‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’
In 1937, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” captured the imaginations of children and adults, and set Disney on a path to creating endless classics, including “Fantasia” (1940), “The Lion King” (1994) and more. To celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary this year, Disney+ is streaming a 4K restoration of “Snow White.” While kids might be familiar with the story of the dark-haired princess, her mirror-loving evil stepmother and the seven dwarfs, it’s worth showing them the restored film version so they can absorb the tale in all its original glory (beautified by modern technology, of course).
“Snow White” was the first full-length animated feature film, and the classic characters, visuals and story are worth passing on to the next generation.
Unless you are the world’s most relaxed free-range parent, you’ll likely relate to Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos (Édgar Ramírez). They used to be cool. They went skydiving and rock climbing. They said yes to everything — until they had three children and started saying no every time one of them went near a butter knife or some monkey bars. When Allison and Carlos are told by teachers that they’re too strict, a guidance counselor (Nat Faxon) suggests they try a Yes Day, where they spend 24 hours saying yes to their kids.
Based on the children’s book of the same name, “Yes Day” could be thought of as a wholesome, family-friendly version of “The Purge,” where the craziest things that happen involve eating giant sundaes and driving through a carwash with the windows down. The director Miguel Arteta (“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”) fits in some genuinely funny moments into the story: The couple’s teen daughter, Katie (Jenna Ortega), writes a haiku in school about being a caged bird with a prison warden for a mother, and their son Nando (Julian Lerner) makes a short film comparing his mother to Stalin and Mussolini. If you’re looking for a sweet, simple movie to watch with elementary- or middle school-age children, this is a fun one.
In order to enjoy this one, it’s best to put aside questions like, “Why do these ancient Egyptians have British accents?” The story centers on three very cute undead mummies milling about in the underworld of Ancient Egypt: a former chariot driver, Thut (voiced by Joe Thomas); Princess Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson); and Thut’s little brother, Sekhem (Santiago Winder). Their pet crocodile tags along, too.
The pharaoh (Sean Bean) arranges a marriage between Thut and Nefer (yes, even though they’re dead), but when an evil not-dead archaeologist named Lord Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville) steals the engagement ring, the mummies journey to modern day London to find it. This Spanish production, helmed by the first-time feature director Juan Jesús García Galocha and distributed by Warner Bros., should entertain toddlers and other little ones who are charmed by cute characters, fun dance numbers and animated crocodiles.
‘We Can Be Heroes’
The writer-director Robert Rodriguez understands that kids who like superheroes love watching kids who actually are superheroes. He has perfected that dynamic in movies like “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D” (2005) and this year’s “Spy Kids: Armageddon.” “We Can Be Heroes,” which he wrote with his son Racer, focuses on the next generation of Sharkboy and Lavagirl-esque superheroes.
Here, the children have to harness their powers to save the world when their parents are captured by evil forces. The government hides the children in an underground bunker run by Ms. Granada (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), but the kids soon figure out that it’s up to them — not the adults — to save the day. Yaya Gosselin as Missy Moreno, the leader of the young pack, is especially fun to watch, as is Vivien Lyra Blair as Guppy, the tiny but mighty daughter of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Pedro Pascal and Christian Slater play two of the older superheroes, and the Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza (“Babel”) plays Missy’s grandmother. The movie’s themes of teamwork and collaboration add to the frothy fun.
This movie isn’t a spinoff or a reboot; it’s an original story written by Lucy Alibar, who is known for working on screenplays for films set in the South, like “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which earned her an Oscar nomination. With “Troop Zero,” she leans way into her Southern roots — and Allison Janney, Viola Davis and Jim Gaffigan lean way into Southern accents.
It takes place in a small Georgia town in 1977. A girl named Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace from “I, Tonya”) would rather learn about science and space travel than paint her nails like the other belles. When NASA announces a contest that would allow a few winners to have their voices put on a record to be sent into space, Christmas has to join the Birdie Scouts (think Girl Scouts mixed with “Mean Girls”) to be eligible. She recruits a posse of other misfits to join her, which prompts the meanies say taunts like, “Y’all suck at being girls.” But Christmas and her crew are not deterred. The result is a funny and slightly saccharine celebration of self-acceptance. Directed by the duo Bert & Bertie, “Troop Zero” should appeal to elementary-age children who love to root for the underdogs.