By Michael Foust
In my home, Friday evenings are revered for family movie night.
Sometimes, we rent a movie from Redbox. Other times, we catch a film on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime. Occasionally, we’ll even watch a DVD off the home video shelf.
But it’s not always easy to find an appropriate title, especially when my children don’t like repeats.
It’s safe to say I’m excited about Disney Plus, which entered the streaming wars Nov. 12 and includes more than 500 movies and 7,500-plus television episodes.
And — get this — nothing is rated R or TV-MA.
This doesn’t mean everything on Disney Plus is kid-friendly (more on that in a moment), but it does mean families like mine will have far more choices for parents and children than Netflix or anyone else offers. Remember those quirky-but-funny movies from the 1960s and 1970s — like Herbie Goes Bananas and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes? They’re on Disney Plus. Have you ever wanted to show your kids The Muppet films, or Benji: The Hunted, or even the well-done Disney Nature films? They’re on there. And what about the excellent Pixar films? There on Disney Plus, too (by my count, 18 of them are).
Disney Plus has titles from the entire Disney brand, which includes Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
The lineup encompasses most of the Star Wars films (Netflix still holds the streaming rights to Solo and The Last Jedi) and most of the Marvel movies (I counted 16 Marvel movies in the lineup, including Endgame). This also includes great documentaries from National Geographic (Wild Yellowstone, for example).
But despite the family-centric direction of Disney Plus, you probably shouldn’t let your kids run wild. Some of the movies are PG-13. And some of the TV series — including titles from the Disney Channel — have questionable content. Thankfully, Disney Plus allows you to set up a profile for your child and block most of the iffy stuff.
The strength of Disney Plus is its collection of movies — many of which could not be rented and were hard to find.
It does have original content, but thus far it is limited. Among the original titles: The Mandalorian (a series set in the Star Wars universe), The Lady and The Tramp (the live-action version), a G-rated film called Noelle, and The World According to Jeff Goldblum (a National Geographic-produced science and history series).
Disney Plus is great for families who enjoy movies and are looking for kid-friendly content. But if movies aren’t your thing, then you might want to test drive it first with a free seven-day trial.
Also worth streaming this month:
Greatest Events of WWII In Colour (Netflix) — Yes, there’s something nostalgic and romantic about black-and-white film, but sometimes it’s fun to watch colorized footage and view the world as it really was. This Netflix original documentary examines World War II, from beginning to end, in 10 colorized episodes. Rated TV-14. Nov. 8.
Echo in the Canyon (Netflix) — It’s a documentary looking back at a slice of 1960s music that helped define a generation — tunes developed in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles. The Byrds, Mamas and Papas and Beach Boys all came from here. It’s a lot like today’s music: catchy but often questionable. Rated PG-13 (for drug references, some suggestive content and some language).
The Toys that Made Us, Season 3 (Netflix) — It’s a fast-paced Netflix original series examining the behind-the-scenes stories (and creative decisions) of our favorite toys. Season 3 looks at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, My Little Pony and wrestling figures. Rated TV-14. Nov. 15.
Llama Llama, Season 2 (Netflix) — The series based on the popular children’s books enters its second season, with Llama Llama and his friends learning lessons about life. The books are better than the TV series, but it nevertheless may be worth a watch. Nov. 15.
Ugly Dolls (Hulu) — A group of odd-looking dolls from a village named Uglyville discover another world — the Institute of Perfection — where every toy is perfect. The Uglyville dolls want to be owned by child, just like every other toy is. But does anyone want them? The film is based on a Hasbro toy line and has a good message, even if it has a word (“ugly”) that’s forbidden in some homes. Rated PG for thematic elements and brief action. Nov. 13.
Michael Foust is the father of four small children and the husband of an amazing wife named Julie. He has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment more than 15 years.