NEW YORK (AP) – Weeks of quarantine with kids have a way of burning through a movie collection.
Even with the libraries of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and others, there are plenty of households that have already had their fill of â€œFrozenâ€ and overdosed on â€œOnward.â€ In the best of times, the canon for kids movies can feel limiting. Disney overwhelms.
But thereâ€™s a wider world of movies out there for young ones. Weâ€™ll assume theyâ€™ve already accrued a solid foundation of some of the essentials: â€œFantastic Mr. Fox,â€ â€œThe Iron Giant,â€ Pixar, the Muppets, et cetera. So hereâ€™s a few slightly further afield options – all available to stream, rent or are free – that your kids might not have seen.
– â€œFly Away Homeâ€: The outlines of this 1996 film, with Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels, suggest a familiar and schmaltzy kind of family movie, but itâ€™s handled with such grace that it rises above the ordinary. Also, the geese are really great. A 13-year-old (Paquin) moves in with her estranged father (Daniels) in rural Canada after the death of her mother. She adopts an abandoned nest of goose eggs, raises them and teaches them to fly South for the winter. Available to stream on the Criterion Channel. The director, Carroll Ballard, and the cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel, also crafted a movie of pastoral beauty and sweet child-animal camaraderie in 1979â€™s â€œBlack Stallion,â€ which is streaming on Amazon Prime.
— â€œLupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostroâ€: For streaming Studio Ghibli films, weâ€™ll have to wait until they collectively hit HBO Max when it launches in May. (They are available outside the U.S. on Netflix.) They are so good – among the most wondrous in cinema – you might just go ahead and buy copies of â€œMy Neighbor Totoro,â€ â€œSpirited Awayâ€ and â€œPrincess Mononoke.â€ But for now, you can stream the feature-film directing debut of Hayao Miyazaki, the animation master and co-founder of Ghibli. â€œThe Castle of Cagliostro,â€ on Netflix, isnâ€™t as well-known as Miyazakiâ€™s best. But the directorâ€™s verve and imagination is already on display in this, a caper that continues the exploits of the debonair thief ArsÃ¨ne Lupin. Here Lupin discovers the loot from a casino heist is counterfeit.
–Buster Keaton: No child raised on Buster Keaton can turn out bad. Itâ€™s just a fact. Most even young children recognize, and laugh their heads off at, his genius. Keatonâ€™s features are widely available, but many of his equally brilliant shorts can be streamed for free. Among them, â€œOne Week,â€ in which he tries to assemble a house; â€œThe Goat,â€ wherein Keaton is mistaken for a murderer; and â€œCops,â€ in which he angers the entire Los Angeles police force.
– â€œStop Making Senseâ€: Concert films are an underutilized source of entertainment for kids. Jonathan Demmeâ€™s glorious Talking Heads documentary, available for digital rental and to stream for free via Vudu, is a good place to start. And since David Byrne slowly assembles his band – beginning with just himself, an acoustic guitar and a tape deck, on â€œPsycho Killerâ€ – â€œStop Making Senseâ€ offers a good step-by-step education on how to build a post-modern funk extravaganza. Plus tips on wearing big suits and dancing with floor lamps. (See also: â€œA Hard Dayâ€™s Night,â€ on Criterion Channel and â€œThe Last Waltzâ€ on Amazon Prime.)
– â€œThe Three Caballerosâ€: There are forgotten Disney treasures, too, including this trippy 1944 gem streaming on Disney Plus. On his birthday, Donald Duck receives package from his friends in Central and South America. Inside are film reels that bring a handful of individual tales and travelogues that Donald leaps into, too. Itâ€™s a loving if overly exotic celebration of South America with some fabulous and surreal moments that blend animation and live action. The movie was produced as part of the wartime â€œGood Neighborâ€ policy to bring the Americas together and ward off any appeals from Axis powers. All of which is to say: â€œThe Three Caballerosâ€ isnâ€™t your average Disney movie.
— â€œApollo 11â€: This hit 2019 documentary, on Hulu, simply follows the moon mission from launch to rescue, without talking heads and with large amounts of previously unseen IMAX footage. Itâ€™s a propulsive time-capsule, one that the intervening 50 years has made only more stupendous. â€œApollo 11,â€ like the archival â€œFor All Mankind,â€ captures the all-ages thrill and glory of the moon landing.
– â€œPirates! Band of Misfitsâ€: Aardman Animations has been reliably churning out delights, from â€œWallace and Gromit” to â€œShaun the Sheep,” for decades. â€œPirates! Band of Misfitsâ€ (2012) came and went somewhat quietly and didn’t spawn a franchise. But the Aardman charm is there on the high seas, too. Streaming on Hulu.
– â€œBoyâ€: Taika Watiti does kids better than any working filmmaker today. Well before his Oscar-nominated â€œJo Jo Rabbit,â€ Waititi was making comic and big-hearted films about childhood, including his Oscar-nominated short, â€œTwo Cars, One Night,” and this semi-autobiographical sophomore feature, inspired by that short. James Rolleston stars as an 11-year-old Maori boy and Michael Jackson fan whose dimwitted ex-convict father (a mulleted Waititi) returns home. Available on the free, public library streaming service Kanopy.
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Carroll Ballard’s first name.