Summer was made for the movies. And this summer's already seen its share of kid-friendly flicks on the big screen.
Before you pack the kids in the car and head to the cinema for the newest blockbuster or a repeat of their favorite -- raise your hand if you've already seen the new Harry Potter movie more than once -- treat them to a night at home by screening some of the classic movies and TV shows that led up to these new releases.
Here, we pair films with family-friendly snack ideas so you can make it a party.
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(In theaters Friday)
Best for: Elementary-age-and-up kids and their adult counterparts -- especially those who grew up in the 1980s during the Smurfs' Saturday-morning-cartoon heyday.
The plot: The Smurfs, fleeing Gargamel -- that orange-cat-toting evil wizard -- wind up, accidentally, in New York City. These tiny blue creatures must then find their way home through the urban jungle while evading their nemesis. A combination of cartoon Smurfs and live-action human characters, this movie's crisp animation makes the 1980s version look even older than it is.
At-home viewing: Warm up the next generation to the classic Smurfs by watching full episodes of the 1980s cartoon on www.thewb.com; episodes are also available on DVD.
(In theaters now)
Best for: Marvel Comics fans -- or any teen or adult who has fantasized about overcoming physical shortcomings to do great things.
The plot: Steve Rogers, too skinny and weak to qualify for World War II-era military service, participates in a secret experiment that transforms him into the ultimate super-soldier, Captain America, who battles Red Skull to save America.
At-home viewing: Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk, who will, along with Thor, join Captain America in The Avengers next spring (May 2012).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
(In theaters now)
Best for: Teenagers on up. The Harry Potter series has come a long, dark, scary way since its sweetly enchanted beginnings 10 years ago. This, the last installment in the eight-movie series, is an all-out action film with long battle scenes.
The plot: The culmination of the series has friends Harry, Ron and Hermione back at Hogwarts to destroy the Horcruxes of "He Who Must Not Be Named." Harry, of course, will have to face his own demons -- one in particular -- as he takes on the war between good and bad wizards.
At-home viewing: All seven of the previous Harry Potter movies are available on DVD.
Blue raspberry candied popcorn
This snack is as blue (and sweet) as the Smurfs themselves. If using microwave popcorn for this recipe, pop one to two full-size bags (choosing an "original" or "lightly salted" recipe). This popcorn is best the day it's made; store airtight until ready to serve.
Nonstick cooking spray
6 cups (or more) freshly popped popcorn
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup blue raspberry syrup (such as Torani, available at World Market)
1/4 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place 6 cups freshly popped popcorn in very large bowl or stockpot, taking care to remove unpopped kernels.
3. In a heavy medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar, syrup and water, whisking until sugar melts. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil without stirring (swirl pot occasionally to keep sugar mixture from burning) for 8 minutes (mixture will bubble up thickly). Remove from heat.
4. Drizzle hot blue raspberry mixture (without scraping it from saucepan) over popcorn in bowl, using rubber spatula to quickly fold in syrup (use just enough syrup to lightly coat popcorn, adding additional popcorn by handfuls to use all blue syrup, if desired).
5. Transfer coated popcorn to prepared roasting pan and bake to dry and crisp popcorn, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, about 40 minutes total. Cool to room temperature.
Nutritional information per cup: 261 calories, 12 grams fat, 40 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 31 milligrams cholesterol, 118 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 40 percent of calories from fat.