Netflix is the top dog among subscription video streaming services. Titles often go in and out of circulation, but, as of the end of March, these family movies all seem to be viewable.
Space Jam: The one and only movie starring Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan just keeps jamming along. A sequel starring LeBron James is scheduled for release next year. Fitting for a live action/computer animation hybrid, this movie is part sports story, part sci-fi adventure and part Looney Tunes cartoon. It tells the fictionalized tale of what happened when Michael Jordan was retired from 1993-95, and it comes over-stuffed with cameos by 1990s NBA stars and classic cartoon characters. Ages 4 and older.
The Little Prince: It’s hard to know whether to call this is an adaptation of or just “inspired by” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved book. Unlike the book, this movie’s plot includes a young girl who hears the little prince’s story from her neighbor, an odd, airplane-loving elderly man who explains he met the little prince years ago. Directed by Mark Osborne (co-director of “Kung Fu Panda”), this 2015 release inventively uses computer animation to represent the girl’s world and stop-motion animation for the world of the little prince. Ages 10 and older.
Hop: With Easter arriving April 12, it’s time to think about holiday-related movies. One is this 2011 live action/CGI animation. The jumping off point for the plot is the conflict between the Easter Bunny and his son, E.B., who isn’t interested in following in his father’s paw-steps but wants to be a drummer instead. The comedy then follows E.B.’s wacky rabbit misadventures around Los Angeles as he follows his dream. Ages 5 and older.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Whether you are a faithful inhabitant of the Marvel Universe or just an occasional visitor, you will get drawn into this Spider-Man movie. This 2018 animated incarnation includes multiple Spider-Men (and Spider-Women), alternative universes, an amazing visual design and plenty of humor and action. But since this was such a smash hit, you probably know this by now. Ages 9 and older.
Hugo: When you think of family-film directors, you don’t usually think of Martin Scorsese. However, in 2011, he turned Brian Selznick’s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” into a sumptuous motion picture (it earned 11 Oscar nominations including Best Picture). Set in Paris in the early ’30s, the movie may offer more of an escape now than it did upon its release. Scorsese does a magnificent job creating Hugo’s world and saluting the magic of cinema. Like the book, the movie has some sophisticated storytelling that might not sit well with young children. Ages 8 and older.
White Fang: This latest adaptation of Jack London’s classic adventure novel about a wolf dog has been praised for its vivid visual animation and its compelling storytelling. This isn’t one of those talking dog movies; however, audiences will connect with White Fang through the dog’s expressions. While this film avoids some of London’s brutal passages, it still contains a good deal of harsh, probably unsettling incidents. Ages 10 and older.
Christopher Robin: Offering a different twist to the Winnie the Pooh tales, this live action/CGI animated movie features a grown-up Christopher Robin. The weary, overworked Robin gets his life recharged when his childhood pals Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the other Hundred Acre Wood buddies, pay a visit. This is an endearing film with the simple, but always important, message that life, family and friends are things that should enjoyed. Ages 8 and older.
Rugrats: Rugrats rule on Netflix, where fans of the long-running Nickelodeon TV series can catch three Rugrats movies: the 1998 self-titled release, the 2000 sequel “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie” and the 2003 “Rugrats Go Wild.” The last movie also features characters from a fellow Nickelodeon show, The Wild Thornberrys. Think of these films as “parents’ helpers,” as they absorb more of kids’ viewing time than the normal half-hour episode. Ages 4-5 and older.
The Adventures of Tintin: Hergé’s comic book series has found huge success worldwide since it started coming out in the 1930s. Hollywood, didn’t tap into the phenomenon until Steven Spielberg brought Tintin to the big screen in 2011, creating a visually stunning, and rather faithful, adaptation that makes great use of motion-capture technology. It probably is helpful to know a bit of the Tintin lore beforehand, but it’s not necessary. Ages 9 and older.
Mary Poppins Returns: This 2018 release has the unenviable position of being the sequel to the one of the world’s most-loved movies. It’s not surprising if it falls short by comparison. Still, there is much to enjoy here, with Emily Blunt (as Mary) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (as Jack) drawing praise for their portrayals. While perhaps not “practically perfect,” this Mary Poppins holds enough magic to brighten a day. Ages 6 and older.