New Kids Movies

And where to stream them

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New Kids Movies

As the father of three young adults, I remember clearly those days when we’d watch just about any new kids movie that was released. And I also remember feeling like studios took advantage of that desperation for entertainment, filling the latest unoriginal script with enough silly gags that the little ones would giggle as the parents checked the time. I was always so thankful for those rare family films made with the same kind of care that went into the latest arthouse flick.

We’re keeping a running list of the latest movies for children for you to peruse and find something that the whole family might enjoy. We’ve included our review scores where applicable, as well as a synopsis of each.

Here are a dozen of the biggest new kids movies from the last few months:

1. Sneakerella

sneakerella.jpg Release date: May 13, 2022
Director: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
Stars: Chosen Jacobs, Lexi Underwood, Devyn Nekoda, Bryan Terrell Clark, Kolton Stewart, Hayward Leach, Robyn Alomar, Yvonne Senat Jones, Juan Chioran
Genre: Musical
Rating: PG

Watch on Disney+

The princess revolution continues with Disney+’s Sneakerella, which is a modern day gender-flip of the classic Cinderella story. The movie is also racially and culturally diverse, something that is thankfully becoming more and more the norm as Disney continues to course-correct decades of only featuring young, white princesses. El (Chosen Jacobs) is a teen living in Queens who dreams of being a sneaker designer. “He grew up believing that the perfect pair of kicks could make him fly,” his neighbor/soon-to-be Fairy Godfather Gustavo (Juan Chioran) narrates. El lives above his family’s shoe store, Laces, with his stepfather Trey (Bryan Terrell Clark) and his step-brothers Stacy (Hayward Leach) and Zelly (Kolton Stewart). Trey makes El work at the store while Stacy and Zelly, who, in one of the movie’s more fun jokes, dream of returning to New Jersey, get to practice Judo and attend future venture capitalist meetings. “Enough is enough. Sometimes you just gotta let your dreams go,” Trey tells El. While in line to buy the latest sneaker from former basketball-player-turned-sneaker-mogul Darius King (John Salley), El and his best friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) meet Kira (Lexi Underwood). Little does El know that Kira is actually the daughter of—wait for it—Darius King. She’s a real-life sneaker princess. What are the odds? Jacobs is a delightful screen presence full of charisma and amazing moves. Underwood, who can also currently be seen as Malia Obama in Showtime’s The First Lady, is equally delightful. Kira is a young woman figuring out where she fits in. The storyline itself, though, is thin as it tries to retrofit the Cinderella fairytale into this modern version. There are plot points that don’t make a lot of sense. But you’re coming for the singing and the phenomenal dancing. As a tween musical full of catchy songs, the shoe fits. —Amy Amatangelo


2. Marmaduke

marmaduke.jpg Release date: May 6, 2022
Director: Mark A.Z. Dippé; Youngki Lee, Phil Nibbelink, Matt Philip Whelan (co-directors)
Stars: Pete Davidson, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner, Brain Hull
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Rating: PG

Watch on Netflix

In 1954, cartoonist Brad Anderson made comic strip history by sketching out an anarchic, dopey Great Dane, whom he named Marmaduke. In the decades since, people loved Marmaduke for all of the obvious reasons: His slapstick adventures are effortlessly funny, his I-just-want-to-do-good ethos is naturally endearing and his inherent silliness embodies a kind of freedom to which we all aspire. But more than that, people love Marmaduke because his misgivings are reliable—predictable, even. And that’s exactly why adapting this character into a film will always be a complicated venture. How, exactly, do you turn that repetition into something that’s consistently engaging while still staying true to its delightful, humdrum essence? This is the challenge facing director Mark A.Z. Dippé as he resuscitates the mischievous pooch a decade after a famous cinematic flop. Dippé’s computer-animated film stars Pete Davidson as Marmaduke, the well-intentioned Great Dane who just can’t seem to get it right! Within the first few minutes, he finds himself committing a healthy number of faux pas, not least of which is cannonballing into a swimming pool to escape a bee, flooding his neighborhood, and subsequently wrecking his brother’s birthday party. What filmmakers seem to have overlooked over the past couple decades is that a story like Marmaduke begs for a new perspective; audiences are craving more nuance than sweet simple comforts. And while Dippé’s Marmaduke is a fun enough viewing experience, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Why can’t we just leave Marmaduke in the dog house for a little while? —Aurora Amidon


3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

dr-strange-multi.jpg Release date: May 6, 2022
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, Rachel McAdams
Genre: Action, Adventure
Rating: PG-13

Marvel still has a lot to figure out with how it handles its women, but it’s getting the multiverse idea under its feet. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness starts its fast-paced but forgettable first act with dialogue that could be improved by a middle schooler before giving way to an emotional Elizabeth Olsen performance that holds down some eye-roll-inducing lines about motherhood, ridiculous cameos as plot conduits, and horror cinematography, sound and direction bouncing captivatingly between the grotesque and comical. Despite boring opening salvos that reminded me why so many people have grown hateful of the Marvel movies, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness eventually becomes very fun to watch. It’s weird that so many Sam Raimi fans were hoping for a return to his horror auteur form considering (1) we’ve seen a bunch of skilled indie filmmakers squish their vision into the Marvel frame for a big paycheck and (2) Raimi is known to the wider film-watching public as the guy that made the original Spider-Man trilogy. It’s weirder still that the horror fans were kinda right to be hopeful: The second and third acts are full of horror imagery, jump scares and a Bruce Campbell cameo (and fellow Raimi collaborator Danny Elfman does the score). One of my favorite things about the first Doctor Strange was that the introduction of magic into the MCU meant exciting psychedelic visuals. Multiverse of Madness alternates between being comparatively rudimentary and going past the original into the macabre. Unfortunately, as with all Marvel movies, the director must square their vision with the circle of Kevin Feige’s machine. There are a lot of cool moments, but a lot of the flaws are derived from needing to set up a new superhero and connect to two or three or 20 movies. Opening with heavy CG that the actors aren’t interacting with in a way that’s legible as any kind of tangible space makes it hard to accept the movie. It’s less interesting. Too much time and money was spent on designing those FX monsters for me to come away thinking about how they could have gotten more out of the opening scenes by instead setting them in a series of dark rooms. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will surely be a commercial success, but it could have been more artistically satisfying if it wasn’t weighed down by the need to remind people of its outward connections. It stands better on its own than No Way Home but it’s still relying on early ‘00s Fox movies and internet fan castings for theatrical audience pops. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is everything you could reasonably expect from a Sam Raimi-Kevin Feige collaboration, but not much more.—Kevin Fox, Jr.


4. The Bad Guys

bad-guys.jpg Release date: April 22, 2022
Director: Pierre Perifel
Stars: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Rating: PG

With its stellar cast led by Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson and Anthony Ramos, and an original storyline with a gang of anthropomorphic thieves as the protagonists, The Bad Guys has been a critical and commercial success. Following the criminal exploits of a big, bad wolf (Rockwell), a snake (Maron), a tarantula (Awkwafina), a shark (Robinson) and a piranha (Ramos) on a path to redemption, the DreamWorks Animation film will begin streaming on Peacock in June.


5. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

dumbledore.jpg Release date: April 15, 2022
Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Wilgram, Mads Mikkelsen
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 143 minutes

There’s a bit in Monty Python and the Holy Grail pointing out that the way Arthur became King doesn’t make a lick of sense. If you’ve seen it, you can probably hear Dennis the peasant (though he’d hate to be defined as such) on his rant: “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.” This absurdity, taken quite seriously, is the crux of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, only with the Lady of the Lake replaced by a magical, all-knowing deer doling out the divine mandate. This deer (a CG Bambi that can spot leadership potential a mile away) replaces such riveting plot forces as a cursed woman slowly becoming a full-time snake and a bunch of nonsense surrounding the identity of Ezra Miller’s character. It is almost symbolic in its arbitrary silliness, as author-turned-screenwriter-turned-transphobe J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts franchise can’t decide what it’s about on a moment-to-moment basis, let alone a film-to-film basis. The third film in the series is only sure of one thing: Anything remotely resembling Harry Potter will make money, even if it’s a dull piece of first draft hackwork less sensical than Holy Grail’s “farcical aquatic ceremony.” As Rowling continues submerging her magical world into the same hellish and disreputable bog as her personal legacy, I wish she’d kept The Secrets of Dumbledore to herself. —Jacob Oller


6. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

sonic-2.jpg Release date: April 5, 2022
Director: Jeff Fowler
Stars: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Lee Majdoub, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey
Rating: PG
Runtime: 122 minutes

Director Jeff Fowler’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 dashes forward as a sequel that pleases as any continuation should. Momentum carries over, fan-favorite characters enter the fray and the filmic universe’s presence embiggens. The first Sonic the Hedgehog is an adorable buddy comedy about an alien blur and his Donut Lord protector. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 feels more akin to Sonic’s videogame adventures by teaming with Tails, facing Knuckles and hunting the Master Emerald. It’s a comforting videogame adaptation: Heartwarming childhood lessons will delight all ages as Sonic leaves his origin blueprints behind to become the next-stage hero once projected from black plastic Sega cartridges. Eat your heart out, Mario. Jim Carrey continues his domination as the mustache-twirling villain Dr. Robotnik who flosses, giving another masterclass in physical comedy and conveying more range through his facial acting than entire comedy troupes. Carrey is an unstoppable force drawing from his glorious ‘90s catalog, especially when the action kicks into gear and his gesticulating goofiness translates to a Pacific Rim situation. There’s no shock on my face as I type these words: It’s so fulfilling to see Carrey play this kind of off-the-wall lunatic again. All this would be nothing without clean animation, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 picturesquely impresses. Kudos to the collaborative efforts of Marza Animation Planet, Moving Picture Company and DNEG—the blending of live-action and computerized creatures is essentially immaculate. The quills and furs in blazing reds, the deepest blues and warm yellows are vividly detailed, and destruction that spans Green Hills to Hawaii could rival most blockbuster disaster flicks. Fans of Sonic the Hedgehog are in good hands with Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Fowler quietly sets the most recent bar for videogame adaptations by building a cinematic universe that speaks eloquently of childhood experiences through Sonic’s adrenaline-junkie antics. The addition of Tails and Knuckles is a dynamic level-up that will have fans craving more, not to mention the pop in my theater during the film’s mid-credits scene. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 might momentarily lose itself to for-the-kids wackiness, which certainly leaves some plotlines frayed, but the reasons we’re here—Knuckles, Tails, Sonic, more Eggman—are all enthusiastically respected. I’m a happy Sonic fan after Fowler’s high-speed sequel.—Matt Donato


7. Better Nate Than Ever

better-nate.jpg Release date: April 1, 2022
Director: Tim Federle
Stars: Rueby Wood, Joshua Bassett, Aria Brooks, Lisa Kudrow
Genre: Comedy, Musical
Rating: PG

Watch on Disney+

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


8. Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood

apollo-10-1-2-poster.jpg Release Date: March 25, 2022
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Milo Coy, Jack Black, Glen Powell, Zachary Levi, Josh Wiggins, Lee Eddy, Bill Wise, Natalia L’Amoreaux, Jessica Brynn Cohen, Sam Chipman, Danielle Guilbot
Rating: PG-13

Watch on Netflix

Near the end of Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood, Richard Linklater’s luscious rotoscope ode to the tail-end of the 1960s, the father of our young protagonist Stanley (Milo Coy) worries that his son slept through a historic event. “Even if he was asleep,” says Stanley’s mom (Lee Eddy), “he’ll one day think he saw it all.” The magic trick that is memory serves as the basis of Apollo, a film that recalls Apollo 11 from the rose-colored perspective of Stan, a ten-year-old boy living in Houston—Linklater’s childhood stomping grounds—at the time of the mission. The film begins with two suited men pulling Stan aside at school and informing him that NASA accidentally built a spaceship that was too small for an adult to ride in. Given this, they’ll need Stan to perform a test run to the Moon instead of one of their highly trained adult astronauts. What follows is a 90-minute, highly sentimental, kaleidoscopic examination of 1969, spliced with moments from the greatest fantasy of the Stanleys of the world: Traveling to space. Linklater doesn’t spare any detail of what life was like back then, nor does he worry about boring audiences by delving into the minutiae of it all. Grown-up Stanley (Jack Black), Apollo’s narrator, bounces confidently between descriptions of the monotonous games the neighborhood kids used to play, breakdowns of the plots of old black-and-white sci-fi shows, the conservative methodologies Stanley’s mom applies in making school lunches for her kids, the nuances of spending time with grandparents who lived through the Depression and everything in between. Everything in the film that has to do with chronicling life in 1969 is so captivating on its own that one can’t help but wonder what Apollo would be like if it removed Stanley’s outer space subplot altogether. Still, where Apollo succeeds, it really succeeds. It’s a stylish meditation on childhood that isn’t afraid to indulge in all the sentimentality that goes along with that. Almost 30 years after Dazed and Confused, Linklater is still reminding us exactly why childhood is a uniquely special thing.—Aurora Amidon


9. Cheaper by the Dozen

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

Watch on Disney+

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


10. 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
Genre: Comedy, Adventure
Rating: PG

Watch on Disney+

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


11. The Adam Project

the-adam-project.jpg Release date: March 11, 2022
Directors: Shawn Levy
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Jennifer Garner, Zoe Saldaña, Mark Ruffalo, Catherine Keener
Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure
Rating: PG-13

Watch on Netflix

The title of The Adam Project refers to the complicated scientific research of absentminded professor Louis Reed (Mark Ruffalo), which eventually leads to the invention of time travel. The Ryan Reynolds Project, meanwhile, seems to involve the production of “original” movies that time-travel through popcorn-cinema history, pilfering as they go. Reuniting with director Shawn Levy following Free Guy and reuniting with Netflix on the heels of Red Notice, Reynolds has reconfigured his wiseass persona into a totem for faux-Spielbergian wonder, complete with daddy issues. The real wonder is how synthetic all this originality can feel. The film’s premise stacks up the wistful what-ifs. Adam (Walker Scobell) is a mouthy 12-year-old in 2022 who keeps getting beaten up by school bullies (and then suspended for “fighting”) as he works through the death of his father. Adam (Ryan Reynolds) is a mouthy 40-year-old in 2050 who flies a futuristic-looking jet while pursued by nefarious forces. Physical resemblance doesn’t materialize, but the incessant sarcastic quipping tells the story: These Adams are one and the same—and the accidental inventor of time travel is their dead dad. Through a wormhole mishap, Older Adam winds up face-to-face with his younger self, and reluctantly enlists his (self-)help to save his current-and-future wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña)—which may involve looping back to when their dad was alive. This self-conscious starriness emits a fake-looking glare, blocking any vision of time-tripping pathos. Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner (spiritually if not physically reunited after 13 Going on 30) know how to play these sorts of good-hearted parental roles, but they’re stuck in a movie too distractible to live in any of its scenes (or, for that matter, lean into the dizzying complexities of time-hopping). Levy knows what wonder and excitement in this type of movie is supposed to look like—specks of light falling through trees; sleek lightsaber-style weapons engaging in breathless, bloodless combat—and puts too much trust in awe-by-proxy. When it comes time to hit the emotional stuff home, Levy and his screenwriters overcompensate: Repeat the assurances! Double the hugs! Swell that music! Explain the catharsis everyone is experiencing! As with Free Guy, Reynolds and Levy have made a movie aimed at the dead center of mainstream geek culture, designed to be described as having so much heart—even though it’s as smooth and featureless as a Funko Pop. —Jesse Hassenger


12. 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

Watch on Disney+

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.