Little Ellen (TV-Y)

Streaming

Age 5+

Charming, colorful series teaches resilience, teamwork.

Little Ellen” is an animated series about the adventures of a kid and her friends living in New Orleans. Loosely based on the life of comic/talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (“Finding Dory”), the show teaches lots of social-emotional lessons through its simple stories about day-to-day life in the historic city. Ellen’s main crew is racially, gender and physically diverse (one BFF is smaller in size, while the other is larger-bodied). Language includes a use of the word “tushy.” Those who’ve heard unpleasant things about the real DeGeneres might initially be skeptical, but “Little Ellen” stands alone as an outstanding pick for families. (Eight
11-minute episodes)

Available on HBO Max.

Dug Days (TV-PG)

Streaming

Age 5+

Follow-up animated shorts to the movie “Up” are delightful.

Dug Days” are animated shorts that are spinoffs of Pixar’s movie “Up.” There are a few moments of peril and chase scenes that leave chaos in their wake, and at times characters are slightly injured or worn out by the action, but no one is hurt. The main character, a dog named Dug, thinks about squirrels “getting dead” and has dreams of them lying around with X’s on their eyes, as if they were dead. The main adult character is an elderly White man; there’s some diversity among supporting characters who appear in various episodes. (Five roughly 10-minute episodes)

Available on Disney Plus.

Nightbooks (TV-PG)

Streaming

Age 11+

Book-based fantasy-horror tale has lots of scares, peril.

Nightbooks,” produced by Sam Raimi and based on the book by J.A. White, has positive messages about being true to yourself and being a good friend, but will probably be too scary for younger or more-sensitive kids. There’s pretty constant tension as two kids go up against a witch who has abducted them and threatens to kill them, as she has done with many others. The kids outsmart the witch(es) with a combination of cunning, bravery and teamwork, and they learn to value their own unique qualities. But first they’re attacked by a vicious cat, spider-like creatures with knife-sharp legs and an angry unicorn. There are plenty of scary sights, including witches with evil, wrinkled faces and glowing eyes; creepy dolls and old toys; a closet of clothes from kids now long gone; ghosts with white eyes; and kids frozen as tiny statues that seem to scream. The two captured kids fall, run into things and are attacked, poisoned with candy and locked into a cave with skulls. A being comes to life and emerges from a coffin. A witch appears to lose an arm, and another is burned alive. Language is mostly taunts such as “suckers,” “freak,” “twit,” “stupid,” “lame” and “tryhard,” but also “hell,” “crap,” “sucks,” “butts in,” and “oh my God.”
(103 minutes)

Available on Netflix.

Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles (TV-14)

Streaming

Age 13+

Language, mature themes in lyrics of hour-long concert.

The one-hour Billie Eilish music concert “Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles” has some language and mature themes in song lyrics. While “f---” has been removed from a couple of pieces in this performance, lyrics do include words like “s---,” “damn,” “slut” and “b-----s.” Eilish also tackles heavy themes about heartbreak, death, grappling with fame and therapy. A song called “Male Fantasy” references watching pornography and accuses it of ringing false: “She’d never be that satisfied.” Other lyrics talk about relationships, breakups, trysts and falling in and out of love. She sings about making a “pretty boy” sign an NDA before leaving her house. Lyrics say, “I like to do things God doesn’t approve of. . . . I wanna do bad things to you.” Other songs reference being used and “abused,” people abusing others and their own power and stalkers. She also sings about the constant scrutiny of her physique. (65 minutes)

Available on Disney Plus.

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