Unless you’ve never met me, never read my blog, never seen my Twitter feed, and in general have no idea who I am…
I am in love with kids’ movies. (most of them, anyway) I love Disney and Pixar. I could probably quote the entirety of Tangled if pressured, and Beauty and the Beast is in my top 5 favorite movies.
In general, Disney songs are the best. Pixar themes are usually wholesome, and the Easter eggs both companies hide in their movies are incredible. I realized recently that kids’ movies don’t always have a great message (usually, the kid is right and the parents are stupid), but there are often things that we can learn from these movies that really do mean something (and usually those things make us giggle, too).
So here are a handful of the things I’ve learned by watching movies that are made for kids less than half my age.
1. You don’t always have to give up in order to find something. In Finding Nemo, Marlin, Nemo’a dad, doesn’t ever stop looking for Nemo. He doesn’t shrug (partially because fish don’t have shoulders) and say, ‘well, maybe if I stop looking’. He doesn’t give up and go home and wait for Nemo to show up again. He pursues his son and doesn’t stop until he’s found him. People say all the time that if you stop looking you’ll find whatever you’re looking for, but I don’t necessarily believe that. If Marlin had given up and gone home, the movie would’ve ended in Nemo going belly-up in the tank of a girl who looks remarkably like a female version of Sid (from Toy Story). That’s not the kind of ending I want to see.
2. The people you’re with do a lot to shape you. In Cars, Lightning McQueen is kind of a jerk before he arrives in Radiator Springs. Once there, however, he meets Mater (like ta-mater without the ‘ta’) and the rest of the residents. Their kindness rubs off on him and he changes for the better. Just like everyone who has ever been caught up in a ‘bad crowd’ and then found a good, solid group of friends, there’s a real change in this fictional character. The people you’re with will affect, whether you want that or not, and it’s not always a positive affect they have.
3. You can’t run away from your problems. This theme is super evident in two movies; The Lion King and Frozen. In The Lion King, Simba tries to leave his past behind him (or his behind past him, as Pumba puts it) and create a new life. After a while, he realizes that he has to take responsibility for things; they may hurt, but it’s better to face them head-on. In Frozen, Elsa is happily living away from civilization as a whole (just two questions: what does she eat? and where is her bathroom? really.) when she is reminded that her actions have put others in danger. She is forced to face her issues and, in the long run, overcomes her demons. Running from something doesn’t make it go away, but it might make it harder to go back to or to fix.
4. Family is very important. Mulan sacrificed herself for her family–particularly her father. Anastasia wants nothing more than to find her family. Over and over in movies, we see the importance of family. Even minor characters in both movies talk about family; Shang, the greasy captain, Mushu. The Duchess, Bartok, Vlad. Family is the reason the movies started, and it’s the reason the endings are so satisfying; that ‘happily ever after’ comes not just because they find their ‘prince charming’ but also because they find family. (sniffle. it’s just so touching) Mulan also contains one of my favorite quotes, “Can you stay forever?”
5. Looks aren’t everything. The Swan Princess touches on this a little when the prince decides he does, in fact, want to marry Odette. She asks why, he says she’s gorgeous, she says what else, and he answers ‘What else is there?’ (eh) Odette understands that there’s more to liking someone than just what they look like. Another example of this is in Beauty and the Beast. Belle falls in love with the beast not because he’s handsome but because he’s a quality guy (uh, beast. not guy) She has no idea what his human self looked like; she doesn’t know him from Adam (which, ironically, is his name) without his beastly appearance, but she doesn’t care about his looks. She cares about what he looks like. Sure, looks may come into play, but liking someone should not be solely based on their level of attractiveness. C’mon guys. Don’t be shallow.
Well, there you have it; just a few of the things I’ve learned from Disney and Pixar. Let me know if you’ve learned any life lessons from kids’ movies.
Also, big hand-clap to Tangled for being one of the only movies in which the parents are not enforcing dumb rules. The witch-lady I don’t consider a parent since she did, in fact, kidnap Rapunzel; her real parents wanted nothing more than to get their daughter back. Though, granted, they didn’t look very hard if they somehow missed a super tall tower…
Anyway. Enjoy your Disney movies!