By The Pajiba Staff | What To Watch | May 6, 2017 |
By The Pajiba Staff | What To Watch | May 6, 2017 |
Looking for a good movie to keep your children occupied during a rainy day? Here’s the best that Netflix has to offer from the three most recent years (2014-2017).
Related: The Best, Recent Movies on Netflix
12. Kung Fu Panda 3 (Watch Here) (Age 6+)— Although the plot lacks the nuance and depth of the first film, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is nonetheless enjoyable. Directors Jennifer Yuh and Alessandro Carloni have crafted a gorgeous movie out of the bold colors, dazzling blend of animation styles, highly detailed character designs and ambitious action sequences that have made the franchise a worldwide phenomenon.
11. The BFG (Watch Here) (Age 7+) — Spielberg’s new muse, Mark Rylance, is excellent in the role of the Big Friendly Giant, while Ruby Barnhill is everything you have come to expect in the child actors of Spielberg movies. She turns in a splendid put-her-in-your-pocket performance. In fact, the entire movie is splendid. When it comes to Spielberg, however, we often expect more than splendid. We expect greatness.
10. Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (Age 7+) — It’s been almost thirty one years since Herman’s last big screen romp, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and nearly 26 since Pee-wee’s Playhouse wrapped. Yet Reubens slides back into his white loafers without missing a step. It helps that the guys hasn’t appeared to age, and thankfully neither has Pee-Wee. He still shies away from the girls who swoon for his bespoke grey suit. He still speaks in that signature silly voice, and proudly spouts impish catchphrases like “Let me let you let me go.” And he’s still a master of willfully childish physical comedy. One long take involving Herman “playing” a balloon to a rapt Amish community may sound like nothing special. But Reubens’ gift for guileless humor makes it giggle-fit hilarious.
9. Minions (Watch Here) (Age 5+) — Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm have a quirky chemistry as married super villains Scarlett and Herb Overkill. Her frantic energy channels into an increasingly harried, and delightfully feminine super villain, whose dresses pack more weapons than Iron Man’s suit. The animators have a lot of fun with her dangerous couture, and so will you. There’s also a brief appearance by a wacky family that boasts voice work by some of my personal favorites, Michael Keaton and Allison Janney. Jennifer Saunders pops in to lend her voice to a playful take on Queen Elizabeth II. And the B-plot, which follows those Minions left behind as they struggle through their ennui, is surprisingly funny. There’s just something about maudlin Minions attempting apathetic cheer squad routines.
8. Finding Dory (Watch Here) (Age 6+) — It’s a solid outing for Pixar, but it’s not in the same class as Zootopia or The LEGO Movie or Frozen. When it comes to Pixar, even in the money-grabbing sequel era of the studio, we expect more. Dory is good, but it’s not Pixar good, and after Inside Out, we know they’re still capable of it.
7. Little Prince (Watch Here) (Age 9+) — Considering this French/Canadian movie was demoted from a US theatrical run to a Netflix release, I suspected The Little Prince might be some clunky substandard fare. Clunky, a bit, but in the lovable way of Terry Gilliam fairy tales, which chase down curious characters instead of getting too caught up in plot. Substandard? Far from it. Osborne integrates various animation aesthetics in the storytelling, making this fun film visually sumptuous. The animation used for the girl’s world has soft edges, and muted colors, while that of the pilot’s stories are vibrant hues, and characters folded as if animated origami. The novella’s watercolor illustrations come to life on the pages the pilot sends into the girl’s bedroom as carefully crafted airplanes. And as the Little Prince becomes more and more real to her, the animation evolves to something bright but more dimensional. It’s richly designed, and gorgeous.
6. Secret Life of Pets (Age 6+) (Watch Here) — Dog lover or cat lover, kid or grown-up, you’ll find plenty to relish in this deeply silly and sweet movie. But a quick warning to parents: The Secret Life of Pets might be a bit scary for more sensitive tykes. At my screening, one child was absolutely howling over a scene involving a massive, one-eyed, one-fanged viper, and an action-packed finale that threatened to sink our canine heroes into the East River.
5. Pete’s Dragon (Watch Here) (Age 7+) — There’s nothing particularly original or surprising about Pete’s Dragon except in the way it tugs at heartstrings. It’s potent, capable of reducing nearly anyone to sobs, not out of sadness, but out of appreciation for the extraordinary, enchanting friendship between a wide-eyed boy and the dragon who protects him. While Stranger Things has been able to recapture much of the Amblin magic and translate it into television, Pete’s Dragon is the closest thing to the old Steven Spielberg going. You won’t find a sweeter movie anytime soon.
4. Paddington (Watch Here) (Age 6+) — This right here is a charming story. Ben Whishaw brings a jolly whimsy to the little brown bear who is considered little more than a bother by the blustery Mr. Brown (Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville). But Mrs. Brown (the always affable Sally Hawkins) is charmed by this unusual orphan, and their children—the inventive Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) and the jaded Judy (Madeleine Harris)—are intrigued. Paddington comes into their home, and makes the mess teased in trailers, but also manages to help these four and the loopy maid Mrs. Bird (Julie Walters) find common ground. Amid gags that are sure to make kids chuckle and lots of cute moments of Paddington being a silly bear, there are some bits of wit sure to appeal to adults as well. It’s entertaining and adorable.
3. Kubo and the Two Strings (Watch Here)(Age 9+) — Kubo and the Two Strings is a marvelous, beautiful, and at times even haunting bit of stop-motion animated filmmaking. It’s gorgeously rendered, with bright colors and lush scenery ranging from quiet shadowed forests to swirling snowstorms, from storm-wracked seas to barren, golden deserts. It’s amazing to look at, but more importantly, it’s amazing to experience. It tells the story of a young boy named Kubo (Art Parkinson), whose mother fled with him from her terrifying family in an effort to save him from her family’s dark legacy. Kubo is an extraordinary boy, a clever, imaginative child whose remarkable powers are a perfect reflection of that power. He carries a simple guitar, and when he plays, he controls the many colorful pieces of paper that he carries with him, magically folding them into complex pieces of origami that take on lives of their own, doing his bidding and playing as important a role in his adventures as his living companions do.
2. Zootopia (Watch Here) (Age 7+)— Sure to speak to kids and grown-ups alike, Zooptopia unfolds a poignant lesson about how prejudice can hurt people, but also how it can be overcome. And it does all this in a wonderfully fun film with big laughs, clever casting (did I mention Kristen Bell has a cameo as a sloth?), and delightful animation that boasts photo-real textures, telling physicality, and undeniable verve. And as a bonus: Zootopia sets up a charismatic critter partnership that could easily carry a thrilling and fun animated franchise I’d actually be happy to see.
1. The Jungle Book (Watch Here) (Age 9+) — It’s not for little ones because the action sequences are too intense, but that’s exactly what makes it so thrilling for adults. It is a phenomenal film that hews closely to the Rudyard Kipling source material, but brings in a few surprises to differentiate it and yet never veers far away from the spirit of the book. It’s engaging from the first frame to the last, and breaks up the intensity with enough humor to keep us from dwelling too much on the terrors of the jungle.
For more movie and television recommendations from Amazon and Netflix, check out our streaming guide.