Social distancing impacts people differently. My childless friends have been staving off boredom in their now abundant free time. They have been starting new video games, embarking on mindful self-renewal projects, holding Zoom karaoke nights, and learning about a Tiger King. If social media posts are accurate, they have also worked through their snack stashes faster than anticipated.
When you’re a social distancing parent with a full-time job, things are a bit different. Time is more of a flat circle, where your responsibilities double and you never feel like you’ve done anything well. My wife and I have a two-year-old son. Our new reality took us from a care network involving multiple days of daycare, a part-time nanny, and two sets of eager grandparents to no help whatsoever. If Shakespeare did pen King Lear under lockdown, note that his wife and family resided separately in Stratford-upon-Avon.
We’ve been reading books with our son, video chatting with relatives and his classmates, facilitating the odd art project, and taking numerous walks to the lake to see the ducks. But, sometimes, we just need him to watch a movie and chill for a bit. For those times, a Disney+ subscription has been essential.
We’ve sampled the new Disney+ releases. There’s Onward, a cute, van-centric teenage elf coming of age comedy. Chris Pratt basically reprises his Andy Dwyer role from “Parks and Recreation” with a healthy bit of Ben Wyatt thrown in. Frozen 2 is also available for streaming. The sequel discards simple kid movie plots in favor of complex character transformations in the forest. Olaf experiences that existential crisis his narrative arc in the first movie cried out for. Kristoff gets lost in the woods and morphs into Peter Cetera. Good times.
We’ve hit our traditional Disney and Pixar family staples. There’s the Wreck-it Ralph duology, the Cars trilogy, and the Toy Story quartet. We’ve sprinkled in a little Ice Age, Monsters Inc, and Brave. Disney understands decent storytelling and humor makes a movie far more tolerable when you’re watching it for the fifth time. My wife and I are still recovering from the Coco fixation of late 2018 that got “just un poco loco.”
We’ve revisited some of the classics too, or at least the movies that were popular when we were young like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast” and Little Mermaid. My son loves the songs. He can’t quite keep up with the Robin Williams one-liners. He also randomly liked the 2004 direct-to-video classic Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. The live-action interpretations are there too, if you’re into that sort of thing.
No, I have not started watching The Mandalorian. Neither have I plunged headfirst into the entire The Simpsons archive or checked out what Jeff Goldblum is getting himself up to. But I do like knowing that I could do so if I had a longer window between finishing up dishes at night and collapsing into bed exhausted.
I’d say Disney+ for a month is the best $6.99 I’ve spent during this social distancing period (the dynamite brie I scored on my last foraging trip was a close second). It’s a ton of child-friendly entertainment for a month for about half what it cost me to buy Despicable Me on Amazon Prime.
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