Aaaaand we’re back! Here in Virginia, we experienced a little snowstorm last Monday morning. And it being Virginia, the kids didn’t have school all week…on the heels of an already two-week break. A great time for family movies, right? Sure. Until we lost power and had to make do with booooooooks! When we emerged on the other side, I noticed a nice surprise on Netflix—a bounty of great family fare is now available on the streamer. Here, recs for getting through your snow days, quarantines, and whatever else this month throws at you.
The Wedding Singer (1998): Though our 15-year-old would argue that both Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are rom-coms, I am here to insist that The Wedding Singer is the only true (and definitely only worthy) rom-com of Adam Sandler’s late-1990s run. With Drew Barrymore at her most charming, despite her awful 1980s hairdo, The Wedding Singer hits all the right notes.
Big Fish (2003): This tall-tale adventure—starring the very Scottish Ewan McGregor as the very Southern Ed Bloom—is a magical way to spend a couple of hours on a dreary afternoon. Albert Finney, Helena Bonham Carter, Billy Crudup, and Jessica Lange make for a sparkly supporting cast.
Annie (1982): Close TBP readers won’t be surprised to hear that the orphan-loving Baker/Burnett family owns this curly-haired classic musical outright. But we are thrilled that the rest of you can now watch it on repeat like we do!
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971): I’ve seen Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka more than any movie—including Bye Bye Birdie and Chicago and Call Me By Your Name, which is a lot! It’s just that good, and a true all-ages watch. For more modern types, the Johnny Depp-led Charlie and the Chocolate Factory also arrived on Netflix this month.
Free Willy (1993): Hold me / like the River Jordan / And I will say to thee / you are my friiiiiend! Lest you’ve forgotten, the 1991 Michael Jackson hit “Will You Be There” was about a boy’s friendship with a whale. If you’re interested in animal-human relationships or have a budding marine biologist at home, Free Willy is definitely better than Sea World.
Hook (1991): For years our family relied on biannual trips to my mother-in-law’s house in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, to watch the Robin Williams-as-Peter Pan classic via her solid VHS collection. Now it couldn’t be easier to stream. One reminder: This movie ain’t short—make sure you have time for two hours and twenty minutes of swashbuckling.
The NeverEnding Story (1984): One of our big kids hates anything that touches the fantasy genre. The other is an anime fanatic who can be found doodling unicorns and pegasusses. For the latter category of kid, NeverEnding Story will hit the spot. Even if you (like me) generally fall into the fantasy-averse camp, you’ll be surprised how tender and complete this movie still feels.
Wild Wild West (1999): If you are a parent who finds hammy late-1990s Will Smith a riot, this has family movie night written all over it. If you’re someone who’d rather hear “The Macarena” on repeat for the rest of her life if it meant she’d never again have to listen to “Wild Wild West,” or “Miami,” or “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” or “Men in Black,” again—then this is a great kids-only watch. (Phantom Thread comes to Netflix on the 16th; discerning parents can cue it up while the children hee-haw over James West and his band of schticky cowboys.)