4 Best Christmas Movies to Stream on Netflix (That You Probably Don’t Know About)

SerendipityLet’s face it, Christmas time is about family. And what better thing to do with your family than put down your iPhones and iPads and gather round a TV to watch a Christmas classic?

How about watching a Christmas flick you probably ignored? It’s a Wonderful Life is a wonderful thing, but the glory of Netflix offers up some seriously good holiday flicks that are woefully under-rated. [Read more…]

‘Inside Out’ Could Save Countless Kids From Suffering in Silence

INSIDE OUT ? Pictured (L-R): Bing Bong, Sadness, Joy. ?2015 Disney?Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Like pretty much every parent in America, I sobbed my way through Inside Out. It’s what I’ve come to expect from Pixar movies since becoming a mother: Moments that will leave me in tears as I contemplate the fragility of childhood.

What I didn’t expect was that upon re-watching Inside Out (it hit DVD and Blu-Ray this week, and Disney sent me an early viewing copy), my tears would flow not just for my daughter but for me. [Read more…]

9 ‘Aladdin’ Facts you Probably Never Knew

Aladdin-0nCarpet-Jasmine_wIf you can call something that hasn’t even hit the quarter century mark a classic, Aladdin fits the bill.

Introduced in theaters at Thanksgiving in 1992, the Robin Williams movie was Disney’s 31st feature length animated flick, and one that rode a magic carpet into the history books, between Academy Awards, Golden Globes and a whole lot more.

This month the film is being re-released in a special Diamond edition Blu-Ray, and after a re-watch (in which I bawled my eyes out), I thought it appropriate to round up some Aladdin trivia you probably never knew. [Read more…]

‘Paddington’ Movie Brings the Best of the Children’s Books to Screens

PaddingtonIf there’s one thing book lovers can agree on, it’s that the book is almost always better than the movie. But sometimes it isn’t about being better. Sometimes, it’s about being different. And that’s where the folks behind the new film Paddington got it right.

When the Weinstein Company decided to turn Michael Bond’s book series into a feature length film, they were venturing into dangerous territory. If they fumbled, they wouldn’t just be making a bad kid’s film, they’d be making a film that ruined one of children’s literature’s most beloved characters.

It was a gamble that paid off. [Read more…]

Giveaway: ‘Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast’ Blu-Ray & DVD Pack

LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEASTBefore I gave birth to a daughter, I’d never heard of the Bechdel test. It’s a measure of how often two female characters talk to each other in films and books about subjects other than men. More than half of all contemporary films fail the test, and — sadly — that includes most children’s movies. Yes, even in films for kids, girls are stuck talking about guys … if they get to talk it all. That’s why, whenever Disney pushes out another one of its Tinker Bell movies, I’m first in line to grab a Blu-Ray for my daughter, and their latest edition, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Never Beast, is no different.

TINKERBELL AND THE LEGEND OF THE NEVERBEASTYes, they’re movies about fairies, a creature that’s often denigrated for being of little substance and only adding to the problem of little girls being forced into old-fashioned gender roles. But the fairies of Neverland aren’t just fairies. They’re hard-working young women, celebrated in this special series for their individual talents. Tinker Bell is best known because of her appearances in varied forms in Peter Pan re-makes over the years — and because her name graces each film in this series — and her ability to “tinker” with bits and bobs to create mechanical masterpieces is encouraging for any parent trying to open the door to the STEM subjects for their daughter. [Read more…]

Giveaway: ‘Big Hero 6’ Blu-Ray & DVD

BIG HERO 6By now we all know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but what about judging a movie by its title? Big Hero 6 (which hits shelves on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 24) sounds like a movie about a team of superheroes. Technically, it is. Based on a lesser known Marvel series, the film introduces us to a group of unlikely crime fighters in Japan, led by a teenaged boy named Hiro and his robot, Baymax.

But — spoiler alert — there’s very little evidence of this crime fighting group for the better half of the film’s beginning because Big Hero 6 is not really a superhero action movie at all. It’s the story of a young boy grieving the death of someone he loves and a cuddly robot (yes, you read that right — this guy is designed with marshmallow like puff around his mechanical core specifically to put people at ease) who helps him navigate the path to closure.

In other words? [Read more…]

‘The Boxtrolls’ Is a Kids’ Movie Every Parent Should See

Boxtrolls EggsSome kids movies are designed to make your kids think deep thoughts about the world around them. Then there are the kids movies that are really for the parents — reminding us what we need to do to be better parents. The Boxtrolls — out on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, January 20, manages to be both.

Based on Alan Snow’s children’s book, Here Come the Monsters, Boxtrolls is the story of a world of creatures living beneath the city of Cheesebridge, a place run by corrupt politicians with a lot of money and little sense of community. They’re so named because of the boxes they wear in place of clothing, and they’re feared by the people above them thanks to a vicious rumor that they once stole — and killed — a baby. That baby is, in fact, a little boy named Eggs, who the trolls have lovingly raised as their own, complete with his own box “shirt.” [Read more…]

Giveaway: Frozen Sing-Along Edition Blu-Ray DVD Combo

Frozen Sing AlongIf there’s one thing we have all learned in the past year or so it’s this: you can’t watch Frozen without singing. Sure, you can try. But then someone else in the room will start humming, and pretty soon … well, let’s just say it was time for Disney to produce Frozen — the Sing-Along Edition — because it just won’t do to have the person next to you spouting off the wrong lyrics (darnit, it’s do you wanna BUILD a snowman).

Available on Blu-Ray and DVD as of November 18, plus Disney Movies Anywhere on VUDU, it’s the same old story of girl freezes entire town, girl runs off to be alone, girl runs after other girl that we all know and love only better: the words to all the songs play across the screen!!

You know you want it … and Disney has given Inside Out a copy to give away. [Read more…]

Giveaway: ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Diamond Edition Blu-Ray

Sleeping Beauty Aurora Prince PhilipFor years, Disney has fed us tales of heroes and heroines, where good triumphs over evil, and that’s all kids need to know. Then came this summer’s Angelina Jolie powered hit, Maleficent. And everything turned topsy turvy. Which makes the release date of Sleeping Beauty on Diamond Edition Blu-Ray, set for October 7, somewhat curious.

Sleeping Beauty is, of course, the film that first introduced us to the evil fairy who cursed Aurora to die when her finger was pricked by a spinning wheel. In the ’50s tale, the story was simple. Maleficent = bad. Aurora/Briar Rose = good. And good, naturally, triumphed in the end.

I won’t spoil the ending of the other, more recent film, but making the villain the title character of a film naturally indicates that their story will have at least a little more depth. And now Disney is opening its vault to return us to the classic, although bonus features treat us to some back story on the art of creating villains (not just Maleficent but Cruella too) plus never-before-seen scenes that give us more insight on the woman who was Maleficent.

At the risk of going all after-school special, it’s like Disney is setting us up to sit the kids down for a good old good vs. evil and shades of grey therein chat.

The good news? You can get a copy of the Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack right here … Disney has given us two copies to give away! [Read more…]

Giveaway: ‘Boxtrolls’ Original Soundtrack

Boxtrolls soundtrackThe Boxtrolls stomped into theaters this past weekend, carrying with it a quirky story of unusual family, and the sort of animation that we just don’t see enough of in the day of slick over-produced family fare. The story of Eggs, a human raised by underground trolls who collect trash and love them some boxes, fared well at the box offices, and the soundtrack has been spinning in my house all the while.

Composed by Dario Marianelli, an Italian composer who has never before done an animated feature film score, the music of the Boxtrolls is fun and lively … but not in the way that you think. None of the bells and whistles and obnoxious rhymes that typically translates as FUN (yes, all caps) children’s music shows up on the soundtrack that is largely — gasp — instrumental.

Got kids who are Boxtrolls crazy? Good … because Inside Out has a copy of the soundtrack to give away! [Read more…]