Friday, October 19, 2012

Children’s Movies with Thematic Device


 
It’s funny how people are… I have admitted to a complete mystification regarding the attraction to YA… Yet! I adore watching the animated movies geared for kids. For the people younger than YA… I’ve even enjoyed flipping through the books at stores. There is some odd little part of me that just loves the skill inherent in illustration. And animation.

When I worked in the bookstores, I looked forward to the new Graeme Base books. (I still own Animalia.) And those illustrated by Michael Hague? Oh, divine! (I own Peter Pan and several others.) One of the most delightful elements of a good science fiction fantasy convention is the art show. And a great many of the artists are inspired by movies, television and children’s stories. Totally twisted art, full of humor. (You should see what a group of artist’s can do to Smurfs…) (Or maybe not.)

I can’t draw a straight line. Oh, I wish I could! But sometimes, creative talent just doesn’t spread that wide! Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love the big animated movies. I gape at what they can do with a computer…

I’ve seen a fair amount of this year’s animated movies. I have no children. Doesn’t stop me from going. I often find myself laughing as I see a joke coming…and no one else does. (It get some odd looks sometimes.) I grew up with Looney Tunes! What can I say?
 
Hotel Transylvania was such a sweet story. A father’s love for his daughter, his little girl growing up and he’s trying to protect her. So…he’s Dracula and she’s Dracula’s daughter…the story is still there! Toss in a love interest and it’s almost Romeo and Juliet…gothic comic style!

Frankenweenie…a boy and his dog. Okay, the dog is dead, but it’s still a story of a boy and his dog! And girl and her cat, and another girl and her dog… There’s a re-animated turtle, rat, hamster and sea monkeys in there, too.

Madagascar III: Europe’s Most Wanted – Figuring out where home is and what you’ll do to get there. With a love story. Between a giraffe and a hippopotamus.  Who do a high wire act that was mind blowing.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits – A man and his desire for fame! And the love of the crew for the ship’s parrot. Which is really a dodo bird. Who they have to rescue from Charles Darwin who is trying to impress the Queen of England. (Granted, that’s not a plot you see very often.)

Ice Age: Continental Drift – Continents breaking up and again, parents who worries about their daughter. Mastodons. Oh, and pirates. One of which is a walrus.

ParaNorman – He can talk to ghosts and doesn’t fit in. Finding his group and making it work is the theme. And this movie had one of the best lines of the year, right at the end, when the teenage girl swoons at the brainless, but built side kick, about maybe they can go to  a movie sometime, and he replies, “Oh, my boyfriend would like that. He digs chick flicks.” Brilliant!

None of these stories are terribly different than what is read in adult fiction. Loves stories, family struggles, pirates… Just a different cast of characters…with all sorts of twisty elements.

I figure I’ll catch Brave OnDemand, and Rio. And I really would like to own several older ones, like Igor, Puss n’Boots, and Rango. Rango, one of the strangest animated movies I’ve seen in a long time…

Not only is storytelling simplified in animated movies, as Hellie once wrote about the animated short, Partly Cloudy and the opening sequence of UP, but the stories are the same basics we all know.

I think it takes an ability to totally suspend disbelief to enjoy animated movies. I’ve often been the only unaccompanied adult in movie theaters. (Meaning, I had no young’uns with me.) A lot of people just don’t see the point of these movies, just as I struggle with the idea of YA novels. (I seemed to have skipped from childhood to adulthood without an appreciation for adolescence.)

Perhaps it’s because I’m one of those people who grew up treated as an adult from very early on. When I stepped from believing in my invisible playmate, I went straight to reading Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury. From Mighty Mouse to I, Robot.

And the memories of watching Looney Tunes on Saturday morning with my Dad, who loved the Tasmanian Devil if probably part of it all. Even as an adult, he was into Taz and at his death, at 77, we kids divided his Taz memorabilia among us. I think I inherited the love of cartoons.
 

For those of you with kids, what cartoon shows did you watch with them? Or fav animated movies? Or what shows (movies) did you watch with your parents? What are the stories you remember that perhaps, sneakily, show up in what you write and read? (Yes, I know, Disney kills off mothers…but how many regency stories revolve around motherless girls?) Or do you find animated movies an insane thing to spend money on? (It’s okay, I won’t scream about it!)

50 comments:

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

As someone else who doens't have kids I don't get to see animated movies that often. I do find myself drawn to some, but the hubby doesn't see the appeal so it's hard to get them in the line on our netflix account. (we hardly ever go to the movie theater)

What's interesting is that we do - and him especially - watch the animated movies that belonged to our childhood. He's already checking for when It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is on for example.

From a writer's standpoint, I find them to be very interesting turns on storytelling. Taking that same plot structure and amping up the zany twists so much to make the story go beyond the everyday.

It's a great exercise in getting to the core of a story and how many ways you can take a plot and/or characters.

TerriOsburn said...

There is great storytelling in animation but there are also animated movies where they skipped the story meeting and just went to the cool animation toys and played. I don't like those ones as much.

Of late, How To Train Your Dragon is the best story by far. And UP is hard to beat. Haven't seen Brave or any of the ones you list here.

One that I think was underrated was the animated version of Sinbad voiced by Brad Pitt with Catherine Zeta Jones as the love interest and Michelle Pfeiffer as the villainess. I'll watch that one every chance I get.

Another writer did a blog on story structure using Finding Nemo and it was brilliant. I need to see if I can find that.

My dad loved the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. He even had a shirt with Coyote holding the Road Runner around the neck that read "Beep Beep my ass."

TerriOsburn said...

Here's a link to 2 blogs on what Finding Nemo can teach us about story action.

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/?s=Finding+Nemo

I don't know how to make that a live link in a comment though.

Maureen said...

Ah, Scape...I know many an adult who won't go to the animated movies without a kid. So, I understand.

After listening to a dad soothing three little girls when Sparkie gets hit in Frankenweenie, I prefer going by myself and not having to explain those moments!

I'm not one who revisits the TV programs. Perhaps because I already know them by heart. ;-)

Zany twists...hmmmmm. Food for thought there! I wonder if that explains my desire to take so many steps sideways... Early influences are hard to shake!

MsHellion said...

I loved looney tunes when I was a kid; after school, they had a Merry Melodies show that I always made sure I was home for to watch. Oh, and the Dukes of Hazzard.

The first animated movie I remember seeing was Sleeping Beauty, so that's always been a favorite; and I adored the Aristocats. I made my brother take me to see Beauty & the Beast in the theater--I was 17--and the next Christmas, my sister made him go in with her to buy a bunch of B&tB items. Good times. I remember watching The Little Mermaid over and over--so in my late-teens and early 20s, and I even watched Pochahontas, Lion King, Aladdin (oh, I loved Aladdin), and all the rest that came out in the 90s.

I don't have kids; it doesn't keep me from going if I want to go. I remember when Sponge Bob's movie came out and a group of coworkers all went--possibly the only adults there without children. (Okay, that movie was a bit dumb, without the STORY of other animated movies).

The one I remember seeing vividly was Finding Nemo. I had had to come to work on a Saturday and was PMSy, tired, and stressed out. I thought, "Oh, an animated movie as reward will be PERFECT!" and I went. And I was sobbing by the end of the first ten minutes of the movie. I own and love that movie, but that is some of the worst opening scenes--OMG!

Of course, something very similar happened when I watched the first 10 minutes of UP as well. *LOL*

I think Frankenweenie sounds like it would be cute--and sad/sweet. And I think Hotel Transylvania looked hilarious. I haven't got to see them yet though. I haven't made time to go to the movies since...Avengers? There might have been something else this summer...I don't know. I just haven't been going to movies lately.

(Speaking of which, I really want to see ARGO.)

Maureen said...

Terri - Yup, there are movies that tell stories and there are movies that just drop pianos on the villains head. If the piano drop is done with wicked imagination, I can take both.

This third Madagascar movie was a thin theme wrapped in total mayhem and action. But wow, that high wire scene is a sight to see!

I don't think I know that Sinbad...Obviously wasn't the Disney version, but the voices sound fab!

Finding Nemo...let me go check out that blog!

Janga said...

It's a rare week that I don't see at least part of an animated movie I love. We have an extensive collection since each of the grands has her/his favorites. I have my favorites too. The Rescuers, The Sword in the Stone, Toy Story 3, Beauty and the Beast, and The Incredibles among them. And then there's anime, which I count as a separate category. I sometimes watch Howl's Moving Castle or Spirited Away without a kid around to use as an excuse.

MsHellion said...

Oh, I did see Brave. It was cute--and I loved her mother as a bear. But not sure if Avengers was something I managed to see after Brave (even though Avengers came out first).

I can't handle the Madagascar movies--any of them. The plots are too flimsy for me. The Ice Age ones are okay; I can manage them--but they're not my favorite. *LOL*

Maureen said...

Hels, it's odd how I missed several on your list. Like the Little Mermaid and Pocohontas. Must have been during my see-very-few-movies years.

And Spongebob...well, that would be fun to do. With a huge group of adults. I know several hi-tech companies who took the day off when Toy Story came out to go see it. Because they knew the animation was going to set the world on fire.

I'm a bit of a cold-hearted bitch with these movies. Husband sits next to me and cries. I watch, waiting to see how the heartbreak serves the story...

Yet, that highwire act had be nearly in tears. Just in sheer awe at the beauty and absurdity of the scene. I can't hear Fireworks without seeing that act...the daring, the trust...hard to explain!

Between Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania, I'd recommend HT.

Maureen said...

The Rescuers...oh, wow! I loved that movie, that it was so cute. There was one out then...a mouse as Sherlock Holmes? I think the same animated house...wonderful. And the Rats of Nimh? I think...

Heartwrending stories, but always a great ending!

Maureen said...

The Madagascar movies are more for the talent then the plot, granted. I found the second one fairly annoying, the first was cute. The third? An acid trip.

But oh, that high wire act...

I don't know how I missed Brave...must have had a bazillion things going on. Meant to go see it!

MsHellion said...

I remember The Rescuers! Great movie! I had the record of the story too...with the song. "Rescue Aid Society...." And Miss Bianca! The books were wonderful too. I totally destroyed Eldon's copies of the books he had of them that he got one Christmas.

Maureen said...

Nice blog about Nemo and the idea of obstacles not being part of the Big Bad Thwarting, just things that have to be dealt with to continue toward the ultimate goal.

Thanks! I always find Kristin Lamb interesting!

Haleigh said...

My favorite animated movies by far are Anastasia and the Little Mermaid, both of which I own. and The Rescuers . . . ahh, the wonderful memories. And the Rats of Nimh! I didn't remember that one until you wrote the title!

My little one loves loves loves cartoons - he'll sit and watch TV as long as I let him. But mostly he just stares at it. This week, for the first time, he laughed out loud at a funny scene - he totally got the joke! I can't wait until he's old enough to really understand stories.

Maureen said...

Hal, I think that's why animated movies are usually painted in such broad strokes...for the little ones to get the jokes. Then the subtle stuff for the adults...

Anvils on the head was for the tykes, cross-dressing to fool Taz was for the adults... ;-)

Maureen said...

Hel - Record of the story! I love it! I remember a friend had the music from Lady and the Tramp and we used to parade around the house singing 'we are siamese if you please...'

And I had an album with Heckle and Jeckle telling a story...

TerriOsburn said...

I love Anastasia! Bartok is my favorite. When he does that little dance. So cute!

Maureen said...

As for Argo...yeah, I'd like to see it. I think with the husband. I want to go see Pitch Perfect next... If only I didn't have a ton of things to do today...sigh.

Maureen said...

I remember Bartok, so I must have seen Anastasia...

MsHellion said...

"We are siamese if you don't please..." *LOL* I loved that song too!

Maureen said...

Those rotten cats...

haleigh said...

For anyone who subscribes to HBO - they have Anastasia, Puss in Boots and Rio onDemand right now

haleigh said...

(and yes, I started searching for animated movies after we starting talking about them :) Finding Nemo was on a couple weeks ago, so I was hoping it was still available, but I can't find it.

Maureen said...

I'll have to check my Comcast onDemand. I may need to start a Christmas list of the ones I'd like to own...

irisheyes said...

I remember having to wait until Saturday morning to be able to watch cartoons! Man, am I old! LOL My little brother and I lived for our Saturday morning Warners Bros. fix, followed by Scooby Doo. It never got old either. We would much rather watch the same one over and over than see something new. Another thing to love about kids - it doesn't matter how many times they watch it, they're still glued to the TV set for the whole thing.

As an adult I went on dates with my hubby (before the children) to see Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. My DH is a huge Peanuts fan and we own all the Charlie Brown holiday DVDs. When we were first married we made it a tradition to watch all the holiday cartoons and it still holds til this day.

As a mom, however, I caught a lot of flack for not allowing my kids to watch Disney. But, seriously, I didn't want to deal with the aftermath (them in my bed having nightmares of witches and sea creatures and anything else deranged that man could come up with). I finally relented and took my kids to the movies to see Finding Nemo and I had to sit in the lobby for the last half of the movie cause Bruce terrified my daughter.

Now, however, we usually go to the movies as a family to see the latest cartoon movie out and I have almost a full collection of all the Disney movies. I love so many of them I can't choose a favorite. Like Hellie, though, I gravitate to the first one I saw in the theaters as a child - Cinderella.

As soon as my kids got to the age where they got the humor and the scary stuff didn't matter they were all over the cartoons at the theaters. We've seen them all and usually gift their favorite ones at Christmas. Some of our favorites are Toy Story 1, 2 & especially 3, Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, Alladin, Princess & the Frog, Megamind, UP, Madagascar 2 (they love King Julian).

TerriOsburn said...

You think you're old, Irish? I saw Bambi at the drive-in! LOL!

Maureen said...

Yeah, King Julian was the real star of the Madagascar movies...

I really do think that some of the stuff in the movies is rough on the little ones. I hear parents chatting to their kiddies all the time. One nice thing about those movies, no one really objects to soothing the kids. Might be the reason to stick to what is on TV for a few years and the comfort of the couch, with M&D right there...

I missed Megamind! I gotta catch that when it shows up on the idiotbox...

I know the first Disney movie my husband saw was Dumbo...still his favorite. I don't really have a favorite...

irisheyes said...

I forgot about Bambi!!!!! We watch that now too, or at least all of that now. I pulled a Phoebe from friends on my kids with that one. I sped through his mother getting killed and never let them watch that part.

I also forgot to mention the first 20 minutes of Finding Nemo was also a train wreck. That whole Nemo excursion was a big FAIL. We LOVE the movie now but I wouldn't suggest it for those under a certain age.

I'm not gonna argue age with you, Ter. That's one of those arguments where no one is a winner! LOL And if it makes you feel any better it was probably a re-release. I always tell my kids I saw the re-releases at the theaters! I'm really not that old.

Maureen said...

Drive ins were sorta good for the kid thing... Easy to distract during the harsher moments and chat about what was going on...soothe any fears... And bring your own snacks!

Though I usually sneak in some of my own anyway.

P. Kirby said...

Several animated movies are on my best movie evah, list. The Incredibles, Toy Story (all), Finding Nemo, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Princess Frog, Lilo and Stitch, Princess Mononoke, and How to Train Your Dragon (adore that movie). Ku Fu Panda, UP, Ice Age (first), Spirited Away, and Wall-E are also in our movie library.

I remember the Rescuers! It was one of the few animated movies that I really liked as a kid. For the most part, I really didn't (still don't) see the appeal of old-school Disney movies. Hated the princesses. Was bored with Bambi. I confess I don't see the appeal of the Madagascar movies. The first Ice Age was charming; the second made me want to poke my eyes out with a fork. Not goin' near the third.

Loony Tunes, et al were fun. Liked the Animaniacs too. But I used to rush home after school (junior high) to watch anime like Voltron, Macross and RoboTech. Well...and the Muppets, but do puppet count as animation?

P. Kirby said...

That would be "Kung Fu Panda." Morning fingers.

TerriOsburn said...

Considering my parents weren't born yet when Bambi hit theaters, yes, that would have been a re-release. LOL! But I meant the drive-in thing. Do kids today even know what a drive-in is??

I loved it because we could wear our pajamas and eat junk food.

Maureen said...

I confess, the older Disney's don't yank my chain like the mayhem which resulted when the kids in front of Looney Tunes started making movies...

Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride...love 'em! Lilo and Stitch is wondrous and Wall-E? A total blast! Kung Fu Panda...ah, just sublime.

Animaniacs slayed me. Just brilliant! But I never really found the Voltran, He-Man and all of those at the least attractive.

The Muppets? Oh, they are a magic all on their own...

Janga said...

I know it's politically incorrect. In fact, it hasn't been reissued since the 1980s and probably never will be, but I loved Song of the South. It combined live action and animation way before Roger Rabbit. And I still sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" when I'm feeling especially good.

Maureen said...

I used to go see bad horror movies at the drive in with my Dad and we'd laugh and wise off the whole time!

I think Santa Cruz still has a drive in, but I'm not certain. They hold a flea market there during the day and I'm not certain they do movies there at night anymore...

TerriOsburn said...

I remember that one, Janga. That one and Jungle Book are always side by side in my mind. I must have seen them around the same time as a kid.

I miss The Muppet Show.

Maureen said...

Janga! I adored Song of the South and ol' Brer Rabbit... And the live action remake that Disney did was really sweet! Patrick Swayze as Wild Bill? Oliver Platt as ... wait a minute, that is tall tales...was that part of the SotS stuff?

I think I jumped track there...

And I am really looking forward to Wreck it Ralph...that looks really sweet!

P. Kirby said...

I know it's politically incorrect. In fact, it hasn't been reissued since the 1980s and probably never will be, but I loved Song of the South. It combined live action and animation way before Roger Rabbit. And I still sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" when I'm feeling especially good

Saw it when I was really young. But...I think it has the distinction of being the first movie I regularly quoted. "Not the briar patch...no!"

But I never really found the Voltran, He-Man and all of those at the least attractive

He-Man did nothing for me either, but Voltron and RoboTech triggered my first attempts at fan fiction. (Thankfully lost to to the sand of time.)

MsHellion said...

I used to go see bad horror movies at the drive in with my Dad and we'd laugh and wise off the whole time!

Science Mystery 5000 or whatever that's called--thought that show was hilarious.

Okay, because I realized it's been a decade (in Fran terms) since I've been to the theater, I asked a friend to go with me to see either Argo or Perks on Saturday. She was so excited, she has now conned me into seeing Argo tonight and Perks tomorrow.

Maureen said...

Jungle Book! Kaaa and his song... And what was...Ah! Sword in the Stone! The Fox and Hound!

So many adorable animates out there!

Maureen said...

Perks? And be sure to let us all know how Argo is. I figure it's one the husband would like to see with me. Though he totally dug Hotel Transylvania...got a little teary-eyed at the end.

He does that.

Maureen said...

Yeah, Dad and I were doing Mystery Science Theater a long time before it hit the small screen.

Sans robots.

irisheyes said...

I am soooo bummed about the whole Drive-In situation. I think we might have taken our kids when they were real little to one when we were on vacation once. But we've looked and looked and can't find one anywhere! I think even the one we took them to is closed.

We scored a copy of Song of the South, Janga, about a year or so ago. I had never seen it and my DH had fond memories of it from his childhood. He mainly tried getting it because I love that song so much and wanted me to see the movie it came from. I used to sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" to the kids when they were younger. And of course the Splash Mountain ride at Disney (one of my favorite rides) features all the movie characters and the soundtrack.

Maureen said...

Brer Rabbit is one of my heroes... I like Splash Mountain, too.

And yeah, though it carries a lot of racial undertones, there's a lot of lessons to be learnt from old Brer Rabbit...

Maureen said...

Of to do the zippity-do-dah with the dog and hope she don't drag me inta no briar patches. Or worse. Poison oak.

Janga said...

I have such good memories of the drive-in theater. First, when my siblings and I were very young, my parents would dress us in our pjs and take off for the drive-in on summer Friday nights, sometimes with two or three cousins piled in the back seat as well. They fed us hot dogs and the best French fries in the world for dinner, and we fell asleep during the second feature curled up like a litter of puppies. I can remember Daddy carrying me from the car to the house and waking up just enough to be conscious that I was home.

I can remember when the first of my friends got her driver's license and four of us would go to the drive-in in her car to meet the boys our parents wouldn't let us date. Of course, by then the drive-in was known as the passion pit, and it was the place I learned many lessons from the bad-boy jerk in my past. :)

Maureen said...

There was always something so Americana about the drive in. A bit of romance that is pretty much gone. I always loved the inside/outside thing about it. Windows down, or even sitting in the back of a pick-up, in lawn chairs, with blankets.

A group of us would go in high school and line up, then pull out the lawn chairs and sit between the cars or in front of them...

irisheyes said...

Awesome memories, Janga!

We didn't go as a family but I remember sneaking my cousin in (via the trunk) in my other cousin's car when I was a teen! Fun times!

TerriOsburn said...

I knew it! Janga is Sandra D.!!

We used to sit on the roof of the car or in the back of a truck. I think the few they have now you listen through your radio instead of the speaker that hangs on the window. That's just not the same.

Maureen said...

I love a blog that meanders...