Great Family Movies on Netflix right now!!
The Jungle Book (2016)
Watch all the way to the end of the credits in this one and you will be amazed to see that the entire movie was filmed on a sound stage in LA. The lush, dark, amazing jungle was created entirely on a computer. The classic Disney adaptation of the man cub Molgwi, living in the jungle and raised by wolves is a testament to both its timelessness, and the questions it asks about how humanity and nature live together, or if they can. In the end it is a rollicking good adventure with some, laughs, scares, and plenty of thrills. I saw this with a four-year-old who really liked it but was at times a little fidgety. In the best possible way, the movie takes its time. It moves a little like Baloo the Bear, takes its time, but always knows where it is headed. There are some scary moments so be aware.
Age: 6 and up
This is another one of those movies that is based on source material where it isn’t really the source material at all, and that’s ok. Putting The Little Prince on to the screen has been tried before to varying degrees of failure. That’s mostly because it is based on a lovely, but visually poetic book, that is not easy to shift to another medium. It was the right choice, in this case, to make the book the foundation for the story where a little girl moves in next store to the Aviator from the story. As the girl’s mother is preparing her for the responsibility of being an adult, the Aviator, begins reminding her why it is important to be a child. She finds the story of The Little Prince in the Aviators house and sets off on her own journey of love, loss, and what it means to forget. It has some sad moments, deals a bit with death and gets a little tangled up in its own philosophy, but the end result is lovely to watch and fine for most kids.
Ages: 5 and up
Paddington was a wonderful surprise I never expected. It was also the first movie I ever took my son too, part of his birthday when he turned four, and it was a great way to spend the afternoon. Paddington rests somewhere firmly between Amelie and The Royal Tenebaums for adults and for kids it is funny, full of whimsy, and wonder. The story is of a bear displaced from his home and family in the jungles of darkest Peru only to find a new family in the city of London. One of the great things about the movie is how people on the streets of London, for the most part, seem to think very little of a talking bear. At times they seem almost annoyed with the fact that such a thing could be real. There are a few sort of scary moments that revolve around Nicole Kidman’s wicked taxidermist who is trying to get her hands on Paddington for..glup…well you know. That being said it is no worse than 101 Dalmatians and what Cruella Di Vil was up to.
Ages: 5 and up
My kid likes scary things. I think there is an age (at least for boys, as boys is all I have) when they suddenly like monsters and things that go boo. Goosebumps is defiantly made for the 10-12-year-old set but my four-year-old loved it. I was never a reader of the books but I knew them well and had friends that were obsessed. The premise of the movie is simple and fun. A young man moves to a new town where he finds he is living next door to “R.L. Stein”, the writer of the Goosebumps books. It’s actually Jack Black playing R.L. Stein, a clever little meta twist. It doesn’t take long before the boy accidently lets all of the monsters in R.L.’s books out and they are roaming the town causing havoc. The idea is that he must impress a girl who happens to be Stein’s daughter and get all the monsters back in the books. There are some light scares, and lots of monsters, but the scariest scene in the movie is when the kids are being chased through a dark grocery store by a werewolf wearing gym shorts. So even the monsters are pretty goofy.
Ages: 7 and up (though my almost 5-year-old was totally into it)
King Fu Panda 3 (See review): http://popkids.us/2016/10/30/kung-fu-panda-3/
Ever since I saw Robert Rodriguez’s Spykids I have been amazed that a film maker can have so much obvious fun jumping from ultra-violent action movies to fun and goofy kids movies. The movies are bubbly action fun with a creativity that feels totally unique. I look to the first movie with the Thumbkins, henchmen made entirely or thumbs, or the second movie with Steve Buscemi’s mad scientist who has created hybrid animals; horseflies, catfish, and spider monkeys, all literal representations of their names. I generally don’t look past the 2nd Spykids movie when it comes to quality (though I did see the 3rd one and it was an excuse to use 3D to its full effect with little to no coherent story). The greatest part of these movies are the kids. The characters are going through totally relatable problems for kids their age but they just happen to find out their parents are spies. The movies use that idea to explore the hard parts of being a kid and finds healthy, translatable ways kids understand to use in their own lives. Also, the casts diverse. The main characters are all Latino and the foundation for everything the characters do is based in that fact. They don’t ignore it, they embrace it.
Ages: 7 and up (though again, my almost 5-year-old was totally into it)
The Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child, and Room on the Broom
The Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child, and Room on the Broom are actually three short films that are based on books written by the same authors Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. They are so delightful and the animation so beautiful as movies that I felt the needed to include them in this list. There is nothing complicated about the stories and they are very clever. The Gruffalo is all about the adventure of a mouse in the woods, and with each animal that would eat him. He saves himself by telling them about the Gruffalo, a fierce monster who lives in the woods who he is going to have dinner with. When he escapes the animals he is surprised to discover that there is an actual Gruffalo and it is standing right behind him. The Gruffalo’s child is all about the daughter of the Grufffalo who journeys into the the woods to find the big bad mouse, the only thing the creature’s father is scared of. There there is Room on the Broom, the story of a kind witch and her cat who keeps inviting more animals to ride on their broom. They are all wonderful, and together, make a great hour of fun for the whole family.
Ages: 3 and up