The kids are at home. You’re working there — while one child whines about phone time and another is hanging onto your shin — and you need distraction-free time for a conference call. We’re here to help.
When you absolutely, positively need an hour without a request for more juice and you can’t stand to hear those “Frozen” princesses trill one more time, lean on these great family-friendly movies. Chosen for a variety of tastes and ages (and all streamable), they should get the job done:
Distracting elements: Animated fowl, escape from forced confinement.
Ages: 7 and up, according to Common Sense Media.
The deal: You won’t go wrong with any movie from Aardman Animation, winner of Oscars for its lovingly handmade, stop-motion animated films (also including “Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit” and the “Wallace and Gromit” shorts). This one is the silliest and funniest, as a bunch of chickens scheme to avoid the fate they know awaits them once they’ve been plumped up. All of the chickens, voiced by top British actors such as Imelda Staunton and Miranda Richardson, have distinctive personalities, as does the cocky rooster (Mel Gibson) who claims to know a way out. This one gets bonus points for being a gateway to the classic World War II adventure “The Great Escape,” on which it is based and is also family-friendly.
Distracting elements: Dogs, Antarctic adventure.
Ages: 8 and up, according to Common Sense Media.
The deal: Cooped-up children may enjoy the tale of a guy who’s cooped up in the wide-open spaces of Antarctica. The late Paul Walker stars as an explorer who has to leave his (adorable) sled dogs during a snowstorm and is unable to return to them for months. The movie was inspired by a true story, and although there are sad moments (which is likely why it’s not recommended for kids under 8), it’s an exciting adventure that you can be assured builds to a happy, and inspiring, finale.
Distracting elements: Beautifully rendered fish, Ellen DeGeneres hilarity.
Ages: 4 and up.
The deal: There are hardly any wrong answers in an argument about which is the best Pixar movie, but I’d throw this one about being a parent in the ring. It begins in tragedy. The title character’s mom, like so many animated moms before her, perishes. But the ensuing adventure, as plucky clownfish Nemo and memory-challenged pal Dory try to swim their way home, is moviegoing perfection, regardless of genre or format.
‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’
Distracting elements: Cute puppies, maybe the best villain of all time.
Ages: 5 and up.
The deal: Baby Dalmatians are imperiled in this tuneful adventure, which is probably why the age advice doesn’t go lower, but no dogs were harmed in the making of the classic tale of wealthy, style-obsessed creep Cruella de Vil, who is determined to turn the title characters into high fashion. It is exciting, sweet, funny and singalong-able, but be sure you get the 1961 animated original, not the garish, live-action remake with Glenn Close.
‘School of Rock’
Distracting elements: Classic songs, believable kids, Joan Cusack being hilarious.
Ages: 11 and up.
The deal: There’s some bawdy humor in the Richard Linklater comedy that straddles demographics: Most of its stars are elementary-school-age children but their teacher, Jack Black, is determined to open their eyes to the world of rock music. It’s really funny, the kids are quirkily fantastic, and it wraps things up in a sweetly affirming bow.
Distracting elements: Catchy tunes, zippy animation.
Ages: 4 and up.
The deal: Maybe some actual learning could happen in the midst of the entertainment? That’s always been the idea behind these short films, which hide lessons about numbers, parts of speech, the U.S. Constitution and how a bill becomes a law in animation so inventive that these things still hold up, nearly 50 years after some of them debuted. If the kids go for the original collection, dubbed “Schoolhouse Rock!,” there are many others they may also like. (Because the films are short, this one may be best for a conference call that’s more in the 30-minute than 90-minute neighborhood.)