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5 Children’s Movies to Stream Now

5 Children’s Movies to Stream Now

Watch it on Netflix.

Stan (Milo Coy), a Texas fourth grader, is rounding the bases while playing kickball at recess one day when two NASA agents pull him off the playground to tell him they’re sending him to the moon. This being 1969, in a world before Apollo 11 took flight, Stan’s new mission is an extremely big deal. The agents, played by Glen Powell and Zachary Levi, tell Stan they were impressed by his science papers and by the fact that he won a Presidential Physical Fitness Award “three years running.” They need a kid to test an “accidentally smaller version” of the lunar module immediately, and so Stan is sworn to secrecy as he prepares for space. It’s tough for him to keep the training and planning from his mother (a droll Lee Eddy) and father (Bill Wise), and his gaggle of siblings, but he tries his best to act like a regular kid while covertly preparing for a lunar landing.

The writer-director Richard Linklater uses similar dreamy rotoscope animation as his earlier films “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly,” and this nostalgic tale is narrated by Jack Black, who tells the story from the point of view of a grown-up Stan. The wall-to-wall narration and lack of fast-paced action may not hold every young viewer rapt, but older kids with a thing for space might fall under the film’s spell.

Watch it on Netflix.

Tim (voiced by Will Forte), Jane (Alessia Cara) and comically creepy twins both named Barnaby (voiced by Seán Cullen) are magenta-haired siblings who have the worst parents. Their mother (Jane Krakowski) and father (Martin Short) are selfish, narcissistic and neglectful. The couple sees their brood as a pure nuisance. The Willoughby kids devise a scheme to send their parents away on vacation in hopes of finding new parents who actually feed them.

That might sound dark, but the cast and the writer-director Kris Pearn (“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 “) bring so much humor, wackiness and heart to the film that it never feels like a downer. The story is narrated by a paunchy blue Cat (Ricky Gervais), and Maya Rudolph voices Linda, the kind nanny who watches them when their parents leave. Terry Crews plays Commander Melanoff, a loving, lonely bloke who owns a candy factory.

Based on a book by Lois Lowry, “The Willoughbys” is an imaginative story about chosen families that understands that every child is deserving of love. Cory Evans and Rob Lodermeier co-directed with Pearn, and Mark Stanleigh co-wrote the script.

Watch it on Disney+.

So often stories are dumbed down for children, but the Oscar-winning “Soul” manages to be cerebral and probing while also being charming, entertaining and funny. Jamie Foxx voices Joe Gardner, a New York City middle school music teacher and pianist. He likes teaching, but his passion is to become a jazz musician. After he auditions for the sax player Dorothea Williams (Angela Bassett), Joe feels like he might actually get his big break, but his dreams are dashed when he falls into a manhole in the street. He ends up in the Great Before, the place souls pass through when they’re coming and going from life on Earth. He meets 22 (Tina Fey), a ghostlike blob inhabiting this strange in-between place. Despite the efforts of past mentors like Mother Teresa and Gandhi, 22 has resisted finding a passion for life on Earth. Joe and 22 end up bonding in unexpected ways and helping each other discover what truly matters to each of them.

Yes, it seems heavy, but the directors Pete Docter (“Inside Out” and “Up”) and Kemp Powers (who wrote “One Night in Miami” and later co-directed “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”) manage to keep things light enough for little ones while giving adults plenty to think about (and cry over). Docter and Powers co-wrote the script with Mike Jones.

Watch it on Disney+.

Luca (Jacob Tremblay) is not the first animated sea creature to long for a life on land, but this time, instead of being a little mermaid, he’s a brightly colored, scaly sea monster. Like Ariel, Luca is fascinated by humans — their ability to walk on two feet, their food, their gadgets. One day, he defies his protective parents (voiced by Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan) and ventures onto land. In this fantasy, sea monsters automatically turn into humans once they’re out of the water, but a single splash can transform them back to their scaly selves. Luca meets another sea monster parading around as a human: the loquacious, parentless Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer from “Shazam!”). Luca and Alberto encounter a villain named Ercole (Saverio Raimondo) and befriend a local girl named Giulia (Emma Berman), who convinces them to enter a triathlon where the three sports are swimming, biking and eating a ton of pasta.

This Oscar nominee from Pixar doesn’t possess the depth and nuance of “Soul,” but the bold landscapes and the picturesque Italian fishing village should offer youngsters plenty of visual stimuli. Along the way, Luca learns about confidence, independence and friendship. This was the first feature for the director Enrico Casarosa (his animated short “La Luna” was an Oscar nominee), who also wrote the screenplay.

Watch it on Max.

Pirates, a treasure map and a mysterious fortune teller are sometimes all you need to rev a kid’s imagination. This Cartoon Network Studios movie, based on the series “Craig of the Creek,” follows a shy and unsure Craig Williams (Philip Solomon, who voices Craig in the series) as he moves to a new town called Herkleton with his family and feels, immediately, like an outsider. Craig and his sister meet a motley band of kids at the creek one day, and when they’re raided by teenage pirates led by Serena (Vico Ortiz), Craig gets caught up in a quest to find a magical object called a Wish Maker.

Fans of the series should love this prequel, which fills in Craig’s back story. Younger kids who are new to Craig’s world are likely to root for him when he is forced to find his confidence and strength through a series of raucous adventures. Series co-creators Matt Burnett and Ben Levin co-directed and co-wrote the script.

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