What’s Streaming for Families in December (2019)

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Christmas is here! Okay, not quite. But Christmas season is here. Cut down that tree, hang those pesky, tangled lights, whip up some chocolatey hot chocolate. Oh, and if the kids want to watch a movie or two, sit on down and take a look at a few of the flicks that just landed on the major streaming services for December.

Let’s start with Netflix.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG, 2019): This sequel is all about the “secret” life of the pets that we love. You know, the life where they can talk and plan stuff. We find sweet messages here about bravery and courage, mixed with predictable potty humor and “gruffy” name calling. But the importance of friends and family in “an ever-changing world” barks far louder than those issues.

Lost in Space (PG, 2019): This 1960’s TV remake is rolling out its second season at the end of December and, though we haven’t seen it yet (and can’t vouch for it), we did watch Season One. What did we think about the first season, you might ask? Well, reviewer Paul Asay said that although it isn’t squeaky clean, it “seems to be an aspirational show, where the majority of folks are trying to do the best they can the best way they know how.” And for a show that focuses on family, that’s something “worth blasting off for.”

Then, there’s Amazon.

Bumblebee (PG-13, 2018): Here’s another Transformer movie. But  it’s not what you might expect if you’re familiar with the franchise. Whereas the previous films focused more on explosions, crude jokes and inappropriate language, this film is … nicer? It’s really a movie about a girl and her robot. And with that come heart-tugging, emotional moments that might make you sniffle. But while the storyline skews younger and, in many ways, sweeter, you can still expect some more-than-we’d-like mild violence and light language.

Aaaaaaand if you don’t have Netflix or Amazon, perhaps you could check out HBO.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins (PG, 2011): If you like trips to the zoo, this flick has plenty of wildlife featuring the goofy Jim Carrey and a bunch of adorable little birds. As an adaptation from the 1939 Newberry Honor book by Richard and Florence Atwater, the film certainly takes its contemporary liberties with bathroom humor and swearing. But when those icebergs are pushed aside, you’ll find, as Mr. Bob Hoose did, that Mr. Popper’s “emotional and relational growth, along with the realization that the world does not revolve around him are lessons that won’t leave penguin fans out in the cold.”

Pokémon Detective Pikachu (PG, 2019): Tim Goodman wanted to be a Pokémon trainer his entire life. But now he’s a young adult, and that’s just not realistic anymore—given that Pokémon themselves don’t exist. But what happens when the well-known Pokémon, Pikachu, comes to life? And starts wearing a Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat?

This Poké tale is a combination of silly and endearing cuteness. The caffeine-addicted Pikachu, while crazy cute and charming, is still voiced by the witty, sometimes off-color Ryan Reynolds, so the dialogue can be a bit crude. Little ones may not understand all his jokes, but parents certainly will. Hoose says, ” “those negatives are never as off-putting as, say, a Weezing gas cloud, but they are a bit of Lickitung slobber that parents of young fans should be aware of.”