Disney’s new streaming service has finally launched on this side of the Atlantic — after a comically long four month wait — and it’s packed with profoundly mediocre film and TV content from Hollywood’s most cynical studio. And yet, amongst the swathe of Marvel and Star Wars and princess-based regurgitation, there are some real gems, some actual classics from the Disney and Fox archive now available for you to readily enjoy. And at what better a time than during the COVID-19 quarantine?!
Mary Poppins + The Sound of Music
Literally nothing will repel quaranxiety faster than two of the best musicals ever made, both starring Julie Andrews at her peak. Learn some vital lessons about childhood, family and music that might help you get on a bit better trapped inside with your own.
National Treasure + Book of Secrets
This is as good as cinema gets, my friends. Well, not quite, but I have an enormous amount of love for the Treasure movies starring Nicolas Cage as valiant conspiracy theorist/treasure hunter Ben Gates.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Another, oft-underappreciated, Sherman Bros musical from Poppins director Robert Stevenson, Bedknobs stars Angela Lansbury as an apprentice witch charged with caring for three orphaned children during WW2 while dodging the advances of keen professor David Tomlinson. Really magical.
The Million Dollar Duck
One of an assortment of Dean Jones comedies available on Disney+ — the Herbie movies, Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Shaggy D.A. — this is the epitome of laid-back 1960s Disney family comedy. Pleasantly unambitious fare.
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
The original 2D animated Alice is exceptional; a real bad acid trip of a children’s movie with some mesmerising visual sequences and lovely songs. Will totally transport you for 90 minutes.
A young Jodie Foster stars opposite David Niven in this Spooky Old Mansion mystery. I haven’t seen this in a decade, but I trust my 10-year old self that it’s very good.
I affectionately refer to this as “the Winnie the Pooh depression movie”. Ewan McGregor’s adult Christopher confronts mortality and the passing of time when he revisits his Hundred Acre Wood friends. Co-written by Alex Ross Perry, this is a surprisingly intelligent take on a kids’ classic.
Muppets Most Wanted
One of the best comedies of the 2010s, this is peak Muppet madness, as they travel to Berlin, Dublin and a soviet Gulag with Tina Fey and Ty Burrell. So much fun you’ll explode.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules
An A+ family comedy about pursuing a pretty girl in middle school, this captures the specific adolescent appeal of something like Drake and Josh with a lot more sincerity.
Emil and the Detectives
Disney’s take on the much-adapted German book, this is incredibly charming with some beautiful locations.
Y’all remember Holes; the weird Shia LaBoeuf alt-history modern western it’s totally inconceivable Disney would release nowadays. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I’m sure it holds up in its own peculiar way.
Pete’s Dragon (both versions)
Honestly you could do worse than checking out both the original Mickey Rooney-starring musical version and the 2016 David Lowery meditative drama. Such different films, sharing a title, both really excellent.