5 Children’s Movies to Stream Now

5 Children’s Movies to Stream Now

Watch it on Netflix.

The comedian Bill Burr as the voice of a jaded animated turtle in a kids’ movie may be enough to pique the curiosity of some parents. In “Leo,” Burr’s Squirtle is the grouchy sidekick to Leo, a septuagenarian lizard (voiced by Adam Sandler). They share a terrarium in a fifth grade classroom in Florida, and when Leo realizes he’s reaching the end of his reptilian life span, he has a sudden urge to escape and see the world. When the humorless substitute teacher Ms. Malkin (Cecily Strong) tells the students that they each have to take one of the two creatures home for the weekend to learn responsibility, Leo sees his chance. He goes home with the chatty Summer (Sunny Sandler), and reveals that he can speak. Once each kid stops freaking out about bringing home a talking lizard, Leo turns into a life coach/therapist for them. Through old-school wisdom, the children learn lessons about kindness, acceptance and confidence. The script — by Sandler, Robert Smigel (“Saturday Night Live,” “Hotel Transylvania”) and Paul Sado (“Sandy Wexler”) — doesn’t break any new ground, but there are enough cute jokes, so-so musical numbers and visual gags to hold the interest of preschool- and elementary-aged kids. Smigel directed the movie with “S.N.L.” alums Robert Marianetti and David Wachtenheim.

Watch it on Prime Video.

Take splashy heist movies like “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Reservoir Dogs,” swap out the movie stars for animated wolves, sharks and tarantulas, and you have DreamWorks Animation’s “The Bad Guys.” The animation supervisor Pierre Perifel makes his feature directing debut here, and the voice cast is stellar: Sam Rockwell (as Wolf, the leader), Zazie Beetz (Gov. Diane Foxington), Awkwafina (the hacker Tarantula), Marc Maron (Snake), Craig Robinson (Shark) and Anthony Ramos (Piranha). When a heist goes wrong, a shady guinea pig named Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) offers the crew a way to avoid prison time: Do good deeds and trick the world into thinking they’re actually good guys. When they try to save guinea pigs from an animal testing lab, though, their baser instincts take over and Snake ends up swallowing the poor creatures instead of freeing them. It’s not as scary as it sounds, so little ones will be more likely to laugh than to cry. Along the way, Wolf wonders what it would be like if the world didn’t fear them. Maybe they could become … good? It’s a story about redemption and change, based on the children’s graphic novel series by Aaron Blabey. Etan Cohen (“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”) wrote the script.

In keeping with the theme of talking animals who are also petty criminals, Hugh Laurie voices a rotund orange cat named Maurice, the mastermind of a Pied Piper-inspired moneymaking scam. Maurice, along with a team of bucktoothed rats (voiced by Gemma Arterton and David Tennant, among others) and his human buddy Keith (Himesh Patel), goes from town to town convincing the citizens that they have a rat problem, and taking their money once Keith lures the rats away. One day they come upon a village that has been stricken by tragedy — there is no food left — and they meet the precocious, fairy-tale-obsessed Malicia (Emilia Clarke). Is it a scheme cooked up by a mysterious villain (David Thewlis) or an actual plague? Maurice, Keith and Malicia try to uncover the truth. The screenplay, by Terry Rossio (“Shrek”), is occasionally a little too clever for its own good (lots of breaking the fourth wall and jokes about story structure), but younger kids will probably pay more attention to the tap dancing rats and singing cat. The story is based on the work of Terry Pratchett, specifically a volume in his 41-book Discworld series. The movie was shown at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival; afterward, Toby Genkel, who directed it with Florian Westermann, said the movie is about “freedom and democracy and tolerance.” Plus cute tap dancing rats.

Watch it on Paramount+.

The words “Baby Shark” may strike fear in many parents who have been subjected to the tune 8,000 times a day (at least). There’s a reason that in 2019, the city of West Palm Beach, Fla., blasted the song, along with other eardrum-piercing classics like “Raining Tacos,” to try to keep people from sleeping in parks and under bridges. Still, tiny kids love this dang shark and his so-catchy-it-hurts ditty, and there are plenty of shows, movies and events to prove it. Another title for this movie could be “Pun City,” because every other line seems to be a nifty riff on ocean life. And Cardi B and Offset voice Sharki B and Offshark, and their two kids provide voice talent as well, so that’s something. In this story, Baby Shark (Kimiko Glenn) has to leave his best buddy William (Luke Youngblood) when his family moves to Chomp City. Once there, they encounter a “pop starfish supervillain” named Stariana (Ashley Tisdale), who aims to steal Baby Shark’s voice so she can become the top singer in the sea. The comedian Aparna Nancherla voices Stariana’s long-suffering assistant, Gillie; the K-pop group Enhypen voices a band of belugas; and Lance Bass plays an announcer. If you want to entertain your toddler for an hour or so, this should do the trick. Just put on some headphones and a true-crime podcast if you need to tune out the noise. Alan Foreman (supervising producer on Nickelodeon’s “The Casagrandes”) directed, and Whitney Ralls (“My Little Pony: Pony Life”) wrote the script.

There are no dancing rats or singing sharks in this one, but there is a three-legged dog named Legend. Written by Qui Nguyen (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) and directed by Nguyen and Don Hall (“Big Hero 6”), this animated science-fiction fantasy is a “Journey to the Center of the Earth”-type adventure about family, bravery and climate change. A stubborn explorer named Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) goes missing from Avalonia when he sets out to find a way beyond the supposedly impenetrable mountains that frame the land. His young son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), prefers to play it safe and stay put; after he discovers a magical plant he calls pando, which becomes a major renewable power source for Avalonia, Searcher grows up to become a local farmer instead of a famed explorer like his dad. But when pando starts losing its power, the president of Avalonia, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), enlists Searcher to travel beneath the mountains to find out why the plant is dying. Searcher’s aviator wife, Meridian (Gabrielle Union), and teenage son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White), go along for the ride (with Legend in tow), and they wind up in the hallucinogenic Strange World, where they find a grizzled, bearded Jaeger. Searcher goes from proclaiming, “I’m not my father,” and shaming Jaeger for giving him a machete on his second birthday to bonding with his dad. It’s a story of multigenerational understanding that happens to have neon pterodactyls and pink trees.

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