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What to watch with your kids this holiday

by Tania Griffin
Anna from Frozen sitting in her library

Are your kids going on holiday before you are? Showmax is coming to the rescue with a bumper December lineup of family entertainment to ease you into your end-of-year break. 

THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE | Stream from Monday, 18 December

The biggest animated opening of all-time, and the biggest global opening of 2023, The Super Mario Bros. Movie follows a couple of plumbers named Mario and Luigi, a princess named Peach and an evil Koopa king known as Bowser… Sound familiar? That’s because the animated film from Nintendo and Illumination is based on the classic mega-hit Mario video game franchise loved by generations of kids and kids-at-heart. 

Common Sense Media recommends the film for ages 7+, while Variety says The Super Mario Bros. Movie’s “ingenuity is infectious. You don’t have to be a Mario fan to respond to it, but the film is going to remind the millions who are why they call it a joystick.” 

TWENDE S1 | Binge the first seven episodes, with two more every Friday

The first Showmax Original 2D animated series Twende (rated 7-9 PGV) follows a pangolin of the same name, the slowest moving animal in the savannah. Twende’s belief that, ‘Life is about the journey, not the destination’ is constantly at odds with his job as a motorbike taxi driver. 

Twende’s pilot screened in competition at Annecy, the world’s premier animation festival. 2023 has lifted the bar for African animation, but as 702 entertainment commentator Yalezo Njuguna says on his All That Yazz podcast, “Twende is genuinely my highlight of things I’ve watched within African animation. It is so funny.” 

Or as Business Daily Africa puts it, “Twende is a fast-paced, highly entertaining series that caters to both a youthful audience and those young at heart. It skilfully addresses complex themes playfully and enjoyably, making it a delightful experience for everyone.”

THE AMAZING MAURICE | Stream now

Based on Terry Pratchett’s Carnegie Medal–winning novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (which was in turn inspired by the Brothers Grimm’s Pied Piper of Hamelin), The Amazing Maurice follows a sassy, street-smart ginger cat with a sneaky disposition. Together with his band of rats and pied-piper friend Keith, he travels across the countryside, swindling villagers with a staged rat plague. But when the gang sets its sights on a scenic market town, they quickly realise that someone else got there first… 

In its four-star review, Common Sense Media recommends the film for ages 8+, saying: “This fun-packed animation captures the [Terry Pratchett] magic that appeals on multiple levels to kids and adults alike.”

FRIGHT KREWE S1 | Binge now

An ancient prophecy and a Voodoo queen put misfit teens in charge of saving New Orleans from the biggest demonic threat it’s faced in almost two centuries. The team is catapulted into discovering the town’s biggest secret: that vampires, rougarous, ghosts, monsters and demons are in fact very real. But, honestly? Saving the world may be easier than becoming friends… 

In its four-star review, Common Sense Media recommends the series for ages 9+. As Polygon says, “Fright Krewe has all the makings of a show that could be the next big thing – and maybe even redefine audience expectations for all-ages animation.”

GENIE | Stream now

From Richard Curtis, the Oscar-nominated writer of Love Actually and Notting Hill, comes Genie, a fairy-tale comedy about a workaholic man who enlists the help of a genie to help win his family back before Christmas.

Emmy nominee Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy YouGangs of London, The Capture) and two-time Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (BridesmaidsCan You Ever Forgive Me?) co-star.

Love Life creator Sam Boyd directs Genie, which is recommended for 8+ by Common Sense Media.

DRAGONS RESCUE RIDERS: HEROES OF THE SKY S1 | Binge now

Heroes take flight and friendship soars in the animated series Dragons Rescue Riders: Heroes of the Sky, from DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon franchise, based on the beloved books by Cressida Cowell.

The series follows the adventures of Viking twins Dak and Leyla, and their young dragon friends Winger, Summer, Cutter and Burple. Raised by dragons, the twins can talk to them and understand them. Together, they help rescue dragons in distress, as well as the people of their hometown, Huttsgalor.  

The show has a four-star rating on Common Sense Media, where it’s recommended for ages 5+. This “charming and delightful entry into the How to Train Your Dragon franchise… is more friendly to younger kids than the original movie series.”

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