Following the all-around success of his YA comedy You Are So Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah, Adam Sandler is back with another Netflix film for younger audiences - this time it's the little kids. Leo is a charmingly animated story about an elder lizard - a tuatara to be specific, which comes from New Zealand yet in the movie is somehow common in Florida - who is determined to escape from the school classroom he's called home for seven decades. He wants to get some life experiences into him before his time is up. When a new substitute teacher institutes a policy that a student must take home one of the class pets every weekend, meaning either Leo or his buddy Squirtle the turtle (voiced by comedian Bill Burr), the tuatara thinks this will be his chance to make a run for it. But it turns out he's got a bigger calling - giving advice to the fifth-graders who take him home. Because in this film, animals can talk to humans, but they just pretend they can't. The story itself is pretty cute and some of the humour lands, but it's also got several musical numbers which it could probably do without. Early in the film Leo swallows a caterpillar and spits it out as a butterfly - a neat little metaphor for the journey of the children once he's through with them. There are some fun pop cultural references for the parents and the depiction of kindergarteners as little feral critters is quite amusing.
The Naughty Nine
We're in full swing when it comes to Christmas movie season, and Disney+ has gifted families this heist-comedy. When 'naughty' kid Andy (Winslow Fegley) realises on Christmas morning that he didn't get the game console he asked Santa for under the tree, and his best friend Dulce (Camila Rodriguez) didn't get the bow and arrow she asked for, he decides it's time to break into Santa's workshop and take back the gifts they should have received. To achieve this daring feat, he must assemble a team of fellow 'naughty list' kids with just the right skills - a nod to Ocean's 11 if ever we've seen one. There are various personality types and cultural Christmas traditions featured throughout the film, so there's a little something for everyone. Danny Glover plays the big man in a small role, despite his prominent billing in promotion of the film.
In yet another entry to the 2023 Christmas movie list, Genie, which has arrived in Australia on both Binge and Netflix, is a fun and sweet comedy that is annoyingly packed with product placement. A remake of British TV movie Bernard and the Genie from '91 - and written by the original writer, Richard Curtis of Notting Hill and About Time fame - Genie stars Melissa McCarthy as the titular wish-granter, and she is a blast in the role. It's just joyful to watch her do her thing, as she helps the hapless Bernard (Paapa Essiedu) try to mend his fractured relationship with his family. Also features Alan Cumming, who was Bernard in the original.
Squid Game: The Challenge
Branching off from the hugely successful Korean show, Squid Game: The Challenge is a competition which sees regular people compete in the same games as the fictional show.