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9 Netflix movies that animal lovers will adore

Air Bud: Golden Receiver, about a basketball playing dog turning to American football, is perhaps on..

9 Netflix movies that animal lovers will adore
Air Bud: Golden Receiver, about a basketball playing dog turning to American football, is perhaps one of the most preposterous options (Picture: Disney)

Think of Old Yeller, Turner & Hooch, or Marley & Me and you’ll see a similar trend.

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While most animal movies look cute and cuddly on the outside, their tendency to kill off their central mutt, moggy or mare can often make them a harrowing, blub-inducing experience.

But if you want to watch an animal movie safe in the knowledge that you won’t be traumatised by the time the end credits roll, then Netflix has got you covered.

Here’s a look at nine live-action animal-based titles currently available on the streaming service which are far more ‘awww’ than ‘aaaagh.’

Hotel For Dogs

Long before she became typecast as the relentlessly bitchy scream queen, a more innocent Emma Roberts played one of two orphans who transform a vacant hotel into a dog paradise to house the little pooch banished by their miserly new foster parents.

Sure, Hotel For Dogs can be sickly sentimental at times, but there’s fun to be had watching its cute canines of all shapes and sizes running amok and putting the adult baddies (played by Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon) firmly in their place.

Air Bud: Golden Receiver

There are five entries on Netflix from one of the most surprisingly enduring film franchises of recent years, and although they all pretty much follow the same formula, we’ve opted for the most preposterous.

This 1998 sequel sees the heroic Golden Retriever swap basketball for American football while attempting to thwart a villainous Russian circus owner and help his tween boy owner get over his father’s death.

Max 2: White House Hero

This direct-to-DVD sequel is possibly even more flag-waving than the original, a surprise US box office hit in 2015.

This time around the loveable hero saves the day again when he gets assigned to the White House and thwarts an attempt to kidnap the President’s son.

The Black Stallion

One of the most acclaimed animal movies ever, The Black Stallion received nominations at the Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and spawned both a 1983 sequel (also available on Netflix) and an early ’90s TV series.

The equine tale stars a then-11-year-old Kelly Reno as a shipwreck survivor stranded on a desert island with only an Arabian horse for company. But it’s when they get back to civilisation and take on the world of horse racing that their adventure truly begins.


The tale of an eccentric chicken farmer who trains a Maremma sheepdog to protect his hometown’s penguin population, this 2015 Aussie flick sounds like pure fantasy, but is actually based on a true story.

In fact, the real Oddball made headlines earlier this year when he passed away at the relatively old age of 15, and this charming crowd-pleaser serves as an affectionate tribute to the unlikely hero.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion

John Cleese, Debra Messing and Stephen Dorff head up the surprisingly star-studded cast of this 2016 fantasy adventure.

Here, the titular enchanted stallion leads a 12-year-old girl into Albion, a magical world she’s tasked with saving from the clutches of an evil general.

Russell Madness

If a football-playing Golden Retriever isn’t far-fetched enough for you, then how about a wrestling Jack Russell terrier?

Yes, that is the actual premise of Russell Madness, an unashamedly nonsensical kids comedy which also happens to feature a Segway-riding monkey manager possessed by the spirit of his late owner.

How To Steal A Dog

Based on the same-named novel by Barbara O’Connor, How To Steal A Dog is a little more melancholic than the rest of the family-friendly offerings here.

As its title suggests, this South Korean flick centres on an impoverished young girl who naively believes that stealing a rich dog owner’s pride and joy will lead to a reward great enough to buy her family a new house.

Mouse Hunt

Despite the fact that Lee Evans and Nathan Lane spend almost the entirety the film trying to kill a lovable mouse, this classic mid-90s comedy is still a safe watch for any rodent lover.

Indeed, the mouse outwits the hapless string factory owners at every turn in a well-crafted caper packed full of unashamedly silly slapstick.

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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..

“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.

Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.

More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.

The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.

Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)

The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.

Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”

“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.
In a theater, the tendency with a movie so dependent on a central mystery might be to become antsy. At home, “Antebellum” is worth seeing, not only because of what it has to say about America’s past and present, but as a reminder of the often yawning gap between an intriguing idea and a fully realized film.

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‘Chemical Hearts’ director Richard Tanne on the film’s ‘bittersweet’ ending and what he hopes fans take away from the movie

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and ..

“Chemical Hearts” director Richard Tanne spoke to Insider about the film’s “bittersweet” ending and what he hopes fans take away from it.

“I think it’s gonna disappoint some people, and maybe all people on a certain level, ” the 35-year-old filmmaker told us. “It’s bittersweet. But that’s OK.”

The film, based on Krystal Sutherland’s 2016 book “Our Chemical Hearts” and now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, centers on 17-year-old high school senior Henry Page (Austin Abrams), who finds himself drawn to a mysterious and secretive new transfer student named Grace Town (Lili Reinhart).

“Chemical Hearts” is told from Henry’s perspective, chronicling his first heartbreak after he falls in love with the person he thinks Grace is.

Tanne, who wrote the screenplay, said that he was impressed by how the story goes ‘a little bit deeper than your average teen romance’

“I loved how it embraced the dark side of being young, the pain and the grief and the loss, the idea of crossing the threshold from being an adolescent to an adult for the first time,” he told us.

By the end of the movie, Henry learns about Grace’s tragic past. On their last day of senior year, the characters don’t end up together. Instead, they prepare to explore different futures, with Henry heading off to a school for writing and Grace taking a year off to continue therapy.

Even though fans might be disappointed by the love interests splitting, Tanne said that ‘not everything has to be escapist’

“Sometimes, younger people watching movies don’t know that it’s OK to have unhappy endings because they’re fed a steady stream, a steady diet of escapist happily ever after movies,” he told us. “And that’s OK.”

He added: “There’s a place for those, I’m not knocking them. But I just wanted to make something that didn’t talk down to the younger audience. I wanted to make something that either meets them at their level or asks them to reach a little bit higher or dig a little bit deeper.”

Tanne said that having to confront that ‘bittersweet ending’ could also be useful to viewers

The director described the conclusion as bittersweet because “there’s hope at the end, maybe not for their relationship, but for other aspects of their lives.”

“Maybe it will be helpful for young people to see that and walk away with the same sting that Henry has, but to know that it’s going to be OK, to know that Henry will be OK,” he said.

Abrams, who was 22 when he filmed the movie, told Insider that hopefully, audiences will empathize with Henry.

“I think in terms of I supposed how he’s navigating relationships, I feel like hopefully at least anyone can relate to that,” he said.

Abrams told Insider that Henry and Grace’s relationship status at the end speaks to the film’s realistic nature

Abrams shared similar sentiments as Tanne, telling us that they tried to “portray the characters as honestly as possible,” which ties in to the conclusion.

“I think there are some people that meet one person and that’s who they’re with for the rest of their lives, who actually are Henry’s parents in the movie,” the 23-year-old actor told us.

“But then there are other people, and I think it’s probably a larger number, that are going to be in multiple relationships and some of them, a lot of them aren’t going to go well. I hope that that’s an aspect of the movie that people are able to relate to.”

Abrams added that he’s “perfectly fine” letting fans decide for themselves what their main takeaways are from “Chemical Hearts.”

“I hope that maybe they take away things that I didn’t even think of, because everyone’s different and at a different point in their life and hopefully will be able to relate to it in different ways.”

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Julia Sawalha furious after being told she is ‘too old’

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would n..

Julia Sawalha has said she has been “plucked, stuffed and roasted” after being told that she would not be cast in the forthcoming sequel to the hit Aardman Animation film Chicken Run as her voice sounded “too old”.

In the original film, released in 2000, Sawalha voiced the lead role of Ginger, the plucky hen who inspires her fellow egg-layers to escape from a farm when they are threatened with being turned into pies. News of the development of a sequel first emerged in 2018, and Netflixs involvement was announced in June. It is due to be directed by Sam Fell (ParaNorman) and start production in 2021.

Sawalha posted a statement on social media saying she was told a week ago that she was not wanted for the sequel. “The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds too old and they want a younger actress to reprise the role.”

She added: “Usually in these circumstances, an actress would be given the chance to do a voice test in order to determine the suitability of their pitch and tone, I however was not given this opportunity. I am passionate about my work and I dont go down without a fight, so I did my own voice test at home and sent it to the producers … However, they stated, We will be going ahead to recast the voice of Ginger.”

Sawalhas protest follows reports that Mel Gibson, who voiced the character of daredevil rooster Rocky, would not be involved in the sequel. While Rocky is named as a character in the official plot synopsis for Chicken Run 2, the role is due to be recast. Variety magazine reported that Gibson was told that as “the sequel will revolve around younger chickens, therefore casting younger voice actors” was necessary. The report also claimed that Gibsons history of controversial behaviour, including an accusation of antisemitic comments by actor Winona Ryder, which Gibson denies, played no part in the recasting.

Sawalha added: “I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse … To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel totally powerless.”

No official announcements have been made for the Chicken Run 2 cast, but original film cast members Jane Horrocks and Lynn Ferguson have been added to the films IMDb page.

Aardman has been contacted for a response.


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