By Kate Boyle,
Many people around the world are currently staying at home practising social-distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s scary and stressful at times and most people have to adjust to working from home and surviving without their favourite extracurricular activities (like going to the movies…) Fortunately, there’s a streaming service whose sole purpose is to make everyone feel better- Disney+! Be it through waves of warm and fuzzy nostalgia or countless hours of family-friendly entertainment to keep the stir-crazy kids occupied, Disney’s vast collection of movies and TV shows could not have come at a better time.
Disney+ has been available in the US, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand since November 2019 and was just released (perfect timing) in the UK, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland on March 24th, 2020. Future rollouts are planned in additional countries later this year. Disney as a company hasn’t always made the best decisions politically and socially, but in these tumultuous times, there is nothing better than feel-good, nostalgic entertainment. I’ve been using Disney+ since day one so I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite films and tv shows for anyone interested or if you’ve just acquired Disney+ and are wondering where to start.
My first recommendation is Ron Howard’s “Willow” (1988). “Willow” is a fantasy-action flick starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer. It’s a gem from the ’80s, one of my favourite movies ever, and one that not enough people have seen. I think it holds up, but many people think it looks it’s age. If you like movies like “The Lord of the Rings” Series or “The Princess Bride” give “Willow” a try.
Another great movie to check out is “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960). It’s based on Johann David Wyss’ novel of the same name and one of many adaptations Disney did over the years. This was one of those films I loved as a kid but completely forgot about until I found it on Disney+. Its treatment of animals is definitely problematic and more noticeable as an adult, but the movie still meets the nostalgia requirement. Both “The Parent Trap” (1961 and 1998) movies are available. I highly recommend watching the original first (who doesn’t love Maureen O’Hara?), then watching the Lindsay Lohan version. Much of the charm we know and love in Lohan’s movie was pulled directly from the original.
My last two movie recommendations are classic animated films that don’t get enough attention- “The Black Cauldron” (1985) and “Treasure Planet” (2002). Both are adaptations from classic literature. “Treasure Planet” puts a sci-fi spin on Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale of “buccaneers and buried gold” with an interesting mix of hand-drawn, CGI, and deep canvas animation and a killer score and soundtrack. Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik wrote and performed an original song for the movie called “I’m Still Here (Jim’s Theme)”, still one of my favourite original songs ever. Most people either love or hate “Treasure Planet”, but it’s one of my favourites.
“Disney as a company hasn’t always made the best decisions politically and socially, but in these tumultuous times, there is nothing better than feel-good, nostalgic entertainment. I’ve been using Disney+ since day one.”
Next recommendation: “The Black Cauldron” (1985). It’s another 80’s gem that many people either haven’t heard of or never got around to watching. It’s slightly scarier than most Disney animated movies but if you like fantasy adventure films or Tim Burton (who worked as an artist on this film) it’s worth checking out. It’s pulled from a high fantasy series “The Chronicles of Prydain” written by Lloyd Alexander. It’s the first Disney movie to use the classic white castle logo, the first to receive a PG rating, and the first to use CGI.
You can also find almost every animated Disney and Pixar movie from “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) to more recent releases like “Frozen II” (2019). If you were a fan of the Disney Channel Original Movies, don’t worry those are all there too! You can watch “Johnny Tsunami”(1999), “Brink”(1998), and “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century”(1999) til your heart’s content. You will also find a good portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+ and all but the latest Star Wars movies are available.
“I grew up on Disney movies and they still make me happy. The majority of my recent watches have been films that are comforting or allow me to escape”
In addition to the plethora of nostalgic movies available on Disney+, you can also find many of the TV shows you used to watch as a kid. Things like “Duck Tales”, “Gargoyles”, “Gravity Falls”, “Kim Possible”, “The Proud Family”, “Lizzie McGuire”, and “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”. There are also 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” available if you feel the need to watch it from the beginning. Many animated Marvel shows from the 80’s to present day are also included with Disney+.
If you’re looking for something you haven’t seen before, Disney has included that too! Their original content includes “The Mandalorian”, a live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp”, and various other fiction and non-fiction series. You can also find a ton of documentaries from National Geographic, including several directed by and featuring James Cameron. Cameron invented specialized underwater cameras after he made “Titanic” (1997) and discovered his new love for deep-sea exploration. Another fun category of things I’ve discovered on Disney+ are “movies I didn’t know Disney owned the rights to”. Movies like “Splash” (1984), “10 Things I Hate About You” (1999), “The Sound of Music” (1965), and all of “The Muppets” movies from the ’80s and ’90s.
Since working from home (and staying home in general) I’ve almost exclusively watched Disney+. I grew up on Disney movies and they still make me happy. The majority of my recent watches have been films that are comforting or allow me to escape. When life is crazy or stressful you want nostalgia and fun to cheer you up, or movies that get you out of your head for a while. Thankfully Disney+ is there for those who need it. I hope they roll out their streaming platform to more countries soon.