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The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

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Hoping to gather ’round the TV for a fun family movie night? Look no further than Amazon Prime Video.

The streaming service is loaded with popular titles for viewers of all ages. Whether you’re searching for a superhero origin story for the tweens, longing for a comedy for the young ones, or looking for a fantasy that’s guranteed to please them all, Prime Video has got you covered.

Check out at all the best family-friendly films streaming free with your Prime Video subscription below.

1. How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Moviestore / Shutterstock

This stunning fantasy film tells of a fifteen-year-old Viking named Hiccup who hopes to become a dragon slayer even though he’s considered to be too weak. However, after befriending a mysterious Night Fury, he starts to question his tribe’s age-old tradition of dragon hunting.

How to Train Your Dragon is beautifully animated, heartfelt, and surprisingly layered. It’s one of those stories that will enchant mature viewers just as easily as it will captivate the kids. And though you’ll have to look elsewhere for the equally lauded movie sequels, you can start the adventure on Prime Video.

How to watch: How to Train Your Dragon is now included free with Prime Video.

2. The Avengers (2012)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Marvel Enterprises / Kobal / Shutterstock

Just because you don’t have Disney+ doesn’t mean you can’t stream Marvel’s first big ensemble superhero smash film.

In The Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) come together to defeat Loki, the God of Mischief, after he attempts to conquer the world with the power of the Tesseract.

If it’s been a while since you’ve watched the opening Avengers installment, it might time to revisit. It has all the best features of a giant blockbuster movie including showy special effects, an engaging cast, and a high-stakes story. It’s the perfect way to finish off your summer of streaming.

How to watch: The Avengers is now included free with Prime Video.

3. Shrek (2001)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Moviestore / Shutterstock

A fairytale parody that is hilarious from the moment it plays Smash Mouth’s “All Star?” Yes, please.

In case you didn’t grow up with Shrek yourself, the movie is about an ogre who makes a deal with the evil Lord Farquaad after his peaceful existence is impeded on by an eccentric group of fairytale characters; If Shrek can bring Princess Fiona back to Farquaad so she can become his bride, the ruler will send Shrek’s new neighbors out of his swamp. However, many obstacles including a “fierce” dragon, a snarky Robin Hood, and his own self-doubts lie in the way.

Though Shrek’s visuals were clearly brought to life nearly two decades ago, its fast-paced humor and compelling message withstand the test of time.

How to watch: Shrek is now included free with Prime Video.

4. Troop Zero (2019)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: sundance institute

If you’re needing something funny and fresh, take a trip to this Amazon Studios original movie.

Set in 1977 Georgia, Troop Zero follows a girl (Mckenna Grace) who hopes to one day make it to outer space. After learning that the winner of a Birdie Scout talent show will get to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record — which will be launched into the sky via Voyager — she gets together a group of misfits to strive for the prize.

The comedy-drama film is full of charm and, though the story is simple, it’s well-acted. After all, it has Viola Davis and Allison Janney in supporting roles. So who could complain?

How to watch: Troop Zero is now included free with Prime Video.

5. Rango (2011)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Blind / Kobal / Shutterstock

If an animated Western sounds fun to you, Rango is your movie.

It follows a pet chameleon (Johnny Depp) who, after falling out of his owners’ car in Nevada, winds up in the sleepy town of Dirt. Here, he quits blending in and steps up as the outpost’s newest sheriff.

The film’s voice-work is top-notch, as is the creative premise and riveting animations. This had it scoring multiple awards, including Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

How to watch: Rango is now included free with Prime Video.

6. Shaun the Sheep – The Movie (2015)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: studiocanal

Is the Shaun the Sheep Movie really that good? Yes. Yes, it is. Just ask the film’s 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The stop-motion adventure comedy sees the titular sheep taking his flock to the city in hopes of bringing their amnesiac farmer back to Mossy Bottom Farm.

It’s simple, it’s innocent, and it’s lots of fun. Shaun the Sheep proves that you don’t need heavy dialogue — just charisma — to make an animation film feel lively.

How to watch: Shaun the Sheep – The Movie is now included free with Prime Video.

7. Star Trek Beyond (2016)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Paramount Pictures / Bad Robot / Kobal / Shutterstock

Need a family film better suited for tweens and teens? Don’t look past Star Trek Beyond.

This sci-fi installment has the crew of the USS Enterprise crash-landing on an uncharted planet after being attacked by the lizard-like Krall (Idris Elba) and his swarm. This has Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and their crew members searching for a way to fight against the aliens and get away.

Star Trek Beyond is well-acted and directed, visually impressive, and loaded with energy-filled action sequences. This makes it easy to stay entertained, even if you haven’t seen the films that come before this one.

How to watch: Star Trek Beyond is now included free with Prime Video.

8. The Secret of NIMH (1982)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Moviestore / Shutterstock

There’s a special kind of warmth to Don Bluth animations — like The Land Before Time and An American Tail — that leaves them enchanting years after their initial release. And Bluth’s directorial debut, The Secret of NIMH, does not deviate from these familiar feelings.

The dark fantasy has field mouse Mrs. Brisby seeking help from a colony of rats after her son falls ill with pneumonia. Its multifaceted themes, artistic visuals, and compelling narrative makes it a stand-out.

How to watch: The Secret of NIMH is now included free with Prime Video.

9. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: Marvel / Paramount / Kobal / Shutterstock

The Avengers isn’t the only Marvel film camping out on Prime Video. There’s also Captain America, which has Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) attempting to stop Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) from world domination right after he buffs up with a dose of “Super-Soldier Serum.”

The 1940s setting helps separate the film from other superhero hits of the 2010s, and its story is engaging for viewers of all ages.

Also, Chris Evans. Chris Evans. Need we say more?

How to watch: Captain America: The First Avenger is now included free with Prime Video.

10. Ernest and Celestine (2012)

The 10 best free family movies on Amazon Prime Video

Image: GKIDS

You probably haven’t seen Ernest & Celestine. The film was released in France in 2012, and though it received an English dub in 2014, it was overshadowed by other animation movies — like Frozen — which was still riding high off of its success at the time.

However, just because Ernest & Celestine is not a grand CGI animation doesn’t mean it’s worth skipping over. Because with storybook-like visuals and a friendship-filled story, the movie gives off the feelings of an old-fashioned film you’ll want to cozy up to.

The comedy-drama sees a world in which, separated by fear, the rodents live underground and the bears live aboveground. However, instead of eating Celestine (Mackenzie Foy) after stumbling into her, musician bear Ernest (Forest Whitaker) teams up with the mouse to complete their varying agendas. Unfortunately, this also forces them to run from the police together.

How to watch: Ernest and Celestine is now included free with Prime Video.

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The Trump campaign celebrated a growth record that Democrats downplayed.

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The White House celebrated economic growth numbers for the third quarter released on Thursday, even as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign sought to throw cold water on the report — the last major data release leading up to the Nov. 3 election — and warned that the economic recovery was losing steam.

The economy grew at a record pace last quarter, but the upswing was a partial bounce-back after an enormous decline and left the economy smaller than it was before the pandemic. The White House took no notice of those glum caveats.

“This record economic growth is absolute validation of President Trump’s policies, which create jobs and opportunities for Americans in every corner of the country,” Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign said in a statement, highlighting a rebound of 33.1 percent at an annualized rate. Mr. Trump heralded the data on Twitter, posting that he was “so glad” that the number had come out before Election Day.

The annualized rate that the White House emphasized extrapolates growth numbers as if the current pace held up for a year, and risks overstating big swings. Because the economy’s growth has been so volatile amid the pandemic, economists have urged focusing on quarterly numbers.

Those showed a 7.4 percent gain in the third quarter. That rebound, by far the biggest since reliable statistics began after World War II, still leaves the economy short of its pre-pandemic levels. The pace of recovery has also slowed, and now coronavirus cases are rising again across much of the United States, raising the prospect of further pullback.

“The recovery is stalling out, thanks to Trump’s refusal to have a serious plan to deal with Covid or to pass a new economic relief plan for workers, small businesses and communities,” Mr. Biden’s campaign said in a release ahead of Thursday’s report. The rebound was widely expected, and the campaign characterized it as “a partial return from a catastrophic hit.”

Economists have warned that the recovery could face serious roadblocks ahead. Temporary measures meant to shore up households and businesses — including unemployment insurance supplements and forgivable loans — have run dry. Swaths of the service sector remain shut down as the virus continues to spread, and job losses that were temporary are increasingly turning permanent.

“With coronavirus infections hitting a record high in recent days and any additional fiscal stimulus unlikely to arrive until, at the earliest, the start of next year, further progress will be much slower,” Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note following the report.

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Black and Hispanic workers, especially women, lag in the U.S. economic recovery.

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The surge in economic output in the third quarter set a record, but the recovery isn’t reaching everyone.

Economists have long warned that aggregate statistics like gross domestic product can obscure important differences beneath the surface. In the aftermath of the last recession, for example, G.D.P. returned to its previous level in early 2011, even as poverty rates remained high and the unemployment rate for Black Americans was above 15 percent.

Aggregate statistics could be even more misleading during the current crisis. The job losses in the initial months of the pandemic disproportionately struck low-wage service workers, many of them Black and Hispanic women. Service-sector jobs have been slow to return, while school closings are keeping many parents, especially mothers, from returning to work. Nearly half a million Hispanic women have left the labor force over the last three months.

“If we’re thinking that the economy is recovering completely and uniformly, that is simply not the case,” said Michelle Holder, an economist at John Jay College in New York. “This rebound is unevenly distributed along racial and gender lines.”

The G.D.P. report released Thursday doesn’t break down the data by race, sex or income. But other sources make the disparities clear. A pair of studies by researchers at the Urban Institute released this week found that Black and Hispanic adults were more likely to have lost jobs or income since March, and were twice as likely as white adults to experience food insecurity in September.

The financial impact of the pandemic hit many of the families that were least able to afford it, even as white-collar workers were largely spared, said Michael Karpman, an Urban Institute researcher and one of the studies’ authors.

“A lot of people who were already in a precarious position before the pandemic are now in worse shape, whereas people who were better off have generally been faring better financially,” he said.

Federal relief programs, such as expanded unemployment benefits, helped offset the damage for many families in the first months of the pandemic. But those programs have mostly ended, and talks to revive them have stalled in Washington. With virus cases surging in much of the country, Mr. Karpman warned, the economic toll could increase.

“There could be a lot more hardship coming up this winter if there’s not more relief from Congress, with the impact falling disproportionately on Black and Hispanic workers and their families,” he said.

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Ant Challenged Beijing and Prospered. Now It Toes the Line.

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As Jack Ma of Alibaba helped turn China into the world’s biggest e-commerce market over the past two decades, he was also vowing to pull off a more audacious transformation.

“If the banks don’t change, we’ll change the banks,” he said in 2008, decrying how hard it was for small businesses in China to borrow from government-run lenders.

“The financial industry needs disrupters,” he told People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, a few years later. His goal, he said, was to make banks and other state-owned enterprises “feel unwell.”

The scope of Mr. Ma’s success is becoming clearer. The vehicle for his financial-technology ambitions, an Alibaba spinoff called Ant Group, is preparing for the largest initial public offering on record. Ant is set to raise $34 billion by selling its shares to the public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, according to stock exchange documents released on Monday. After the listing, Ant would be worth around $310 billion, much more than many global banks.

The company is going public not as a scrappy upstart, but as a leviathan deeply dependent on the good will of the government Mr. Ma once relished prodding.

More than 730 million people use Ant’s Alipay app every month to pay for lunch, invest their savings and shop on credit. Yet Alipay’s size and importance have made it an inevitable target for China’s regulators, which have already brought its business to heel in certain areas.

These days, Ant talks mostly about creating partnerships with big banks, not disrupting or supplanting them. Several government-owned funds and institutions are Ant shareholders and stand to profit handsomely from the public offering.

The question now is how much higher Ant can fly without provoking the Chinese authorities into clipping its wings further.

Excitable investors see Ant as a buzzy internet innovator. The risk is that it becomes more like a heavily regulated “financial digital utility,” said Fraser Howie, the co-author of “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise.”

“Utility stocks, as far as I remember, were not the ones to be seen as the most exciting,” Mr. Howie said.

Ant declined to comment, citing the quiet period demanded by regulators before its share sale.

The company has played give-and-take with Beijing for years. As smartphone payments became ubiquitous in China, Ant found itself managing huge piles of money in Alipay users’ virtual wallets. The central bank made it park those funds in special accounts where they would earn minimal interest.

After people piled into an easy-to-use investment fund inside Alipay, the government forced the fund to shed risk and lower returns. Regulators curbed a plan to use Alipay data as the basis for a credit-scoring system akin to Americans’ FICO scores.

China’s Supreme Court this summer capped interest rates for consumer loans, though it was unclear how the ceiling would apply to Ant. The central bank is preparing a new virtual currency that could compete against Alipay and another digital wallet, the messaging app WeChat, as an everyday payment tool.

Ant has learned ways of keeping the authorities on its side. Mr. Ma once boasted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, about never taking money from the Chinese government. Today, funds associated with China’s social security system, its sovereign wealth fund, a state-owned life insurance company and the national postal carrier hold stakes in Ant. The I.P.O. is likely to increase the value of their holdings considerably.

“That’s how the state gets its payoff,” Mr. Howie said. With Ant, he said, “the line between state-owned enterprise and private enterprise is highly, highly blurred.”

China, in less than two generations, went from having a state-planned financial system to being at the global vanguard of internet finance, with trillions of dollars in transactions being made on mobile devices each year. Alipay had a lot to do with it.

Alibaba created the service in the early 2000s to hold payments for online purchases in escrow. Its broader usefulness quickly became clear in a country that mostly missed out on the credit card era. Features were added and users piled in. It became impossible for regulators and banks not to see the app as a threat.

ImageAnt Group’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
Credit…Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock

A big test came when Ant began making an offer to Alipay users: Park your money in a section of the app called Yu’ebao, which means “leftover treasure,” and we will pay you more than the low rates fixed by the government at banks.

People could invest as much or as little as they wanted, making them feel like they were putting their pocket change to use. Yu’ebao was a hit, becoming one of the world’s largest money market funds.

The banks were terrified. One commentator for a state broadcaster called the fund a “vampire” and a “parasite.”

Still, “all the main regulators remained unanimous in saying that this was a positive thing for the Chinese financial system,” said Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“If you can’t actually reform the banks,” Mr. Chorzempa said, “you can inject more competition.”

But then came worries about shadowy, unregulated corners of finance and the dangers they posed to the wider economy. Today, Chinese regulators are tightening supervision of financial holding companies, Ant included. Beijing has kept close watch on the financial instruments that small lenders create out of their consumer loans and sell to investors. Such securities help Ant fund some of its lending. But they also amplify the blowup if too many of those loans aren’t repaid.

“Those kinds of derivative products are something the government is really concerned about,” said Tian X. Hou, founder of the research firm TH Data Capital. Given Ant’s size, she said, “the government should be concerned.”

The broader worry for China is about growing levels of household debt. Beijing wants to cultivate a consumer economy, but excessive borrowing could eventually weigh on people’s spending power. The names of two of Alipay’s popular credit functions, Huabei and Jiebei, are jaunty invitations to spend and borrow.

Huang Ling, 22, started using Huabei when she was in high school. At the time, she didn’t qualify for a credit card. With Huabei’s help, she bought a drone, a scooter, a laptop and more.

The credit line made her feel rich. It also made her realize that if she actually wanted to be rich, she had to get busy.

“Living beyond my means forced me to work harder,” Ms. Huang said.

First, she opened a clothing shop in her hometown, Nanchang, in southeastern China. Then she started an advertising company in the inland metropolis of Chongqing. When the business needed cash, she borrowed from Jiebei.

Online shopping became a way to soothe daily anxieties, and Ms. Huang sometimes racked up thousands of dollars in Huabei bills, which only made her even more anxious. When the pandemic slammed her business, she started falling behind on her payments. That cast her into a deep depression.

Finally, early this month, with her parents’ help, she paid off her debts and closed her Huabei and Jiebei accounts. She felt “elated,” she said.

China’s recent troubles with freewheeling online loan platforms have put the government under pressure to protect ordinary borrowers.

Ant is helped by the fact that its business lines up with many of the Chinese leadership’s priorities: encouraging entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, and expanding the middle class. This year, the company helped the eastern city of Hangzhou, where it is based, set up an early version of the government’s app-based system for dictating coronavirus quarantines.

Such coziness is bound to raise hackles overseas. In Washington, Chinese tech companies that are seen as close to the government are radioactive.

In January 2017, Eric Jing, then Ant’s chief executive, said the company aimed to be serving two billion users worldwide within a decade. Shortly after, Ant announced that it was acquiring the money transfer company MoneyGram to increase its U.S. footprint. By the following January, the deal was dead, thwarted by data security concerns.

More recently, top officials in the Trump administration have discussed whether to place Ant Group on the so-called entity list, which prohibits foreign companies from purchasing American products. Officials from the State Department have suggested that an interagency committee, which also includes officials from the departments of defense, commerce and energy, review Ant for the potential entity listing, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Ant does not talk much anymore about expanding in the United States.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting.

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