Forget all those warnings about mean ol’ gloomy winter, it’s summer that’s coming. And you can probably already sense the call of the summer siren with her promises of sunscreen-slathered play dressed in shorts and short sleeves. But just in case you’re plaining on spending a tiny bit of time inside and in front of a screen this June, let’s see what the major streaming services have up their sleeves.
Haven’t seen Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick yet? You might want to check him out in a different actioner.
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (PG-13, 2011):
Super spy Ethan Hunt and his entire Impossible Missions Force team are disavowed by the U.S. government after being falsely blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin. Hunt must clear his agency’s name and, well, you know, save the world, too. Our Paul Asay reported that, “Brad Bird succeeded in his mission: He made a decades-old franchise feel fresh and exciting, even while staying true to its roots and tropes.”
Mr. Bean’s Holiday (G, 2007):
Mr. Bean wins a trip to Cannes where he unwittingly separates a young boy from his father and must help the two come back together. On the way he discovers France, bicycling and true love. Actor Rowan Atkinson plays a goofy, pratfalling guy who feels very much like a silent film star, and it’s pretty much all good fun here. Our Plugged In review put it like this: “Kids are consciously catered to without substituting honest-to-goodness humor with slippery slime. And Mr. Bean’s Holiday remains just that—an escape from 21st century Hollywood fare to a land filled with sound Three Stooges slaps, ridiculous derring-do and very silly faces of the kind only Mr. Bean can make.”
We Are Marshall (PG, 2006):
On Nov. 14, 1970, a DC-9 chartered by Marshall University’s football program crashed in West Virginia, just a mile away from the landing runway. All 75 people aboard—including most of the football team—were killed. Instead of suspending the program, Marshall perseveres, installing Jack Lengyel (Mathew Fox) as the head coach and bringing back Red Dawson (Matthew McConaughey) as an assistant. We Are Marshall doesn’t chronicle a National Championship-winning team, but rather a team that exemplifies character, will and guts. Dare you not to cry.
Bee Movie (PG, 2007):
Fresh out of college, Barry the Bee finds the prospect of working with honey uninspiring. That is until he learns about those no good, honey-stealing humans. With that he realizes that his true calling is to obtain justice for his kind by suing humanity with a sweet suit. Hey, this may not be the most buzz-worthy kids’ movie you’ve ever heard of, but Bob Smithouser noted that it’s “colorful, breezy, packed with positive messages and less predictable than your typical family film boasting a Happy Meal tie-in.”
The Ant Bully (PG, 2006):
Ten-year-old Lucas has been bullied at school, and he takes his frustrations out on an ant hill in his yard. But then the ants use a magic potion to shrink him down to their size so he can get a new perspective on things. Plugged In reviewer Chris Lyon said that some parents will balk at the idea of magic-casting ants who express religious adoration for a “Great Mother” ant. “Of course, most kids Lucas’ age will look past all that and just dig the imagination in the idea of shrinking down to ant size and getting to know the little critters working so furiously in the dirt. They’ll love to think about how it would feel to be so tiny. And they’ll likely identify with Lucas’ willingness to take responsibility for his actions, to step up heroically and help his friends, and to stand with other kids against bullies.”
Soul Surfer (PG, 2011):
AnnaSophia Robb stars as Bethany Hamilton, a talented young surfer who had her arm bitten off by a shark and, somehow, returned to surf again. Also featuring Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid, Soul Surfer is a moving biopic that tells a riveting story with an undercurrent of faith. Our Steven Isaac noted that, “Thanks to her amazing courage and determination, and the supportive love of friends and family—and God—Bethany is thriving once more. And in many ways she’s able to embrace more people with one arm than she ever could have with two.”
Robots (PG, 2005):
In a world of sentient robots, a young robot inventor has to find a way to fight the evil plans of a big corporate bigwig. This fun pic, starring Ewan McGregor and Robin Williams, may not be a household name, but Plugged In’s Tom Neven noted that it’s “set in a visually stunning, richly imaginative world where the virtues of loyalty, courage and perseverance get strong play.” So, go get your robot on.
Happy Feet (PG, 2006):
In the frozen land of the emperor penguin, you’re nobody without a good heartsong—a personal song that expresses your feelings. But a young penguin named Mumble can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Worse, he has these “hippity-hoppity” dancing feet that the other penguins find most troubling. So he and some friends jig their way off to prove that “friendship and love can overcome any difference.” My review of the movie suggested that parents might squawk a bit about some “loosen-up-you-old-fuddy-duddy ‘moralizing, and a few bodily function jokes.” But they’d also find images of “sacrificial love, friendship, courage and loyalty” to be worth a movie-watching toe tap or two.
Napoleon Dynamite (PG, 2004):
It’s the story of an awkward teen in Preston, Idaho, who has a hard time fitting in. This quirky comedy takes geek chic to a whole new level in lots of fun ways. And our Adam Holz liked it quite a bit. “It doesn’t, however, exalt geekiness as much as it lauds the idea of being who you are. In the words of the movie’s tagline, ‘He’s out to prove he’s got nothing to prove.’”
The Time Machine (PG-13, 2002):
A brilliant scientist, desperate to undo the tragic death of his fiancée, invents a time machine in 1903. Fruitless attempts to change the past inspire him to seek answers in the future. After brief stops in 2030 and 2037, he’s hurtled forward 800,000 years, where he befriends natives fighting to survive ferocious beasts. This is a fun pic for those who like a broad sci-fi adventure in their May viewing schedule. Plugged In’s Bob Smithouser said that “the movie raises issues of conformity, guilt, and deciding when it’s appropriate to accept one’s fate and when it’s better to fight it. The Time Machine isn’t a great film, but it’s likable, especially for its restraint.”
Fantastic Mr. Fox (PG, 2009):
This animated feature, based on a book by children’s author Roald Dahl, looks at, well, a middle-age crisis from the perspective of a happily married fox named Mr. Fox. Doesn’t feel like your typical kid-pic stuff, does it? Our Paul Asay agreed and added that “the movie doesn’t have a stereotypical happy ending, where everyone gets to do exactly what they want to do. And yet it is happy. … Steady responsibility isn’t a particularly cool, glitzy or suave moral to the story. Which is why so few films exalt it. But it can be put on center stage, as Fantastic Mr. Fox shows us.”