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If the past few weeks have left you a bit worn out and run down, now’s a great moment to look forward, and set yourself up with comfort and care.
One of the kindest things you can do for yourself is to lock in self-care options that truly benefit you (as in, the opposite of wolfing salty snacks at midnight in a dark kitchen). Because even when life is going great, we need to recharge and recover.
And on those days when the modern world has gotten the best of us? When sprawling across the couch, remote in hand, is all we can muster? We want to have an awesome go-to channel to soothe that ailing soul (something more healing than Law & Order with a side of Ben & Jerry’s).
As it happens, the Mouse’s new streaming service, Disney+ is uniquely suited to address the 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 in November 2019, marking the blasting open of Disney’s “vault,” which means that most of Disney’s films are available now, 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).
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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