Amazon Prime has a massive library of TV shows and movies along with channels (such as HBO, CBS All Access, PBS Kids and Noggin). It also offers a variety of viewing options. You can rent, buy, or – if you have Amazon Prime – watch for free. The service just made around 40 of its Prime kids TV shows free for viewing. This list, however, covers only Prime family/kids movie offerings.
The Perfect Game: This baseball film is like that underdog team you love rooting for, and it’s about just that: a Mexican team that makes it to the 1957 Little League World Series. The plot gets sentimental and a little predictable, but it also is a feel-good time. Like a successful squeeze bunt, the film was not a big hit, but it scores with the story it wants to tell. Ages 8 and older.
Rango: This is not your typical “story-telling lizard in the Old West” film. It was made by director Gore Verbinski, whose work includes the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. So, this PG-rated work includes mature material along with the comedy and action. The film features Johnny Depp in the title role and has a striking visual style. “Rango” won the Best Animated Film Oscar in 2011, making it the only non-Disney movie to do so from 2007-2017. Ages 9 and older.
Charlotte’s Web: Today’s kids might be familiar with the 2006 film adaptation of E.B. White’s story, but families shouldn’t forget about the 1973 cartoon version. While it might seem old-fashioned by today’s standards, it’s a warm-hearted viewing experience. Ages 5 and older.
Minuscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants: This is such a little movie that it hasn’t been reviewed by Common Sense Media yet. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked. This tale of a ladybug who gets involved in a feud between two ant colonies contains little dialogue (although Richard Dreyfuss performs narrator duties). The award-winning French movie also has a unique live-action/CGI-animation visual style that suggests what late, great writer/director Jacques Tati might have done with a kids movie about bugs. Amazon recommends it for all ages.
Good Burger: This good-humored film is a good-time romp about two buddies who work at a hamburger place. Based on a popular skit on the hit ‘90s Nickelodeon show All That, this 1997 comedy stars a pre-Saturday Night Live Kenan Thompson along with his All That cohort Kel Mitchell. It’s the type of tasty, empty-calorie movie that everyone needs now and then. Ages 10 and older.
Black Beauty – The story of Black Beauty has entertained folks for nearly 150 years and Amazon Prime offers fans several viewing choices. There’s the 1994 live-action feature film as well as the 1974 TV series, The Adventures of Black Beauty, and the 1990 series, The New Adventures of Black Beauty. The ‘94 movie, featuring Alan Cummings as the voice of Black Beauty, was directed by Caroline Thompson, who also wrote The Land Before Times along with James and the Giant Peach and several other Tim Burton movies. (Common Sense Media: ages 7 and older for the 1994 movie).
Belle and Sebastian: Based on the hugely popular French novel penned by Cécile Aubry, this movie tells the compelling story of a friendship between an orphaned boy and a mountain dog. Set during World War II, the live-action film deals with serious issues regarding the war and Nazis, but the lovely historical drama is uplifting as well. Indie rock fans of a certain age also will recognize Belle and Sebastian as the name of a popular Scottish band. Ages 10 and older.
Maya The Bee: Also based on a classic European children’s book is this 2014 computer-animated flick. The story follows the amusing exploits of its title character, while also communicating a message of inclusivity (it is OK for bees to be friends with hornets, beetles and other insects). If this film is a hit with your kids, the sequel, “Maya The Bee 2: The Honey Games” can also be seen on Amazon Prime, while Netflix has the Maya The Bee TV series. Ages 4 and older.
The Stolen Princess: In the libraries for Amazon Prime and other platforms, you will encounter many smaller movies with premises that greatly resemble successful kids movies. “The Stolen Princess” looks like one of these, but it has received some pretty good reviews (a 6.1 on IMDB and 4 out of 5 on Amazon). This Ukrainian animated film, based on an Aleksander Pushkin fairy tale, appears to have done decent job adding a freshness to the familiar princess story. Amazon recommends it for all ages.
Disney Parks: What to do when your kids are begging to go to the currently closed Disneyland? Turn to Amazon Prime, where you’ll find this series of seven featurettes (all under 60 minutes). Part documentary and part promotional film, they provide virtual visits to sites including Disneyland, Disney World and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The films also are around a decade old, so they provide a trip in the parks’ past, too. Amazon recommends them for all ages.