I have four kids.
As a result, over the past 14 and a half years, I have seen A LOT of kids movies.
Probably way more than my share.
But, if I’m honest, kids movies aren’t something that were new to me once Monkey Girl arrived.
In college, I actually had a subscription to Columbia House Video Service, and the movies that I ordered, every month, were Disney.
I believe I owned all of the Disney movies on VHS at one point, and I was probably 25 years old at the time.
So, saying that the movies are related to my kids is probably not being entirely honest.
I remember how I felt when I watched them all.
I couldn’t get enough of The Little Mermaid, and I could recite every word of Aladdin.
Even the earliest Disney movies sucked me in.
I used to shudder at the evil queen in Snow White time and time again, and sing along with Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
But, there seems to be a difference in the movies that are produced “for children” these days.
I loved those older (and I’m using a broad time span in the term older, here) kids movies, but the movies today…
I love them more.
Yes, there is certainly the digital quality aspect, but when the Lion King came out, we all marveled at the visual wonder it produced, because, for it’s time, it was amazing.
It’s the creative way that these films are no longer films for children, and they leave us thinking about them far after the screen has faded to black.
In 2012, Disney released Wreck It Ralph and I was mesmerized.
The creativity in that film is beyond anything I could ever hope to have.
I watched, entranced, as video game characters left their games at night and gathered together to party, participate in support groups, and used a surge protector as Grand Central Station, and electric cords as a means to travel from world to world.
The worlds created in the games danced in my brain for months, and the plot?
The desire of Vanellope to be accepted was familiar to the remnants of my teenage self, and Ralph’s quest to be good resonated in my home with a boy who struggled to behave, and whispered the words from the movie in a small plea, as he snuggled in his bed one night, long after we had seen the film.
“I don’t have to be the bad guy, right Mom?”
Frozen made me weep from the first preview we saw.
Frozen was definitely more of a traditional Disney film, but oh, how it grabbed me.
The story of the sisters, to the sister-less me, made me yearn for a sibling, and the music…
Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell were the perfect choices for those songs.
I cried through the entire movie.
I have seen it at least 100 times since the first time and I love it more every single time.
And then came Inside Out.
You want to talk creative?
The way the film created a visualization for the brain and memories, and the personification of the emotions.
Beyond my wildest imagination.
The islands of personality.
Long term memory.
Commercial jingles that get stuck in your head.
The importance of sadness.
I can’t even begin to describe how I feel about this film.
And, again, it has captured the brain of a boy who is uncomfortable with emotion, does not want to discuss sadness or fear, and struggles to hold it all together, at times.
I would be underestimating if I said that he references the movie only once a day, and every time he does, it is with a question or a personal note.
“Remember when Sadness was touching the happy memories and making them sad? That totally happens sometimes.”
“Joy just tried too hard. She didn’t understand that all the emotions are important. Right?”
“Wasn’t it funny when the teenage boys brain just went on full alert when he saw a girl?”
Kids movies are no longer just for kids, and they are definitely no longer just for entertainment.
These major blockbusters are meant to touch us and meant to make us think, and they do.
Oh, they do.
I still love my “big people movies,” as Tiny calls them, but if I want a good case of the feels…
It’s gonna be a kids film every time.