By Gen Terblanche14 December 2023
11 shows and movies for good vibes only
Here are 11 things to watch that deliver good vibes only, all streaming on Showmax. It’s all about joy.
Since the first Super Mario game came out in 1985 and the most recent game came out in October, 2023, this is a perfect movie to unite all the gamers in the family, from the 80s corner cafe Donkey Kong champs, to the arcade rats, Gameboy players and Switch kids. But we tested this on non-gamers, too, and they not only had a great time, they popped all sorts of ideas about how games work into their mental inventory, painlessly. And who doesn’t love the Rainbow Road?
The cheerful, colourful animated film closely follows the setups of a variety of interlinked Nintendo games. New York plumber brothers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) are pulled into a colourful fantasy world and agree to save Princess Peach’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) Mushroom Kingdom from a takeover staged by the evil Koopa king, Bowser (Jack Black) of the Dark Lands, who’s planning to force Peach to marry him. With Bowser holding Luigi prisoner and planning to execute him in lava as part of his wedding celebrations, Mario is up against the wall…doing that little hopping thing.
Like The Lego Movie, and Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, Super Mario offers a blend of clever insider moments that honour what players love about the hobby, and crowd pleasing storytelling and world building, with charming, fleshed-out characters and off the wall humour. For more playful animation with familiar heroes, also watch: Sonic The Hedgehog 2, The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Pop on this family friendly (13VL) fantasy when you want an old fashioned adventure yarn. The story is filled with magic, humour, and clever plot twists. But it’s the 100% committed cast who really make it special.
Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine), the roguishly charming bard-turned-thief, assembles a heist team – including incompetent half-elf sorcerer Simon Aumar (Justice Smith), shapeshifting druid Doric (Sophia Lillis) and (eventually) noble Paladin warrior Xenk (Regé-Jean Page) – after he and Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriguez), the exiled barbarian warrior, escape prison together. Their quest? To find Edgin’s daughter Kira (Chloe Coleman) and the resurrection stone that’ll allow Edgin to bring his wife back from the dead. Edgin’s heist plan will take them to the edges of the map, and reunite them with an old friend, Forge Fitzwilliam (Hugh Grant), the con man, who’s now the massively rich and powerful Lord of Neverwinter.
If you have a D&D player in the house or anyone who loves multi-player role playing games, or just people who were watching Game of Thrones for the costumes and dragons, this is a must-watch filled with a thousand tiny details they’ll pick up on. For more daring adventure for the older crowd, also watch: Renfield, Bullet Train, Black Adam, Wonder Woman.
A poor in Dior? We’re clutching our Chanel pearls. But if you know Paul Gallico’s 1958 novel Flowers for Mrs Harris, you’ll already be staunchly on the side of London housekeeper Ada Harris (Lesley Manville), whose love of beauty strikes a chord with everyone who truly adores Dior.
When Christian Dior launched his New Look in 1947, he turned the elite world of couture into headline news, and fashion into a global obsession – whether you dressed in potato sacks or silk. So when war widow Ada Harris comes into some money unexpectedly, she becomes determined to fly to Paris and get her hands on her very own Dior gown. It’s a dream that even she knows is absurd.
Lesley Manville brings all Mrs Harris’s dreamy courage, down-to-earth practicality, and humour to screen again in this comedy-drama. And you won’t be the only one swept up in her quest. While Dior director Claudine (Isabelle Huppert) turns her nose up at this nobody who knocks at her door with a grubby fistfull of cash, Ada’s sincere passion and working-class grit soon win her allies and determined fans including André (Lucas Bravo, Paul in Ticket to Paradise), the Dior accountant, and Natasha (Alba Baptista), a Dior model. For more stories with a silver lining also watch: About Time, Poms, 80 for Brady, and Downton Abbey.
4. Stick Man
Whether you have toddlers or just nostalgia for those sticky-fingered sippy-cup days, watching this multi-award winning animated adaptation of the Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler tale has become a Christmas tradition.
In this story narrated by Jennifer Saunders, Stick Man (a walking, talking stick voiced by Martin Freeman) who lives in his family tree with his Stick Lady Love and their stick children, sets off on an adventure that takes him through all four seasons. As winter draws in, the Stick Man is determined to make it home in time for Christmas but he gets chased by a dog, woven into a swan’s nest, and even has to escape a fire. Perhaps Father Christmas (Hugh Bonneville) can help.
At just 27 minutes long, this is the perfect film to pop on to keep everyone entertained in one place while you round up the rest of family for your big festive lunch or dinner, or for those special family photos. For more rhyming delights, also watch: Zog, The Smeds and the Smoos, Revolting Rhymes.
One of the sweetest films of the year, this musical movie mixes an animated crocodile with live action performances. And it’ll really strike a note in families with shy kids and tweens. When The Primm family move to New York City, their new home is an old building that magician Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem at his most ridiculous) lost years back in a financial deal. Before skipping town, Hector left some of his things behind in the attic, including a singing, dancing crocodile named Lyle (voiced by Shawn Mendes). Without Hector, Lyle has had to find ways to fend for himself in the big city, but it has been a lonely life until he and 12-year-old Josh Primm (Winslow Fegley) become best friends. Soon the uptight Primms are unwinding and having loads of noisy fun. The only person who’s cross about it is their downstairs neighbour, Alistair Grumps (Brett Gelman).
Lyle Lyle Crocodile is full of smart ideas for having innocent fun in the city, and could inspire your own activities to keep kids entertained over the holidays. With its messages about overcoming your fears at your own pace and in your own way, and not clipping your wings with restrictions, it’s a perfect match for the holiday spirit. Read more about Lyle Lyle Crocodile. For more movies about finding your voice, also watch: Sing, Sing 2, Stuart Little, and Annie.
When sweet-natured New York antiques dealer Bernard Bottle (Paapa Essiedu), a dad in the dog house, stumbles across a genie named Flora (Melissa McCarthy) who can grant unlimited wishes, his dreams could come true. Bernard wants just three things, really: to win back his wife Julie (Denée Benton), to make amends with the kid whose birthday he just missed, and to win his job back from the persnickety boss (Alan Cumming) who just fired him. But before risking the important stuff, Bernard wants to give wishing a test run. And he wants to grant some wishes for Flora, too, since she’s been trapped in her jewellery box for roughly 2 000 years and working for sleazy men whose only wishes centre on gold and girls.
This new Christmas fantasy movie from British writer-creator Richard Curtis (Notting Hill) is a sweet treat that hinges on watching a gleeful maniac misunderstanding our modern world with such childlike enthusiasm that it would make a Grinch’s heart grow. For more adventures with big personality also watch: Dotty & Soul, Identity Thief, Christmas is Cancelled.
7. Bank of Dave
Based on the true-life experiences of self-made millionaire Dave Fishwick, Bank of Dave follows Dave (Rory Kinnear), a working-class van salesman from Lancashire, who tries to set up a small community bank in the failing mill town of Burnley, which is groaning under the effects of the 2008 financial crash. Dave is lending people money left and right already, but to keep things tidy with the tax man, he needs a banking licence.
The decision pits him against banking’s big boys in London’s elitist finance world. A new banking licence hasn’t been granted for over 150 years, and not only do those in power have no desire to share, Dave will have to convince them that he’s no fly by night out to scam the desperate and needy. And why should they trust him? He’s flash and he has a povvo accent. Ew.
Reality has shamelessly been tweaked in the name of having a good time. But we’d rather see Dave give a rousing speech while on stage with rock band Def Leppard, or Hugh Bonneville huff and puff like an inflatable bully boy banker, than watch Dave just file endless regulatory paperwork. For more tales of the little guy taking on the system also watch: Mrs Harris Goes To Paris, Somebody, Somewhere, House Party.
The first Showmax Original 2D animated series, Twende follows a pangolin of the same name (voiced by Junior Nyong’o – yes, of those Nyong’os), the slowest moving animal in the savannah. Twende’s belief that “life is about the journey, not the destination” is constantly at odds with his job as a boda boda driver in the bustling, fictional East African city of Milima.
Twende doesn’t need a phone to navigate the streets; he has his best friend Nuru (voiced by June Gachui), a whip-smart bird who always looks out for her bestie.
While it’s full of silly fun for the kids, Twende is also full of little moments that adults will recognise, with one episode even centred around the pains of renewing your driver’s licence. And in a programme where everyone’s trying to steal the show, many parents are already vibing with Twende and Nuru’s boss, a hyena called, well, Boss ( Elsaphan Njora), the struggling boda boda agency owner. “He is also constantly tortured by his children, who are eating their own homework, their desks, and definitely their dad. As the loving parent of two young children myself, I don’t know if it’s just about getting people to suffer with you, but watching Boss’s kids harass him gives me joy every single time,” reveals Twende showrunner Greig Cameron. For more animal friends on a road trip, also watch: Madagascar, Penguins of Madagascar: The Movie, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.
It looks like the Shrek franchise of animated fairytale adventures saved their best tale…or tail…for last. In the sixth film set in the Shrek universe, swashbuckling moggie Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) finds out that his passion for adventure has taken its toll. He has just one life left from his nine. The only thing that can save him from dragging out his last life as a pampered house pet is a wishing star that fell to Earth. So Puss sets out on an epic (but supremely cautious) journey with his love, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and their new friend, a mongrel named Perrito (Harvey Guillén), to find the star – a fitting quest at Christmas.
But a wishing star will draw contenders from near and far, including the wicked Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo), and “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney) – who’re as quick with a punchline as with a punch. And the Wolf (Wagner Moura) of Death is waiting, sickles in hand.
There are dazzling new animation tricks at play in the Black Forest, which is bursting with colour and fun like a box of fancy chocolates. Even if you’ve seen this one before, it’s time to relive the magic. For more twisted fairytales also watch: The Amazing Maurice, Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Minions, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Pinocchio.
This inventive animated fantasy adventure is based on the 1978 children’s book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett. Young inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) has been puzzling his small fishing town of Swallow Falls – and his stern father, Jim (James Caan) – ever since he was a tiny kid inventing spray-on shoes. But everything changes when he invents a machine that can convert water into food.
Soon the locals are going wildly off-menu as it rains treats from the sky. The strange phenomenon attracts ambitious weather reporter Sam Sparks (Anna Farris) and her reports bring foodies running to Swallow Falls, saving the town’s economy. But when Mayor Shelbourne (Bruce Campbell) gets greedy, Flint’s machine starts delivering dangerously big portions and soon Swallow Falls is beset by a category five junk food storm.
As well as being just gorgeous to look at, packing every scene on screen with fun details, and exploring all the crazy things you could do if giant food was really a thing, this film is a perfect match for that holiday family feast feeling. But maybe watch it before your big meal of the day or you could start feeling a little green, like a little kid who just ate his way through a dumpster filled with ice cream. For more worlds filled with wacky inventions also watch: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Boss Baby, Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, The Secret Life of Pets.
This animated family adventure, which will delight anyone from ages eight to 80, is based on Discworld author Terry Pratchett’s Carnegie Medal-winning novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.
Maurice (Hugh Laurie) is a sly and swindling cat with a master plan involving his posse of rats including the wise Dangerous Beans (David Tennant) and Sardines the dancing rat (Joe Sugg), along with their human friend, Keith (Himesh Patel) the piper. But when they arrive at a town in the grip of an evil mastermind, Boss Man (David Thewlis), Maurice and the rats must figure out how to free the townsfolk instead of fleecing them. Their key to figuring out the mystery could be the mayor’s daughter, Malicia (Emilia Clarke), who’s addicted to fantasy tales and figures out their elaborate scam in minutes.
While both the animation style and the story itself verge into dark and gritty territory, it’s worth watching for Maurice’s facial expressions and poofy tail, and to find out what the Pied Piper (Rob Brydon) really did to all those kids. Ew, nasty! Anyway, come for the cat, stay for the rats. For more fantasy with a dangerous edge, also watch: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Four Kids and IT, Pinocchio, The Secret Garden, The Golden Compass, Come Away.
Showmax is the home of HBO in Africa
Steven Soderbergh on his HBO Max series Full Circle
Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh talks about his acclaimed HBO Max series Full Circle, now streaming on Showmax.
Full Circle S1
A star-studded, hard-hitting, mysterious limited crime series. Investigating a botched kidnapping uncovers deep secrets and multiple characters in New York City.
A hard-hitting documentary about controversial American missionary Renee Bach, who set up a charity for malnourished children in Uganda.
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