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What’s Streaming for Families in October (2019)

When October rolls around it’s perfectly reasonable to think that your movie streaming choices might be a little limited. I mean it is monster movie season. (Grrrrowl. Arrrgh!) But while there are scores of terrifying demon nuns, wall-crawling beasties and little boys whispering, “I see dead people” to be seen on your movie streaming site of choice, there are some more approachable (and fangless) pics there, too.

So, grab a pumpkin latte and consider these possibilities:

Netflix starts the list off with a dash of family friendly variety.

Surf’s Up (PG, 2007) This is an animated “mockumentary” on how penguins were actually the inventors of surfing. (You betcha!) Featuring the voice talent of such stars as Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel and Jeff Bridges, this is yet another entry in the Hollywood loves penguins collection of films out there. And a pretty fun one, to boot. It also carries a nice message about pushing aside self-importance and focusing on the wonder-filled moments of life. But reviewer Adam Holz does warn about some of the typical kid-focused potty humor in the high surf waves. Adam says, “it’s harder to appreciate a message about embracing life’s beauty with wide-eyed wonder when one character urinates on another.” So, there’s that to consider.

And if the kids want a cartoon mystery/adventure series to binge after romping through your piles of well-raked leaves, they could try:

Carmen Sandeigo (TV-Y7, 2019) A Netflix original, this show chronicles the adventures of a former thief-gone-good. Sure, she still steals things, but only from the hands of a villainous entity called V.I.L.E., and only to give them back to the rightful owners. Plugged In reviewer Kristin Smith said of Carmen and crew: “Carmen is spunky, fierce and has fun sight-seeing as a modern-day Robin Hood. As with any show about thieves, you’ll see people stealing high-profile artifacts and dishing out kicks, punches, deadly weapons and scary stunts. But language is never an issue, and neither is attire. It’s all thieving fun over here with Carmen Sandiego as she trots around the globe, evading one captor at a time.”

OK, so you’d rather not deal with hours of cartoon thieving or penguin poo giggles? How about something a bit more mature and thoughtful?

The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13, 2006) Will Smith stars in this film about single dad Chris Gardner who struggles to make ends meet and care for his 5-year-old son while pursuing a better life for the two of them—forging along the way a powerful father-son bond that no misfortune can destroy. Reviewer Adam Holz loved the inspirational focus of this realistic drama, but he warns that some language issues here might keep some families at bay. “What won’t trip them up—and might even breathe new life into their own relationships—is Chris Gardner’s powerful, passionate pursuit of the best life possible for his little boy.”

Want even more variety? Just flip on over to Hulu.

Amazing Grace (PG, 2007) This moving period piece tells the story of William Wilberforce and his impassioned struggle in the British House of Commons to outlaw slavery in the 19th century. Adam Holz once again gets the reviewing honors here (is he the only Plugged In reviewer doing movies!?)  and he speaks warmly of this passionate historical drama and its portrayal of good prevailing over injustice. “We may be tempted to believe our involvement in such issues can’t accomplish much,” Adam opines. “But Wilberforce’s story inspires us to believe that real change is possible.”

If you want a little sports film action, Hulu is also offering one of our past favorites, just in case you missed it.

Hoosiers (PG, 1986) A failed college coach gets a chance at redemption when he is hired by an Indiana high school to head up the basketball program. After the team’s star player quits to focus on his long-neglected studies, the coach struggles to develop a winning team in the face of community criticism for his temper and his unconventional choice of assistant coach.

This film, starring Academy Award winner Gene Hackman, is a winner on a number of fronts and explores everything from the folly of exalting athletes too highly to the power of believing in someone and the strength of a father/son bond. Plugged In’s Bob Smithouser (someone not named Adam Holz) said of the pic: “Hoosiers is almost perfect. There are a few mild profanities. On-court fisticuffs break out, but only in the context of players sticking up for each other.”

OK, so now let’s jump over to a streaming site that we don’t often mention for their family fare: HBO Now.

Sky High (PG, 2005) Back before Disney totally took over the superhero world, it put out this fun teen comedy about a kid who’s accepted by a superhero high school because of his parents, who just happen to be two of the best-known supers in the world. Problem is, young Will Stronghold doesn’t have any powers. In fact, he’s not even all that great at dealing with normal teen stuff like girls and acne. This little pic is a blast. Reviewer Christopher Lyon suggested that Sky High’s “light tone, bright colors, chuckles and easy lessons may provide a welcome relief to families looking to satiate their youngsters’ hero-hunger.”

The Indian in the Cupboard (PG, 2001) Based on a popular children’s novel, this Frank Oz-directed pic tells the story of a kid who gets the odd gift of a wooden cupboard for his birthday. But then he discovers that this magical container can bring his little plastic cowboy and Indian toys to life. Our Bob Smithouser noted that this fantasy pic had a few incidents of mild profanity. But he also appreciated the movie’s imagination and its message about the value of respecting others. “Parents of preteens can choose to talk through [some small problems] and take advantage of what is, overall, a warm tale filled with worthwhile discussion material,” Bob said in summation.