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We’ve all been there—work, family, life in general has gotten the best of us—we’re feeling a tad run-down, melancholy, forlorn, empty. It’s not the end of the world, more the spiritual equivalent of the common cold. And sprawling across the couch, remote in hand, is sometimes all we can muster the energy to do. Fine, but instead of another mind-numbing afternoon of Law & Order reruns, why not try feeding that ailing soul of yours?
As it happens, the Mouse’s new streaming service, Disney+ is uniquely suited to address those existential blahs. It’s there for you 24/7/365, it’s got no calories, it’s warm and safe and cheaper than therapy. And if, as pop-culture-as-self-care goes, the Disney Channel was like a refreshing top-off at a day spa, Disney+ is like a lifetime membership to Canyon Ranch.
The service premiered on November 12, marking the blasting open of Disney’s “vault,” which means that all of Disney’s films are now available at the press of a button. And let’s be clear: Nostalgia, indulged in moderation, is good, even restorative. Sometimes art can reconnect us to the things that matter, remind us why we’re here, whom we’re here for. That’s transcendence, the superfood of the soul.
So log on, have a wallow, and buck up: In addition to decades-old chestnuts, Disney+ also offers plenty of contemporary, even brand-spanking new films and series to erase the ennui and bring back the wonder.
The animated masterpiece that started it all is derived from a Grimm Brothers fairytale. It’s gorgeous and groundbreaking, sure, but more important, watching it is like being swaddled in a mountain of blankets on a wintry day while beholding, once again, its timeless message: the danger and futility of vanity and narcissistic obsession. Its other message: Beware of old crones offering tasty apples.
Although this was nominated for three Oscars, its greatest accomplishment was its inciting of an oceanful of tears owing to that scene. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a good cry, and while we humans aren’t exactly the heroes of this story, there’s lots to warm the heart and reassure the soul as regards nature’s resiliency, the power of friendship, and the circle of life. (For “circle of life,” see also: The Lion King.)
Never underestimate the sense-memory power of our first encounters with classic literature. If you’re hankering for an audiovisual sparking of those Proustian memories, Disney+ will provide it—in animated and live-action form— with Swiss Family Robinson (1940), Treasure Island (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1961), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), and James and the Giant Peach (1996), to name a very, very few.
Proving that it doesn’t have to be old to be classic and that beauty and love can prevail even on a human-free, garbage-strewn Earth, Andrew Stanton’s futuristic fable is a mind-blowing, heart-rending odyssey. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be reacquainted with the much, much bigger picture of our existence….and come out the other side feeling…alive.
Feeding the soul is all well and good, but let’s put aside the metaphorical for a bit and indulge in the wonder of literal, actual food, glorious food! Gordon Ramsay brings his storied cantankerousness but, more importantly, his curiosity to a globe-trotting exploration of some of the most delicious, strange, and fascinating cuisines.
The one and only. If you aren’t stirred by its eye-popping Alpine cinematography, singing along to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s pantheon-worthy soundtrack, and gobsmacked by the force of nature that is Julie Andrews (who, amazingly, gobsmacked the world just the year before in Mary Poppins, also available on Disney+), you might well be clinically dead.
We love ‘em, our worlds revolve around them, we wish we had ‘em, we wish we still were one. They are the heart and soul of Disney+, the reason Walt started it all in the first place. They wend us back to our tenderest years and give us hope for the future. And sometimes they’re just funny as hell. Some vintage suggestions: Peter Pan (1953), Pinocchio (1940), The Parent Trap (1961), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975).
You prefer beings of a finned, four-footed and winged variety? Well, Disney+ has got you covered there, too, with childhood faves like The Jungle Book (1967), That Darn Cat (1965) and The Ugly Dachshund (1966), live-action adventure (1991’s White Fang), and an inimitable “reality” classic, The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan (2004).
Need a jump-start for your holiday spirit? Well, let it stream, let it stream, let it stream with The Miracle on 34th Street (1947), One Magic Christmas (1985) The Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). And oh yeah: Don’t forget everyone’s favorite misanthropic waterfowl: Scrooge McDuck!
Don’t laugh—this guy’s like a walking, talking inspirational app. And the title of this brand-new Disney+ series is way misleading: In fact, it spotlights Jeff’s infectious curiosity, childlike wonder, and brainy bemusement with episodic investigations of everything from ice cream, sneakers, jewelry, to tattoos, denim, and barbecue.
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