Elections, family gatherings, brisk winter weather, thankfulness and food. Such are the joys of November.
Well OK, politicians, icy roadways and some prickly family members may not always make you joyous, but November has ways to warm your heart nonetheless. And that’s especially true when your blanket is comfy, the cocoa is rich and there’s a fun movie to enjoy on the tube.
So let’s take a gander at what’s streaming this month and see if there’s anything that might keep you cozy inside while the snow is falling outside.
Netflix has a couple broad fantasies that you and yours might enjoy. And they both feature unexpected visitors from exotic domains.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (PG, 2007): Based on a children’s story authored by Dick King-Smith whose writings inspired the talking-pig yarn Babe, this is a warm-hearted tale about a young laddy and his Loch Ness monster. It features a special bond between a father and son and packs impressive creature effects designed and created by Peter Jackson’s WETA workshop.
For all of its positives, however, parents will need to be aware of quite a bit of sharp-toothed peril in this Scottish Highlands pic. Or as my Plugged In review put it: “That means we’re so busy worrying about little Angus keeping all his digits (or his face, for that matter) that it’s sometimes hard to see the screeching monster as a misunderstood friend that must be protected.”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (PG, 1977): This Steven Spielberg classic is about several people who have near brushes with Unidentified Flying Objects and become obsessed with discovering what their “close encounter” meant. Could it really be that men from outer space are trying to communicate with them? And could a band of government researchers believe the same thing?
This sci-fi fantasy may be a little slow and a little rough in the language department for the youngest tykes in the family, but for tweens and up it’s a flying saucer joy that deserves a big screen and a solid sound system.
Amazon has some adventure movies possibly worth checking out with the fam this month, too. And Steven Spielberg helmed one of them as well.
Christmas With the Kranks (PG, 2004): This rollicking Christmas comedy starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis tells the story of a family set to embark on a holiday cruise when they get the unexpected news that a loved one is coming home—and expecting a traditional family Christmas. With holiday supplies all but depleted and not a single stocking hung, the Kranks abandon their cruise and make a mad dash to “create” Christmas before their beloved daughter arrives.
Plugged In reviewer Marcus Yoars appreciated the crazy comedy’s fun and fanfare saying: “It doesn’t direct audiences to the Creator who makes Christmas possible, but its point is still a poignant one: Is every decoration, every party and every 12-course meal necessary?”
Or, how about a “holiday” of a different bean, er, stripe.
Mr. Bean’s Holiday (G, 2007): This is the story of a boy and a far-less-than-verbose English gent named Bean who are accidentally thrown together for an outlandish journey—the lad to be reunited with his father, Bean to claim his long-awaited holiday. Along the way, Mr. Bean gets locked in an outhouse, plays air guitar, sticks matches in his eyes, ruins a yogurt commercial and (perhaps) finds true love.
Our reviewer Paul Asay said of this pic: “Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a throwback to the essence of silent films starring the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Rowan Atkinson’s Bean is a creature of outsized facial expressions and physical gestures, rarely needing to speak to convey meaning, humanity and humor. Even better, he punts bathroom and sexual humor in favor of telling a quirky yet time-honored brand of misadventure story.”
The Adventures of Tintin (PG, 2011): Steven Spielberg directs this cinematic version of the classic European comic book serial Tintin. It’s all about a boy-reporter and his dog pal Snowy who find themselves pulled from the pursuit of a possible news story and tossed into a mystery involving a treasure of gold and jewels.
In my review of this animated pic, I wrote, “If the celluloid spirit of the intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones could be peeled off a movie reel, pumped up with a shot of espresso, reshaped into the form of an animated boy-reporter and sent off on a rollercoaster ride that spanned the globe … The Adventures of Tintin would be the result.”
Yep, it’s playful and active, but Mom and Dad should note that there’s also some drunkenness, rough-and-tumble pummelings and gunfights in the PG mix, too.
Then we come to the offerings on Hulu. If you’re feeling like a winter’s night film that’ll get your blood pumping, how about a sports pic with a lot of punch and a dash of Rocky Balboa?
Creed (PG-13, 2015) : Left, right, duck. Left, right, duck. This pic jumps back into the ring with the aging slugger who decides, against his better judgement, to train the son of his greatest rival. Together they struggle to, once again, raise up the name of Creed in the professional boxing ranks.
This is a pretty well-made boxing pic for older members of the household to enjoy. Our review noted a lot of positive mixed in with a few thumbs to the eye. I wrote, “I wish they’d left the profanity and sexual nods on the mat right along with the sweat and the blood, certainly. But there’s something undeniably affirming and upright about the rest of this.”