Admittedly, “Trolls” is pretty cute. The music is catchy, the voices sound familiar — hey, Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake, better known as Poppy and Branch! — and the movie offers an innocent-enough storyline, with enough parent-appreciated humor mixed in for everyone to survive.
… But if your kids are anything like ours, we’ve seen “Trolls” approximately 95,124 times.
So if your house needs to freshen up its Netflix queue, look no further. We asked around for some of the best parent-endorsed picks when it comes to new Netflix offerings. Of course, some of these might just be “new to you” rather than brand new to the streaming service, but either way, they just might get you a hall pass, excused from your millionth viewing of “the biggest, the loudest, the craziest party ever!” (A little “Trolls” humor for you).
1.) “Beat Bugs”
No, unfortunately, the Beatles themselves don’t star in “Beat Bugs,” (well, that might seem obvious, considering we only have two Beatles still alive). But we are here to — happily! — report that the “Beat Bugs” series is all based on Beatles songs, so needless to say, the music is more than tolerable.
“Plus, now my girls like listening to the real Beatles, too,” one mom said.
So not only are you providing good entertainment for your kids, but you’re instilling a love of classic rock, as well. Wins all around!
“Leap,” which is voiced by Elle Fanning and Maddie Ziegler, among some other recognizable names, is seriously cute. Despite the main character, our protagonist Felicie, using some questionable judgment at times (going out with a friend the night before her ballet audition, lying about her identity to get into ballet school in the first place) — oh, and not to mention her audacity — she auditions for “The Nutcracker” with no formal dance training; such a millennial. Yes, all jokes aside and despite those things that we sometimes LOL about, it’s still a gem of a movie.
The music in “Leap” is beautiful, and it might even be just as catchy as the “Trolls” soundtrack. Also I’m convinced Nora has some kind of neurodiverse condition, such as autism, perhaps. But no one even makes a big deal of it, so we give props for promoting inclusion. The ending is the absolute best part. “Dance offfffff!”
Can you tell we’re suckers for a good soundtrack?
“Sing” also packs a star-studded cast, which includes Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Matthew McConaughey, Seth MacFarlane and Jennifer Hudson, just to name a few. And the songs are truly next-level. You can’t help but root for the main characters, as a koala named Buster Moon tries to revive his dying theater with a bunch of fun new musical acts. The movie is vibrant, light and extremely likable.
4.) “The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories”
The man, the myth, the legend: Eric Carle. Yes, the Eric Carle who’s written half the children’s books in your collection. Were you aware of the Netflix show based on his work? Admittedly, it’s pretty simple looking and basic. But that’s kind of the point: the shows aren’t meant to be flashy, over-the-top productions. It’s just Carle’s stories that we all know and love. When I first put the TV on in front of my kids (I was reluctant at first), I felt as if this were a solid choice. It’s wholesome, it looks just like the books and it seems like an appropriate pace if you’re wanting to avoid overwhelming your toddler.
Make sure you have some tissues handy! “Coco” is so sweet, and it’s the brainchild of Pixar and Disney, so of course we’ve come to expect some pretty top-notch movies. But this one will pull on your heartstrings especially.
Once again, say it with me now, the music is everything. Here’s a description that was released with the trailer, if you’re wondering what “Coco” is all about: “Despite his family’s generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Hector, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.” It’s a must-see, that’s for sure.
6.) “Masha and the Bear”
“My kids think this is the funniest show ever,” one father of three said.
In fact, this Russian animated series was listed by several parents, mentioning it as a household favorite. “Masha” is the story of a lively little girl who lives near the forest, where she has many wonderful adventures with her best friend, a bear who used to be in the circus. The animation is adorable and it appears to be entertaining for all sorts of age groups.
It’s true that “Moana” isn’t exactly new, and many children seem to love the movie and the character already — so apparently, word has already traveled fast! But on the off-chance that you haven’t yet seen “Moana,” or you’re thinking it’s not for your child (your son, perhaps?), just know that it’s not an old-fashioned Disney movie like “Cinderella,” for example. There’s no weird sexism, there isn’t a helpless princess who’s waiting to get swept off her feet — in fact, it’s kind of revolutionary that “Moana” doesn’t involve any sort of love interest or romantic hook at all. It’s just a solid movie.
Oh, and your kids will love Maui!
8.) “Word Party”
If we’re going to come under fire for any selection on this list, it might be “Word Party.” OK OK, we’ll admit: these songs will get stuck in your head. For days, or maybe even weeks. And they’re not always the best of songs, especially when you compare them to other music on this list. But “Word Party” does have something kind of intriguing and enticing to it, although we can’t put our finger on what exactly that “it” factor really is. Toddlers seem to love “Word Party,” so if you need to get that load of laundry folded, pop it on and there you have 30 free minutes. Also, the show really does try to teach valuable lessons, which is nice. One day they talked seemingly all episode about wearing underpants, and the next thing you knew, my otherwise-resistant-to-potty-training 2-year-old was all in on wearing hers. Thank you, “Word Party!”
Finally, just a note: Don’t get all smug on me, readers. I’m not suggesting you plop your kids down in front of a screen all day — or even every day. But if you’re like a lot of us, you can probably admit that TV happens. Sometimes you’re traveling. Or you’ve just had a new baby and you’re adjusting to life with a new person who has unpredictable needs. What are your older kids going to do? Or maybe you’re stuck inside because of the weather. There are a bunch of reasons why you might throw the TV on for an hour, so we thought we’d offer some alternatives if you’re stuck on the same shows or movies.
Up next we’ll have a guide on some interactive, screenless ways to play with or entertain your kids when you’re stuck inside or on an airplane. So hang tight and know that we’re not trying to prioritize or glorify TV.
Now that that’s out of the way, tell us in the comments below: What did we miss? What are you watching at home with your kids? Have you forgiven Netflix for pulling Zootopia? (We haven’t!)