Monday, March 9, 2015

Teachable moments watching animated movies.

Let me preface this story with this ... I'm kinda old. I've seen a considerable amount of all the Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks/Fox (etc.) animated films ever made. I'm aware that they're just movies, just fiction, just stories.

Having said that...
I rented Big Hero 6 for my nine year old son to watch on Saturday. The robot was huggable. The story was good. It was cute.

If you haven't seen the movie, the rest of this post may be a bit spoiler-y.

During the second viewing of the movie, as we reached the first of about three heart-wrenching moments, I had a few thoughts.

First, its completely annoying that these movies want to wring every single damn tear out of the viewer.

Not everything in life is this freakin' sad or this joyous.

But, I'm wondering, do all the kids, who were brought up on these movies, think that they can't have a pivotal moment in their lives without something tragic happening to someone they love?

Do they know they can have an epiphany about life just over coffee or on the bus and not just while they're grieving a family member?

But, if they are trying to get over a major setback do they know that the motivation won't always be to get revenge or to win the big game or to get the girl/guy to like them back?

That sometimes the motivation is to just move on?

I had my son pause the movie to have one of those five minute life lesson conversations. Five minutes because that's his attention span while listening to me with the remote in his hand.

Explaining my concerns to the BOY wasn't easy. Mostly because he thinks I'm crazy.

I had other issues with the movie as well. The main character's brother running into a building that was not only on fire, but REALLY tremendously on fire.

No one was getting out of there alive.

It would seem the brother was 'sacrificing' his life to save his teacher, but in this instance, I believe he was being irresponsible by running into clear danger while his brother stood outside and watched.

We call firefighters heroes because they run into danger when we all run out, but they're highly trained, follow strict safety protocols, and wear protective gear.

There's a difference in being a hero and being irresponsible. I need my son to know the difference.

I'll end my rant on the last sad part of the movie. I TOTALLY understand the need for dramatic movie moments. We need them in books, too.

But, when its a kids movie and they just drag them out... for.e.ver ...while I watch my child become more and more distraught, its just excessive.

No movie better illustrates this point than Toy Story 3. That movie was just a hot freakin' mess of fear and sadness from beginning to end. I won't even watch it again and I watch everything more than once.

My point?

I don't know.

I realize there is a formula that these films usually follow, but I would much rather be inspired than heartbroken. I would rather feel great at the end of an animated feature than wrung out emotionally.

Anyone else want to jump in here? Anyone disagree? Anyone else agree with my son and think I'm crazy?


  1. Some good points made there Heather, I was never into cartoons or kiddies films, I loved the musicals when I was a child........some time ago I may add. Older I may be but still young at heart.
    Great post Heather.

  2. I pause my children on many occasions to correct, add to, or expand upon what they see in movies, are taught in school, see in public, or tell me about happening/hearing. I think these teachable moments are the ones where are children hear what we believe and why. - Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B ~ One of Tremp's Troops with the
    A to Z Challenge

  3. No, you have a good point. They do try to wring every tear out of us. And sometimes they send the wrong message, like the guy running back into the burning building.
    I did like Toy Story 3, but it was really dark and depressing for most of the film.

  4. You make an excellent point. I thought the brother running into the building was pointless too. He had a responsibility to his little brother and ran off on impulse. I understand the need for dramatic moments, but there should be more "real" moments with rational choices in films for kids.

  5. Bambi's mother must die so I can grow up. I don't know much about children's movies these days, but running into a burning building sounds pretty stupid to me.


  6. I suppose these movies are kind of like the Grimm tales. They deal with a lot of heart-wrenching human experiences. I never quite recovered from the baked witch scene in Hansel and Gretel, and when Bambi's mom was killed my own mother couldn't leave me alone in the dark for a month. Did those stories scar me? Probably. I imagine they had a lot to do with the fact that I now write. As to your being crazy. . .of course you are. Every nine-year-old recognizes that in a parent. :-)

  7. It seems like every kid's book and movie is about some child or teenager moving on after losing parents. Big Hero Six didn't do much for me though I know a lot of people thought it great. The thing about those movies and books is that moving beyond such grief takes years, not a 90 minute movie.
    On the other hand, the lesson I always wanted my kids to know is that they're just movie and nothing like real life.

  8. I couldn't agree with you more! For a long time, I refused to watch Disney. They were depressing. And I have never understood their need to kill off parents.

  9. You have a point, but I suppose movie companies think the audience would be pretty bored watching someone have an epiphany while not doing anything exciting. Or confused. I guess when it comes to movies, I expect exciting and life threatening things to be the motivation for the characters, but I'm also an adult so no idea what kids think.

  10. Excellent comments here. I'm glad I'm not the only one to feel this way.

    Thanks for coming and reading my LONG ass post!

    You're so right, C.Lee! My son does see me as crazy!



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