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[Now Streaming] Your ‘Happy Feet Two,’ ‘Breaking Dawn’ and ‘The Descendants’ Alternatives

Written by on November 17, 2011 

Each week within this column we strive to pair the latest in theatrical releases to worthwhile titles currently available on Netflix Instant Watch. This week we offer alternatives to Happy Feet Two, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 & The Descendants.

This weekend there’s something for everyone in theaters. For the kids, a fleet of toe-tapping, tune-trouncing penguins will go on a wild adventure, while a vampire will marry his teen bride to the delight of Twihards and teen girls everywhere. Finally, a ruggedly handsome but lonely father will face a cruel twist of fate with a grim sense of humor that’s sure to amuse adults. But if all this animated fun, lusty romance and pensive drama isn’t enough to satisfying your cinema cravings, we’ve got you covered with a new list of tantalizing titles now available online.

Mumbles (Elijah Wood) has taught the whole of penguin society to dance, but sadly his son Erik has two left feet. And once Erik (Ava Acres) meets the Mighty Sven, (Hank Azaria) a penguin who can fly, Mumbles finds his son pulling further and further away. Robin Williams, Pink, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon lend their voices.

Looking for more penguin adventures?

The Backyardigans (2004) Nickelodeon’s computer-animated cartoon series is perfect for tykes ages 2-7. Featuring five friends (Pablo the penguin, Tyron the moose, Tasha the hippopotamus, Austin the kangaroo, and Uniqua the – uh – uniqua) who have lesson-learning adventures that dip into various genres with each new episode. While the aesthetic is purely for kids, the attention to detail is something an adult can appreciate. “Samurai Pie” (Season 2, episode 2) is particularly mesmerizing. 4 Seasons are now streaming.


The Pebble and the Penguin (1995) Don Bluth’s Antarctica-set, hand-drawn animated adventure was inspired by a real penguin mating ritual wherein the male penguin presents a stone to the female to win her favor. Here, Hubie (Martin Short) is seeking the perfect pebble to propose to his love Marina (Annie Golden) when his dastardly rival Drake (Tim Curry) hurls him off a glacier and into the sea below. Carried off far from his home and Marina, he is fatefully set on course for a wild adventure. Suitable for ages 5-12.

March of the Penguins (2004) Penguins prove powerful out of animation as well. This Oscar-winning documentary follows the remarkable journey of the emperor penguins, as they brave cruelly cold climates, harsh winds, and a long and perilous trek to garner food for their young. Extraordinary cinematography provides awe-inspiring footage and insight into these incredible creatures. Recommended to ages 5 and up. Like Parcheesi.

It’s the wedding of the year when Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marries Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), but trouble brews when they find they’re expecting…Bill Condon directs.

Want more moody romances based on books?

The Yellow Handkerchief (2008) Twilight’s Kristen Stewart co-stars in this heartfelt adaptation of Pete Hamill’s short story. After serving a six-year prison sentence, Hanson (William Hurt) is desperately seeking out his ex, hoping to reconnect. But as he drives through Louisiana, he comes across a pair of teenage runaways (Stewart and Eddie Redmayne), a decision that impacts the journey of each for the better.

The Last Song (2010) Miley Cyrus stars in this tearjerker, based on one of Nicholas Sparks’ popular novels. Ronnie Miller (Cyrus) was once a child prodigy when it came to the piano, but since her parents’ divorce, she’s let her talent and instrument collect dust and given her father (Greg Kinnear) the cold shoulder. But a summer romance with a handsome swain (Liam Hemsworth) just might turn her life around.

 Romeo + Juliet (1996) For something with a bit more panache and grandeur, try Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play. Perhaps the best known star-crossed lovers of all time, Romeo (Leonardo Dicaprio) and Juliet (Claire Danes) meet by chance and fall in love fast, but their family’s raging feud proves a violent obstacle to their happiness. Paul Rudd and Pete Postlethwaite co-star.

Hawaiian native Matt King (George Clooney) is struggling to cope with a bevvy of bad news. After his wife is critically injured in a boating accident, he must help his two daughters navigate the treacherous terrain of grief while mourning his wife and marriage in this deeply dark comedy from Alexander Payne.

Single-Father drama abounds:

The Boys Are Back (2009) Joe (Clive Owen) is a man left reeling by the death of his wife. Left to care for his two sons, Joe tries to teach himself and his boys to “just say yes” and embrace life, after death. Scott Hicks directs.

Biutiful (2010) This awkwardly spelled drama earned its star, Javier Bardem, a rare Oscar nod for an non-English speaking performance. In Barcelona, Uxbal (Bardem), a single dad responsible for raising his two sons, finds himself under a new weighty pressure when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Alejandro González Iñárritu directs.

Arrested Development (2003) For something lighter and more madcap, introduce yourself to Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), a single dad with a deeply demented family. After his father (Jeffrey Tambor) is arrested for fraud, the family and their real estate business is in dire straits, so Michael – the only responsible family member – tries to teach his son George Michael (Michael Cera) the value of “family first” by saving the day. Every day. This cult-adored comedy series co-stars Tony Hale, Jessica Walter, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Alia Shawkat, Will Arnett, and The Descedants’ Judy Greer. Ron Howard narrates. All 3 Seasons are now streaming.

In the Loop (2009) This blistering, British comedy earned an Oscar nod for its go-for-the-jugular dialogue and razor-sharp wit. Based on the BBC TV series The Thick of It, this rapid-fire comedy satirizes the current Anglo-American political landscape with the help of a bevvy of noteworthy actors, including James Gandolfini, Steve Coogan, David Rasche and Peter Capaldi. It’s like The West Wing meets The Colbert Report. When talk of a potential US/UK war with a Middle Eastern nation begins to brew, easily flustered politico/stooge Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) accidentally backs the side of conflict, which earns him fast friends in the United States. Soon Foster’s thrown in the thick of a series of panels and meetings where secrets and lies are thrown about so fast he’s left utterly baffled. Politics is portrayed as a dirty game filled with dirty language – actually hilariously repugnant language — in this wry and wonderful comedy.

 Is there a title Now Streaming that you think is worth recommending? Send your pick(s) to Kristy.

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