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Fall film preview: A guide to upcoming movie releases for families

Posted September 19

The baby and Junior (voice of Andy Samberg) in "Storks." (Deseret Photo)

Fall is finally upon us, and even though the weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving are typically considered sort of a dumping ground for lesser movies after a long, middling summer jam-packed with would-be blockbusters, it’s hard not to look forward to the sheer variety of stuff hitting theaters.

From kids’ movies to Westerns to quiet social dramas, the only thing really missing is a new Hunger Games movie — but hopefully one or two of this year’s young adult offerings will be able to fill the Katniss-shaped hole in everyone's hearts.

Month by month, here’s a look at what families can expect from the last half of September through Thanksgiving weekend:

September

• “Storks” — At last, an answer to the question of where babies really come from. This Warner Bros. animated movie takes place in a world where storks have given up on delivering human children and now deliver packages for an Amazon-like online store — that is, until one of their top employees accidentally activates the “baby-making machine.” Andy Samberg stars.

Release date: Sept. 23

MPAA rating: PG for mild action and some thematic elements

• “The Magnificent Seven” — Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt try to revive the Hollywood Western, heading up an all-star cast for this remake of the 1960 John Sturges classic (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai”) about a group of outlaws hired to protect a town from bad guys. The plot is better recognized by some as “A Bug’s Life.”

Release date: Sept. 23

MPAA rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material

• “Queen of Katwe” — This Disney-produced biopic follows Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi. Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo co-star alongside newcomer Madina Nalwanga.

Release date: Sept. 23 (limited)

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements, an accident scene and some suggestive material

• “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” — Master of gothic fantasy Tim Burton takes a crack at the YA genre with this adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ best-selling novel about an orphanage for children with special gifts and the monsters who hunt them. Asa Butterfield and Eva Green star.

Release date: Sept. 30

MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril

• “Deepwater Horizon” — Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously collaborated on “Lone Survivor,” join forces again for an action-packed account of the worst oil spill in U.S. history, which took place in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig suffered a catastrophic explosion off the Louisiana coast.

Release date: Sept. 30

MPAA rating: PG-13 for prolonged intense disaster sequences and related disturbing images, and brief strong language

• “Masterminds” — BYU alum Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”) brings his quirky comedic touch to a very different kind of true-life story: that of the second-biggest cash heist in U.S. history. Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson and three out of four of the new Ghostbusters (Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones) star.

Release date: Sept. 30

MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, some language and violence

October

• “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” — New kid at school Rafe Khatchadorian makes it his mission to break every rule in the school handbook when he butts heads with the controlling principal and teachers. Based on a novel by none other than James Patterson (of Alex Cross fame).

Release date: Oct. 7

MPAA rating: PG for rude humor throughout, language and thematic elements

• “Max Steel” — The popular line of Mattel action figures gets the big-screen, superhero-origin-story treatment, courtesy of “Thor: The Dark World” writer Christopher Yost, focusing on high schooler Max McGrath, who with the help of an alien named Steel, has to learn to control newfound superpowers.

Release date: Oct. 14

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence

• “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” — Tom Cruise returns as British author Lee Child’s ex-military-cop-turned-“knight errant” hero in this sequel to 2012’s “Jack Reacher.” This time around, he has to clear his name after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit and, in the process, he uncovers what could be a much larger government conspiracy.

Release date: Oct. 21

MPAA rating: Not available (probable PG-13)

• “Boo! A Madea Halloween” — The title pretty much says it all. Tyler Perry dons the gray wig and print dresses once again for this Halloween-themed comedy featuring clowns, killers, ghosts and irresponsible teenagers.

Release date: Oct. 21

MPAA rating: PG-13 for drug use and references, suggestive content, language, some horror images and thematic material

• “Inferno” — Tom Hanks is back for a third outing as symbologist Robert Langdon ("Angels & Demons" and "Da Vinci Code"), but sans mullet this time. Waking up in an Italian hospital with no memory of how he got there, Langdon must use his encyclopedic knowledge of religious iconology to unravel clues that could prevent a catastrophic biological attack.

Release date: Oct. 28

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of action and violence, disturbing images, some language, thematic elements and brief sensuality

November

• “Doctor Strange” — The Marvel Cinematic Universe gets even stranger as it takes its first steps into the world of magic and mysticism. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular Stephen Strange, M.D., sorcerer supreme.

Release date: Nov. 4

MPAA rating: Not available (probable PG-13)

• “Trolls” — Marking DreamWorks Animation’s 33rd feature film (according to IMDB.com), this 3-D animated movie features the voice talents of Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake and is based on the cutesy, crazy-haired Danish troll dolls that still haunt the memories of anyone old enough to remember them.

Release date: Nov. 4

MPAA rating: PG for some mild rude humor

• “Loving” — Mega-talented writer-director Jeff Nichols (“Mud,” “Midnight Special”) tackles the true-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), an interracial couple who became plaintiffs in a landmark case over anti-miscegenation laws in 1960s Virginia.

Release date: Nov. 4

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements

• “Almost Christmas” — A dysfunctional family reunites for the holidays for the first time since the death of their mother and struggles to keep things under control. Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union and Omar Epps lead an ensemble cast.

Release date: Nov. 11

MPAA rating: PG-13 for suggestive material, drug content and language

• “Arrival” — After mysterious alien spacecraft appear all around the world, a linguist (Amy Adams) and a mathematician (Jeremy Renner) scramble to figure out what they mean before war breaks out. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners,” “Sicario”).

Release date: Nov. 11

MPAA rating: Not available

• “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — This is the first movie in a new trilogy set in the Harry Potter universe, albeit on a different continent and decades before the Boy Who Lived was even a twinkle in his mother’s bright green eyes (or brown, if you’re going by the movies).

Release date: Nov. 18

MPAA rating: PG-13 for some fantasy action violence

• “Moana” — Ron Clements and John Musker, the directing duo behind everything from “The Little Mermaid” to “Aladdin” to “The Princess and the Frog,” bring yet another Disney princess to life in this 3-D animated feature set on and between the islands of the South Pacific. Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho stars along with Dwayne Johnson as the Polynesian demigod Maui.

Release date: Nov. 23

MPAA rating: PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements

Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website TheMovieScrutineer.com.

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