Y’Know, for the Kids

VIRTUAL REPERTORY SERIES

We at The Brattle love kids movies but you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at our regular programming. While we offer periodic family-friendly films and, of course, the annual Bugs Bunny Film Festival, it’s not very frequently that we focus specifically on movies for children. That changes now!

With the ongoing social distancing efforts happening in our community (and around the world), we know that many film fans find themselves at home with young children and other family members. With this ongoing series of selections for the young or young at heart, we hope to offer some ideas for films that you can watch with your whole family (or at least subsections thereof). We will try to be upfront about ratings and/or content warnings but we always encourage parents to look more closely at background info before sharing with younger children.


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Saturday, May 30

KEDI (2017)

Streaming on Kanopy; for rent

2017 • dir Ceyda Torun • 79 min

A delightful documentary about the free cats of Istanbul – neither 100% wild, nor tame, the thousands of felines hold a significant place in the lives of the human inhabitants. Even if you’re not a cat person, this beautifully shot film offers a unique perspective on an ancient city and it’s modern inhabitants. This film is unrated but, aside from some relatively mild cat-on-cat violence, there is nothing to alarm any children.

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Tuesday, May 26

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH (1995)

Streaming on AmazonPrime; for rent elsewhere

1995 dir John Sayles w/Jeni Courtney, Eileen Colgan, Mick Lally, John Lynch, Susan Lynch • 97 min

One of the most enchanting films of the ’90s, John Sayles’ gorgeous fairy tale follows the adventures of a young girl who is sent to live with her grandparents in an Irish fishing village. While there she hears her grandmother’s stories and learns of her family connection to the Selkies, a race of mermaid-like seal-people. This charming film will cast a spell on grown-ups and children alike. Rated PG for some intense scenes but really it’s a fairy tale so nothing that isn’t too unexpected. There is some naturalistic wild child little boy nudity so, if that sounds like it would be an issue, you’ve been alerted.

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Saturday, May 23

ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN

Streaming on Disney+; for rent elesewhere

1975 • dir John Hough w/Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence • 97 min

This thrilling and weird but innocent adventure really defines the charm of the 1970s live-action disney film. Tia and Tommy are two orphans with extraordinary powers who set off on a quest to discover their true origins. Along the way, they are aided by a world-weary widower (Eddie Albert) and pursued by a nefarious businessman (Ray Milland) and his sinister toadie (Donald Pleasence). The stakes will seem high to (less jaded) youngsters but there is no real violence or significant horror in the film. It might drag a bit for a contemporary audience but once it gets going, the sheer oddness of the concept – and the way it keeps you guessing – are totally worth it.

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Saturday, May 16

RANGO

Streaming on Prime, Hulu; for rent elsewhere

2011 • dir Gore Verbinski w/Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, Bill Nighy • 107 min

This fun animated film was a little overlooked upon its initial release but we’ve always had a soft spot for it. Johnny Depp stars as the voice of a domesticated lizard who finds himself lost and stranded in a desert town populated by gun-slinging animals. He quickly finds himself thrust into a new role as sheriff – despite his apparent cowardice. Directed by Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean partner Gore Verbinski, RANGO has the swagger and inventiveness of that series but is also infused with the spirit of the Spaghetti Western for a winning effect. This film is rated PG and has a fair amount of Western-type violence (though most of it is treated comedically) and some scenes are intense or have more of a ‘for the grown-ups’ feel. That being said, for kids 10+ (especially the more precocious, jaded types), we think this film could be a real hit.

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Tuesday, May 12

WHALE RIDER

Free on IMDB TV and Tubi; For rent elsewhere

2002 • dir Niki Caro w/Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis • 101 min

Here is a tale of empowerment that is great for older kids (though it’s rated PG-13, it’s probably suitable for 10+). Keisha Castle-Hughes stars as Pai, a Maori girl in contemporary New Zealand who longs to break out of the strict gender roles imposed by her elders. Pai is the daughter of the rightful village leader but in the patrilineal society she is not allowed to pursue the position. Despite the disapproval of her grandfather, Pai still trains to assume the leadership and, ultimately, proves her indelible connection to the legend of the Whale Rider during a striking display at the finale of the film. The PG-13 rating mainly comes from some drug and alcohol references as well as some mild obscenity but those are entirely beside the point and are overshadowed by the positive messages of the film. Highly recommended.

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Brattle Sneak Preview Premiere; April 2003


Saturday, May 9

THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Streaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere

1987 • dir Rob Reiner w/Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright • 99 min

Does anyone really need us to recommend THE PRINCESS BRIDE? Probably not, so please consider this a public service announcement that this modern classic is now available to stream on Disney+. If you are unfamiliar, THE PRINCESS BRIDE is the swashbuckling story of Westley, a farm boy turned pirate, and his ‘twue wove,’ the beautiful Buttercup. It is a hilarious tale full of adventure that both celebrates and sends up the fantasy genre. The film is rated PG and does contain a lot of swashbuckling violence and a few deaths so it might be too intense for some younger kids but it is also almost impossibly fun.

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Sunday, April 26

STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.

Streaming on Prime and Kanopy; For free on Tubi; For rent elsewhere

1928 • dir Charles Resiner w/Buster Keaton, Marion Byron, Ernest Torrence, Tom McGuire • 71 min

As we hit the 30th set of recommendations, we are going to go on a brief hiatus from our kids program while we wait for new films to hit the streaming services (usually that happens around the first of the month). But we didn’t want to leave you (even temporarily) without highlighting our favorite silent clown, Buster Keaton. In STEAMBOAT BILL, JR., one of his best films, Buster plays the son of a steamboat captain back from college who has, disappointingly to his father, become a wimpy intellectual and fallen in love with the daughter of a rival. When he is put to the test, however, Buster rises to the challenge during a thrilling climax that involves one of his greatest stunts. Please enjoy this hilarious film with your families and we’ll see you again with more selections next week!

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Saturday, April 25

WALLACE & GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

Streaming on HBO; for rent elsewhere

2005 • dir Steve Box, Nick Park • 85 min

It’s Aardman Animation meets Hammer Horror in this hilarious monster movie spoof as the hapless Wallace and his trusty dog Gromit go up against a carrot-eating beast in order to save the annual Giant Vegetable Competition in their town. A typically charming romp from Nick Park and the Aardman team, CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT is rated G and it plays all of its horror movie tropes for laughs.

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Thursday, April 23

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT

Streaming on Criterion and Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1964 • dir Richard Lester w/The Beatles • 88 min

A blast of sheer unadulterated, anarchic joy, The Beatles’ A HARD DAY’S NIGHT established a high bar for every rock’n’roll movie to follow. Set over the course of two ‘average’ days in the life of the world’s most famous rock band at the height of their fame, this inventive film is packed with music and silly episodes that will entertain everyone – whether you are a Beatles fan or not. There’s basically nothing objectionable in the movie – though the accents might sometimes go over the heads of smaller kids.

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Monday, April 20 • Double Feature

THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979)
MUPPETS FROM SPACE (1999)

THE MUPPET MOVIE is streaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere
MUPPETS FROM SPACE is streaming for free on IMDbTV; for rent elsewhere

Today at the Brattle, if we were open, we’d be hosting our annual Muppet Madness Marathon – always a highlight of our year – and we’re sad to have to miss it. Fortunately, you can stream these two Muppet films (plus several others) online. We’re even posting a lyrics sheet for THE MUPPET MOVIE so you can have your own singalong edition with your family. We were excited to revisit MUPPETS FROM SPACE in light of our (now delayed) “Year of Sci-Fi” programming so let us know what you think if you watch it again or for the first time.

Download a lyrics sheet for THE MUPPET MOVIE →

Singing along at home? Tag @brattletheatre in your Instagram story and we’ll share it with our followers!


Saturday, April 18

NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE

Now streaming on HBO

2019 • dir Katt Shea w/Sophia Lillis, Zoë Renee, Mackenzie Graham • 89 min

A great film for the tweens/teens who might live in your house – or for the spirit of the teenager that still lives in your heart. We’ve been wanting to recommend this one for a while and are excited that it has been made available for free on AmazonPrime through HBO. It is directed by Katt Shea (Poison Ivy) who mostly works as an acting teacher these days – and it shows. Shea gets great performance from her teen talent – most notably the lead Sophia Lillis (It, I Am Not Okay with This) who is rapidly emerging as one of the best young actors out there. In this version of the classic girl detective story, Nancy Drew is a quirky, big-city kid who has been uprooted to a small town and is trying to find her footing. Naturally curious and resourceful, Nancy is quickly involved in investigating a supposed haunted house and butting heads with an aggressive developer. A really fun and well-done movie that carries some inspiring themes about cooperation and curiosity as well as a potent girl-power message. It is rated PG and has some very mild rough language and a couple of intense scenes so we would recommend it for tweens and older.

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Thursday, April 16

MODERN TIMES

Now streaming on Kanopy and Criterion Channel; for rent elsewhere.

1936 • dir Charlie Chaplin • 87 min

Today is Charlie Chaplin’s birthday so it seems like a great opportunity to suggest this all-time classic! MODERN TIMES is a gem among gems in his legendary career. Again in the guise of his Tramp character, Chaplin plays a hapless factory worker who falls in love with a destitute orphan and goes through a series of every-day adventures in his attempts to protect and provide for her. The ending is particularly poignant and endearing in these uncertain times. As a silent comedy, there is nothing particularly explicit in MODERN TIMES beyond an oblique reference to drugs, some slapstick violence, and one heart-stopping but hilarious scene involving a ledge and some roller skates.

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BONUS: Many of Chaplin’s short films are available on YouTube, some in restored versions. If you are lucky, you might find a copy of ONE A.M. in which Chaplin plays a hopelessly drunk man who is just trying to get home and into bed. A personal favorite of Brattle programmer Ned Hinkle.


Tuesday, April 14

DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE

Steaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere

1959 • dir Robert Stevenson w/Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery • 93 min

You might have seen this one coming if you’ve been listening to our podcast. Brattle Development Assistant Alissa remembers this film fondly, and you will too once you’ve taken in its charming story and fun special effects. Darby O’Gill, an old caretaker with the gift of gab, carries on a friendly rivalry with King Brian of the Leprechauns and entertains his friends at the pub with his wild tales. When the lord of the manor brings in a young, strapping lad (played by the not-very-Irish-at-all Sean Connery) to take over Darby’s position, a series of adventures begin. A worthwhile deep dive on Disney+ with very little challenging content – though a supernatural conflict at the end of the film has been known to cause mild cases of ‘kinder-trauma’ in the youngest viewers. Also, as one might expect from a 1959 film, the depiction of the Irish, though certainly affectionate, teeters dangerously on the edge of caricature.

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Monday, April 13

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

For rent online from Google, iTunes, Prime, YouTube and more

1952 • dir Stanley Donen w/Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse • 103 min

At least for the Brattle team, today begins the fifth week of being cooped up at home and, to top it off, it’s a stormy Monday… So we’re diverting from our practice of recommending films available on streaming services to highlight a film that is only available for rent online. But what a film! SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is one of the most exuberant, joyful movie musicals ever made with a top-notch cast (even beyond the legendary leads) and some of the greatest dance scenes of all time. Treat yourself and your family to this wonderful, energizing film and we guarantee that your day (maybe even your week) will seem brighter for it.

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Sunday, April 12

PADDINGTON

Available for rent from Apple iTunes and Vudu

2014 • dir Paul King w/Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman, Ben Wishaw • 95 min

Here’s another recent family hit that should be a favorite for everyone. Based on the beloved kid-lit bear, this British film brings just the right amount of heart and humor to the material. Ben Whishaw voices the gentle Paddington as he journeys from Peru to London in a search for family and companionship. He finds it with the Browns – a typical 21st century family who live together but have lost sight of their true connection. The focus on kindness and compassion as forces for change and good is especially apt in these challenging times. It’s rated PG and there are some intense scenes and action but really nothing that’s truly terrifying.

If you want to go for a double-feature, the sequel is even better (and more rewarding for adult viewers) but is only available for rent online right now.

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Saturday, April 11 • Double Feature

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)
HUGO (2011)

Both streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere.
We don’t want everything we recommend to be hopelessly obscure! While these two adaptations don’t quite do justice to their sources, they are still fun in their own ways and will (hopefully) delight your more precocious kids. Steven Spielberg’s TINTIN is a full-on adventure movie in the spirit of his Indiana Jones films and, at its best, captures the same excitement. Scorsese’s HUGO adeptly adapts a beloved YA novel about an orphan and his connection to the birth of cinema. Though they were somewhat bad-mouthed upon release, both are well worth another look. Both are rated PG and have some intense scenes. There is plenty of swashbuckling action and violence in TINTIN so probably best for somewhat older children.

TINTIN: Watch Trailer
HUGO: Watch Trailer


Friday, April 10

POPEYE

Now streaming on Netflix; free w/ads on Sony Crackle; for rent elsewhere

1980 • dir Robert Altman w/Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston • 114 min

Robert Altman’s much-maligned adaptation of the classic cartoon character got a bad rap when it was released (admittedly it was a box office flop) but, upon reappraisal, it has copious charms. Robin Williams is pretty spot-on as the spinach-fueled sailor man and nobody has ever embodied a cartoon character better than Shelley Duvall’s Olive Oyl. There are songs by the great Harry Nilsson and the trademark Altman overlapping-dialogue but kids will also connect with the wild, chaotic action. It’s a fun-if-not-perfect film and worth checking out. Though it is rated PG, there really isn’t that much objectionable content beyond the requisite cartoon violence – I think someone says ‘shit’ once.

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Thursday, April 9

THE FRESHMAN

Streaming on Criterion and Kanopy; for rent elsewhere

1925 • dir Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor w/Harold Lloyd • 76 min

Silent comedies are almost always a hit with kids of all ages (and the young at heart) and today we shine the spotlight on the third great silent clown. Alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd created some of the most hilarious characters during the golden age of silent comedy. In THE FRESHMAN, Harold stars as a hapless college newcomer who desperately wants to become popular and well-respected. Unfortunately, most of his efforts backfire spectacularly. He does make it onto the football team but only as a stand-in for the tackling dummy. Until the Big Game, that is, when Harold gets his chance to be a hero.

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Wednesday, April 8

TO CATCH A THIEF

Streaming on Prime; for rent elsewhere

1955 • dir Alfred Hitchcock w/Cary Grant, Grace Kelly • 106 min

It’s a gloomy morning here in Cambridge so perhaps it’s a good time to introduce your kids to the films of Alfred Hitchcock by whisking them to the sunny and glamorous French Riviera. In TO CATCH A THIEF, the always charming Cary Grant stars as a retired cat burglar who is implicated in a new string of thefts and must catch the culprit to prove his innocence. Along the way he meets a glamorous socialite (Grace Kelly) and the sparks (and fireworks) fly. Next to North By Northwest (sadly not streaming right now), this is one of the best entry points to Hitchcock for a younger audience. Sure it can be a little talky but it’s also colorful and fun. The many thrilling moments are relatively low-stakes for Hitchcock and it’s mostly bloodless with only one on-screen death from a fall.

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Tuesday, April 7

BLACKBEARD’S GHOST

Stream on Disney+; For rent elsewhere

1968 • dir Robert Stevenson w/Dean Jones, Peter Ustinov, Suzanne Pleshette, Elsa Lanchester, Richard Deacon, Jody Baker • 106 min

For this week’s Disney+ deep cut, we heartily recommend this madcap piratical adventure. As he did in so many Disney live-action films of the period, Dean Jones stars as a square but lovable guy who gets into outrageous trouble. Here he plays a track coach for a small New England college who unwittingly summons the ghost of Blackbeard (played with scenery-chewing aplomb by Peter Ustinov). The only way to get rid of the highly annoying but mostly harmless ghost is to help him out of limbo by getting him to do just one selfless good deed – a pretty tall order for one of the most infamous pirates of all-time! There’s also a two-bit mobster who wants to take over the local inn run by a cavalcade of batty old ladies and a budding romance with a beautiful professor (Pleshette) to contend with. Bring on the hijinks!

As a Disney film of the era, the film has nothing really objectionable in it except for cartoon violence.

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Monday, April 6

APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

2015 • dir Christian Desmares, Franck Ekinci • 103 min

I know we seem to be a little stuck on French titles for this program but this one is hard to resist and is streaming in a good English dubbed version. On a steampunk alternate Earth that runs on coal, a young inventor gets caught up in a grand adventure that reveals the secret history of the world when she goes on a quest to find her missing parents. Gorgeously designed and animated, APRIL is a real treat with its tough female protagonist and focus on science as a world-changing force – for both good and ill. This thrilling film is rated PG and is probably best for tweens and teens since it contains a fair amount of intense action and some frightening situations including a few onscreen deaths.

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Sunday, April 5

A LITTLE PRINCESS

Streaming free w/ads on Tubi; for rent elsewhere

1995 • dir Alfonso Cuarón w/Liesel Matthews, Eleanor Bron, Liam Cunningham, Rusty Schwimmer • 97 min

Before Gravity and Roma, before even Y Tu Mama Tambien, Alfonso Cuarón was hired to direct this charming, fairy-tale-like adaptation of the classic family novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sara Crewe, a young British girl, is sent to a New York boarding school while her father fights in WWI. When he is misidentified as having died in combat, Sara comes under the thumb of the cruel headmistress Miss Minchin but finds solidarity and friendship with both students and servants. A visually stunning and enchanting story to whisk your family away to another time and place. The film is rated G and there is little in the way of extreme content but there are some scenes of war and the girls (especially the African American maid Becky) are treated cruelly. Additionally, the narrative is forced to dance around the issues involved with British colonial rule in India. However, the film’s message that “all girls are princesses,” and the ultimately happy ending, does a lot to outweigh these negatives.

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Saturday, April 4 • Creature Double Feature

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)
SUPER INFRAMAN (1975)

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is now streaming on Criterion; free on Tubi; for rent elsewhere
SUPER INFRAMAN is now streaming on Prime; for rent elsewhere

Destroy All Monsters • 1968 dir Ishirô Honda w/Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi • 88 min
Super Inframan • 1975 dir Shan Hua w/Danny Lee, Terry Liu, Hsieh Wang • 90 min

From the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, WLVI Channel 56 in Boston used to air a double feature of (mostly) schlocky horror films on Saturday afternoons under the title “Creature Double Feature.” This program inspired a generation of Boston-area ‘monster kids’ with its seemingly endless rotation of Godzilla films, atomic age giant bugs, and giant robots. For today’s double feature we recreate one of these great programs with the classic 1968 kaiju battle film, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, and the goofball 1975 Shaw Brothers kung-fu/superhero/giant monster movie SUPER INFRAMAN. Both movies have copious cartoon violence but almost everything is so absurdly mounted (though charming) that it shouldn’t be too distressing to most kids.

Bonus: Here’s one of the original Creature Double Feature promos!

Watch Destroy All Monsters Trailer
Watch Super Inframan Trailer


Friday, April 3

A TOWN CALLED PANIC

Now streaming on Prime, Kanopy; free on Tubi, Vudu w/ads

2009 dir Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar w/Stéphane Aubier, Jeanne Balibar, Nicolas Buysse • 75 min

Let’s head into the weekend on a high note! This insanely entertaining French stop-motion animated film features a group of plastic toys who live in their own colorful neighborhood. The immature Cowboy and Indian are roommates with Horse, a sort of father-figure for them, and the three of them get into the most absurd adventures. Yes, this film is in French (with English subtitles) but, somewhat like the Tati films, the words are just another layer on top of the hilarious and surprisingly effective physical comedy. Rated PG but there is very little of any kind of objectionable content for younger kids.

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Thursday, April 2

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

Now streaming on Hulu; for rent elsewhere.

2018 • dir John Chester • 89 min

Suggested by Brattle executive director Ivy Moylan, this charming and entertaining documentary tells the story of the filmmaker’s own efforts to acquire and run a farm outside of Los Angeles. This award-winner is rewarding for both parents and children as it outlines the trials and successes that come with this effort. One review of the film says that it feels “like fresh air for the soul” and couldn’t we all need that right now. The film is rated PG. There is one mild swear and the only other difficult content is some shots of animal birth and scenes of chicken carnage after a coyote gets into the henhouse.

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Wednesday, April 1

A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN

[currently unavailable]

1969 • dir Bill Melendez w/Peter Robbins, Pamelyn Ferdin, Glenn Gilger, Andy Pforsich • 86 min

We’re taking a break from educational content of the week for this animated classic. Even 50 years after its release, A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN continues to resonate as a lighthearted but truthful tale about the trials and tribulations of being a middle school kid. Charlie is still the inveterate loser that he always has been but his friends rally by his side when he wins a spot in the National Spelling Bee and he learns a valuable lesson about not letting failure get the best of you. Rated G.

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Tuesday, March 31

THE LIVING DESERT

Streaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere

1953 • dir James Algar w/Winston Hibler • 69 min

We’re going (mostly) educational this week with our kids’ film suggestions. For today’s Disney+ deep-cut, take a look at THE LIVING DESERT – a “True-Life Adventure” from the early days of Disney’s nature film output. Primarily shot in Arizona, THE LIVING DESERT is a patchwork of wildlife stories with plenty of creepy-crawlies – one of the main stars is a female tarantula – but there are cute critters too. As with many nature films, there are life-and-death struggles between predator and prey but nothing is too explicit or gory – in fact, the focus is mostly on the art of escape.


Monday, March 30

STOP MAKING SENSE

Streaming on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel; Free w/ads on Tubi, Vudu; for rent elsewhere

1984 • dir Jonathan Demme w/Talking Heads • 88 min

By now, we’re sure, everyone is getting super stir crazy, so how about an all-family dance party? Jonathan Demme’s joyous, energetic concert film of the legendary Talking Heads is just the thing to get everyone moving and singing along. There really is no objectionable content in this great movie… unless you don’t like the music!

Watch Trailer


Sunday, March 29

THE COURT JESTER

Now streaming on Prime; for rent elsewhere

1955 • dir Melvin Frank w/Danny Kaye, Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, Angela Lansbury • 101 min

One of the 1950s’ greatest cinematic goofballs, Danny Kaye, stars as Hubert, a medieval carnival entertainer who joins a crew of Merry Men-like outlaws waging a battle against the evil King Roderick. When a unique opportunity arises, Hubert takes on the identity of Giacomo the King of Jesters and infiltrates the king’s castle. Unfortunately, Hubert’s mission runs afoul of a scheming princess, a nefarious courtier, and many, many, thrillingly hilarious obstacles. Filled with song and adventure, THE COURT JESTER is a great swashbuckling comedy. There is a fair amount of fighting and violence, and some onscreen deaths, but no gore.

Watch Trailer


Saturday, March 28 • Ghibli-esque Double Feature

MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

2017 • dir Hiromasa Yonebayashi w/Hana Sugisaki, Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Yûki Amami • 103 min

Unfortunately, at the moment, none of the Studio Ghibli films are streaming online so this double feature highlights a couple of films connected to Ghibli by either spirit or talent. Both are rated PG and dubbed into English.

MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER is the perfect film for kids who might have aged out of Kiki’s Delivery Service. A lonely girl, just moved to the countryside, follows a mischievous cat into the forest and unknowingly awakens a magical power. There is some magical violence that gets destructive but none of the action is much more intense than Spirited Away.

Watch Trailer

LUPIN THE THIRD: THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

1979 • dir Hayao Miyazaki w/Yasuo Yamada, Eiko Masuyama, Kiyoshi Kobayashi • 101 min

THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO is a delightful adventure directed by Hayao Miyazaki in his feature debut. The movie follows the dashing thief, Lupin on an escapade involving a kidnapped princess, an evil count, a lost treasure, a forbidding castle, and plenty of swashbuckling fun. Anyone remember the early ‘80s Dragon’s Lair-like arcade game called Cliff Hanger that drew its footage from the film?

Probably best for older kids as a bunch of the action can get a little intense. There is a lot of gunplay (though little blood) and one onscreen death. There’s also an extended sequence in a crypt full of skeletons but on the whole it’s still less explicit than, say, Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Friday, March 27

HARRIET THE SPY

Streaming for free on PopcornFlix; for rent elsewhere

1996 • dir Brownwen Hughes w/Michelle Trachtenberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Gregory Smith, Vanessa Chester, Earth Kitt • 100 min

This fun mid-90s girl-lead, woman-directed film features Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet, a young aspiring writer who spies on her neighborhood and friends to improve her observational skills. But, when everyone discovers all of the stuff that she has been writing about them, Harriet becomes the target of the school bully and she starts to lash out at everyone. Eventually, with the help of her trusted nanny (Rosie O’Donnell), Harriet learns to make amends and starts on a whole new path. Adapted from the classic 1964 young adult novel, HARRIET THE SPY has a distinctly 90s attitude, yet retains a retro feel that makes it less irritating than some of its contemporaries. The film is rated PG but some relatively dramatic content (especially with the bullying) means that this film is probably most appropriate for older kids.

Watch Trailer


Thursday, March 26

ASTERIX THE GAUL

Streaming on Prime; for rent elsewhere

1967 • Ray Goossens • 68 min

For many folks, the Asterix & Obelix stories were touchstones of our youth (alongside Tintin of course). We were saddened to hear of the passing of Asterix illustrator Albert Uderzo earlier this week (he was 92 and his death was unrelated to the coronavirus) so we dove online to see if any of the animated features made from these classic books were available. Lo and behold, ASTERIX THE GAUL, the first of the 1960s adaptations is streaming on Prime.

For those unfamiliar, Asterix is a diminutive Gaulish warrior during the 50 BC Roman occupation who, along with his oafish companion Obelix, vex their enemies with a combination of smarts, brute strength, and the liberal application of magic potions. While it’s still the most fun to read the wordplay of the farcical Roman and Gaulish names on the page, the comedy works surprisingly well in motion. It is a lot of fun!

There is a fair amount of violence but it is all very cartoonish. English language version.

Watch Trailer


Wednesday, March 25 • Double Feature

STAR WARS

Streaming on Disney+

1977 • dir George Lucas w/Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness • 121 min

So, obviously the original STAR WARS isn’t a new discovery or anything but this double feature should be a good one for your more precocious youngsters. One of the great things about STAR WARS is that it wears its influences on its sleeve but in a way that doesn’t make it seem too derivative. One of the most major of these influences was the great Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa and his HIDDEN FORTRESS… You can see the blueprints for some of the plot points there but the real connection is the characters. Two bumbling, bickering peasants serve as the focus for the story that involves the secret escape of a haughty but resourceful princess. Even the seasoned general (played by Toshiro Mifune) seems to have more than little Obi-Wan Kenobi in him – despite a more rough and gruff attitude.

THE HIDDEN FORTRESS

Streaming on Kanopy and Criterion; for rent elsewhere

1958 • dir Akira Kurosawa w/Toshirô Mifune, Misa Uehara, Minoru Chiaki • 126 min

THE HIDDEN FORTRESS is in Japanese with English subtitles so will require a certain level of sophistication from younger viewers. Both films have a fair amount of violence in them but nothing too gory or disturbing.

Bonus Brattle Trivia: The Brattle hosted the Boston premiere of HIDDEN FORTRESS on April 22, 1962.


Tuesday, March 24

CANDLESHOE

Streaming on Disney+; for rent elsewhere

1977 • dir Norman Tokar w/Jodie Foster, David Niven, Helen Hayes • 93 min

One of the semi-secret pleasures of the new Disney+ service is the ability to stream a bunch of the great, weird, and often underseen Disney live-action features of the 60s and 70s. CANDLESHOE is one of the real discoveries there… Jodie Foster, at her wisecracking-tomboy best, stars as Casey, an orphan who is sent to an English manor in an attempt to con the spinster who lives there and uncover the location of a hidden treasure cache. Hijinks ensue. Of course, Casey eventually has a change of heart and finds a new family amongst the misfits who live there. David Niven plays the put-upon butler who actually runs the house and Helen Hayes is the soft-hearted matron. Rated G


Monday, March 23

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG

Streaming on Netflix; for rent elsewhere

1968 • dir Ken Hughes w/Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Heather Ripley, Adrian Hall, Lionel Jeffries, Gert Fröbe • 144 min

Madcap inventors are a favorite subject in many kids’ films and Dick Van Dyke plays a great one in this kinetic musical adventure. This is a very Disney-esque adventure even though it’s adapted from a novel by Ian Fleming and was co-written by Roald Dahl. Kooky situations, catchy musical numbers, and flamboyant costumes abound in this G-Rated entertainment… The only thing that might be hard for younger kids is that it clocks in at over 2 hours.


Sunday, March 22

A CAT IN PARIS

Streaming Kanopy; for rent from Apple

2010 • dir Jean-Loup Felicioli & Alain Gagnol • 80 min

Do you like cats? Do you like cat burglars? Do you like a little bit of danger? Then have I got a picture for you! This fantastic animated film follows the adventures of a Parisian cat who leads a double-life – by day he is the mild-mannered pet of young Zoë; but by night he is the feline companion of Nico, a skilled jewel thief. The filmmakers instill a great neo-noir vibe but the level of danger is pretty mild all-things considered. This is a French film but the version available online is a very good English dub so don’t worry about that subtitle thing. Rated PG

As an extra feature you could also watch the 1973 CBS TV special of THE CAT IN THE HAT. This 30 minute version was written by Dr. Seuss himself and produced by two Looney Tunes veterans, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng! Now streaming on Hulu.


Saturday, March 21 • Double Feature

JACK THE GIANT KILLER

Streaming on AmazonPrime; free w/ads on Tubi; for rent elsewhere

1962 • dir Nathan Juran w/Kerwin Mathews, Judi Meredith, Torin Thatcher • 94 min

How about a double feature of fantasy swashbuckling? The legendary Ray Harryhausen created the effects for JASON and JACK is clearly a Harryhausen knock-off. Both have a non-stop cavalcade of wacky monsters, silly spells, and bombastic performances. Extra points to Torin Thatcher for playing the e-e-e-evil sorcerer in JACK. The fantasy violence is pretty mild in both of these but the outlandish beasts might be disturbing for very young kids. Also, there is some cultural insensitivity involving a stereotypical leprechaun in JACK. Both rated G.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS is available for rent on Google Play, Apple iTunes, Amazon Prime, and other services

1963 • dir Don Chaffey w/Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond, Laurence Naismith • 104 min

Friday, March 20

JOUR DE FÊTE

Stream it on Kanopy or the Criterion Channel; for rent elsewhere.

1949 • dir Jacques Tati w/Jacques Tati, Guy Decomble, Paul Frankeur • 87 min

All of the films of Jacques Tati are 100% delightful and most are great for kids and adults alike. They are filled with slapstick comedy but are so smart about their design that it never seems to be over-the-top or obnoxious. They are technically in French but in general they do not require you to know the language to get the joke. In fact, there is very little actual dialogue since Tati’s greatest influences are the silent film clowns – specifically Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd.

In JOUR DE FÊTE, Tati plays a lazy French mailman who, inspired by too much wine and tales of the U.S. Postal Service, tries to put more zing into his delivery route.

Bonus Brattle Trivia: The Brattle hosted the New England premiere of the film on April 22, 1956.

As an extra feature you could also watch Buster Keaton’s 20 minute short ONE WEEK – where Old Stoneface builds a house for his new bride from a DIY kit with disastrous results. Available for free on YouTube with a recorded-live score by The Lucky Dog Picturehouse Ensemble.