May flowers. May Day. Maypole. May I please have another?
May is one of those wonderful months that fills us with thoughts of renewal and fresh springy goodness. We go to festivals in the park, work in the garden and take bike rides in the soft sunshine in May. Things that’ll keep us outside and basking in the blossoming nature.
On that occasional rainy spring day when you’re not thinking about grabbing an umbrella and taking a nice walk through the dewy grass, though, you might just wonder what you can watch with the fam on the telly. So what’s streaming in May that’ll be as light and cheery as the season around us?
Along with all the blooming perennials, let’s start our list with a perennial favorite sports pic.
Hoosiers (PG, 1986) A failed college coach gets a chance at redemption when he is hired by an Indiana high school to head up the basketball program. After the team’s star player quits to focus on his long-neglected studies, the coach struggles to develop a winning team in the face of community criticism for his temper and his unconventional choice of assistant coach.
This film, starring Oscar-winner Gene Hackman, is a winner itself on a number of fronts and explores everything from the folly of exalting athletes too highly to the power of believing in someone and the strength of a father/son bond. Plugged In’s Bob Smithouser said of the pic: “Hoosiers is almost perfect. There are a few mild profanities. On-court fisticuffs break out, but only in the context of players sticking up for each other. Most families will find these minor drawbacks worth navigating for the net benefits of an outstanding character study.”
For those who want their heroes in spandex, how about a few seasons of a fun-and-friendly superhero TV show? And with this next one, the streaming might just zip quickly past.
The Flash Young Barry Allen, in his day job as a Central City crime scene investigator, is known for two things: his steady, deliberate mind and always being late. But that was before Central City’s particle accelerator blew up during a fierce thunderstorm. Barry was struck by a bolt of physics-defying lightning that rebooted the perpetually tardy guy into a real speedster. He becomes a super-fast guy who not only investigates crimes but becomes a hero determined to stop crime in its tracks. Our own Paul Asay has said that “this show feels positively old-fashioned at times, a place where unabashedly good heroes battle nefariously villainous villains. Sure, maybe Barry experiences the occasional moment of self-doubt or deals with a moral quandary or two. But … there’s no tortured soul lurking inside that red hero’s outfit of his, no simmering gothic ennui. This guy’s a hero without an asterisk, a Central City denizen who is as good as they come.”
This next possible movie choice from Netflix isn’t exactly about a magical season of sunshine and spring flowers, but as our review of it says: “Is any season as magical as Christmas?”
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (PG, 2018) A young girl is presented with a long golden string by her godfather at an annual holiday party that leads her to a special key—a key to a gift her late mother once gave her. But that key is in a mysterious parallel kingdom, and the string leads the girl into this magical world. There she must brave the ominous Fourth Realm (home to the tyrant Mother Ginger), retrieve her key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.
Plugged In’s Adam Holz said, “Disney’s latest offers a rollicking adventure, an admirable young heroine, and solid messages about growing in courage, conviction and confidence.”
We haven’t mentioned HBO much when it comes to suggestions for family friendly programming (wonder why that is …), but if you have that service, there are several pics we can point out this May.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG-2011) In the further adventures in C.S. Lewis’ fantasy adventure, Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin Eustace encounter merfolk, dragons, dwarves, and a wandering band of lost warriors. They join Prince Caspian for a voyage on the majestic royal vessel known as The Dawn Treader, and as the edge of the world draws near, their remarkable adventure at sea sails toward an exciting, yet uncertain, conclusion. This is a film of faith, adventure and child-endearing action. Reviewer Paul Asay put it this way: “For two hours, I was engrossed in a land I loved as a child and still love today. I was called into a magical world and I once again felt Aslan tugging at my heart. He wasn’t in my backyard, but it was the next best thing.”
My Dog Skip (PG, 2000) The year is 1942. Willie Morris is a kid with a good heart, but he relates better to books than to his peers. Picked on by bullies and ignored by everyone else, Willie has one pal, Dink Jenkins, the town’s star athlete. Soon, Dink leaves to fight overseas in World War II. Enter Skip, a tenacious terrier pup who helps Willie explore life beyond his social tethers. This family pic has solid lessons about loyalty, redemption, racial injustice, patriotism, nonviolence and stereotyping. Or as reviewer Bob Smithouser put it: “When pro-family film critics sit down to compile their Top 10 of 2000, expect the unanimous inclusion of My Dog Skip.”
OK, so if you don’t have HBO, how about a couple May-worthy, carefree selections from Amazon Prime and Hulu?
The Secret of NIMH (G, 1982) Adapted from Robert C. O’Brien’s acclaimed children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of N.I.M.H., the film focuses on a widowed mouse whose home is threatened; also, one of her children is gravely ill. On her way to find help, she discovers NIMH, a secret society of highly-intelligent rats who escaped from a nearby science lab. The rats help the widow to protect her family and home. Director Don Bluth led an exodus of animators from Walt Disney Productions in the ’80s, and this was their first full feature in the old Disney tradition. Christian Science Monitor reviewer David Sterritt said of the beautifully animated film: “Aside from its title, there’s no secret about it: The Secret of NIMH is exciting, engaging, and often magnificent to look at.”
The Time Machine (PG-13, 2002) A brilliant scientist, desperate to undo the tragic death of his fiancée, invents a time machine in 1903. Fruitless attempts to change the past inspire him to seek answers in the future. After brief stops in 2030 and 2037, he’s hurtled forward 800,000 years where he befriends natives fighting to survive ferocious beasts. This is a fun pic for those who like a broad sci-fi adventure in their May viewing schedule. Plugged In’s Bob Smithouser said that “the movie raises issues of conformity, guilt, and deciding when it’s appropriate to accept one’s fate and when it’s better to fight it. The Time Machine isn’t a great film, but it’s likable, especially for its restraint.”