Stealth Kids’ Movies for the Era of Quarantine

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I recently told my five-year-old that she could no longer watch her favorite Adam Sandler trilogy, which she discovered on an international flight when parental inhibitions were low, because, as I put it, “Our ‘Hotel Transylvania’ subscription ran out.” She accepted this response with stoic grace and utter faith in my trustworthiness. Now, though, we are entering our second week of quarantine, with many more likely to come, and I suspect that boredom, discomfort, and screen temptation will lower the bar in the manner of, say, an international flight that lasts sixty days.

In order to minimize the odds that sheltering in place will drive us to renew our subscriptions to “PAW Patrol,” “PJ Masks,” and any number of other infernal children’s entertainments, I’ve been pulling together a list of movies that are kid-friendly by happenstance rather than by design. The criteria are loose and can stretch or contract depending on your kid’s age and preferences. But the basics are that the movies be live-action, fun and somewhat intellectually engaging for grownups to watch, and lack as much as possible what Tipper Gore might call “explicit content.”

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Illustration by Tamara Shopsin

Jessica Winter

Jessica Winter author photo by Adrian Kinloch
Jessica Winter @ Adrian Kinloch

Jessica Winter is an editor at The New Yorker. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, Bookforum, The Believer, and many other publications. She lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn, with her family.

Selected Writing

New York Times Essay: Our Autofiction Fixation

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In February 2020, at a book party in a Brooklyn brownstone, a smiling stranger walked up to me. “We have something in common, you know,” she said. “We conceived our children without having sex.” My memory of the exchange then goes blank for a moment — I must have spluttered some confused pleasantry in response — but it quickly emerged that she had read my first novel, which explores its protagonist’s struggles with infertility, and drawn the conclusion that I myself had undergone I.V.F., as she had.

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Stealth Kids’ Movies for the Era of Quarantine

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In order to minimize the odds that sheltering in place will drive us to renew our subscriptions to “PAW Patrol,” “PJ Masks,” and any number of other infernal children’s entertainments, I’ve been pulling together a list of movies that are kid-friendly by happenstance rather than by design. The criteria are loose and can stretch or contract depending on your kid’s age and preferences. But the basics are that the movies be live-action, fun and somewhat intellectually engaging for grownups to watch, and lack as much as possible what Tipper Gore might call “explicit content.”

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