By Josiah Wampfler
Toy Story, My Neighbor Totoro, Robin Hood, Lion King, Shrek. All kid’s movies, right? Why is that? You may say it is because they are animated films, are mostly appropriate for little ones and they contain silly creatures. But don’t many adults enjoy films that contain these things as well? I mean, Avatar besides maybe the violence being a bit too much for children is basically one of these so-called kid’s movies!
Why does animation always seem to mean children’s movie? I mean, it seems like you must have wildly inappropriate content in your animated feature or TV show (i.e. South Park and Family Guy) to fall into another category besides “children’s.” Sure, animated films have come a long way in their acceptance in the mainstream. I mean, in 2009, Up was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But, there still seems to be a propensity to still refer to almost any form of animation as a kid’s movie.
For example, Pixar recently released their latest animated feature, Inside Out, to rave reviews. One of the critics that went against the grain was Vince Mancini, writing a scathing review of it for Uproxx. His review is what sparked my indignation toward the term “kid’s movie,” and it all started with his first paragraph:
“Somewhere on the way to the theater for my press screening for Inside Out, it dawned on me that I was a man over the age of 30 riding his bicycle to the local multiplex for the purpose of writing a thorough critique of a film designed to quiet noisy 10-year-olds.”
Why is it such a terrible thing for an adult to be seeing an animated film? Especially one put out by a studio that time and time again has proven it can make high quality films. Besides that though, it is a wholly insincere reading of Inside Out! It was not a “film designed to quiet noisy 10-year-olds,” but, like most other Pixar movies, a film that is meant to entertain a large demographic that includes both the young and old.
And the thing is, a lot of animated films that get called kid’s movies, are entertaining for the young and old. Which is why I would like the terms “kid’s movie” or “children’s movie” used much less in the popular vernacular. Pixar, Disney and even DreamWorks all put out films that can entertain both children and adults. Unless a work is specifically made only for kids (i.e. Dora the Explorer) call them animated films, because that’s what they are.
Whether it is the Shrek films, Disney’s animated films, the works of Hayao Miyazaki, or even Madagacar, in the end all of these films should be treated as that: films. You can debate whether they are good or not, but to refer to any animated work as a work that is only suitable for children short-changes these films. It has the effect of implying that they are lesser.
Animators have created some of my favorite films; films ranging from the family friendly Up to the much more mature The Wind Rises. They are artists working at their craft, just like any other filmmaker. So, saying the purpose of animated films like Inside Out is to “quiet noisy 10 year-olds,” is just plain offensive.
So do us all a favor, and give these films the respect they deserve. Animation is merely one way to present a film and it by no means makes that film of worse than a live action film, in and of itself.
So the next time you go to see a Pixar film, or even the latest Despicable Me, don’t be ashamed. If the filmmakers have made a good film, that its animated won’t make it worse. It might actually make it better.
You can hear us discuss more about “Inside Out” later this week on the Cinema Bros Podcast.