Movie Guru: Three heart-warming family movies to stream on Netflix this weekend
Finding a family movie that works for both kids and adults can sometimes be a challenge.
If you’ve been experiencing that same struggle, there are a small collection of streaming originals that might be exactly what you’re looking for. Some of the movies have a distinct fantastical edge, while others lean more toward nostalgic quirkiness. No matter what your particular flavor is, here’s a guide to help you decide which streaming original is for you.
Finding Ohana (Netflix)
A stealth homage to “The Goonies” with a healthy dose of Hawaiian culture, “Finding Ohana” is an endearing, surprisingly emotional adventure that’s perfect for all ages. Fans of “The Goonies” will pick up a ton of references and Easter eggs, but you don’t have to have watched the movie to appreciate the story of a 12-year-old girl, her friends, and her older brother try to find a privateer treasure to help their grandfather not lose his home.
The entire cast of kids are deeply entertaining, and the relationships are all believable and likeable without being instantly perfect. The Hawaiian culture is more deeply integrated than audiences might realize on the surface, and if you take it as seriously as half of the characters do, a last-minute twist makes perfect sense. It also leads to what is by far the most emotional moment of the movie, lovely enough to make me tear up completely against my will.
Flora & Ulysses (Disney+)
This one is skewed toward a slightly younger audience, and is as comfortingly predictable as a bowl of chicken soup. Still, it’s interesting enough not to leave adults out in the cold. The movie features Flora, a young girl who is focusing more on her superhero obsession to cope with the fact that her parents have separated. Things start to change when she finds a squirrel that may turn out to have special powers, and she has to protect it from both her mother and a man from animal control.
Matilda Lawler is charming as the hyperverbal, secretly hopeful Flora, and Alyson Hanigan and Ben Schwartz manage to be both fun and comforting as her parents. Though he has less to do, Danny Pudi is also entertaining as the animal control officer.
Troop Zero (Amazon)
This one is older than the other two, but if you’re looking for a really quirky, appealingly messy look at childhood this one is for you. The movie follows a little girl who gathers a bunch of misfits to make their own scout troop, and “Troop Zero” does an excellent job of making the kids truly weird while still keeping them appealing.
It’s somewhat more serious than the other two – as a content warning, the movie isn’t shy about bullying, so tread with caution if these are sensitive issues for you or your children – but it can also be quite funny. On the performance front, it’s a delight to watch Viola Davis as the deeply reluctant but well-meaning troop mother.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.