top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Five children’s movies to stream now

John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voice Chip, center, and Dale, right, in “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers,” available to stream on Disney+.

By Dina Gachman

This month’s picks include the return of Chip and Dale, a dragon adventure and the third installment in the “Madagascar” franchise.

‘Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers’

Disney’s TV show “Chip ’n Dale: Rescue Rangers” ran for only three seasons, from 1989 to 1990, but comedian Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborator Akiva Schaffer are bringing the odd-couple chipmunks back together for a new generation. It’s a live-action/computer-generated hybrid that brings in characters from the worlds of Lego, “Peter Pan,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and more. The hodgepodge style gives children a crash course in how animation has evolved over the years — but they probably won’t realize that. They’ll just be entertained by the visuals. The plot revolves around Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Samberg), who, after being estranged, reunite in Los Angeles because their old friend Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) has been kidnapped. They team up with a detective (Kiki Layne) to solve the crime. Chip sells insurance and still looks like old-school 2D animation, while Dale has had “CGI surgery” and pines for their glory days. The movie, directed by Schaffer, doesn’t take itself too seriously, so there’s a silliness mixed with some more elevated (as elevated as a Lonely Island collaboration can be) humor meant to appeal to parents. It’s a fun, fast-paced action comedy, with Will Arnett voicing the villain Sweet Pete, a scruffy, potbellied Peter Pan who looks like he’s seen better days. (Stream it on Disney+.)

‘Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted’

Imagine “Ocean’s Eleven” in Monte Carlo with an animated lion, zebra, giraffe and hippo instead of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, and you sort of have the tone of the third installment in DreamWorks Animation’s “Madagascar” franchise. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) find themselves not in New York or Africa, but the south of France. Their mission? To find their penguin friends and go back to New York. Of course, they encounter obstacles along the way, like the monomaniacal animal-control captain Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand). Eric Darnell and Noah Baumbach wrote the script, so for all the wild antics and over-the-top action that will excite the kids, there is some clever writing and more than a few endearing moments to entertain older viewers. It’s also tough to resist an animated chase scene set to Journey’s “Any Way You Want It.” (Stream it on Amazon Prime Video.)

‘Firedrake the Silver Dragon’

Based on the Cornelia Funke book “Dragon Rider,” this animated action-adventure tale doesn’t possess the Oscar-caliber visuals and storytelling of “How To Train Your Dragon,” but it’ll likely entertain young viewers who love a good dragon tale. As the movie begins, we’re told that once upon a time, humans and dragons lived in harmony, but the humans became greedy and declared war on all dragons. A villainous monster called Nettlebrand (voiced by Patrick Stewart) was created to devour innocent dragons, so they all scattered and went into hiding, cast out and unable to do things that dragons do best, like breathe fire. But, as the narrator says, “Nothing remains hidden forever.” Enter the young dragon Firedrake (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who sets off with his forest buddy Sorrell (Felicity Jones) to find a mythical place where dragons can exist freely, without the fear of Nettlebrand or evil humans. Along the way, they meet an orphan boy named Ben (Freddie Highmore) and encounter some humans who aren’t as malicious as they’ve been told. There are positive lessons about bravery, honesty and acceptance, so if your kids are in search of a new dragon adventure, this one’s worth a look. (Stream it on Netflix.)


The original legend of the chupacabra paints these mythical creatures as scaly reptilian monsters that drink the blood of livestock — but don’t tell your children that part. In “Chupa,” director Jonás Cuarón (son of Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón) turns the chupacabra into a cuddly, adorable furry-winged creature, so cute that your kids will probably want one as a pet. The story kicks off when a young boy named Alex (Evan Whitten) visits his grandfather (Demián Bichir) and cousins in Mexico and discovers one of these creatures in a shed. The chupa appears in a sequence that appears to be a direct nod to Elliott discovering E.T. in a backyard shed, and the film follows a familiar trajectory of lonely boy (Alex is bullied in school) and misunderstood creature finding strength in friendship while fending off evil forces — in this case, a callous poacher played by Christian Slater. The story is simple, and the younger Cuarón isn’t revolutionizing the genre, but there are moments of suspense and tenderness that should charm young ones and maybe even teach them some lessons about empathy and acceptance. (Stream it on Netflix.)

‘Earwig and the Witch’

“Earwig and the Witch” is another children’s movie made by the son of a famous director — this one by Goro Miyazaki, son of Oscar winner Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle”). This computer-generated animated movie from Studio Ghibli was originally made for Japanese TV and re-voiced with an English-speaking cast. It is about a plucky young orphan named Earwig (Taylor Paige Henderson) who is left at the door of an orphanage by her rock-star biological mother. Eventually Earwig — who is renamed Erica during the movie — is adopted by a witch called Bella Yaga (Vanessa Marshall) and her demon friend Mandrake (Richard E. Grant). Erica hasn’t longed to be adopted, but off she goes. The witch puts her to work helping with magic spells and potions, and along the way, Erica discovers magical powers of her own. The movie is based on a book of the same title by Diana Wynne Jones, and even though the plot is a little thin and the visuals are not nearly as beautiful to look at as most Studio Ghibli productions, it’ll entertain kids who love a good witch tale. (Stream it on HBO Max.)

26 views0 comments


bottom of page