are lazier. Bedtimes are later. And we all shift into a slightly different mode.

Last summer we spent an entire week watching all The Avengers movies. It was wonderful!

Most of our movies are viewed at home, but we usually spring the big bucks for at least one movie theater family event each summer. Last year was The Avengers. Ahem. This year we’re looking forward to Despicable Me 2. Or as FishChick 4 says, “Despicable Meat 2”.

How to watch it free or cheap:

Entertainment can be quite pricey these days. It’s one of those splurges that I sometimes feel guilty about. It’s not that we buy stacks and stacks of Blu-rays or go to the show every week. But, I’d rather watch it free or cheap if I can. Here are some ways that we do that:

Library: Most libraries lend movies. Some charge, some offer it for free. Our library offers this for free, with about a week’s loan at a time. It’s a little tricky to get the movie you want when you want it. It takes some planning ahead.

Amazon Prime: We spring for Amazon Prime every year. At $79 a year we get a year’s worth of 2-day shipping, access to the kindle lending library, and free movies and TV programs to watch. It’s like Netflix on steroids.

Redbox: We have about ten Redbox locations within a 2-mile drive of our house, so it’s very convenient to grab a movie. We’ve had some problems with faulty discs, but customer service is pretty good about refunding our money. I can even reserve a movie online so hubs can pick it up on his way home from work.


Clearance or movie sales: I keep my eyes open for movies to purchase. I got two movies recently at Ralph’s clearance shelf for less than $5 each. They’re movies I know the kids like and will watch again and again. I also buy each child a movie at Christmas time each year when movies are typically on sale at great prices. Summer appears to be another season when Amazon unloads movies for cheap.

Summer movie programs: It looks like these days no cinema brand is offering them for FREE, but they are greatly reduced in price. Check out the Regal Summer Movie Express and the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse.

FishFam Picks for Films

I polled my family for their picks of summer screenings. It was hard for them to each narrow it to five. Many of the kids forgot what they used to like and could only name current favorites. FishPapa and FishBoy16 were hard pressed to name “family-friendly films”, but the ones they conjured up are total winners. And yes, we have some overlaps.

Asterisks* denote those movies that you may need to preview for your audiences. We’ve got kids that range from kindergarten to high school, so we represent a range of interests and ages.


FishPapa’s Picks


FishMama’s Picks

FishBoy16’s Picks

FishBoy12’s Picks

FishBoy11’s Picks

FishBoy9’s Picks

Oz Box Art

FishChick6’s Picks

FishChick4’s Picks

New home releases

Disney has released a number of new films on DVD and Blu-Ray this summer, including Oz: The Great and Powerful. I didn’t know anything about the movie before it arrived a few weeks ago. Basically, it tells the back story of Glinda the good witch, and the other, nastier witches in Oz. You learn why the Great Wizard hides behind smoke and lights. It’s a very clever prequel and definitely worth your time.

vault movies

Also available are three older Disney films: Lilo and Stitch, The Emperor’s New Groove and Atlantis: The Lost Empire 2-Movie Collections releasing for the first time on Blu-ray. I’ve not seen the last one, but our family has enjoyed Lilo and Stitch as well as The Emperor’s New Groove.

What’s a favorite movie on YOUR family’s list this summer?

I received review copies of some movies mentioned in this post. However, I would not mention them if I didn’t think they were worth your time. This post does include Amazon affiliate links. If you make a purchase through those links, I am paid a small amount in way of advertising fees.

DIY-on-a-DIME-summer-fun-125This post is part of the DIY on a Dime: Summer Fun series. For more ideas on how to enjoy the summer holidays on a budget, check out the list.

I know what we’re gonna do this summer.

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  1. Our family is also looking forward to Despicable Me 2 this summer and Monsters University. Along with the ones you have already mentioned, my family enjoys watching the Star Wars movies, National Treasure, Night at the Museum, Finding Nemo, Nanny McPhee and both kids and my husband love anything with Mr. Bean in it (not my thing). For me, I watched Miss Potter again last night and really like that along with my Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version of course!).

    1. Ooh, you named all good ones. My people were drawing blanks when I asked them. But, I know they loved all those that you mentioned. Thanks for chiming in!

  2. I just watched Oz the Great and Powerful last night and I absolutely loved it! I was really surprised how engaging it was. My son will be 15 in August but he still enjoyed it. So nice to a see a movie that’s interesting for teens and adults without including violence or bad language.

  3. We are big movie watchers too! For Christmas I was trying to buy gifts that didn’t take up a lot of space in our very tiny house. I went to a pawn shop and found a ton of movies we love for $2 a piece and if you bought so many you would get one free. I scored a ton and made my kiddos very happy 🙂

  4. Do a Google search for free Redbox and Blockbuster Box codes. They are out there!

  5. We are also looking forward to Despicable Me 2. We are also working our way through the marval movies. My 11 yo son is into the old Mighty Ducks movies. He loves anything hockey. I am also thinking that we will do The Lord of the Rings movies this summer. We loved Oz: The Great and Powerful as well, I was pleasantly surprised.

    1. What’s the language like in Mighty Ducks? I remember trying that when our kids were little and it was too much. My standards may have changed by now. LOL

      1. They are rated PG, and I didn’t think that the language was bad – no major swears. That being said we watched it as a family the first time and had some good discussions. Unfortunately, he has heard much worse at his own sporting events, both from coaches and parents. Discussions followed those as well and we now travel to another town for sports.

        1. I’ll give that a try. Now that my people know hockey, it would be much more fun.

  6. For our girls the Disney princess movies are always on the summer viewing list. New movies we all want to see include Monster University, Despicable Me 2; Turbo and The Lone Ranger.

  7. Our list includes Dolphin Tale, Happy Feet, Tangled, Cars, Toy Story, Herbie The Love Bug, and of course…Swiss Family Robinson. My kids are 8 and 5.

    1. Oh…and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

  8. We really like the National Treasure movies and they’re so kid friendly! I’m getting my daughter hooked on the classics- Goonies, Princess Bride, anything 80s 🙂

  9. We like a wide variety and take turns choosing movies (I have 2 daughters ages 9 and 12). We like the Tinker Bell movies, American Girl movies and the oldies but goodies like “that darn cat.” We have also enjoyed some old musicals like “sound of Music” and “singing in the rain.” Oh yes and “a league of their own!”