New Movies on Disney+

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New Movies on Disney+

Disney+ is home to all of the entertainment giant’s studios and franchises, meaning its latest releases are scattered among a variety of properties. But we’re looking solely at movies here, so no Boba Fett series and no short films like Pixar’s 22 vs. Earth or Nona. What we do have are the latest feature-length films from Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic and even 20th Century Studios (had you forgotten Disney scooped them up, as well?). There’s live-action with the emphasis on action. There’s animation aplenty. And there’s a riveting documentary from an Oscar-winning director.

Here are 10 of the newest movies streaming on Disney+:

1. Better Nate Than Ever

Disney+ Release date: April 1, 2022
better-nate.jpgDirector: Tim Federle
Stars: Rueby Wood, Joshua Bassett, Aria Brooks, Lisa Kudrow
Rating: PG

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Based on author Tim Federle’s 2013 novel of the same name, and directed by the author himself, Better Nate Than Ever is a musical family comedy, telling a coming-of-age story about a teenager with Broadway aspirations, running away to the big city. It stars newcomer Rueby Wood as the titular Nate Foster, along with Joshua Bassett, Aria Brooks and, in a major role, the delightful Lisa Kudrow. —Jim Vorel


2. Olivia Roddrigo: driving home 2 u

driving-home.jpg Disney+ Release date: March 25, 2022
Director: Stacey Lee
Stars: Olivia Roddrigo
Rating: TV-14

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“Hi, I’m Olivia Rodrigo,” says a tiny kid with a microphone and bangs in what looks like home video footage. She exhales loudly, then clarifies: “From California.” The clip in question finishes out the montage of music videos, interviews and live performances that opens OLIVIA RODRIGO: driving home 2 u (a SOUR film), a mouthful of a new Disney+ project from director Stacey Lee. The film is a supplement to the now 19-year-old Rodrigo’s smash album SOUR, which appeared in the midst of her whirlwind 2021—a year that began with her still best known as the star of the Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (mouthfuls all around), and ended with her named TIME’s Entertainer of the Year. “I just wanna sing a little song to my friends and family out there…starting now,” continues Tiny Olivia Rodrigo before we permanently link up with her adult self. Over the next 70 or so minutes, the latter takes us through each of SOUR’s tracks, performing them live with an all-women band on a handful of stops between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, the stretch that apparently saw her write a sizable chunk of the album. The film is less a making-of documentary than a concert film with expository interludes between songs, wherein Rodrigo offers behind-the-scenes anecdotes. The performances themselves are the film’s biggest highlight, the songs having been given entirely new arrangements for the occasion. There’s some great stuff about SOUR itself in Lee’s film, to say nothing of its uber-talented maker and the undeniably exciting career ahead of her. But when Tiny Olivia Rodrigo tells the camera that she just wants to “sing a little song to my friends and family out there,” it turns out to be as much a thesis statement for the film as a cute family keepsake. —Sydney Urbanek


3. Cheaper by the Dozen

cheaper-dozen.jpg Disney+ Release date: March 18, 2022
Director: Gail Lerner
Stars: Gabrielle Union, Zach Braff, Erika Christensen, Ron Funches, Brittany Daniel
Rating: PG

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This latest remake of the 1950 film of the same name follows several versions with Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in the early 2000s. This time around, the parents of the massive family clan are Zach Braff and Gabrielle Union, heading up a cast that includes a bunch of kids, in addition to supporting turns from Ron Funches, Erika Christensen and Brittany Daniel. Plot wise, the film actually seems to be closer to 1968’s Yours, Mine and Ours than previous versions of Cheaper by the Dozen, with the family being made of a big, merged group that came together Brady Bunch-style, rather than two parents who simply had an unusually large number of children together. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is another Disney+ exclusive. —Jim Vorel


4. Turning Red

turning-red-poster.jpg Disney+ Release date: March 11, 2022
Director: Domee Shi
Stars: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Hyein Park, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, James Hong
Rating: PG
Paste Review Score: 8.8

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Filmmaker Domee Shi (who delivered the best short Pixar’s ever made in Bao) becomes the first woman to direct a Pixar movie alone, and her floofy red panda’s coming-of-age story stretches the strengths of the company’s legacy. Turning Red is a hyper-cute whirlwind of figurative layers and literal loveliness, dense with meaning and meaningful even to the most dense among us. An exceptional puberty comedy by way of Sanrio-branded Kafka, Turning Red’s truthful transformations are strikingly charming, surprisingly complex and satisfyingly heartfelt. And yes, so cute you might scream until you’re red in the face. Hyperactive 13-year-old overachiever Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang) likes to think she runs Toronto with her weirdo friends, partitioning her life into boy-band obsession, extracurricular exceptionalism and deference to intense mom Ming (Sandra Oh) and soft-spoken dad Jin (Orion Lee). She’s got it all balanced, embodying the multiple identities we develop as we become our own people with the overwhelming energy of someone discovering this exciting new freedom for the first time. Chiang’s crackling vocal performance and a blistering visual pace right out the gate make it clear that Mei’s a ridiculous little goober who knows exactly who she is. That is, until she’s “visited by the red panda.” What initially seems like a fairly straightforward allegory for the bodily betrayal and raging emotions of puberty starts scooping up more and more relatable elements into its impressive, finely detailed bear hug. Shi and co-writer Julia Cho weave an ambitious amount of themes into a narrative that’s main plot engine is boy-band concert lust. Its love-hate bout with puberty is obvious, but self-actualization, filial piety and intergenerational trauma keep its romping red wonder from feeling one-note or derivative of underwhelming transformation tales. Turning Red’s oddball characters and well-rooted fantasy inject personality into the common plot device. Not only one of Pixar’s best efforts from the last half-decade, Turning Red is one that overcomes some of the animation giant’s weaknesses. It’s original and human-centric; it’s not particularly beholden to messages more weepy for adults than enjoyable for children. It’s funny without being overly witty and smart without being overly heady. Shi displays a fantastic ability for integrating the specific and personal into the broad beats of a magical cartoon, all done sweetly and endearingly enough to become an instant favorite among modern kids and those who’ll recognize their past selves. —Jacob Oller


5. West Side Story

west-side-story-2021-poster.jpg Disney+ Release Date: March 2, 2022 (Originally released Dec. 10, 2021)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Brian d’Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Rita Moreno
Rating: PG-13
Paste Review Score: 9.1

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Shoot it loud and there’s music playing; shoot it soft and it’s almost like praying: Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story pumps the classic for exactly that, classicism, by milking the musical’s dynamics for maximum expressiveness. Its romance? At its most tender. Its dance? At its most invigorating and desperate. Its songs? As if “Maria” or “Tonight” needed another reason to stick in your head, they’re catchier than ever. Even if you don’t know the lyrics, you know the snaps. And you won’t even need that level of familiarity to get swept up. Spielberg’s been working up to a full-throated musical for decades and he comes at this movie like he’s got something to prove: If there was ever any doubt that he’s a cinematic peer to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story sets it firmly aside. It’s a stunning, loving spectacle that confidently scales the fence right to the top of the movie-musical pack. Justin Peck, choreographer of the New York City Ballet, highlights the characters’ simmering physical threat and sexual power (not mutually exclusive among the charged dancers) by making the most of his performers’ long limbs and extravagant costumes. Bright dress ruffles and beefy arms twirl in magical, powerful symmetry. Spielberg, in turn, stages the numbers to fully explore the space (when sparring in the salt warehouse or on the dance floor) or lack thereof (when melting hearts in Tony and Maria’s fire-escape rendezvous). Nearly every shot is foregrounded with impediments, be they chain-link fences keeping the boys trapped in their circumstances, onlookers framing spotlit dancers, or wrought iron grating separating lovers. It’s a city, after all. Cluttered. Messy. Full of people, things—and potential. Attraction. Camaraderie. Respect. Encapsulated in stand-offs and close-up faces. These are shots that already look like classics, not because they mimic the 1961 film (though Spielberg’s clearly a fan and nods its way in a few key moments), but because they look like they were dreamed, planned and pulled off. You can feel the achievement, yet there’s nothing stagey here: The film’s two-and-a-half hours either zip along or linger so closely around the campfire glow of its couple’s radiating affection that you’d happily stay with them all night. With Rachel Zegler as Maria, surrounded by other scene-stealers performing some of Broadway’s best, it also feels like a sure-fire hit. If you’ve never been a musical person, here’s your way in. If you’re already a convert, Steven Spielberg will make you love West Side Story all over again.—Jacob Oller


6. Free Guy

free-guy-poster.jpg Disney+ Release date: Feb. 23, 2022
Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Paste Review Score: 4.5

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It probably says something about the superheroicized state of big-budget entertainment that some movies have turned to videogames to find avatars of genuine human emotion. Guy (Ryan Reynolds), the non-human at the center of Free Guy, is essentially a cross between the two leading pixels-with-feelings from parent company Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph: Like Ralph, Guy is a videogame character who starts to feel stirrings of dissatisfaction in his programmed role, and like young racer Vanellope, he’s also a glitch in the system that threatens to bring the whole game down with him. As a citizen of Free City, sort of a massive-multiplayer Grand Theft Auto, Guy’s job is to walk through the action, stumble across the paths of the actual players, and regularly get killed and reset. When he catches sight of Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer), he doesn’t realize that she has a human in another world controlling her impeccably styled action moves—and certainly doesn’t understand that her human controller is an idealistic game designer named Millie (also Comer). He only knows that he no longer wants to get knocked through the digital shrapnel at will. He wants to go where she goes, which means experimenting with a level of freedom heretofore unavailable to his routine background life. Having Reynolds play a revolutionary figure in the field of artificial intelligence with the innocence of an awkward middle-schooler who doesn’t yet understand not to repeat the jokes he overhears from mean-spirited gamers is funny—and the movie can’t wait to skip over the funny stuff in order to use Guy as a vehicle for lessons in real-world self-actualization. Reynolds, as ever, seems both happy to be there and faintly self-mocking about his never-ending quest for validation. A better movie could tease out that tension, or allow its star to unravel a little, rather than just get knocked around. Free Guy is too busy mashing buttons. —Jesse Hassenger


7. The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild

buck-wild.jpg Disney+ Release date: Jan. 28, 2022
Director: John C. Donkin
Stars: Simon Pegg, Vincent Tong, Aaron Harris, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Justina Machado
Rating: PG

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Disney may have shuttered the Blue Sky Studios that produced the Ice Age movies after acquiring the 20th Century Fox animation division in 2019, but it’s kept the franchise alive with its latest release, The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild. The new film follows the possum brothers Crash (Vincent Tong replacing Seann William Scott) and Eddie (Aaron Harris replacing Josh Peck), as they seek freedom from their older, adoptive, wooly mammoth sister Ellie (Dominique Jennings replacing Queen Latifah). Only Simon Pegg reprises his role as the titular Buckminster “Buck” Wild, a dinosaur-hunting weasel who uses a leaf as an eye-patch. Most importantly, this is the first Ice Age movie without Scrat, so I’m not sure why they bothered.


8. Eternals

eternals.jpg Disney+ Release date: Jan. 12, 2022 (originally released Nov. 5, 2021)
Director: Chloé Zhao
Stars: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie
Rating: PG-13
Paste Review Score: 4.7

Watch on Disney+

Chloé Zhao’s Eternals is not a film that frustrates because it misses an obvious target, plunges down the wrong path or even mangles the source material. In fact, it doesn’t really frustrate at all. Instead, it just kinda … occupies time? Oh, plenty of things happen, but, weighed down by 11 or so narrative arcs of mostly “bland new” superheroes—creator Jack Kirby’s signature style and energy is mostly absent—while also dutifully doling out a millennia-spanning, massively predictable larger plot, Eternals never really feels that connected to the greater MCU. Instead, it feels like a well-shot but rather densely packed educational film on some other comic universe, one filled with off-brand heroes and the usual array of power sets. If Eternals had merely been an enjoyable ensemble one-off—an Ocean’s Eleven or Knives Out of the MCU’s very own!—that could have been delightful. But there’s no real magic, Marvel or otherwise, happening here. Eternals is unlikely to leave audiences wanting more (or remembering much), though it may well whet the appetite for the day when the Fantastic Four and X-Men finally arrive.—Michael Burgin


9. Encanto

encanto.jpg Disney+ Release date: Dec. 24 2021 (originally released Nov. 24, 2021)
Directors: Jared Bush, Byron Howard
Stars: Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, Diane Guerrero
Rating: PG

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Both Disney and Lin-Manuel Miranda had better showings this year (Raya and the Last Dragon; In the Heights), but Encanto’s blessings—like those of Mirabel, the only member of the Madrigal family without magical abilities—are enjoyably subtle. Beneath the hyper-Miranda songs (“Surface Pressure” gives in most deeply to his writing tics, but “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” showcases just how good he is with catchy complexity) and the heightened realism of its characters lurks a lush fairy tale haunted not by evil witches or dastardly dragons but by the hardships of the past and fears for the future. Directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard craft a mature story of family strife that won’t scare off kids, packaging it all neatly and specifically into the Colombian jungle. A shockingly versatile lead performance from Stephanie Beatriz, who sings and charms and jokes like she’s been a Disney princess before, and a few great supporters (John Leguizamo’s put-down prognosticator steals every scene) keep the already light tale moving briskly along. Encanto isn’t the flashiest or most heartbreaking of the more traditional Disney musicals, but it’s crisp and smart—and its miracles might linger with you longer than you expect.—Jacob Oller


10. The Rescue

the-rescue.jpg Disney+ Release date: Dec. 3, 2021 (originally released Oct. 8, 2021)
Directors: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Rating: TV-14

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You probably remember the young soccer team trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018. National Geographic documentary The Rescue tells the story of the cave divers trying to save the 12 children and their coach. Since Netflix secured the rights to the boys’ stories, this film is focused solely on the rescuers. Directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland, The Mauritanian), The Rescue racked up awards on the festival circuit before a limited release in October. It’s now streaming on Disney+.