The holidays are blowing in quickly—along with snow days, fall breaks and all those outlier relatives who tend to show up for free meals and presents—so your thoughts may have already turned to: How do we keep the kids and my unibrowed Uncle Harry entertained?
Well, I’ve got a good news/bad news scenario for you.
On the bad side, there’s not a whole lot of new family friendly movies flooding onto your typical Netflix, Hulu and Amazon sites. I know, that just seems crazy, right?
I mean, it almost feels like movies made for kids are being drained away by some formidable force and transferred to another collection point like … I don’t know, a Disney stronghold?
And that’s the good news if you’re the new adapter type. Disney+ is recalling all its many, many, many entertainment franchises (I mean Disney does kind of own the entertainment world, doesn’t it?) so it can bound onto the streaming scene in just a couple days (Disney+ will go live Nov. 12) with Mickey-approved fare. (Of course, even Mickey has gotten a bit lax in his attention to family-friendly detail in some cases.) So, let’s see what kinds of things the House of Mouse is showcasing with it’s opening tender.
First of all, there will be some original Disney content initially offered up for the likes of Star Wars and Toy Story fans. That collection includes shows such as The Mandalorian (a spaghetti Western-like live TV show that fills in story details between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens) and Forky Asks a Question (a Pixar series that asks important questions about how the world—and a spork—works). We’ll have to wait and see if those shows are family-room worthy, and we’ll report back when we know.
As far as movies are concerned, though, there is a whole caboodle of classics showing up on the D+ streaming service, including:
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (G,1937) This Grimm fairy tale gets true Technicolor treatment in Disney’s first animated feature about a wicked queen who wants to get rid of her beautiful attention-grabbing stepdaughter. But before bad things happen, the young innocent gets some unexpected help from the forest inhabitants.
Pinocchio (G, 1940) In this animated favorite, a loving woodcarver named Geppetto longs for a son and wishes on a falling star. And in the night a magical fairy grants the old man’s wish. But, in spite of all the magic, wish-enlivened wooden boys and elderly woodcarvers still have life lessons to learn.
Dumbo (G, 1941) A young circus elephant is born with comically large ears in this animated original. It’s an early tale of a lovable pachyderm who overcomes bullying and other sad things of life to astound everyone with his hidden talents.
The Three Caballeros (G, 1944) This Academy Award-nominated cartoon was something of an animation-mixed-with live-action groundbreaker back in the day, one which took Donald Duck off on some exciting travels through Latin America. Along the way he meets some new buds who show him the singing and dancing ropes south of the border.
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (G, 1961) Doggy family life flourishes as human pet owners and their beloved Dalmatians all fall in love and start their respective families. Of course, keeping a passel of puppies out of the clutches of a not-so-nice woman named Cruella De Vil (or is that D-evil?) will be a challenge for humans and canines alike.
OK, so you want something a little more live-action? Here are a couple of my personal favorites on the Disney+ list that I can recommend.
The Absent-Minded Professor (G, 1961) A scientist named Ned can’t keep track of his absent-minded life. But then the chemically focused prof creates a flying rubber he dubs “flubber” and uses the stuff to make his old Model T fly, create some sports team secret weapons, foil some thieving crooks and repair his love life, too.
Miracle on 34th Street (NR, 1947) There have been other takes on the tale of a Macy’s Kris Kringle and a Santa-doubting little girl, but none quite so good as this version starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara and a 9-year-old Natalie Wood. It’s a secular examination of the spirit of Christmas, to be sure, but still a sweet tale of childhood joy.
Oh, and those are just the tip of the movie-fare iceberg this month for Disney+ subscribers. We didn’t even get to Mickey, Minnie and the gang. But I’m sure they’ll hang around for future mentions. They’re under contract after all.