I freakin’ love animated movies. I love the graphical work, the voiceover process, and the overall creativity that can occur. Like most people, my love for animation started with the granddaddy of them all, Disney. From there, I’ve seen animated films both good and bad. While I may lament viewing some films (like Cars 2), there are still aspects I can find in most films that I like.
But one thing I don’t like is the continued assumption that animated films are for kids because of their “cartoon-ish” appearance. To me, the mark of a good or even great film is one that both kids and parents can enjoy. Films that are insultingly bad or juvenile, the ones many parents would gladly put their kids in front of as a distraction, disgust me. If a film can’t even entertain someone older, what right does it have being viewed by someone younger?
Perhaps it’s just how our minds work, in that even as a kid, I watched both good and downright bad movies and shows. Animated films have both the gift and curse of being bright, colorful, often joke-filled and with easy-to-understand stories (for the most part). They’re everything a kid WOULD enjoy regardless of the quality. Now, I may not be looking to have kids, but even I feel that they’d deserve no less than the best in entertainment than some mindless, poorly animated movie whose humor high point is a fart joke (c’mon, even stuff like Shrek has more depth than that).
In that vein, I feel like childless adults like me really get a good sense of what kinds of movies we would show our kids or, in my case, nieces. I recently watched The Lego Movie, and while I didn’t grow up with much Lego in my household, it’s a movie that carries nostalgia for older folks and newfound fun for kids. Thanks to it, Lego has seen a comeback in a huge way and opens the door for an activity for new generations of kids to enjoy possibly with their parents. It’s films like that, with quality visuals, humor for both kids and adults, and a heartwarming yet simplistic story that I can get behind.
And sometimes even “bad” animated films can have good aspects to them. Going back to my example of Cars 2, while I detest Larry the Cable Guy and thought the story was weak even compared to Cars, that Pixar level of quality visuals still kept me watching and there was the rare joke that hit once in a while. Would I ever expose my nieces to it? No, not with other, much better options available, but it goes to show that even some bad films have some good in them. I’ve seen plenty with no substance whatsoever for kids or adults.
For me, going to see an animated film, whether good or bad, lets me feel like a big kid while praising or criticizing it like an adult. I don’t feel like I could ever “grow out” of animated films, and I hope I never do. I can only hope that for every bad animated film, more people take the time to create fresh, quality films to counter them.