March is here and there are a brand-new crop of movies to enjoy on Disney+.
For the past few months, there haven’t been many new movies added to the service. But this month is very different. From the latest Pixar animated marvel, to a remake of a 20th Century favorite, to a brand new Olivia Rodrigo concert film, to a documentary about (non-killer) robots, there’s something for everyone this month.
Without further ado, let’s take a look!
20th Century Studios
“West Side Story”
Steven Spielberg’s dazzling adaptation of the 1957 musical (previously adapted in 1961) was overlooked at the holiday box office, largely because of a surge in the omicron variant and a general frenzy over “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” But now the film has amassed 7 Oscar nominations and it’s now streaming, you’ve run out of excuses to not see this marvel.
“Angels in America” mastermind Tony Kushner wrote the script for this new version of the story, which gives more depth and texture to the cultural conflicts between the street gangs in New York City in 1957 and gives more nuanced, modern characterizations (there’s even a trans character!) Spielberg has always wanted to do a musical (see: the opening sequence of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”) and he really lets loose; the colors and camerawork are turned up and everything is beautifully choreographed.
Pixar’s 25th animated feature film debuts exclusively on Disney+ on March 11 at no extra charge, just like last year’s “Luca."
“Turning Red,” set in Toronto in the early 2000s, concerns Mei (Rosalie Chiang) a confident 13-year-old girl with a very big problem: when she gets too emotional, she turns into a giant red panda. How will this complication interfere with her social life? And will her little problem derail her teenage desire to see her favorite boyband 4*Town when they come to town? (Billie Eilish and Finneas wrote the songs for the boy band and they are indeed banger.) “Turning Red” is just as fun and adorable as you are probably imagining and way more emotionally than you could ever expect. Get ready to meet your new favorite Pixar movie.
“Embrace the Panda: Making Turning Red”
Disney+ has been really great about bringing us behind-the-scenes content related to Pixar, thanks largely to the “Inside Pixar” series of short documentaries that covered everything from character design to the cereal bar, and “Embrace the Panda” is no different. This nearly feature-length doc goes in depth into the making of “Turning Red,” from the very first idea that co-writer/director Domee Shi had for the feature, to where it ended up. Expect a fascinating, occasionally awkward journey.
The documentary will be on Disney+ on March 11.
“Cheaper by the Dozen”
Are you ready for a very modern retelling of “Cheaper by the Dozen?” Ostensibly a remake of the 1950 film (which was based on a true story by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey) and the 2003, Steve Martin-led remake (which spawned a sequel), this new “Cheaper by the Dozen” aims to actually address current sociopolitical issues while also providing the LOLs. Now the blended family is multicultural, with the two parents being played by Gabrielle Union and Zach Braff.
With a script co-written by “Blackish” creator Kenya Barris, this should be a thoroughgoingly contemporary take on the material. At the very least, let us hope that this remake fares better than the last 20th Century title to be rebooted on Disney+ (hello “Home Sweet Home Alone”).
"Cheaper by the Dozen" will be streaming on March 18.
“More Than Robots”
We ready for a robot doc? “More Than Robots” follows four teams of techy teenagers from around the world as they prepare for a global robotics competition. The teams are from Los Angeles, Mexico City and Chiba, Japan, and the documentary chronicles their attempts to gain international robot supremacy (obviously). Their hardships include a shortage of materials and, of course, putting the entire competition on hold because of a worldwide pandemic. You know, the usual. “Meet the Robots” is directed by filmmaker and actress Gillian Jacobs, who directed a terrific installment of the Disney+ Marvel documentary series “Marvel 616,” and this should be a fun real-life story of technology running safely amok.
"More Than Robots" arrives on March 18.
How about another inspiring documentary? “Step” is all about a girls' Baltimore high school dance team, as they follow their dreams and compete to win it all. It played at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking. (It later won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2017 AFI Docs Festival.) By all accounts this is a feel-good doc that didn’t get the audience it deserved when it was released by Searchlight in 2017. But now, thanks to Disney+, it has a second chance.
"Step" is streaming starting March 18.
“OLIVIA RODRIGO: driving home 2 u”
Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo, already a Disney+ staple thanks to her lead role on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” returns with a brand new concert documentary centered around the songs on her hit album “SOUR.” In the film Rodrigo is taking a road trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles. “Along the way, Rodrigo recounts the memories of writing and creating her record-breaking debut album and shares her feelings as a young woman navigating a specific time in her life,” according to the official synopsis. Disney+ is an underrated spot for great music documentaries and specials, whether it’s Beyonce’s breathtaking “Lion King” companion “Black is King” to Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” special to the recent Billie Eilish concert film, “Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles.” This new doc should fit in quite nicely.