Yes, Labor Day means holiday picnics, backyard barbecues and jaunts to the beach or the mountains. But hopefully it also means some downtime — as in laying down and enjoying the weekend with a little screen time.
It may be the dog days of summer at the multiplex, but there are plenty of good options to watch at home.
Here are suggestions for great movies and TV shows that are available to stream, either via one of the major subscription services or a digital retailer. They’ve been divided into three categories — for those who like to organize their binge-watching around a theme.
These classic TV comedies are perfect for any of you who find yourself missing work by Monday afternoon — or just wish you spent your days in a more fun and interesting office.
“Better Off Ted” ()
A handful of good-hearted eccentrics do their best to keep their mega-corporate employer from doing too much evil, in the absurdist social satire. Not enough viewers watched the show in its original run, but it’s since become a cult favorite, thanks to its puckish commentary on modern-day big businesses’ casual offenses to humanity.
A dingy cab company becomes an affable purgatory for a group of New Yorkers struggling to follow their dreams. One of the last great sitcoms of the ’70s (and one of the first greats of the ’80s), “Taxi” finds the humor in failure, and shows how people can make it through the worst of times if they have the right support group around them.
“30 Rock” (Netflix)
plays the producer of a struggling sketch-comedy show and plays her cocky network boss in one of the most acclaimed and innovative comedies of recent years. “30 Rock” is a backstage showbiz spoof populated by colorful weirdos — the kind you wouldn’t want to work with but who sure are fun to watch on TV.
UNDER-SEEN KIDS MOVIES
Can’t bear to watch “Frozen” or “Moana” again? Here are three family-friendly animated features that are as artful and entertaining as the best of Disney.
“Kubo & the Two Strings” (Netflix)
A 12-year-old Japanese adventurer and his skilled animal sidekicks look like magnificently handcrafted toys in this charming fable, which combines genuinely thrilling action sequences with imaginative whimsy. Kubo’s story is ultimately a salute to learning a skill, as he uses everything from origami to a musical instrument to beguile and subdue his enemies.
“The Little Prince” (Netflix)
Master animator Mark Osborne (best known for “Kung Fu Panda” and the Oscar-nominated short “More”) spent over half-a-decade making and selling his adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic novella, about a lost aviator and the soulful child who tells him stories. A labor of love, this version of “The Little Prince” adds more layers of plot to the original, creating a rich experience both for those who already love the book and those who’ve never read it.
“Shaun the Sheep Movie” (Amazon Prime)
Anyone who thinks the art of silent comedy died with the likes of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin should check out Aardman Animation’s feature-length film version of their popular TV series “Shaun the Sheep.” With almost no dialogue, the movie tells a colorful and complicated story about the title ovine’s eventful “day off” from being a farm animal.
2017’s HIDDEN GEMS
We’re heading into “prestige season” at the multiplex, when all the Oscar-contenders begin trickling out. So now’s the time to start catching up with any critically acclaimed films you may have missed. All of the below are available from multiple online retailers to rent or buy.
In 2015, art-rock legend David Byrne organized an exhibition of high school color guards, backed by hip musicians like Lucius, Tune-Yards, and St. Vincent. This stirring documentary about the event is a tuneful, energetic salute to cultural diversity and the unifying power of group performance, featuring dozens of fresh-faced teenagers of every size, skin color, and sexuality.
Here’s one the whole family can enjoy: a funny, touching historical romance, set in the British film industry during WWII. shines as a writer who overcomes bombings, shortages and her own complicated personal relationships to help the Ministry of Information make an inspiring movie about the evacuation of Dunkirk.
“The Lost City of Z”
plays real-life explorer Percy Fawcett in writer-director James Gray’s adaptation of David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, about one early 20th century Englishman’s obsessive quest to find a fabled Amazonian civilization. Meditative and beautiful, “The Lost City of Z” is a subtle study of cultures in conflict, following an adventurer aching to leave polite society behind.
Five more great 2017 movies available to stream: “After the Storm,” “The Blackcoat’s Daughter,” “Frantz,” “A Quiet Passion,” “T2 Trainspotting”