Top 5 Less Obvious Family Movies to Stream
So here’s a few family movie options — all available to stream, rent or are free — that your kids might not have seen.
1. Fly Away Home
The outlines of this 1996 film, with Anna Paquin and Jeff Daniels, suggest a familiar and schmaltzy kind of family movie, but it’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, Carol Ballard, and the cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel, also crafted a movie of pastoral beauty and sweet child-animal camaraderie in 1979’s “Black Stallion,” which is streaming on Amazon Prime.
2. The Three Caballeros
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. It’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 “Good Neighbor” policy to bring the Americas together and ward off any appeals from Axis powers. All of which is to say: “The Three Caballeros” isn’t your average Disney movie.
3. Apollo 11
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. It’s a propulsive time-capsule, one that the intervening 50 years has made only more stupendous. “Apollo 11,” like the archival “For All Mankind,” captures the all-ages thrill and glory of the moon landing.
4. Pirates! Band of Misfits
Aardman Animations has been reliably churning out delights, from “Wallace and Gromit” to “Shaun the Sheep,” for decades. “Pirates! Band of Misfits” (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.
Taika Watiti does kids better than any working filmmaker today. Well before his Oscar-nominated “Jo Jo Rabbit,” Waititi was making comic and big-hearted films about childhood, including his Oscar-nominated short, “Two 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.