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You Can’t Outgrow Animation

There are some things you never seem to grow out of. For example, binge-watching several Pixar movies in a row. I’m something of a late-bloomer in the animated film department, but the very fact that I found them as delightful as I imagine kids do brought me to several conclusions. Firstly, Pixar seems to be one of the most developed and dedicated, and therefore, best 3D animation studios in the world. The second, and more important conclusion was that, although Pixar movies are officially advertised as ‘kids’ movies’, they aren’t actually entirely meant for children. Underneath the glimmer and shine of a well-animated film hides a message aimed at the little people trapped inside the adult bodies and adult responsibilities, sitting next to the actual children.

Up. Photo: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Namely, my first encounter with Pixar happened when I was about seventeen, an age that still belongs to the non-adult category, but it couldn’t exactly have me labeled as a child. The movie in question was Up (2009), which I’ve since watched three or four more times. One of the most interesting things about it is that its beginning, which provides an insight into the main character’s life, could be a short movie in itself. An entire paired existence is shown to us, the life of two people who constantly strive to achieve their more-than-a-little romantic ideals of distant-land exploration and making the perfect life together. However, as usual, day-to-day life had other plans and their daydreams are not fulfilled. Not directly, anyway. To add insult to injury, the fragile human body further backtracks their lives – one part of the whole falls ill and leaves the other to continue his existence as a remnant of their not as stellar, but equally lovely daydream. That is where the actual movie begins; with an old, disappointed and disenchanted man as the main character, which is not exactly typical for a ‘kids’ movie’, given the lack of vibrancy and power. His home is soon to be demolished, he is pestered by everyday life…in short, he is not a very happy man. But he turns it around, tying thousands of balloons to his house and setting off on a voyage to find what he could not reach before, in a rather literal depiction of escapism. Along the way, he finds companions, as well as himself, and faces some revelatory situations; like getting to know someone you’ve always admired and learning that they are not exactly all they’ve been talked up to be. It’s not rocket-science plot-wise, but the goal of being relatable to children was not achieved at the expense of storytelling quality.

Up. Photo: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

The same could be said of Wall-E (2008). The category of children’s stories does not really encompass it, as beneath all the cute designs and huggable characters lie warnings about rampant consumerism, endangering our environment and humanity’s tendency to run away to someplace else and leave their mess for others to clean up whenever the going gets too tough. The Toy Story trilogy, the last to visit my screen, tries to explain that we have to grow up at some point, and that it is anything but fair to ask people to stay in our lives forever. Just because we can’t move on, doesn’t mean others won’t.

Another coming-of-age creation Pixar has given us is Inside Out (2015). The focus has now shifted from the people surrounding us to the inside of a girl’s head and the lives of the emotions therein. The most important sentiment it conveys is that being a fulfilled person doesn’t mean being chipper all the time. In other words, we can’t really know what it is to be happy without other emotional experiences to contrast it to. There can be no change, no growth, without challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome, and those are seldom joyous occasions. Of course, these are all things children should learn, but adults need to be reminded of them often too. This should be a reminder not only for their own sake but also for that of their children, who are often expected to be compliant bundles of joy – an incredibly pressuring expectation usually far removed from reality.

Inside Out. Photo: Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures

Somehow, although most of these movies, in the end, tell us that ‘it’s all going to be alright’ and that we should rely on others, they also point out that we can’t be one-dimensional; we can’t build our lives around a single experience or emotion. They implore us not to view other people merely as supporting characters who owe us their help and affection.

Adults are not exempt from learning through entertainment, and Pixar movies do a great job of diverting us from the idea that the only movies we should watch as adults are high brow; seemingly sophisticated and complex. In the end, what I’m trying to convey is that, even though a certain film is an achievement of flashy visual presentation generally associated with younger audiences, it does not mean it isn’t worth our oh-so-valuable time.

#animation #review #Pixar #film

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