Welcome to another episode of moviemanMDG’s Movie Talk, where I talk about everything film-related. Well, we pretty much knew that this would happen sooner or later. The Coronavirus is continuing to spread all over the world, and we are all forced to stay in our homes in order to prevent the situation from getting worse. Social gatherings are banned, restaurants are closed, a lot of bars have been shut down, and more importantly, movie theaters have been blocked off. For the latter, this means that several movies are being delayed until further notice, especially the most anticipated ones like “A Quiet Place Part II”, “Black Widow”, and “F9”. This also means that I won’t be reviewing any new theatrical films for the next couple of weeks (or possibly longer). Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that my website is going on a hiatus as well. I am still going to be working on my crossovers, and I might plan on reviewing some films from the past as well as some films that are released straight-to-DVD or streaming. So if you have any suggestions on what film I should review, don’t be afraid to let me know. Anyway, let’s start off this episode by talking about what we should watch with our families while we’re stuck in quarantine. Since we’re going to be stuck at our homes for a while, I think now is the best time for us to rely on our streaming services to keep us company, whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Disney+. There are a ton of films and shows for us to choose from, but for this episode, I will be choosing the best ones from Netflix and Disney+ that are made for kids and their parents or teachers because these two streaming services are usually the best places for family-friendly content. Kids are out of school because of the Coronavirus, so we got to have something to keep them from being bored out of their minds. This request comes from my mother’s friend, who is an elementary school teacher. She wanted me to talk about the films that are made for entertainment purposes or educational purposes since her students are off of school for a couple of weeks. So if you’re reading this right now, Margret, this episode’s for you. Just to make this clear, I will only be listing the films that I already saw. I’m not going to be talking about every family-friendly film that is available to stream because my mental capacity isn’t big enough to take them all in. Also, this list is not a top ten list. These are just the films that I believe are good enough for me to recommend to kids and their parents during this unfortunate time. Now then, let’s get to it.
Let’s start things off with Netflix, which has a lot of family-friendly content that we either watched a thousand times or haven’t even heard of. Believe me, there are plenty of lesser-known stuff on there that left me scratching my head in disbelief, but I don’t want to go into full detail about them because I am not a time waster. Here are the four films from Netflix that I would definitely recommend to families in no particular order.
Kung Fu Panda 2
One of the most common elements that we notice from Hollywood is that they made sequels that didn’t quite capture the same impact as their predecessors. Some of them are mostly enjoyable and some of them made us question their existence in a bad way. However, there are some sequels that happened to be just as good as the originals. If not, better. Take DreamWorks Animation, for example. With the exception of “Shrek the Third” and “Shrek Forever After”, DreamWorks has been pretty consistent with making sequels that were as good as or better than their predecessors. “Shrek 2”, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”, “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, the list goes on, but there is one sequel that I loved the most out of all of them, and it’s available to watch on Netflix as of this writing. That, my friends, is “Kung Fu Panda 2”, the second chapter in the “Kung Fu Panda” trilogy. Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who went on to helm “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “The Darkest Minds”, this 2011 sequel continues the adventures of Po (voiced by Jack Black), who goes on a perilous journey with the Furious Five to prevent a villainous peacock named Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) from using a powerful weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. During this journey, Po must solve the mysteries of his past in order to accomplish this dangerous mission. There are plenty of reasons why “Kung Fu Panda” is one of my favorite trilogies of all time, such as the lovable characters, the animation, the Chinese culture, its perfect mixture of martial arts action and comedy, and its well-developed story arc, which depicts Po’s journey of self-discovery. While I loved both “Kung Fu Panda” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” for different reasons, I have to classify this one as my favorite film of the trilogy and as one of the animated sequels that I think should fuel the families’ desire for some pure awesomeness while they’re stuck at home. “Kung Fu Panda 2” took advantage of the materials that made the first film work and made them better, such as the characters and the animation. More importantly, it had a story that consistently blends its dark tone and emotional themes with its kid-friendly energy, making this one of the suitable options for both kids and adults who grew up with animation. It’s like “How to Train Your Dragon 2”, but with anthropomorphic Chinese animals who learn kung fu. If you like the first “Kung Fu Panda” film, but haven’t seen this one, now’s your chance to do so. Great story, fun characters, fantastic animation, and of course, a formidable antagonist who is still one of my favorite villains that DreamWorks Animation has created.
This next film on the list won’t be coming to Disney+ until later on, but you can still catch this adorable piece of nostalgia on Netflix. “Christopher Robin” is another reimagining of one of Disney’s animated treasures, and it involves the title character as an adult who attempts to reconnect with his child-like sense of wonder with the help of Winnie the Pooh and his animal friends. Directed by Marc Forster, the film is an innocent and family-friendly reintroduction of the franchise to a new generation of kids with a valuable message about the importance of family and having a bit of childhood-like wonder in your lives. It doesn’t have a lot of high-stakes action and a buttload of CGI like the studio’s other live-action remakes of their animated classics, but that’s what makes it stand out above those reimaginings. With its charming cast and a well-told story that’s somehow equivalent to Steven Spielberg’s “Hook”, this is one of the better live-action remakes that Disney has to offer during this era and one of the more harmless films for families who need a break from the big-budget action and the mindless cartoon shenanigans.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
You kids want a Marvel film that doesn’t involve Thanos wiping out half of the entire population? Netflix has got you covered. In 2018, Sony Pictures Animation made a humongous comeback after suffering from a huge critical misfire that was “The Emoji Movie”. It did the impossible that could set a new path for the animation studio (hopefully). It made a fantastic animated Spider-Man film that also became an Oscar winner. “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a visually immersive and action-packed superhero experience that consists of heart and a lot of Spider-people. This is my favorite film of 2018 for many reasons: the characters, the action, the story, its message about heroism, and its original animation style. Everything about this film is sheer perfection. So if you and your kids want a Spider-Man film that doesn’t have a lot of PG-13 rated material, “Into the Spider-Verse” is your best choice.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Now here’s another sequel on Netflix that managed to be just as good as the original, and it’s from Disney. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is not only an impressive sequel that’s filled with lovable characters and stellar animation, but it is also a great learning tool for kids who want to try out the Internet for the first time. In addition to its bold story about friendship, the film uses its classic Disney quality and its witty humor to explore the aspects of the Internet in a family-friendly matter, such as Internet memes, online games, social media, and clickbait pop-ups. It also didn’t shy away from displaying the pros and cons of the Internet, mostly the cons, because let’s face it, the Internet is not a perfect place to live in. There’s a scene that involves Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) reading plenty of negative comments about him from the users on “BuzzzTube”, and there’s also a scene that has Ralph and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) exploring the dark web. To me, these scenes work in exploring the bad side of the Internet without alienating its target audience. They’re not too dark, and they’re not too goofy. They have the right amount of charm and intelligence to entertain both kids and adults alike as well as educate newcomers about the wonders of the Internet. So, teachers, if you want to teach your students about the Internet via film, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is my absolute recommendation. It is also another animated sequel that’s worth watching with the family during quarantine hours.
Now that we got Netflix out of the way, let’s focus on my biggest challenge: Disney+. Disney+ is the home of all things Disney…and Fox…and National Geographic, and since I loved almost all of the films that are on there, it was hard for me to pick the ones that I would recommend the most. So I did the best I could and chose at least four films on the streaming service that I think are insightful and entertaining enough to please the kids. Let me remind you again that this is in no particular order.
In times like this, we all need a reminder that we need to respect one another regardless of their race and sex. We have many films that deal with this type of subject matter, but none of them seem to be acceptable enough for kid-friendly viewing. None of them except “Zootopia”, of course. Like “Ralph Breaks the Internet”, “Zootopia” serves as both a smart and hilarious animated film and a fantastic learning tool for kids. The main reason why I would recommend this 2016 film is because it offered many themes that are similar to what we’re dealing with right now, such as diversity and racial discrimination, without dumbing them down for the little ones. With the world still not learning their lesson, I think now is a good time for parents and teachers to use this film to teach their kids about this type of stuff. Plus, it’s a great buddy cop movie that consists of likable characters and splendid animation.
It’s highly inevitable that I have to include this film on my list. I’ve been saying it a lot before, and I will say it again in case you forgot. “Inside Out” is the best thing that came out of Pixar’s think tank. If you haven’t seen this yet, then stop reading and go watch it with your kids immediately. Everything about this film is pure Pixar poetry, ranging from its clever storytelling to its imaginative animation. It is still the only film so far that I have seen seven times in the theater. Yeah, it’s that good. The film’s producers had to consult a lot of psychologists in order to make this concept relatable to adults and their kids, and based on the results, their hard work paid off extremely well. This is also another great learning tool for the teachers to use because it helps the students learn about the importance of every emotion in our lives. Kids need to learn that it’s okay to feel happy or sad or angry or scared or disgusted because these emotions make us who we are as a whole. There’s really nothing else I could say about it that hasn’t been said before. It is another Pixar classic and a helpful way to teach the young children about emotions.
We have another Pixar film that I would highly recommend if you haven’t watched it yet. “Coco” is a creative and thought-provoking depiction of the Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead), that is backed up by its well-detailed animation and emotional depth. Not only that, but it is also a suitable film for teachers to use if they’re teaching their students about the Mexican culture and the holiday tradition. Yes, there’s also “The Book of Life”, which is another animated film that deals with Day of the Dead, but I think “Coco” is a better option for families and teachers to watch when it comes to the story and the representation of the culture. Plus, it’s a film about the importance of family, so it makes sense why I included this film on my list.
The Lion King
Another obvious choice from yours truly. I know that we all saw it a thousand times before, but considering the fact that “The Lion King” is an animated gem, there’s no doubt that we want to see it a thousand more while we’re stuck in our homes for a couple of weeks. Packed with a captivating story about adolescence, gorgeous animation, memorable characters, and songs that get stuck in your head after a while, it’s no wonder that this 1994 animated classic still holds up today. The 2019 remake is also available to watch on Disney+, but as much as I liked it for staying true to its story and its amazing visuals, it doesn’t quite hold a candle to what the original version offered more than 20 years ago. Kids will be able to enjoy this one for its flawless animation and its lovable characters like Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa, while the parents and teachers will appreciate it for teaching kids about not letting the past define who they are.
So there you have it. Those are the films from Netflix and Disney+ that I think will satisfy the families’ needs during the quarantine hours. It may not be much, but I think they’re enough to keep them and their kids busy until this whole thing blows over and everything goes back to normal. If you have any more suggestions as to what they should watch at home, make sure you leave a comment below, and remember to stay safe, keep yourself healthy, and enjoy the show.