We’ve all heard the old saying that March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” But did you know that on the ancient Roman calendar, March rang in the New Year? That’s what some knowledgeable scholars say. And in our modern day, March is also known as a great month for basketball (March Madness), but a terrible time for productivity (one number-crunching firm estimated last year that American companies lost $1.9 billion in wages paid to unproductive workers). Hm, makes you wonder if there’s a relationship there.
I can’t say I know much about any of that lion, lamb and basketballing stuff. But I can say that this March is looking like a pretty decent month if you’re looking for a little kid-friendly movie-watching on the various streaming sites. There are old favorites aplenty to be found.
For example, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber you can dial up a fun flick about a fat bear who knows how to throw a decent skadoosh.
Kung Fu Panda (PG, 2008): A clumsy, roly-poly bear named Po is tapped as the “chosen one;” a kung-fu hero that is destined to save the world in its darkest hour. Now all Po has to do is learn how to do more than eat Chinese dumplings and play with action figures: He must transform himself into a fearsome fighting machine.
This fun, character-filled animation is packed to the brim with lush watercolor visuals and giggle-worthy action. You can expect lots of thumps and bumps in the story mix along with a dash of yin-yang spirituality. But, as I mentioned in my review: “It also encourages finding your own strengths, being disciplined, learning from those who are older and wiser, protecting the innocent and standing up for what’s right even when you’re afraid you might fail.”
And if you find yourself really charmed by the Jack Black-voiced Po and saying “more Po, please,” you can flip on over to Netflix and watch:
Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG, 2011): The chubby panda, Po, is now living the dream as The Dragon Warrior and protecting the Valley of Peace along his friends and fellow kung fu masters. But Po must look to his past and uncover some mysterious secrets if he wants to unlock the strength he needs to take on a new formidable villain.
This is another fun-filled flick, with more kung-fuing and the like. And there’s yet another solid moral. Plugged In reviewer Paul Asay gave us the lowdown on the high-flying lesson. “We’re told that just because your story starts out bad—just because some awful things happen to you—doesn’t mean your whole life need reflect that. It’s what you do, not what others do to you, that makes you who you are.”
If you want another feel-good kid-pic from 2011, you can also check out:
Hugo (PG, 2011) Director Martin Scorsese applies his Academy Award-winning panache to the tale of a wily and resourceful boy who sets off to unlock the secret of a broken automaton left to him by his father. Plugged In reviewer Adam Holz earmarked this film as a great pic for both kids and adults. “Hugo is one of those rare films that works on practically every level … for practically every audience. Visually, Scorsese’s first foray into 3-D filmmaking is a sumptuous masterpiece. His rendering of Paris, of Hugo’s essentially subterranean environs and of his characters’ expressions make this film a case study in cinematic excellence.” Adam also noted that “Friendship and family, perseverance and hope all take center stage” in this fun adventure. Enough said?
OK, so now let’s venture over to HBO for, arguably, the sweetest movie about a pig that there’s ever been.
Babe (G, 1993): A young oinker named Babe comes to the rescue of his beloved owner, Farmer Hoggett, by figuring out how to get along with the other farm animals and become the best little sheep-pig in the world. Good enough, pig. Good enough.
Heartwarming? Uh huh. Fun for the whole family? You bet. This is a great little film that, uh, brings home the bacon on themes of friendship, family and loyalty.
All right, I guess Babe isn’t the only piggie in the kid-friendly poke. You can also flip on over to Hulu for another pig-centric pic.
Charlotte’s Web (G, 1973): Hollywood made a live-action version of this classic E.B. White story. But for some fans, the 1970s animated version is a cut above. It features the famous voices of stars such as Debbie Reynolds and Agnes Moorehead. It translates this beloved tale of a pig and its spider pal into an animated musical. This cartoon classic was praised as a “heartwarming tale of love and friendship” back when it first hit movie screens, and it’s still a wonderful little bittersweet film—dealing with themes that author E.B. White himself once described as “the miracle of birth, the miracle of friendship, and the miracle of death.”
We’ve suggested you check out a well-made movie about a boy and his mysterious automaton, a couple of cute flicks about courageous pigs and a pair of pics featuring a kung-fuing panda. So, now let’s head over to Disney+ and look at a film featuring animals of an icier sort in another family fave for March streamers.
Ice Age (PG, 2002): Set against the onslaught of the ice age, this story revolves around three unforgettable characters: a wooly mammoth loner named Manny, a hungry saber-toothed tiger named Diego, and a jabbering, oddball sloth named Sid. This trio of very unlikely friends must come to terms with each other and also find a way to return a lost and helpless human baby to its tribe. Our Bob Smithouser suggested that some of the rollicking Looney Tunes-like peril here might be a bit unsettling for kids under 7. But for all others, he stated that this animated pic has nice themes of friendship and self-sacrifice and that it “benefits from clever writing, delightfully wacky voice work … and some of the wildest action and slapstick possible without an anvil and a ‘That’s all folks!’”
So, there you go. Hope these suggestions help you celebrate a Roman New Year, get past those nasty ol’ Ides and enjoy your March.