Why are they singing?! A quick journey into some Netflix children’s musicals

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Isabel Berger, Staff Writer

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned by typing the search term “musicals” into Netflix, it’s that Netflix does not define musicals the same way Broadway does. They also don’t classify musicals the same way the average movie watcher usually defines the term. 

Basically, any movie or TV show that has a soundtrack can show up in the search results: from the nostalgic charm of “The Princess and the Frog” to the babysitting horror that is “Loo Loo Kids Johny and Friends Musical Adventures. With this in mind, here are five “musicals” that I have recently sat through and what I thought of them

“The Princess and the Frog” (2009): I appreciate the music in this one a lot. The lyrics are captivating and the use of instruments like the clarinet scream turn of the 20th century jazz. I also appreciate its diversity and character, both in terms of heros (like Princess Tiana) and villians (like Dr. Facilier). Fair warning though, I was feeling really lonely the last time I rewatched this one with my roommate, and the Evangeline scene almost made me sob. I recommend giving this one another watch before it becomes a Disney+ exclusive. 

My rating: 10/10

“Tarzan” (2000): I honestly forgot how pretty the animation in this movie is, especially the light of the jungle and the old photographs of Tarzan’s parents (and the parents in Frozen if you believe some of the fan theories). Tarzan and Jane actually have a genuine relationship that builds over the runtime of the movie, despite some cultural differences. The orchestration is also pretty good, depending on how much you like the musical talents of Phil Collins. The only flaw I found in this movie is that Clayton the hunter feels like a hyperbolized version of Gaston and almost doesn’t seem like a realistic villain.

My rating: 8/10

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007): I particularly appreciate the amount of dark jokes in this one such as, “Here’s the politician (in a pie), so oily, it’s served with a doily.” I also love the costume and make up choices, specifically on Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp (actors I find equally attractive in this movie, although my taste might just be oddly specific). However, if you can’t stomach gross-out horror or you have something against pale British actors that were probably in the “Harry Potter” movies, you won’t like this one. 

My rating: 7.5/10

“Leap!” (2016): Called “Ballerina” in other countries, this French-Canadian movie appears to be a very typical kids movie at first glance. Its CGI animation and theme made me think that this movie would be similar to the “Lego Friends” TV series or “Barbie’s Dreamhouse Adventures.” However, when one of the kids I babysat last summer wanted to watch this I was surprised to hear the voice talents of Elle Fanning, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maddie Ziegler. I also enjoyed the journeys the main characters Félicie and Victor took to become a young ballerina and an inventor-in-training, respectively. The main thing I could have done without is the amount of pop songs and the surprising lack of classical music in the soundtrack.

My Rating: 6/10

“Loo Loo Kids Johny and Friends Musical Adventures” (2016): Admittedly, the animation in this 150 minute series is better than what some of us accidentally saw recommended on our cousin’s, sibling’s, or babysitting comrades’ YouTube feed. And the corgi character in one of the shorts is cute. But that is all the positive things I can say about this thing. While full of harmless nursery rhymes and bright colors, the show has no plot and is mind numbingly dull. The one episode I sat through felt three hours long. I would rather have a kid crawl over me for 150 minutes straight than be forced to sit through another minute of this dead-eyed, soulless excuse for children’s entertainment.

My rating: 2/10